Bar the odd niggle with button layout, Fujifilm’s compact yet capable X-E3 handles beautifully and sports extensive features
- High image quality
- Small size and light weight
- Fast and responsive autofocus
- No integral flash
- Lacks weatherproofing
If you thought retro-styled cameras were simply a fad, then the continuous influx of rangefinder-styled models has proven otherwise. The combination of cutting-edge technology within a camera of classic design has proven extremely popular, with most brands offering DSLRs and mirrorless cameras with retro-styling.
With the majority of its models sporting a classic look, Fujifilm more than most believes this nostalgic styling is the way forward, with its X-Series range offering classic rangefinder and SLR-styled models. In fact, to ensure maximum appeal, it boasts two flagship models, the hybrid-rangefinder X-Pro2 and the SLR-styled X-T2.
Fujifilm X-E3 review: Design and layout
Fuji’s latest model, the X-E3, boasts a sleek, minimalist design that belies the level of its specification and will appeal to those looking for a very compact and lightweight camera (it weighs under 340 grams with battery and card inserted) that accepts interchangeable lenses and can deliver high-resolution results. It’s available body-only, with 18-55mm zoom or the 23mm moderate wide-angle lens.
While it lacks weatherproofing, the X-E3 has a reassuringly high-quality feel, with a metal top-plate and rubberised finish running around much of its body. The rectangular body is compact and slim, with a small grip providing decent purchase.
The left of the top-plate is free of controls, with the vast majority of main dials and function buttons on the right side, allowing for one-handed operation with your right hand when required. Ease of use is aided by the number of controls being kept low, with all buttons neatly marked.
The top-plate features shutter speed and exposure compensation dials, along with the on/off switch, shutter button, Fn button and an Auto switch. This latter feature places the camera into Scene modes (selected via the Menu system).
On the rear are various buttons handling functions including the drive mode, playback and auto-exposure lock. There is no four-way control – a feature I personally miss – but a toggle switch is present to quickly select AF points.
On the thumbrest under the AF-L button is a Q button for fast access to major functions and while I understand it’s placed to be easy to find, I did accidentally press it on several occasions in error. If you like to personalise controls, you’ll discover the X-E3 has several buttons with customisable features.
Fujifilm X-E3 review: Display
The X-E3 boasts an excellent electronic finder that provides a high-quality image thanks to its 2,360,000 dot OLED screen, with an extensive level of information overlays, including exposure info and AF points.
The 3in LCD monitor may not offer a vari-angle facility, but the 1,040,000-dot screen is sharp and bright and boasts touchscreen functionality. Along with standard touchscreen usage, such as selecting where you want the AF point to fall, you can swipe in four directions to select a function (hence no four-way control) or set touchpad AF.
This allows you to move the AF point around with your finger while looking through the finder – although I struggled to use this option as I’m a left-eyed user, so my nose kept pressing on the screen and setting the AF to areas I didn’t want to use.
Fujifilm X-E3 review: Features and performance
The X-E3 features the same 24.3-million pixel APS-C X-Trans III sensor used in several other models, including the X-T2 and X-T20, which we rate as two of the best digital cameras currently available, so you can be assured of excellent image quality.
The excellent image processor provides a useful sensitivity range of ISO 100-51200 (expanded), handles noise extremely well, produced a wide dynamic range and allows for video shooting at resolutions up to 4K.
The hybrid autofocus system offers an excellent range of options, with single-and multi-point options, zonal focus, touchscreen AF and face detection. The addition of the AF joystick next to the LCD monitor allows you to quickly move the active AF point around the frame, which becomes particularly useful if you switch from using 91 points (7×13) to the more precise 325-point (13×25) option.
The AF proves fast and responsive in most general shooting conditions, although in low light face detection wasn’t always accurate. The X-E3 also proves to be decent at tracking moving subjects too, which along with its 8fps shooting rate, will prove useful when shooting action and wildlife.
Using the aperture ring on the lens and the top-plate dial, you can switch between using the camera in program, aperture- or shutter-priority or manual, with the Auto switch allowing access to scene modes.
The multi-zone pattern proves very consistent and reliable, with the White Balance providing accurate colour rendition. While I don’t often advocate trying out different picture styles, Fuji’s Film Simulations are definitely worth experimenting with.
As with previous models, the X-E3 features Wi-Fi, but it’s also the first in the range to offer Bluetooth too. It’s worth noting there is no integral flash, but a small flash unit is supplied for use on the hotshoe.
You’re unlikely to be disappointed with the quality of the images produced by the X-E3. While shooting Raw is always recommended, the sharpness of the JPEG files is worth commending.
Its small size, excellent sensor and classic handling, along with its fine all-round performance, makes the X-E3 a great buy.
Fujifilm X-E3 review: Verdict
The small size and light weight of the X-E3 means it will most likely find favour with travel enthusiasts, but its versatility ensures it’s suitable for photographers of all disciplines.
Bar the odd niggle about button position, it handles beautifully, while the extensive range of features leaves you wanting for little. Add very high image quality to the mix and Fuji has yet another winner in the X-E3.