Conclusion

Pros Cons
  • Excellent out of camera JPEGs
  • Good high ISO noise performance
  • Dynamic range is very good
  • Good build quality with attractive styling
  • Numerous direct controls
  • Highly customizable
  • Responsive AF system with up to 325 selectable points
  • AF joystick
  • Touchscreen offers a variety of functions
  • High resolution EVF
  • 15 cool Film Simulation modes
  • 8 fps burst shooting w/continuous AF
  • UHD 4K/30p video capture
  • Low power Bluetooth allows for a constant connection to one's device
  • Exposure compensation available when using Auto ISO with manual exposure
  • External mic input
  • Camera can be charged over USB connection; external charger included
  • Hunting can be an issue when using Continuous AF in low light
  • Face Detect not reliable in low light
  • AF tracking performance is variable
  • Phase detection AF area smaller than that of peers
  • No histogram, face detection (in 4K) or zebra warnings in movie mode

  • Can't access memory card slot while camera is on a tripod

  • Fixed screen

Overall Conclusion

Edited to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. ISO 200 | 1/500 sec | F5.6 | 23mm

The Fujifilm X-E3 is a small, light-weight rangefinder-style camera that sits next to the SLR-style X-T20 in Fujifilm's camera line. And features the latest 24MP X-Trans CMOS sensor, a touchscreen, AF joystick, high-resolution electronic viewfinder and 4K video capture .

The X-E3 enters a crowded field of cameras available at the price-point, including both mirrorless and DSLR options like the Sony a6300, Canon EOS 77D and Nikon's D7500 to name as few. However its specifications are competitive with everything its up against. And at 337g (body only), it is among the lightest cameras in its class.

Handling

Handling the X-E3 is a real pleasure. The combination of the super responsive touchscreen, joystick, dual clicking control dials, dedicated shutter speed dial and exposure compensation dial means their are a ton of ways to setup and take control of your camera. There are also four physical customizable buttons.

It's sibling, the X-T20 has a four-way-controller, where users can save an additional four functions. The X-E3 does not. Don't worry, those functions can instead be saved to the touchscreen and called upon by swiping a finger up, down, left or right. It took a little getting use to but this reviewer saw no real advantage or disadvantage to calling up functions via the swipe-to-control vs the four-way controller. Users can also customize the Q.Menu (shortcut menu) as well as a 'My Menu' bank.

But if all those buttons and dials are giving you an anxiety attack, a flip of the 'Auto' mode switch gives the camera control of everything except the exposure compensation dial. Generally speaking this mode makes good decisions about exposure and AF. This means with almost no frustration you can take the X-E3 out of the box and get shooting, even if you are a novice.

The AF joystick makes moving your point of focus painless. Edited to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. ISO 10,000 | 1/500 sec | F2.2 | 50mm

The body is built mostly of plastic, with a metal top plate and though it is not weather-sealed, the construction is reassuringly dense. It is comfortable to hold and easy to shoot with using one hand. Our only complaint about the design is the fixed screen, but Fujifilm seems steadfast in not offering tilting screens on rangefinder-style cameras. Get the X-T20 if that's your jam.

AF & Performance

The X-E3 uses an autofocus system borrowed from the flagship sports camera X-T2. It has 91 selectable points (or 325 for more precision), however its phase detect area (useful for fast moving subjects) covers only the center 50% of the frame horizontally and 70% vertically.

AF acquisition speed is fast and accurate when using the camera's single AF mode, as long as the point is in the phase detect region. The continuous AF mode is also fast and accurate when shooting in good light, especially when using a single point or AF zone in the PDAF area. This is the case even when shooting bursts at up to 8 fps. However AF-C will hunt in low light.

'We found 'Tracking' AF is more reliable for maintaining focus on faces than Face Detect mode.'

Fujifilm made improvements to its tracking algorithm in the X-E3. In our testing we noticed a slightly better hit rate when using the 'Tracking' AF mode to photograph friends at a close distance. In fact we found 'Tracking' AF is more reliable for maintaining focus on faces than Face Detect mode. But when it comes to tacking subjects from afar, like birds in flight or athletes or even a child, running around, the performance is not dependable - the same as its sibling, the X-T20. As is the case with all Fujifilm cameras, Autofocus speed as a whole varies considerably depending on the lens used.

In terms of performance, startup and operation on the X-E3 are lightning fast. Battery life is CIPA rated at 350 shots per charge, which is about average for this class - in the real world expect to get closer to double that.

Image & Video Quality

Out of camera JPEG. ISO 8,000 | 1/125 sec | F2.8 | 23mm

No surprises here, the X-E3's 24MP sensor, which it shares with a host of other Fujifilm models is capable of excellent image quality. The 15 different 'Film Simulations' offer some of the nicest JPEG color you'll find anywhere. And Raw files keep noise levels low as ISO increases.

4K video quality is good, though not best in class, offering accurate color and adequate detail. Footage doesn't look quite as good as the X-T2, which over samples, but most users will be pleased with the clips this little camera is capable of.

Final Word

Edited to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. ISO 640 | 1/160 sec | F2.8 | 23mm

Both the Fujifilm XE-3 and its SLR-style sibling, the X-T20 are worthy of your consideration if you are thinking of purchasing a camera in this price range. They are competitive with the best of the bunch in terms of features, capability and specification. There's still room for improvement though, mostly in terms of lens focus speed - not a problem when shooting with Fujifilm's latest glass, but an issue with some of the existing lenses. But both the X-E3 and X-T20 are cameras we as reviewers found exceptionally fun to use. This is in large part due to good ergonomics, outstanding JPEG color, attractive design and solid build quality.

However the XE-3 pulls ahead of the X-T20 in this reviewer's eyes and scores the Gold, thanks to its inclusion of an AF joystick, Bluetooth, a super functional touchscreen (replacing the four-way controller), and a body design that is smaller and lighter. It's a big step forward for a camera lineage we've enjoyed since its debut.

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
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and what these numbers mean.

Fujifilm X-E3
Category: Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Performance
Movie / video mode
Connectivity
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
The Fujifilm X-E3 has the looks of a classic rangefinder, but don't let that fool you, it's got the guts of a modern camera. Handling is excellent thanks to ample direct controls, a super-responsive touchscreen, AF-point selection joystick and high-resolution electronic viewfinder. For the novice, there's an auto switch that makes the camera simple to use. Image quality, especially JPEG, is top-notch and the 15 'Film Simulations' are fun to try. Performance is snappy and autofocus is reliable in good light. 4K video quality is average and subject tracking is a tad unreliable. Still, the X-E3 is a super capable, great-handling camera.
Good for
Photographers seeking a stylish camera with direct controls, excellent image quality and a great selection of lenses.
Not so good for
Action photographers and those requiring ultra-high-quality 4K video.
84%
Overall score