It’s been just about a year since I tried the X-E1 last year, which ended up with me sending the unit back. I was excited to hear about the X-E2. I’m still looking for an upgrade from Micro 4/3… something with similar handling and size, but with improved high-ISO performance and dynamic range.

My main gripes with the X-E1 were the slow handling, the super laggy EVF, and the really bad AF system. After I unboxed my X-E2 today, and my first goal was to see if these aspects have been improved.

First up, the EVF frame-rate has been dramatically improved. On the X-E1, if you were indoors at night (lets say iso6400 / 1/60 / f2.8) the EVF would drop to very low fps, and show a lot of motion blur. This made it practical impossible to track any kind of moving subject. The X-E2 in this situation fares much better. That being said, the GH2 still seems better in this regard. It seems more willing to gain up the signal to preserve framerate. On the flip side, the X-E2 seems much better at giving me a preview of the actual exposure. Wish I still had the option to prioritize framerate though.

The AF system appears to be quite a bit better as well. I’ve so far only tested it indoors, and I’m fairly certain the PDAF system isn’t engaging. The CDAF algorithm seems way better than the initial X-E1 version (which was later improved through firmware updates), but it’s still slower than a fast lens on my GH2. Fuji should have fast processors in these new models, so what gives? I’m not expecting E-M1, but at least have competitive CDAF. Is it the motors in the lenses that’s the limiting factor? In any case, I’ll have to try it outdoors tomorrow to see how the PDAF bit performs.

The X-E1 version often simply refused to lock on to anything in relative low light. Thankfully that problem is mostly gone. Even with single-spot AF, it does still seem to have some quirks.. I bunch of my test shots of my kids seemed a little back-focused. When my kids faces filled the frame, the focus box covered part of their face and sometimes refused to focus. Overall the focus system feels still a little on the slow side, and conservative, but my initial sense is that it’s in the usable territory now.

As for handling, I don’t remember too well if the X-E1 felt slow, but the X-E2 for the most part feels pretty snappy. The buffer’s good, and most operations respond very quickly. The only complaint I have is how the system seems to hiccup when I have press the shutter to focus. It seems to be engaging some metering/exposure stuff, and the result is that the live view feed pauses for a fraction of a second. Not a problem most of the time, but when I’m chasing kids, that’s usually the moment that they run out of the frame. Argh.

That’s about it after spending about 5 hours with the X-E2. Looking at some of the JPEG’s in LR, the ones that are in focus look pretty good. But a bunch are out of focus 🙁

I felt this with the X-E1 as well, but I think the X-E2 is still something that I’ll have to work with a bit to see if I can tame it’s quirks. I’m also hoping that with the faster processor, Fuji has some headroom to invest more in their AF and handling.

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