Anthony thurston reviews

THE fujifilm X-E3

THE fujifilm X-E3

Just A Mini X-Pro2? OR The Future Of Fujifilm? 

I have taken a lot longer with this review than I had originally intended to, but the result for you all is that I have had an extensive amount of time with this camera and the have really been able to  compare and contrast it with my X-Pro2. I had very much been looking forward to the X-E3 prior to Fujifilm's announcement, I wanted to get a second body for my kit, but didn't want to sprint for another X-Pro2, a potential X-E3 seemed like the obvious choice. 
The Fuji XE3 paired with the XF 35mm F2 R WR
Then Fujifilm announced it and I was very intrigued. This is not just the mini X-Pro2 that many expected it would be. This actually has several 'Fujifilm First' like bluetooth and favoring an AF/Selector Joystick & touchscreen combo over a traditional control d-pad setup. I've had my hands on the X-E3 since October and over that time have used in a variety of situations from my usual client work to outdoor excursions. This is my full review of the Fujifilm X-E3.

*The thoughts and opinions shared in this review are my own and were not paid for, nor influenced by Fujifilm*

THE TECH SPECS

X-E3

  • 24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III Sensor
  • X-Processor Pro Image Processor
  • 2.36m-Dot Electronic Viewfinder
  • 3.0" 1.04m-Dot Touchscreen LCD
  • UHD 4K/30p and Full HD Video Recording
  • Extended ISO 51200, Shooting to 14 fps
  • 91-Point AF with Custom AF-C Settings
  • Built-In Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • Film Simulation for Photos and Videos

fujifilm x-e3 // THE DESIGN 

The Fujifilm XE3 features a rangefinder style design similar to the X-Pro2 with a very noticeable size difference and the omission of an optical viewfinder. This means that the X-E3 won’t have that true rangefinder look like the X-Pro2 does, but it does mean that the EVF is a more traditional one. Another big design point to talk about with the X-E3 is the top portion, which has just a single shutter speed dial, on/off switch, function button, and shutter button.

This indicates the name of the game with the X-E3 from Fujifilm’s standpoint, which was supercompactness and portable at all costs. On the back of the camera, you have a touchscreen LCD which offers some great functionality, but that just doesn’t live up to the look of the X-Pro2 screen to my eye. As mentioned in the intro, the X-E3 does share the AF joystick that only the X100f, X-Pro2, and X-T2 have. Fujifilm did this to cut down the space needed for the D-Pad, which helped them achieve their goals of a small, light, yet powerful X-Series camera. 
Overall I don’t have any major gripes with the X-E3’s design. Considering what Fujifilm was going for and their intended audience for this camera, I feel like the design choices make sense.

Though in my opinion, the camera is bordering on ‘too small’. I mean there are people out there that complain about my X-Pro2 being too small, and the X-E3 is much much smaller. So if you have large hands, or find it difficult to shoot with smaller cameras, the X-E3 may not be an ideal choice for you. 

FUJIFILM X-E3 //  THE FUNCTION

So how about the function, does the new control methods that Fuji implemented in the X-E3 help or hinder using the camera? Well, coming from an X-Pro2 I can tell you that it certainly took me a little bit to get used to it. That said, once I did get over my habits from using the X-Pro2 exclusively for so long the camera was simple enough to use. Navigation was quick and painless, and once you rewire yourself to go for the joystick over the non-existent d-pad navigating the menus and such is really snappy and convenient.

You can setup touch gestures to replace the function buttons that you no longer have with the d-pad being removed. I have to say that I just rarely ever used this feature. I found the touchscreen to be rather annoying while I was shooting. When changing settings or navigating the images I’ve already taken it was very convenient and nice. But during shooting, I found it to be annoying as the screen would think my nose touching it was a finger, and despite turning off the touch screen in the menu, the slightest touch on the right part of the screen could reactivate it and cause me to have to stop shooting and fix it.

So in some ways, I am a fan of the touchscreen, in others, I think that Fujifilm needs to work on their nose rejection and activation sensitivity.
Both the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in the X-E3 work great, I used both to connect to my iPhone 6s with no problems and then after to connect to my Pixel 2 XL and again neither caused me any issues. I also tested the X-E3 with the Instax Share SP-3, and despite preferring phone app, the process was simple enough and worked well.

One thing that Fujifilm touted with the X-E3 when it was launched was it’s 4K video and improve AF algorithms. Th AF upgrades have since been rolled out to all the other current generation interchangeable lens X-Series cameras and the 4k video (which was already in the X-T2 and X-T20) was also just added to the X-Pro2.

In my experience, the AF works well and does acquire focus and track subjects better than the X-Pro2 pre-update. Now that the X-Pro2 and the X-E3 are on equal footing in that regard, The two cameras are neck and neck, which what I would say is a hairline win for the X-Pro2 (as you would expect given it’s double the price).

FUJIFILM X-E3 //  THE Image Quality

So we know what to expect by now from the X-Trans III sensor and the X-Processor Pro, which are all shared across the latest generation X-Series cameras. In other words, you will not see any real noticeable image quality or high ISO improvements in the X-E3 over the X-Pro2, X-T2, X-T20 or X100F.

That said since I know many of you still like to really see for yourselves I have included the two images below; one shot with the X-Pro2 and one with the X-E3, both with the same lens, and both with identical settings. As you can see they look identical.
X-Pro2
X-E3
So while the X-E3 is no step forward for Fujifilm in terms of image quality, it is pushing the X-Series forward in other ways. The X-E3 matches up perfectly with the rest of the X-Series and is competitive against other crop sensor cameras. So image quality should not be a concern for you with this camera assuming you like what you see out of the X-Pro2 or one of the other X-series bodies.

SAMPLE GALLERY

Thoughts & Conclusions

Fujifilm X-E3

So as I noted at the beginning of this review I came into this review of the X-E3 hoping that the camera would be a solid backup to my X-Pro2, allowing me to finally gift my Canon EOS-M (yes, the original) to my kiddos without worrying about needing it in a pinch. In most respects, all of the important ones if I am honest, the X-E3 does everything that I need it to. But in the end, I have decided that I just need to bite the bullet and get another X-Pro2. Why?

Well, the X-E3, despite offering nearly identical performance and image quality does have its drawbacks which in the end – similarly to how I felt about the X100F – caused me to realize that the X-Pro2 is really just the ideal camera for me in more ways than I realized. The X-E3 has one of those dual battery/SD card combo doors and I just can’t bring myself to willingly use a camera that does this. Every time I try one I want to just use it without being annoyed by it, but every time I just hate it. 
"It is a really good all-around camera that will be perfect for advanced amateurs, travel photographers, or even hikers/backpackers"
Additionally, the size of the X-E3 also gets to me. The X-Pro2 is not a large camera by any means, but its right in that goldie-lox zone for my hands and with its weight and build quality, I just very much prefer the X-Pro2 and how it fits in my hands. As well, I preferred the LCD and EVF on the X-Pro2 too (though I know that many out there feel the opposite, so clearly this is a subjective thing).
So you might be wondering at this point if I liked the X-E3 at all, and the answer to that is yes, I liked it a lot – just not as much as I like the X-Pro2. For someone who has not been biased by using an X-Pro2, the X-E3 will probably be used without issue or annoyance. As I noted, performance and image quality wise in real world use they are basically the same. So really it just comes down to price.

Is the X-Pro2 twice as good as the X-E3? No, and I realize that. If this was strictly about money I would take the X-E3 hands down. But I am not a traditional camera buyer. I did, after all, sell an A7R II in order to get my X-Pro2. I care about how my camera looks, how it feels, and if I enjoy the process of shooting with it. In the X-Pro 2, I have wins in all of those categories, on the X-E3 I really only check off that first box (when compared to the X-Pro2).

So if you are considering an X-E3 and the X-Pro2, my personal recommendation would be the X-Pro2 unless the video is key for you because the X-E3 has slightly better video features. 
However, on its own, no comparisons – the X-E3 is an incredibly solid camera capable of shooting images at a level very close to that of Fujifilm’s flagship cameras for a fraction of the price. It’s not an all-around winner, but it is possible the best price to performance mirrorless camera out right now.

This is why I am going to give the Fujifilm X-E3 a solid 3 out of 4 stars. It is a really good all-around camera that will be perfect for advanced amateurs, travel photographers, or even hikers/backpackers who need to pack small and light. It’s not the best, and it wasn’t meant to be, but for those shopping within its price range, this is definitely the Fujifilm camera that I would get. 

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2 Comments

  • 9MW
    I agree with the article except that I came to the opposite conclusion. Namely that the x-e2 just feels better. Although I went out of my way to use the OVF on the x-pro2 in the end I just didn’t find it added much -and the OVF is the main advantage the x-pro2 has. Actually, I would go for a hypothetical X-E3x that had even fewer features; lose the touch screen, add UHS-Ii compatability, add separate SD card door on side, lose the “Auto” switch and the nonsense it invokes, lose some silly features like white balance bracketing, film simulation bracketing etc, move tripod mount to not conflict with battery door, and I think I could live with only one function wheel thingy but I’m not certain. Anyway, I’m just a “less is more” mentality with regard to many things and Fuji probably shouldn’t listen too intently to me.
  • GokhanCukurova
    Great review. Thank you. I so wish that the Xpro 2 was FF & tilting LCD like XT2