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Fujifilm X-E3 First Impressions and Camera Samples

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Fujifilm recently announced record sales with units out of stock worldwide, and yet they launched the ILC Rangefinder style camera, the X-E3 in the Philippines!
Fujifilm X-E3 First Impressions and Camera Samples
Meet Fujifilm X-E3

The Fujifilm X-T2 that was launched late last year was hugely popular locally and internationally with local stocks running out and recently stocked. We personally use this camera as our daily driver and it is a keeper.

Earlier this year, Fujifilm also announced the X-T20 which was suppose to replace and therefore phase out the X-E line but the Fujifilm fans requested that Fujifilm continue, and launch a successor to the X-E2s. And here we are months afrer, at the Fujifilm press event with our hands on the new, X-E3.

Also in the event, Fujifilm also announced the pricing, and the new local Philippine Ambassadors, Magic Liwanag and Shaira Luna.

Fujfilm X-E3 Specs

Sensor: 24MP - APS-C CMOS X-TRANS III Sensor
Optical Low-Pass Filter: No Optical low-pass (anti-aliasing) filter
ISO: 200 - 12800 (expands to 100-51200)
Display: 3-inch Fixed Touch Screen
Electronic Viewfinder: 2360K-dot electronic viewfinder
Max FPS: 14 fps continuous shooting - Electronic Shutter
File Format: JPEG, 14-bit RAW & RAW + JPEG
Video Resolution: 4K - 3840 x 2160 at 30FPS 10 minutes, 1080p 23-60fps 15 mins
Memory: UHS-I SD card, SD, SDXC, SDHC
Built-in Flash: Yes
Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth
Dimensions: 121.3 x 73.9 x 42.7 mm
Weight: 337g
Price: PHP 50,990 (Body only), P64,990 (Body + XF 23 F2 WR), P72,990 (Body + 18 to 55 F2.8-4)

Disclaimer: The Fujifilm X-E3 was borrowed from Fujifilm Philippines for our honest review.

Unboxing / Accessories

Accessories
Accessories

We received the camera from Fujifilm Philippines with body, battery, lens, and lens cap. What normally comes with the box that we didn't receive were the neck strap, lens hood,  charger, XF-X8 shoe mount flash and documentation.

Build Quality / Design

Focus mode dial

In the launch of the X-E3 in Japan, Minimalism was a key focus on the design of the new X-E3. The result is a camera with more aggressive curves but with less buttons and the some changes we'll get into later.
At the bottom are the exhaust port, Tripod screw mount and the battery and SD card chamber
At the bottom are the exhaust port, Tripod screw mount and the battery and SD card chamber

By simplifying the button interface and integration with a new touch screen, the result is an elegant but clean design.
Autofocus assist lamp, front command dial and leather lined grip
Autofocus assist lamp, front command dial and leather lined grip
Micro USB 2.0 port, micro HDMI port, and 2.5mm headphone jack
Micro USB 2.0 port, micro HDMI port, and 2.5mm headphone jack

The camera looks premium right out of the box. This is because of the aggressive but elegant curves coupled with the premium matte texture on the metal areas and the premium grained leather on other areas.

It reminds us of vintage optical rangefinders back in the film days, but unlike the bigger brother: the X-Pro2, it doesn't have an optical/hybrid viewfinder. Like the X-T2, it has a full digital viewfinder.

The camera is beautiful!

The exposure compensation dial, shutter speed dial, shoe mount, power dial, shutter release button, function button, microphones and branding are all in their familiar placements. The changes made are the removal of the pop-up in-body flash and the aforementioned curves. #curvyisthenewsexy 

The bottom is also made of metal that is tightly screwed together. One thing we noticed is that the tripod screw mount isn't in line with the sensor plane which means it is slightly to the side. It is also near the battery latch which means it will be difficult to change the batteries or SD cards when it is mounted. You will have to purchase the Metal grip that is old separately to get it exactly in the middle should you want to screw it to a tripod/monopod and for you to freely change batteries and SD card.

What we noticed right away are the button and dial placements. It isn't like the X-T or X-Pro series where the dials are big and labeled that it is easily viewed and is easily accessible. At first the dials were placed in a somewhat awkward manner as one is facing where your thumb would be and the other was facing the ceiling. Certain buttons serve dual purpose like the directional buttons would also be the drive buttons, delete and etc to compensate for the limited space of the body.

We understand that most compact rangefinders where this camera's design was inspired from had to be as small as possible but it would be great if in the next iteration, Fujifilm will further improve the grip. This is a personal preference but I wouldn't mind if the body gets a little bigger to get a bigger grip, instead of buying an accessory. This is our first gripe. This is especially noticeable when you add larger lenses like the XF 18-55 F2.8-4 OIS kit zoom lens which makes the lens front heavy.

The second gripe is that we wished that the viewfinder was a little bigger for a better viewing experience. Do not get me wrong, it is ample enough for me to manual focus and see if my images are sharp but this was before I started wearing glasses. I think anybody whose eyesight isn't as good as they were would struggle less if the viewfinder was a little bigger especially those who wear glasses and or contacts.

Initial findings

X-E3 with XF 23 f/2.0
X-E3 with XF 23 f/2.0

1. On paper, the specs are nearly identical with the XT20 with new features like a better touch screen that is more accurate, is more responsive and has better feedback. It also allows to move the focusing point by swiping on the touch screen even if you are looking at the digital viewfinder.

2. We tried the touchscreen while using both live view and while using the view finder. The touch screen is much better than the touch screen in the X-A3. It is more accurate and responsive. I am now confident that which area of the touch screen will be the one I wanted. I experienced mistaps with the X-A3. The new feature of being able to swipe in different directions while using the view finder is a god send and was highly requested as cameras from panasonic's lumix and Canon's EOS M5 had it!

3. Fujifilm also said that they reworked the algorithms of the autofocus especially for the autofocus continuous where it was still struggling. We weren't able to test the autofocus continuous during the press event but I was able to compare autofocus single with the X-E3 compared to the X-T2. We used the new XF 80mm and XF 18 to 55.

4. With the new XF 80mm F2.8 Macro the XT2 struggled when it was in the full autofocus range as macro lenses have a long focus through for precise focusing. When I used the same lens on the XE3 I found that even if it was in the full range setting, it didn't hesitate like in the X-T2. I also found that when X-E3 focuses with the 23 f/2.0, 18 to 55 and 16mm f/1.4 that it focuses a hair faster. We will need to do more testing to confirm.

5. The most controversial change is the omission of the 4 directional buttons that have been in Fujifilm's camera for years.

6. I admit that coming from the X-T2 I immediately was looking for it. But after 30 minutes I immediately got used to using swiping gestures in 4 different directions. It will be a learning curve but it is somewhat intuitive if you've come from a smartphone where you map your own gestures. If you're not a fan of this you can use the joystick and flick it to the direction you want and it will do the same.

7. Another change is the removal of the in-body flash and is now moved to an external flash that you can put on the hotshoe. To us, this is an accepted change as we prefer using our own speedlights as the flash isn't as robust as we'd like.

8. I like how Fujifilm is experimenting on UI by minimizing the number of controls in the camera to simplify the shooting workflow.

9. For 4K video it uses the full width of the sensor but it skips lines to be able to process all that data without overheating or overloading the processing. The video is not as sharp as the XT2's but you do get the full field of view of the lens which is great for people who like it as wide as possible! We were not able to see if the EVF (Electronic View Finder) performs the same even when shooting video as when the X-T20 did it somestimes lowers the quality of the images from the EVF or even turning it off when recording so that all processing power is for processing all that data. We will also test if we can change ISO or aperture during recording soon.


Camera Samples

XF 80mm f/2.8 Macro WR Fall-off is so smooth!
XF 80mm f/2.8 Macro WR Fall-off is so smooth!
XF 23 f/2.0 studio set-up
XF 23 f/2.0 studio set-up
Jessica Yang - X-E3 + XF 80mm with flash triggers!
Jessica Yang - X-E3 + XF 80mm with flash triggers!
Close-up
Close-up

As of the moment

We spent around 3 hours with the camera, and we were able to take some shots with it in the press event. They are posted below. We will be posting more pics from the X-E3 once we get our hands on a unit!

The camera is rated for 350 still images before the battery runs out. We have yet to see if the new touch features will affect the battery drain so we will have to test it out for our review as well.

These were taken with the XF 80mm Macro, and the XF 23 F2 but take note that the images below are Straight out of camera JPEGs but were converted to compressed PNG for optimum internet loading times. BUT even though they were compressed, the resolution, color and fall off are noticeably still good!

So far, we are liking the performance but we would need more time to fully test out the features and the technicalities of each features!

If there are more specifics you want us to test, do not hesitate to contact us via the comments below.

For our review: Fujifilm X-E3 Review - Compact Rangefinder-style Mirrorless Camera!

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