Fuji X-E3 Conclusion

by | Posted 05/07/2018

The Fujifilm X-E3 is a vastly different camera from its predecessor, and its many new features and changes represent numerous improvements. The X-E3 has a redesigned body, new front control dial, a touchscreen, an eight-way joystick, a new imaging pipeline and 4K video recording capabilities. During our testing, the camera proved to be very capable and an impressive X-Series camera.

Design

The Fujifilm X-E3 employs a rangefinder-like design, giving it a generally compact form factor. With that said, the camera has a redesigned grip compared to the X-E2, which is deeper and offers a better hold. The X-E3, like most Fujifilm X-Series cameras, has a fair number of physical controls. The camera has dual command dials, a physical shutter speed dial and an exposure compensation dial in addition to a standard assortment of buttons.

One of the few issues with the otherwise good design of the X-E3 is that it
opts for an eight-way joystick selector and no four-way directional pad.
This can make menu navigation difficult at times.

The camera feels good in the hands, and the controls work well. However, the joystick on the rear of the camera can be a little finicky. Further, a few buttons sit nearly flush with the camera, making them a bit difficult to press, particularly if you're working in cold weather and wearing gloves. The camera doesn't offer a traditional directional pad, either, so you will need to use the joystick to interact with the full menus. The touchscreen is nice, but not fully integrated into the user experience (can't navigate full menus, but can interact with the Quick Menu), so ultimately the joystick will be necessary at times.

Offset toward the left edge of the camera, the 0.39-inch OLED electronic viewfinder works nicely. It has only 0.62x magnification (35mm equivalent), but it nonetheless works well in most situations. That's the trend with the X-E3 in general, it is well-designed and mostly pleasing to use. A traditional directional pad would have been a welcome inclusion, but otherwise, it's easy to use and features ample physical controls.

Image Quality

Equipped with a 24-megapixel X-Trans CMOS III sensor, the X-E3 captures sharp, pleasing images. The X-E2/S had a 16-megapixel sensor, so the X-E3 is a substantial upgrade with respect to resolving power. The X-E3 produces detailed images at base ISO and maintains very good image quality for much of its ISO range. Further, the RAW files from the camera are quite flexible and easy to manipulate in RAW processors. In-camera sharpening and noise reduction can be a little heavy-handed at times, although by processing RAW files, you can bring out a lot of fine detail in high ISO images and selectively apply noise reduction where necessary.

Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS: 13.2mm (20mm equiv.), f/7.1, 1s, ISO 200.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

The X-E3 meters images well with respect to both exposure and white balance and struggles only in low light situations. The camera offers many ways to customize the overall look and feel of your images and through the use of Film Simulations, the X-E3 is capable of producing great images straight from the camera, even if they are sometimes a bit over-sharpened at lower ISOs and lacking some fine detail at higher ISO settings.

Importantly, the X-E3 produces better images than its predecessor and certainly is right up there in terms of image quality with other 24MP Fuji cameras such as the X-Pro2 and X-T2. If you want high-end APS-C imaging performance, the X-E3 is a very good candidate.

Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS: 15mm (23mm equiv.), f/7.1, 1/500s, ISO 500.
Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

Performance

In our lab, the Fujifilm X-E3 generally showed very good performance. The camera shares much of its processing pipeline with the flagship X-Pro2 camera, so speedy performance isn't surprising, but to get this level of performance from a camera that costs under $1,000 for the body is a bit surprising. The X-E3 can shoot images at up to 8 frames per second using its mechanical shutter, and its buffer depth was 48 frames and 26 frames for JPEG and RAW, respectively. The buffer also cleared reasonably quickly with a fast card, making it a good choice for fast-paced shooting. In the field, it felt snappy and processed images swiftly. If you want even faster shooting, the camera can shoot at up to almost 14 fps using the electronic shutter.

The camera also produced fast autofocus speeds in the lab and in the field, although continuous autofocus was an area of some weakness for the X-E3, as it occasionally struggled to maintain focus on fast, small subjects. Another area of weakness is its battery life, which is rated up to 350 shots (or 260 with "high performance" mode). This is about average for a compact mirrorless camera, but if you want to shoot for extended periods or record much video, plan on bringing an extra battery.

Overall, the X-E3 has very good performance across many areas, including shooting speeds, autofocus speeds and shutter lag.

Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS: 37mm (56mm equiv.), f/3.6, 1/60s, ISO 1000.
Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

Summary

The Fujifilm X-E3 does many things very well. It produces nice JPEG and RAW images from its 24-megapixel X-Trans sensor and can capture images at impressive speeds. While buffer depths and clearing times are only decent, the camera has very good performance for its class. There are a few notable weaknesses, particularly with respect to sluggish continuous autofocus performance and middling battery life, but all in all, the X-E3 is not only a substantially better X-E series camera than its predecessors, it's also a very good camera for the price. An easy Dave's Pick.

Pros & Cons

  • Great image quality with pleasing in-camera JPEGs
  • Impressive high ISO performance for an APS-C sensor
  • Flexible RAW files with X-Trans-compatible converters
  • Stylish, compact body with good build quality
  • Hi-res electronic viewfinder
  • Touchscreen works well, although you can't use it to navigate full menus
  • Dual control dials with integrated buttons
  • Fujifilm's Film Simulations are impressive
  • Detailed 4K UHD video
  • Speedy autofocus for stills shooting
  • 8 frames per second shooting with mechanical shutter
  • Up to 14 fps with electronic shutter
  • Decent buffer depths and clearing speeds
  • Good overall performance
  • Built-in Bluetooth LE and Wi-Fi
  • External mic/remote jack
  • In-camera charging supported
  • Eight-way joystick doesn't always accurately register presses
  • EVF is small
  • Fixed display
  • Some buttons are small and/or difficult to press
  • Indecisive and sluggish autofocus during video recording
  • No histogram or zebra warnings when recording video
  • No built-in flash (although a small external flash is included)




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