Fujifilm X-E2 Review
The X-E2 doesn't offer many recording options for video shooting, and offers still less in the way of manual exposure control.
|File type||MOV with h.264 compression:
• 1080p 60fps: ~38Mbps
• 1080p 30fps: ~38Mbps
• 720p 60fps: ~20Mbps
• 720p 30fps: ~20Mbps
|Audio||Linear PCM Stereo|
Given the early X-Series cameras' comparatively meagre video specs, it's good to see the X-E2 gain the ability to capture 60p footage. The 38Mbps bitrate for 1080p footage also looks pretty promising. Sadly, as we'll see, the X-E2 doesn't really live up to the promise of its specifications.
Features and handling
The first problem the X-E2 hits is that it offers almost no control over exposure in movie mode. You can manually set the aperture before you start recording, but you get no direct control of shutter speed or ISO. You can change exposure compensation during shooting, but doing so risks shaking the camera, since you have to use the fairly stiff dial on the top right of the camera body. And, even if you use exposure compensation to set the desired image brightness before you start shooting, there's no way to stop the camera making further exposure adjustments as you shoot - it will continually re-adjust exposure, and the AEL button doesn't function in movie mode.
It's a similar story with focus - the camera is extremely keen to do what it wants, with very little room for user input. If the camera is set to autofocus, it will continuously autofocus all the time, with no control over where the camera should focus and no AFL to stop it trying to refocus. Your only option, if you want to control focus, is to use manual focus.
Sadly, even manually focusing isn't terribly useful. If you use a native Fujifilm lens, the camera offers a focus distance scale along the bottom of the screen, but the lenses' focus-by-wire designs mean you can't predict or measure how much you need to rotate their focus rings to move between focus distances during recording (unless you're using the 23mm F1.4 or 14mm F2.8 lenses, with their pull-back manual focus rings). With non-native lenses, you get no guidance at all - the camera's focus peaking feature is disabled as soon as recording starts.
If you can overcome these restrictions, the X-E2 does have a microphone socket (2.5mm type), that can be engaged when the camera is set to its Movie drive mode. Four volume settings give some control over sound recording, but you can't disable it completely, and there's no wind-cut filter.
It's not the lack of control or guidance that leaves us so disappointed with the X-E2's video, though: it's the quality. All the real-world samples we shot showed noticeable moiré. Shooting our test scene confirmed it - the X-E2's capture resolution is very low and it's extremely prone to moiré and false color. Here we're comparing it to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3, which offers some of the best video output from any interchangeable lens stills camera; the X-E2 falls far short of this admittedly high bar.
The results are so far below the standard we'd now expect from a camera at this price point that we wonder whether Fujifilm is having difficulty sub-sampling from the more complex pattern of its X-Trans color filter array. Although the company points out that the design should have advantages over the conventional 'Bayer' design, thanks to having red, green and blue pixels in every row (which in principle makes it easier to assess color information because only certain lines of the sensor are read-out for video), the reality is pretty disappointing. We're hoping the company finds a way of making more out of the X-Trans output, because the current results aren't really good enough.
Note the low resolution in the lettering on the tram, and on the sign in the middle of the frame at the end of the clip. Note also the shimmering moiré in the concertina-style joint between tram carriages. There's a slight auto exposure adjustment that appears towards the end of the clip, but that's the least of our concerns.
|1920x1080 60p, 13 sec, 59.9 MB Click here to download original file|
More moiré and poor resolution are apparent in this movie - particularly in the lettering in the lower right of the frame. Shot in manual focus mode with focus pre-set before recording.
|1920x1080 60p, 12 sec, 55.6 MB Click here to download original file|
Manual focus pulling with the X-E2. When used with a native lens, the X-E2 provides a distance scale, which was used here to position focus. Sadly the thing that stands out most, despite the focus change being pretty effective, is the poor quality of the video.
|1920x1080 60p, 28 sec, 128.6 MB Click here to download original file|
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Tune in this week to see Chris and Jordan's review of the Nikon Z6 full frame mirrorless camera, and also find out what Chris thinks of the popular 35mm focal length. (Rant alert!)
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