Fujifilm X-E3 Review
|Full model name:||Fujifilm X-E3|
(23.6mm x 15.6mm)
|Viewfinder:||EVF / LCD|
|Native ISO:||200 - 12,800|
|Extended ISO:||100 - 51,200|
|Shutter:||1/32000 - 900 seconds|
|Max Aperture:||2.8 (kit lens)|
4.8 x 2.9 x 1.7 in.
(121 x 74 x 43 mm)
|Full specs:||Fujifilm X-E3 specifications|
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Fuji X-E3 Review -- Now Shooting!
by Mike Tomkins
Preview posted: 09/07/2017
Last Updated: 10/17/2017
Five years ago, Fujifilm courted experienced photographers on a budget with the Fuji X-E1, a compact system camera that took the APS-C X-Trans imaging pipeline of its much-lauded, enthusiast-grade X-Pro1, and placed it in a superb, more compact body with a significantly more affordable pricetag. And a year later, the company followed up with the equally impressive X-E2, adding swift on-chip phase detection autofocus into the mix, as well as a more powerful processor, a refined user interface, improved video capture capabilities and in-camera Wi-Fi wireless communication.
Since then, though, things have been relatively quiet for the Fuji X-E series, which has now lasted through almost four years with only minimal changes to the formula. (Last year's X-E2S differed from a fully firmware-upgraded X-E2 only in its subtly-restyled handgrip and a higher maximum ISO sensitivity, plus a newly-added Auto mode and motion detection system.)
But as of late 2017, that all changes. Five years on from the line's debut, Fujifilm is finally bringing the X-E series right up to date with the arrival of the Fuji X-E3 -- and on paper at least, it looks to be one very impressive camera indeed!
The Fuji X-E3's premium body is Fujifilm's most compact yet
Although it retains the familiar (and frankly, timeless) rangefinder-like styling of earlier X-E models, as well as their premium feel with precision-milled aluminum dials up top, the Fuji X-E3 is nevertheless a ground-up redesign. And while its predecessors already drew praise for their trim proportions, the X-E3 takes things to the next level.
Fujifilm has somehow managed to identify and trim away a little more fat, and the result is the company's most compact, lightweight viewfinder-equipped X-series interchangeable-lens camera to date, with dimensions of just 4.8 x 2.9 x 1.7 inches (121.3 x 73.9 x 42.7mm). That's about a third of an inch less wide than before and just a fraction less tall as well,. Depth has grown by about 0.2 inches, likely due to a more generous handgrip, and weight has fallen by around half an ounce, to 11.9 ounces (337g) with battery and memory card, but without the lens.
A quick tour of the Fuji X-E3's new body
Seen from the front, the Fuji X-E3 looks a whole lot like its predecessors, despite its more compact proportions. There is, of course, still a Fujifilm X-mount dominating the front of the body, on which you can mount one of 25 different Fuji X-mount lens models as of this writing, not to mention a variety of third-party lenses or mount adapters intended for use with X-mount cameras.
The most immediately-noticeable changes other than the model number are its reprofiled, deeper handgrip, a relocation of the autofocus assist lamp to accommodate a new front control dial, and the fact that the swage line above the top of the leatherette trim which covers most of the front deck is now straight from end to end, where previously it dipped at one end to accommodate the model number.
Moving to the top deck, we see that the built-in, popup flash of the X-E2 is gone, leaving the hot shoe as the sole option if you want to throw a little more light on your subject. (An EF-X8 external flash strobe will be included in the product bundle, ensuring that you have one if needed.) The hot shoe itself now has a couple of extra contacts, and sits over the central axis of the lens mount, where previously it was a little right of center. There's also a little more separation between the left and right microphone ports, which have also been moved directly above the lens for a more balanced look.
The basic control layout is unchanged, but the function button is now body-colored, and the exposure compensation dial sits a little taller, now standing proud of the top deck by a fair way. It also has a new C position allowing a +/- 5 stop range, greater than the +/- 3 stops which you can dial in directly from this control.
The shutter speed dial, meanwhile, still tops out at a fastest mechanical speed of 1/4,000-second, but now extends to a full second at the other end of its range, where previously it stopped at 1/4 second. (You can still opt for Time or Bulb positions as well.) The square knurling around the outside of both dials now starts further up, meanwhile, with a smooth portion at the base of each dial.
And there's also a new Auto switch, tucked in at the rear right corner of the shutter speed dial. This is used to enable the Fuji X-E3's fully-automatic Advanced SR Auto mode, great if you want to hand your camera off to a less experienced photographer for a while, or just want to quickly let the camera do the thinking for a bit. The shutter button and power switch, meanwhile, are unchanged, with the former still including provision for an old-school mechanical cable release.
But it's on the back of the camera where you'll find the bulk of the changes. Here, Fujifilm has completely reinvented the control layout. The result is a much cleaner-looking, less cluttered body, and a user interface which does away with a four-way controller in favor of an eight-way joystick control. (We're not yet sure whether this will function in menus, but it can be used to select the focus area in record mode.)
And gone is the column of buttons at left of the LCD monitor, which still has a 3.0-inch diagonal and a 1.04-million dot count, but now sports a touch-screen overlay, allowing it to serve as an input device. This, too, can be used to select the focus area, and it also allows for intuitive operation in playback mode. You can swipe to switch between images, and pinch to zoom or drag to pan, just as you would with your smartphone. You can also double-tap to zoom in, if you prefer. Perhaps most interestingly of all, though, you can also swipe up, down, left or right on the screen in record mode to access four different functions, effectively allowing the touch-screen itself to serve as a replacement for the four-way controller of earlier models.
Above and to the right of the LCD panel, you'll still find some buttons and a rear control dial, but there are now three buttons in a row here, rather than two. And to the right of the LCD, there's a column of three buttons beneath the new eight-way joystick control. Finally, you'll find two more buttons in the thumb grip, just as was the case in the earlier X-E series cameras. (One of these is the Q button, making a return to its position as in the original X-E1, after having been rehomed above the LCD in the X-E2 and X-E2S.)
And of course, there's still a built-in electronic viewfinder at the very top left corner of the Fuji X-E3's body. It uses a 0.39-inch 2,360K-dot OLED panel providing 100% coverage, a 35mm-equivalent magnification of 0.62x, and an eye point of 17.5mm. As you can see, there's a dioptric adjustment dial (-4 to +2m-1) to its left, and a small window for a proximity sensor to its right, allowing it to be enabled or disabled automatically as you bring the camera to your eye or lower it.
One final note of interest is that the rear thumbgrip now has a leatherette-textured finish, matching that which lines most of the front and side panels. However, where earlier models saw this finish wrapped around most of the rear panel too, on the Fuji X-E3, this is no longer the case. Instead, the leatherette finish stops beneath the rear control dial, and the area surrounding the LCD is much smoother, with only a very subtle texture applied.
On the inside, the APS-C sensor-shod Fuji X-E3 is an all-new camera as well. At its heart is a new imaging pipeline which looks to have been lifted almost unchanged from the flagship Fuji X-Pro2, although with more modest burst capture performance. In place of the 16.3-megapixel X-Trans CMOS II sensor in the X-E2, the X-E3 sports a significantly higher-resolution 24.3-megapixel X-Trans CMOS III image sensor.
The new image sensor still features the same unique color filter array shared by Fuji's other X-Trans imagers, which is designed to resist the unsightly moiré artifacts which can plague standard Bayer-sensored cameras. And just as with that in the X-E2, it includes on-chip autofocus pixels to provide for swift phase detection autofocus.
And just as in the X-Pro2, this sensor is paired with Fuji's latest-generation X-Processor Pro-branded image processor, which provides the performance necessary to deal with the significantly higher resolution, and the complexity of demosaicing X-Trans images.
Burst capture performance has risen from seven frames per second in the X-E2 to 8 fps in the Fuji X-E3, matching the X-Pro2 in this regard, albeit with a smaller buffer size of 25 losslessly compressed raw, 23 uncompressed raw or 62 JPEG frames, versus 33, 27 or 83 respectively for the X-Pro2. Burst speeds as high as 14 fps are possible with the electronic shutter.
Shutter lag is still manufacturer-rated at just 0.05 seconds, just as in the X-E2 and X-Pro2, but startup time is said to have been reduced by 0.1 seconds to just 0.4 seconds. Autofocus performance is manufacturer-rated at 0.06 seconds, just fractionally besting the 0.08 seconds claimed for both the X-E2 and X-Pro2.
And interestingly, Fuji says that the X-E3 sports a newly-developed image recognition algorithm which allows it to track moving subjects that are just half the size trackable by previous X-series cameras, or alternatively, subjects which are moving at twice the speed previously trackable.
The Fuji X-E3 is the first X-series camera with Bluetooth LE support
Another first for the Fujifilm X-E3 is to be found in the wireless connectivity department. The earlier X-E2 already sported Wi-Fi wireless networking capability, but the X-E3 now offers up a Bluetooth Low Energy radio. This is something which we've never seen in previous Fuji X-series cameras, and it's a feature which should allow for easier pairing with the free Fujifilm Camera Remote app on your smartphone or tablet.
(We don't yet have all the specifics, but other manufacturers have used Bluetooth LE for an always-on connection over which low-bandwidth content like image thumbnails can be transferred, and which can be used to automatically establish a Wi-Fi connection as needed for larger full-res image transfers, remote control, etc. We'd expect to see something similar from the X-E3's Bluetooth LE setup.)
The Fuji X-E3 bests its flagship sibling with ultra high-def video capture, too
Another area in which the more affordable Fujifilm X-E3 will, briefly, best the flagship X-Pro2 can be found in the video department. Here, Fujifilm has not only retained the Full HD (1080p60) capture of the X-E2, complete with support for the company's Film Simulation functionality and added the healthy selection of alternative frame-rate options (50, 29.97, 25, 24 or 23.98 fps) for Full HD video as in the X-Pro2; it has also added support for ultra-high definition 4K capture, something its flagship sibling currently lacks.
Now, we should note that the X-Pro2 will be getting 4K capture support through a firmware update slated to arrive by the end of the year. But at launch, only the X-E3 will be capable of recording 100Mbps, 3,840 x 2,160-pixel 4K video at rates of 29.97, 25, 24 or 23.98 fps. The X-Pro2 may have the last laugh, however, as it will apparently also support film simulation modes for 4K video, whereas the press materials we received for the X-E3 only made mention of this feature for Full HD video.
The Fuji X-E3 will have a clip length limit of approximately 10 minutes when recording 4K video to the internal SDXC/UHS-I-compatible storage card slot, and it will also support clean HDMI output with HDMI Rec Control, allowing you to record longer clips with both video and audio using an external HDMI recorder. The press materials are a little ambiguous on this point, but seem to suggest that the clean HDMI output operates at 1080p resolution, however, and that touch autofocus is also only supported at this lower resolution.
In addition to a Micro (Type-D) HDMI port, the Fuji X-E3 includes a Micro-B USB 2.0 port (which is compatible with Fuji's RR-90 Remote Release and supports in-camera charging), and a 2.5mm external microphone jack which we believe still doubles as a remote release jack.
Fuji X-E3: Price, availability, bundle and accessories
The Fujifilm X-E3 is slated to arrive on the US market from late September 2017 in three versions, each of which will be provided in black-only or two-tone black-and-silver variants. The Fuji X-E3 will sell body-only for around US$900, while a kit with XF18-55mm lens will retail for around US$1,300. Alternatively, you can expect to pick up a kit with the XF23mmF2 R WR lens for around US$1,150.
Like its predecessor and the flagship X-Pro2, the Fuji X-E3 will draw power from a bundled NP-W126 compatible battery pack, specifically the newer NP-W126S variant, which we understand is designed for better heat dissipation when recording 4K video. Battery life is CIPA-rated to 350 shots with the LCD. A BC-W126 battery charger will also be included in the product bundle, along with the aforementioned EF-X8 shoe mount flash strobe, a shoulder strap and a body mount cap. Available accessories will include the X-E3 Metal Hand Grip (MHG-XE3) and the X-E3 Bottom Leather Case (BLC-XE3).
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