First Impressions: Fujifilm X-E3 (Sample Images Included)

I’m really glad that Fujifilm announced the Fujifilm X-E3 partially because the Fujifilm XE2s was such an absolute failure in my eyes. In many ways, it felt half-assed and due to its release after the announcement of cameras with the new 24MP X Trans sensor, its usage of the 16MP sensor seemed odd. Nonetheless, I believe that sensor’s output looked much more analog than the newer ones. With the Fujifilm X-E3 though, photographers are getting a camera that is perhaps one of Fujifilm’s most straightforward creations in a while. However, there are things that are sort of odd. It uses the same sensor as the company’s flagship cameras and includes 4K video, the joystick that every Fujifilm user pretty much demands at this point, and a shutter speed dial without the ISO setting incorporated (lest someone who doesn’t understand how to use the dial goes onto YouTube and creates a video about how terrible this one thing is when they’ve probably never shot with a film camera in their life).

No, with the Fujifilm X-E3 you’ve got a heavy emphasis on just the basics: exposure.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from our press release coverage

  • 24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III sensor
    • X-Processor Pro
    • Start-up time of 0.4sec
    • Ultra-fast AF speed of 0.06sec
    • Offers 5.0fps live-view shooting
    • Shutter time lag of 0.050sec
    • Shooting interval of 0.25sec
  • 3.0 inch 1.04M-dot static TFT color LCD touchscreen monitor
  • Upgraded AF tracking performance
    • Newly developed image recognition algorithm to track moving subjects up to half the size, or moving twice as fast as previous models.
  • 4K video can be recorded at [3840 x 2160] 29.97p, 25p, 24p, 23.98P, 100Mbps
  • Continuous recording: up to approximately 10min
  • Full HD video can be recorded at 59.94 fps, 50 fps, 29.97 fps, 25 fps, 24 fps and 23.98 fps, and with Film Simulation effects
    • Video can be outputted to external monitor via the HDMI port and input audio from an external microphone
    • Easily connect to external HDMI monitor and turn on HDMI Rec Control to automatically enable a clean HDMI output when the camera’s shutter release button is pressed
    • Touch AF to change the focus area and refocusing according to subject movement functions in video recording
  • 25 high-performance FUJINON X Mount lenses for ultimate versatility
  • Bluetooth® low energy wireless communication to pair the camera with a smartphone or tablet device for easy transfer of pictures
  • Free FUJIFILM Camera Remote app for Remote Control function

Ergonomics

If you’re using the Fujifilm XE3 then one of the first things you’ll notice about it is its ode to classic rangefinders in regards to the design. It’s very simple on the front with the camera incorporating a setting dial and a focus selection switch. Otherwise, it’s pretty minimal. The Fujifilm X-E3 uses an APS-C sensor.

Turn to the top of the Fujifilm X-E3 and you’ll spot more dials. There is an exposure compensation dial, a function button which you may assign to ISO control, a shutter speed dial, on/off switch, shutter release, auto or not switch, and the hot shoe. One of the things I really need to get used to is the auto or not switch. I understand why Fujifilm would want it there, but I personally scoff at it.

On the back of the Fujifilm X-E3 you’ll spot an extreme lack of buttons. There are indeed some controls and buttons, but most of the back of the Fujifilm X-E3 is dominated by the touchscreen LCD. Then there’s the viewfinder for the camera.

Build Quality

The Fujifilm X-E3 isn’t really designed to be a workhorse camera of any sort. And to that end, Fujifilm chose to not put weather sealing in it. However, it can probably work well enough as a decent backup camera. When I held the Fujifilm X-E3, it felt like a digital update to the old Hexar AF. One can say that the X100F feels this way, but the Fujifilm X-E3’s emphasis on having even less buttons lends itself to feeling like more of a film camera in the hand. Depending on the type of photographer you are, you may either love this or hate it. Considering that I spent less than a half hour playing with the camera, I’m not totally sure what to think about it yet.

Ease of Use

If you’re an experienced Fujifilm user, then the Fujifilm X-E3 may seem odd to you. It’s a camera with a touchscreen and in addition to that, there aren’t the direction buttons you’re probably used to using. Instead, you’re going to navigate the menu system using the touch screen and the joystick. Ergonomically, I see advantages both ways, but personally, it means that I need to rewire the way I know and use Fujifilm cameras. For this reason though, I can see the Fujifilm X-E3 appealing to many targets: the old school film photographer and the photographer just getting into it.

Update

We’ve discovered a few kinks with the touchscreen. It isn’t that intuitive.

Autofocus

The Fujifilm X-E3’s biggest draw is the improvement in the tracking autofocus. I didn’t really get to test that as the Fujifilm X-E3 that I handled was a beta prototype. But when it came to autofocusing with the 24mm f2 and the new Fujifilm 80mm f2.8 LM OIS R WR I have to say I am incredibly satisfied. The focusing is snappy, accurate, and once you’ve navigated the menus to get it configured you won’t really have any sort of problems.

Image Quality

The Fujifilm X-E3 uses the same sensor as the previous Fujifilm cameras above it in the product lineup; but these images are from a pre-production model.

Fujifilm X-E3 First Impressions

While we’re still working on our full review of the Fujifilm X-E3, I walked away from the camera with the understanding that it may be great for the analog film street photographer who is getting into digital but didn’t find anything they liked. And trust me, there are lots of them out there. The reason why they may not like higher end cameras is their complexity. Where the Fujifilm X-E3 may confuse veteran Fujifilm camera owners, it may appeal a whole lot to a brand new crowd.

But again, I’m not sure. I only spent around a half hour with the camera and our review unit is in transit. Stay tuned for our full review. Be sure to check out Amazon for the latest prices.