Fujifilm X-E3 Field Test Part II

4K video in a compact, attractive and affordable package

by Jeremy Gray | Posted 01/23/2018

Recap of Field Test Part I

In Field Test Part I, I looked at the new camera body, image sensor, performance and autofocus capabilities of the Fuji X-E3, and the camera generally impressed me. In this second field test, the focus will shift toward the shooting experience, video performance and a discussion of other smaller features in the X-E3, including wireless functionality.

Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS lens at 18mm (27mm equiv.), f/7.1, 4.5s, ISO 200.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

Shooting Experience

Film Simulation

Fujifilm's Film Simulations are one of my favorite aspects of their cameras, and the X-E3 has this feature fully implemented. With the X-E3, you can select from Provia (Standard), Velvia (Vivid), Astia (Soft), Classic Chrome, PRO Neg. Hi, PRO Neg. Std., Acros, Monochrome and Sepia. Acros and Monochrome are both black and white Film Simulations, and you can select from standard, yellow, red and green filter variations. You can also further modify the look of your images by adjusting highlight tone, shadow tone, color, sharpness, noise reduction, grain effect and dynamic range.

With the different Film Simulations you can greatly alter the look and feel of your images, and it's an awesome feature. Fujifilm cameras typically produce some of the best-looking JPEG images straight from the camera and the X-E3 continues this trend.

Metering

Metering performance with the Fujifilm X-E3 is strong for both exposure and white balance. The camera utilizes a 256-zone TTL metering system with multi, spot, average and center-weighted metering. The camera offers +/- 5 EV of exposure compensation as well. I found that the X-E3 was consistently good with respect to metering. It wasn't unusual for me to have to use +1/3 or +2/3 exposure compensation, but importantly, the camera was consistent.

Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS lens at 12mm (17mm equiv.), f/7.1, 4.5s, ISO 200.
Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

Wireless Shooting

The X-E3 is the first Fujifilm X-series camera with Bluetooth LE support and its overall offering of wireless functionality is impressive. After going through the pretty straightforward connection process, the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth-equipped X-E3 offers a lot of options for wireless control.

From within the free Fujifilm Camera Remote app, you can control Film Simulation, white balance, flash mode, self-timer, ISO, exposure compensation and more. You can also browse the images on the camera, perform geotagging and transfer images. The connection is stable and the remote view works well. As far as wireless apps and functionality is concerned, the X-E3 has some of the better offerings out there.

The X-E3 has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and its wireless functionality is quite good.

Video

The Fujifilm X-E3 is one of Fuji's stronger efforts when it comes to video features and performance. The camera shoots 4K UHD video (3840 x 2160) at up to 30 frames per second, which is a relatively new offering for Fujifilm. In the past, their cameras have generally underwhelmed me with respect to video. I think that the X-E3 is certainly an improvement in the video department, but some issues still persist, including poor autofocus performance.

With 4K UHD comes the ability to capture very detailed video, as we'll see below, but the X-E3 also has some somewhat odd omissions. There's no histogram or zebra warnings during video recording, for example, and there is no Face Detect autofocus when recording 4K video. While not exclusive to video, the lack of a tilting screen is particularly notable during video recording and is certainly an unfortunate omission.

Video Quality

The Fujifilm X-E3 shoots video from ISO 200 to ISO 12,800. This is a good sensitivity range and it allows for versatility with respect to the lighting conditions in which you can record. Considering the 4K video below, in which I shot the same scene across the ISO range, I found that the X-E3 is usable across much of its native ISO range.

Fine detail is very good from ISO 200 through ISO 800. There's a slight drop at ISO 1600 and we can also see a bit of noise in smoother areas of the frame. At ISO 3200, there's another noticeable drop in detail with an accompanying increase in noise. Further, the in-camera noise reduction processing becomes more apparent as out of focus areas start to take on a digital, blocky appearance. At ISO 6400 and ISO 12,800, the noise is readily visible, but fine detail surprisingly remains pretty good. Across the entire ISO range, the 4K video is reasonably sharp and detailed, although from ISO 3200 to 12,800, the visible noise is considerable. There's a lot of false color at ISO 6400 and 12,800, so that's something to keep in mind. Your best bet is to stay at low sensitivities -- below ISO 1600, ideally -- if possible. With that said, considering the X-E3's price point, I find the 4K video quality to be very impressive.

Fujifilm X-E3 4K ISO Test Video 3840 x 2160 video cycling through different ISO settings. Shot with XF 18-55mm lens.
Download Original (377.6 MB .MP4 File)

Autofocus

What is a lot less impressive with the X-E3's video performance is the autofocus. Let's get this out of the way right off the bat, the continuous autofocus with the X-E3 during video recording can be bad.

In the video below, I utilized single point autofocus and used the touchscreen to move the point around from foreground to background. Not only was the camera indecisive, something that was readily apparent during much of my video recording experience with the camera, but it was slow. There were times when it would not lock focus despite shooting in favorable conditions with good contrast and bright light. When the camera locks in, we know that the quality is good and there's nice, sharp footage. But here's the rub, the camera sometimes does not want to lock in.

Fujifilm X-E3 Autofocus Test Video 3840 x 2160 video showing the X-E3's underwhelming autofocus capabilities. Shot with XF 18-55mm lens.
Download Original (541.1 MB .MP4 File)

In the videos below, the autofocus can be seen making numerous small adjustments as I zoom in the lens. This isn't unusual, but it can be a bit distracting if you're focused in on the fine details in the scene. On the other hand, the light was fairly low and the camera did manage to lock in focus reasonably quickly.

Fujifilm X-E3 4K Video 3840 x 2160 video shot with XF 10-24mm lens.
Download Original (233.4 MB .MP4 File)

Overall

Overall, video quality is quite good from the X-E3 but the camera is dragged down by its poor continuous autofocus performance. If you want a camera that is as good at recording video as it is at shooting stills, the X-E3 is not the camera for you. However, if video is not the primary purpose for the camera but you would like to shoot 4K video, the X-E3 could work very well. Considering its price point, the inclusion of 4K is notable. Plus, when considering that the video quality itself is pretty good, the X-E3 is a solid multimedia camera.

Field Test Part II Summary

The Fujifilm X-E3 produces pretty good 4K video but is hampered by poor autofocus performance

What I like:

  • Fujifilm Film Simulations are as good as ever
  • 4K UHD video quality is good

What I dislike:

  • Lack of tilting screen is notable during video recording
  • Some useful video features are absent
  • Poor continuous autofocus performance during video recording

The Fujifilm X-E3 is an affordable 4K-capable camera and for that it should be lauded. However, video has never been Fujifilm's strong point and that trend continues with the X-E3. With that said, the X-E3 and other recent Fujifilm cameras have certainly made impressive strides by adding 4K UHD video recording and including more videographer-friendly features. Video quality is good, so I hope that Fujifilm continues to work on its autofocus performance and adding video-specific features to its cameras.

Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS lens at 14mm (21mm equiv.), f/9.0, 2.3s, ISO 200.
This image has been modified. Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

Overall Field Test Summary

In Part I, I had many positive things to say about the Fujifilm X-E3. It is stylish and easy to use. It captures good images, has good stills autofocus, can shoot reasonably quickly and is a versatile camera.

Part II has proven less positive as I looked closer at video recording with the X-E3. With that said, the Fujifilm X-E3 does a lot right and it does so at a consumer-friendly price. I've long been a fan of Fujifilm cameras for their user experience and that is very much present with the X-E3.

Simply put, the camera is fun to use. It may not blow you away with any one specification or feature, but it does many things well. The X-E3 is an excellent blend of old and new and a very good APS-C mirrorless camera.

Fujifilm XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS: 24mm (36mm eq.), f/8, 2.5s, ISO 200.
Click for full-size image. Click here for RAW image.

 



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