ISO Accuracy

The actual sensitivity of each indicated ISO is measured using the same shots as are used to measure ISO noise levels; we simply compare the exposure for each shot to the metered light level (using a calibrated Sekonic L-358), middle gray matched. We estimate the accuracy of these results to be +/- 1/6 EV (the margin of error given in the ISO specifications). Note that these tests are based on the sRGB JPEG output of the cameras, in accordance with the Standard Output Sensitivity method defined in ISO 12232:2006, the standard used by camera manufacturers.

By our tests, the X-E2's measured sensitivities are around 1/2 - 2/3EV lower than marked, which is unusual for a modern camera. This means that for any given light level, the X-E2 has to use a significantly slower shutter speed, brighter aperture or higher ISO to get an image of the same brightness as an accurately-rated camera.

It's unusual to see this sort of discrepancy and we're disappointed that Fujifilm persists with a system that, while technically compliant with the ISO standard, ends up appearing rather disingenuous.

Noise and Noise Reduction (JPEG)

Note: this page features our interactive noise comparison widget. By default, we show you the default noise reduction settings of the camera tested, and three other models of the same class. You can select from all available NR options, and from other cameras. The 'tricolor' patches beneath the familiar gray/black/portrait images are taken from the same test chart, and show how noise impacts upon blue, green and red areas of a scene.

The X-E2, in common with previous X-Trans cameras, does a great job of keeping noise to a minimum while retaining detail. Up until ISO 6400, it comfortably out-performs most of its peers, both in terms of noise level and detail retention. Above that, where the lack of ability to shoot Raw files suggests a simple doubling or quadrupling of data to provide the extra two stops of ISO range, the quality drops off a little, but it's still performing well.

However, a significant part of this advantage stems from the camera's need for longer exposures to achieve the same JPEG brightness level as its rivals. This is the way the ISO standard is measured, and the basis on which we conduct this test. However the X-E2's need for unusually long exposures explains much of the difference we see between it and the Sony NEX-6; in fact it's probably better compared to the performance of its peers set 1EV lower (i.e. ISO 400 on the Fujifilm compared to ISO 200 on its rivals).

Raw noise (ACR 7.3 noise reduction set to zero)

The dramatic advantage the X-E2 showed in the previous test is also apparent if processed with Adobe Camera Raw. The results are almost implausibly good, even taking into account the camera's additional exposure. This suggests that some non-optional noise reduction is creeping into the process somewhere.