Fstoppers Reviews the Fujifilm X-E3

Fstoppers Reviews the Fujifilm X-E3

Fujifilm silently added the X-E3 to its rangefinder-type mirrorless X-E series, and its been on the market for a while as the fourth member of the series. It has some improvements, both inside and outside, such as a touchscreen and Bluetooth, and size-wise, it is more compact in comparison to other Fuji X-E series cameras.

First Impressions and Build Quality

At first glance, this is another solid-built Fuji camera with good craftsmanship. It's equipped with a metal top plate and an airtight, leather-textured plastic covering the rest of the body. Like the rest of the Fuji X-series cameras, it keeps its classic design (some might say retro), but overall it is another good-looking camera which is easy to operate. In comparison with previous X-E series cameras, the new X-E3 has smoother lines, a tad smaller body, and a joystick on the back, replaced with four-way button-type controller. Also on the new model, Fuji removed the frame around the LCD screen and the back of the camera looks sleeker. With the new design, the layout of the buttons looks more proper now, allowing users to control the camera with their right hands only. Unfortunately, the bottom plate is made of plastic. It would be good to see a metal plate instead of a metal looking plastic.

Improvements Over Fujifilm X-E2S

The Fujifilm X-E2S was an update to the existing X-E2 in early 2016, and quite frankly, there wasn’t a big improvement except some features such as the addition of electronic shutter and the improved autofocus system. Like the X-E2S, the new X-E3 has both mechanical and electronic shutter system, which is useful for mirrorless cameras. Fuji also decided to use X-Trans III CMOS sensor and X Processor Pro, which is also used in the new generation Fuji cameras such as X-T2, X-Pro2, X-T20, and X100F. Therefore, it comes with 24.7 megapixels (24.3 effective) in total, while X-E2S has 16.7 megapixels. The autofocus system is also improved with 91 focus points in comparison to 77 points on the previous model.

On the left; Fuji X-E2s, and on the right, the new X-E3

The biggest change over the X-E2S is the newly added 1.04-million-dot rear touchscreen that allows tap-focusing on screen, firing the shutter, and swiping the photos in the playback mode. While you can select the settings by using the touchscreen, you cannot control the whole menu with it. With this implementation of the touchscreen, it looks like Fuji aimed to create a balance between a modern and a classic camera. The new joystick is also another good improvement. As a Nikon user, I found it handy and it worked really well when selecting the autofocus points. It is also more practical when it comes navigating in the menu.

In addition, Fuji X-E3 is the first Fuji camera that comes with built-in Bluetooth connectivity feature. However, it still needs to be improved, as I struggled to pair the camera with my iPhone during my test. I hope Fuji will release a better firmware in the upcoming days.

I’d have liked to see a hybrid viewfinder on this camera, however, Fuji’s product strategy directs buyers to specific models in their camera lineup. For example, if you want a hybrid viewfinder you should buy X100 series, but if you want an interchangeable lens option with improved features, then you should look at X-Pro series. There are lots of options at this point for Fujifilm, and it all depends on your budget. Considering its price point, this camera is suitable for photographers who are seeking an affordable and high-quality pocket camera, who do not want to carry their DSLRs all the time.

Image Quality

I tested the camera with two Fuji lenses, the cheapest pancake 27mm f/2.8 and 23mm f/2.0 mid-range 35mm equivalent lens. Both lenses did quite well, and the raw images had enough data in terms of dynamic range to recover highlights and dark areas. However, I would expect more from the JPEG outputs. Even though they look good on screen in standard viewing size, pixel peepers might find the JPEG results low in quality. On the other hand, Fuji did a really good job on high ISO performance. The photos with high ISO were the best that I have seen so far, including DSLR cameras.

Shot with ISO 2500 at 1/60 sec, f/2.8

Long-Term Test Results

The automatic shooting function works well, as it is supposed to be. However, when using the Advanced Scene Recognition mode, the autofocus starts rattling continuously, and it keeps going on until you press the shutter. I couldn’t find any way to activate it with the shutter button only, so fingers crossed for the next firmware. Besides that, I noticed a bug on my camera: after changing the batteries or switching from auto mode to normal, image quality settings were lost, and the camera recorded everything as JPEGs rather than raws. After searching online, I saw some people having similar issues with their ISO settings. This is obviously a no-no for a brand like Fuji, and I believe this will be fixed soon as well.

What I Liked

  • Smaller body
  • Autofocus Joystick
  • Reliable autofocus
  • Touchscreen
  • High ISO results
  • Hybrid autofocus
  • Charging the camera over the USB port
  • Included EF-X8 external flash

What I Didn’t Like

  • Firmware issues
  • Bluetooth feature
  • Lack of weather sealing
  • Late recognition when changing the aperture on manual lenses
  • Lack of accessories
  • Lack of tilt-screen
  • JPEG output quality
  • EVF coverage
  • Lack of hybrid viewfinder
  • Lack of Adobe Camera Raw profiles for lens corrections

1/1000 sec, f/2.8 at ISO 200

Conclusion

Overall, Fujifilm X-3E is an ideal camera for those who are thinking of buying their first mirrorless camera. It is also ideal for everyday carry and street photography due its compact size; As is known to all, the best camera is the one that you carry. However, there are still some features missing such as a tilt screen, and unreliable firmware issues that puts this camera down in the mirrorless race. It may be a good and compact-sized camera for everyday use, but if you want to make your living with street photography, then you have better options in the market.

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14 Comments

Magnus Hedemark's picture

"If you want to make your living with street photography". That was a funny line. :)

It'd be interesting to revisit this with the latest firmware & mobile app. I think some of the bluetooth quirks are getting better with kaizen.

Burak Erzincanli's picture

hehe I know a few guys working that way (or maybe they are just instagram photographers dunno lol)

Magnus Hedemark's picture

There are a few people who have done it, notably from Magnum. But for most of us, what can I say but "don't quit your day job".

With regard to losing settings, I found several posts advising one shouldn't remove the battery for the first 24 hours to allow for the internal battery to charge.

Bluetooth and the app was terrible, but I'm under the impression that with the latest firmware and app update, the auto-transfer feature is a bit more dependable.

Burak Erzincanli's picture

Thanks for the tip Mark, and I look forward to the next firmware update too

Fujifilm has one of the most customizable JPEG rendering engines I have seen in camera, so if you didn't like it you might try tweaking the settings. Also, when reviewing the raw file, pressing the Q button should allow you to be able to rerender the JPEG with new settings.

Burak Erzincanli's picture

Hey Donald, thanks for the comment, the reason I didn't like the Jpeg output wasn't the colors (I really liked the Jpeg colors) but rendering of the objects in the far seemed so low in sharpness and detail, on the other hand, the raws are great.

Lens profile is in the RAW file by default.
But anyway, how is that a minus for the camera?!?

Burak Erzincanli's picture

Thanks for your comment Andu. I always tend to use the latest version of both ACR and PS, however I couldn't see the profiles of my lenses and camera in ACR, so I had to choose other Fuji lenses (and X100T for camera profile) which did the job partly. So yeah it might be a minus in terms of coordination with Adobe maybe? :)

So what are the great alternatives you are talking about? :-)

Burak Erzincanli's picture

well. x-t2 :)

I appreciate the real world usage oriented review overall (seriously, thank you and good job), but I was surprised about the criticism regarding the lack of a hybrid viewfinder. I think it's a bit odd to criticize a more enthusiast-oriented camera for lacking a decidedly flagship feature (and one so specific to Fuji at that). For a camera that offers most of the image quality, functionality and performance of the X-Pro2 at about half the cost, it's not surprising that Fuji cut some features out to hit the price point, and something rather niche like the hybrid finder seems like an obvious choice for the proverbial chopping block.

Next time choose the lowest possible noise reduction before you write about JPG engine, it's az old Fuji thing.

And maybe knows about MILC world which is not the steam-engined DSLR thing: there are built-in lens corrections, software based lens corrections. You can't switch them off, only a 3rd party, little knowned RAW converter doesn't recognized this corrections (for example Raw Therapee).

Any thoughts on this camera versus the X-T20? I was all set to go for the X-T20 and now this X-E3 has me questioning that choice—especially because of the 23mm len kit the X-E3 boasts.