A mid-range mirrorless camera, the Fujifilm XE3 is targeted at photographers who want X-system resolution and lenses in a lightweight frame. The XE3, unveiled in September 2017, is the successor to the four-year-old XE2 (and later XE2s) and features a rangefinder-styled body with an optical viewfinder mounted into the corner, like those ones. However, when wrapping it with the new technologies, Fujfilm has shrunk the body a little bit.
Fujifilm’s 24 Megapixel X-Trans III, an APSC camera with integrated phase-detect autofocus, is the newest standard for the XE3. The quality and performance of the X-Pro2, X-T2, and X-T20 are already well known, while autofocus upgrades are coming as firmware updates for the other bodies. The 3in / 3:2 panel, like the XT20, is touch-sensitive, but it now supports playback and composition gesture functions. Although you can use the touchscreen to change the AF area, the XE3 also provides the X-Pro2 and XT2 joysticks, equipping them with the best of both worlds in a special way. However, unlike the XT versions, the screen is set in place and does not rotate.
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Fujifilm X-E3: Price
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Fujifilm X-E3: Build & Appearance
The Fujifilm X-E3 is a neat compact camera but not so small as to make the average user feel clumsy, thanks to some clever design choices.
The overall design of the Fujifilm X-E3 is usually that of a flagship Fujifilm X Series camera body. It takes heavy design qualities from the likes of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 and the Fujifilm GFX 50R – both rangefinder-style bodies in their own rights.
The overall structure of the Fujifilm X-E3 is definitely that of a steel body – a firm-textured epidermis on all sides and a sturdy rubber grip on the front. Solid steel lugs protrude from each part of the camera body offering assurance for connecting the most delicate or tough of camera straps.
There are only two access doors on the camera body. The first is on the left aspect and offers a 2.5mm video mic jack, a Micro-USB slot, and a micro HDMI interface. The access is neat, firm and closes snug against the body, keeping in mind that the Fujifilm X-E3 has no weather sealing.
The second access door is located on the bottom plate of the camera body. This houses the standard Fujifilm NP-W126S batteries and a single SD card slot. Personally, I found that the card slot being so snug against the battery pack made it difficult to get the cards out.
Further to this, the battery / Sdcard slot door is situated close to the screw mount located on the bottom base bowl of the camera. This would make changing batteries or SD cards hard if the camera was mounted to a travel tripod or some similar accessory.
The Fujifilm X-E3 has the same 3.0-inch touchscreen LCD (1,040K-dot) as the flagship model Fujifilm X-T3. The touchscreen is bright, very clear and responsive. This is critical given that Fujifilm has taken out the age-old D-Pad from this camera, relying instead on touch swipes to access key functions.
The Fujifilm X-E3 has a 0.39-in, 2,360K-dot OLED color viewfinder. It includes a lower magnification rate compared to the flagship Fujifilm X Series cameras. Keep in mind that this is simply not a flagship camera, but the quality is still great.
Fujifilm X-E3: Ergonomics & Handling
Despite this being one of the smaller Fujifilm X Series camera bodies, the Fujifilm X-E3 just feels well-balanced in the hand. There is no burden to holding this camera end up being it on a neck strap or a wrist strap. Or, if you are brave, no strap at all.
Fujifilm’s decision to remove the traditional D-Pad from the rear of the camera was at first questionable. However, after getting hands-on with this camera, it is clear that this was not a flippant decision. The increased thumb real-estate gives the shooter greater convenience and grasp of the camera.
As with all Fujifilm X Series digital cameras, there has been careful consideration given to the placement of buttons and dials on the camera body. In keeping with other cameras like the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 & 2, the Fujifilm X100 series, and also the Fujifilm XF-10, the Fujifilm X-E3 has a Shutter Speed and Direct exposure Compensation dial dominating the top plate.
That consistency of design is greatly appreciated, as when picking up the Fujifilm X-E3, there is an automatic recognition with the design and familiar usability too.
The same can be said for the menu system – it is standard Fujifilm X Series in its layout and familiarity. The same menu styling that is in place across the entire Fujifilm X Series range.
As with most Fujifilm X Series cameras, the placement of major and minimal control dials, control keys and thumb real-estate have been thoroughly calculated. Ergonomically everything can be well within your reach. It is this sort of type and function that made me fall in love with my initial Fujifilm X100.
Fujifilm X-E3: Performance
The focus performance on the Fujifilm X-E3 camera is fantastic. That is large because of the incredible capabilities of the X-Trans CMOS III sensor & X-Processor Pro. Remember that this sensor and processor chip is only the generation behind the current flagship sensor and processor on the Fujifilm X-T3.
The Fujifilm X-E3 provides multiple focus mode settings: Single-mode, continuous setting, and manual focusing are all selectable from the same entrance selector switch available on every Fujifilm X Series camera.
Autofocus framework selection includes Single Point with adjustable body sizes, Zone autofocus, and Wide / Tracking auto performance.
Another great feature of the Fujifilm X-E3 is certainly that it allows for various eye and face autofocus settings. This includes setting the focus to grab either the left or right eye.
When it comes to low light overall performance, the Fujifilm X-E3 doesn’t bat an eyelid. Or a shutter.
Over the years of using Fujifilm X Series digital cameras, I have never had an issue with capturing in low light. It is an area that Fujifilm has really made a commitment to control effectively.
Walking into a dark setting, I can happily dial in the ISO via the swipe function on the trunk touch screen.
Reading the room and light, I comfortably dial the ISO to 6,400 while still holding an aperture of F8 and a shutter rate of 1/125. The level of noise from such a composition is truly minimal.
Fujifilm X-E3: Image Quality
Keeping in mind that the Fujifilm X-E3 is using the prior generation of sensor and processor chip, the image quality is exceptional. This is the same era as the Fujifilm X-T2, the Fujifilm X-Pro2 and a bunch of other older Fujifilm bodies. It really is definitely no slouch.
It is well known that Fujifilm SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) JPEGs are simply amazing, with exceptional picture quality and rendering. The Fujifilm X-E3 is normally no exception to that family heritage of high-quality JPEG reproduction.
Personally, I always shoot in RAW as I like to add my own variant of Fujifilm Film Simulations in Lightroom during post-production. We will talk about that another day.
Fujifilm X-E3: Conclusion
I mentioned at the start of this Fujifilm X-E3 review how I’ve mostly overlooked the rangefinder style of Fujifilm X Series camera in place of the Fujifilm X-T series.
While I have no real regrets about that decision and pathway, I must caution others that this was a mistake. Along the way, a true gem appears and deserves its own level of consideration and attention.
Having tested this camera over several weeks, I have found it very hard to find anything but joy in my shooting knowledge. The Fujifilm X-E3 has met every challenge I’ve thrown at it with a small silent smugness that’s simply adorable.