Friday, October 18, 2013

Fuji Announces X-E2. Updates X100. Gets Me Excited All Over Again

I wanted to like Fuji's X Pro 1. I really did. I loved the design, I loved the innovation. I loved that a company was putting out lots of new, interesting products. But good god, the autofocus really was as bad as people say it was.

Also, the menu system and digital controls were designed by someone who was missing some very important part of the brain. The physical aspects were beautiful, and the early lenses were quality, but the cameras were just too quirky to really consider.

Fuji has kept at it over the course of the past two years, though, and has iterated its cameras more quickly than any other company before it, updated software, and continued to refine its design. Fuji deserves massive kudos for being, sadly, unique in the camera industry.

Before I get into Fuji's two new cameras, I want to send some props their way. They have updated the original X100 with new firmware that gives it a big performance boost. I want to stress that no other company has done this before. Even though there is no reason aside from greed, companies almost always tie new software to a new product. You want the newest menu system? Buy the newest camera! Every company does this, to the point of some companies releasing a "new" camera where the only difference is the software.

Fuji has not done this. The act of updating a camera that has been out for years, and superseded by another, newer camera, is unheard of. They have shown that they want to do what they can do to make the user experience as excellent as it can be.

So yeah, now back to your regularly scheduled camera release. The XE-2 is, unsurprisingly, the update to the XE-1. It has the usual bevy of tweaks and bits that most new cameras come with, but it maintains the same basic design. It's disappointing that it doesn't have a new EVF, since its old/current one is inferior to the E-M5... which is inferior to the E-M1.

The headlining feature is the release of a new processor/sensor combo. The processor is important because, as we've seen with comparisons between raw converters, the processing of X-Trans data is critical to a good image. To see this, just compare Aperture or Capture One to Adobe Lightroom with raws from a Fuji camera; the differences are stark.

The sensor sports PDAF focusing points, like seemingly every major mirrorless release these days (to be fair, Fuji was among the first with the X100S), and Fuji is claiming the fastest autofocus of any mirrorless ever. Since Olympus has been claiming this with every camera they release, and since Canon's PDAF-using EOS M still couldn't focus for shit, you should all know by now that this is useless marketing speak. What's important vis-a-vis Fuji, though, is that this is actually Fuji saying "Hey! Our AF doesn't suck anymore!"

That is a big deal. The Fuji X-Trans is a magical sensor when it comes to high-ISO work, but the original autofocus system absolutely fell on its face in anything but bright light, meaning that the camera rendered its own headlining feature pointless. With that problem possibly fixed, there are few reasons to not jump into Fuji's camp.

Fuji also released an "enthusiast compact" called the XQ1. No one cares about this camera.

Oh, and finally, there are rumors that Fuji is planning a full-frame camera in the near future, like 2014-ish. All I have to say about that, is this.

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