Fuji X-E2 - Review and User Experience - Part 5 - Manual Focus - EVF - More AF - Fill-in flash

The Fuji X-E2 has three manual focusing aids in the menu. A Magnified view, Focus Peaking and something new, a split screen 'rangefinder type' system. The latter looks like this:-

When its engaged, a black and white rectangle appears in the middle of the screen with three horizontal blocks, which will line up when the image is in focus. It works well for certain subjects, the horizontal lines of the guitar neck in the above picture being a good example, but for some subjects it doesn't work at all, as its very difficult to see. Its also much harder to use when a lens is stopped down. Its an interesting idea and very Leica like, but I think it needs more contrast to work properly. Its a start however, and when its used on a suitable subject with a wide open lens it is very accurate. For the most part however I used focus peaking for the majority of the images below, which were all taken with my Nikon Series E lenses, 28mm f/2.8, 50mm f/2.8 and 100mm f/2.8, used with a passive Metabones adapter.

I would mention that with the improved EVF, manual focusing had become easier still on the X-E2. It really does give a nice clear image, even in low light. 

This EVF on the X-E2 is excellent, but yesterday when it was dark I was having a look at how it compared with those on the X-Pro 1 and X-E1 and the Panasonic GH3 under indoor lighting conditions. The viewfinders on the three Fuji cameras were in fact clearer than the Panasonic. The GH3's EVF is somewhat of a weak link however. In that poor light, again all of the Fuji's locked onto targets much better than the Panasonic. The latest m4/3 cameras have this reputation for ultra-fast AF in good light but the GH3 and the OM-D EM-5's I owned are poor when things got darker. I can't comment on the E-M1 since I haven't used one, but all three of the Fuji cameras I owned were pretty good at focusing in semi-darkness when I tested them. As I've said many times before, these days I don't do a lot of this anymore, but it is worth pointing out that while the AF on pre X-E2 cameras isn't that fast, it is very reliable and works under even the most difficult conditions. I would also mention that DSLR's often struggle as well. 'Big Boy' Canons and Nikons don't have a 100% success rate when it comes to focusing in less than optimum conditions, as I discovered when shooting weddings and indoor events. I do realise that the X-Pro 1 in particular wasn't that good at either AF or MF when released, but with firmware updates this has definitely got better.

So to a certain extent, I think Fuji X cameras get an undeserved 'bad press' when it comes to both focusing and being able to see well in situations where there isn't a lot of light. These days m4/3 cameras are championed as being very good at focusing, but I'm not so sure that's entirely deserved when low light is taken into consideration. However, they aren't particularly useful as low light cameras, whereas the Fuji's most certainly are. I've just ordered a Metabones Nikon > Fuji X Speed Booster and when that arrives I'll report on how that works with the X-E2 etc. for low light shooting. My expectation is that it should open up some pretty interesting possibilities.

Finally, in todays post i want to talk about the excellent flash system in the X-E2. One of the things the X100 had was an excellent fill-in flash system, which gave excellent results, even with close-up subjects. With both the built-in flash and the EX-X20 add-on unit shown above, the camera uses its 'intelligent' flash system to produce very natural looking results.

As you can see from the above examples the X-E2 produces natural looking, well-balanced  shots. I would point out that all three images have a window behind the main subject. These days the use of flash units is hardly mentioned at all, but they are incredibly useful. Even the built in flashes are very sophisticated these days and there are some very decent small units available. My Leica X Vario and Nikon 1 cameras were also very impressive in this regard, and the use of flash is becoming somewhat of a 'lost art.' In the hobbyist world, fast lenses, high ISO and minimal depth-of-field has become de rigeur, but there are still many occasions when a decent flash implementation produces much better images. I've been going out a lot lately with with the EX-X20 fitted to my Fuji's and it is very useful.

So, I'm some way into this X-E2 review, and I haven't really found anything negative as yet. And that's because there really isn't anything that I've discovered so far that would give rise to that. Even after only a few days, it's become apparent to me that the X-E2 is the best Fuji X camera so far. Its very impressive in many ways and shows how Fuji DO listen to criticism of their cameras.

For all my posts on the X-E2 CLICK HERE

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