Control and Operation

Even the camera's Q.Menu is now touch-sensitive, bringing up a list of the available options for each parameter (an improvement over previous implementations).

Although the greater use of touchscreen is the most obvious distinction between the X-E3 and the X-T20, operation of the X-E3 is still pretty traditional in many respects.

So although the range of functions controllable by touchscreen has increased, there are still direct control points for that camera's key exposure settings and, thanks to the arrival of the AF joystick, faster AF point selection than the X-T20, even without the use of the touch panel.

Touchscreen control

The touchscreen does most of the things you might expect, in a modern camera. For instance; you can tap on the screen to set the position of the AF point, to set the point and perform a focus acquisition or to set the point, acquire focus and fire the shutter (a small 'button' at the screen's top right corner cycles through these options).

You can control which bits of the screen are used for AF Touchpad mode, but the contact with any other part of the screen will still stop the function working.

The touchscreen can also been used as a touchpad to move the AF point, when you've got the viewfinder up to your eye. There's a menu option to decide whether the left, right or entire screen area is active. Unfortunately, even if you only set the left-hand side of the screen to be active, any contact on the right-hand side of the screen will stop the panel working, so it doesn't solve the problem of nose contact for left-eyed shooters.

The four directions in which you can swipe your finger on the rear screen are each treated as customizable functions: T-Fn1 - T-Fn4

Touchscreen also plays the role performed by the four-way controller on the previous X-E cameras: swiping left, right, up or down accesses one of four different functions. These functions can be customized, just as if they were physical buttons, so you effectively have just as many control points as the existing cameras, but with a slightly smaller body and a larger screen.

There's also an option to turn off the touchpad function or all touchscreen controls, but you end up with a rather limited camera if you do so.

Dial Control

Don't let all this talk of touchscreens fool you: the X-E3 has plenty of direct access to exposure settings.

As with previous X-E cameras, you get dedicated shutter speed dial and exposure comp dial. And, with most X-series lenses, you gain an aperture ring in addition to these. The X-E3 also has two clickable command dials, which can take over certain roles, as follows:

Available functions
Front Dial
(Click to toggle)
Shutter Speed*
  • Adjusts ±2/3EV when shutter dial set to specific speed
  • Full control when shutter dial set to 'T'
  • Disabled via menus
ISO
  • Engaged via menus
Exposure Comp
  • When Exp Comp dial set to 'C', enabling ±5EV range
Rear Dial F-Number*
  • Controls F-number with XC lenses (without aperture rings)
Custom function
  • 'Click' function can be customized (default is Magnify)
*The shutter speed and aperture functions can be swapped between the front and rear dials, via a menu option.

This puts a great deal of control over camera functions at your fingertips. Slightly disappointingly, unlike the behavior of the Q menu or the onscreen menu, the Auto ISO options are located above the highest ISO setting, rather than below the lowest. This may sound trivial but, since the list doesn't loop round, it means having to turn the dial at least 21 clicks to switch between ISO 200 and Auto mode.

AF All Area Mode

As is normal for Fujifilm, in amongst the big feature changes are a number of little tweaks and additions. One of these is the X-E3's 'AF ALL' area mode. This combines the existing three area modes: Single Point, Zone and Wide/Tracking into a single option. When you press the joystick inwards to change the size of the AF point, it's no longer constrained in size. If you increase the size of the AF point beyond 3x3, the camera jumps to Zone area mode, keep going and, at the point the whole screen is selected, you'll find you're in 'Wide/Tracking.'

It's a small change but is yet another function that can be changed without having to visit the Q Menu, which can only be a bonus.

4K Video

The X-E3 can shoot UHD 4K video at up to 30p, with 25, 24 and 23.97p options also available. The footage is taken from the full width of the sensor, as on the X-T20, so is likely to come from pixel binning, rather than rendering and downscaling, which gives the X-T2 such excellent levels of detail. Log output is also an X-T2-only feature.

While shooting video you have a choice of Continuous AF (with tap-to-focus) or Manual Focus with focus peaking.

The camera's 2.5mm remote trigger socket can be used as a mic input. The camera's 'Live View Highlight Alert' can be used as a simplistic form of Zebra warning to help set exposure.

Bluetooth connectivity

The X-E3 is the first Fujifilm camera to include Bluetooth, this allows it to stay paired with one's smart device via low power connection (so that you don't have to keep pairing every time you want to send photos). Once you've set up the connection using the Camera Remote app, the XE-3 has the ability to transmit everything you shoot (JPEG only), however its implementation for doing so is a tad confusing at first.

If you set it to auto-transfer, the images are stored up and sent when you next turn the camera off. The X-E3, already paired, turns on Wi-Fi and sends them before fully shutting down. On an Android device, this happens automatically. On iOS, a message will appear asking you to connect to the X-E3's Wi-Fi (Apple prevents this happening automatically). Bluetooth can also be used to maintain a connection for manually transferring images, eliminating the need to pair prior to sending.

While testing auto-transfer, we ran into some issues with connections dropping out and images queuing up, but not transferring. But we were ultimately able to get the Bluetooth to work properly on both devices tested. In short, the Bluetooth functionality could use some refinement, but it's a nice feature to have when it does work.