Fujifilm X-E3 is a compact rangefinder style member of the X-Trans III family. Together with X-T2, X-Pro2, X-T20 and X-H1 it shares the Fujifilm’s own (although based on Sony architecture) 24mpix sensor. This is of course an X-Trans sensor with different (to industry standard) layout of color pixels and as such should not be bundled with new Fujifilm XA cameras which, although share the same mount and pixel count, have completely different sensors.
Mind you, while it is a rangefinder style camera, meaning that the viewfinder is placed at its side, it does not actually have a rangefinder, like the X-Pro 2 does. It is pretty much a second take on the compact X-T20, it shares most of its functions and the decision between the two will really come down to personal preferences, so here are the major differentiating features:
- The screen. Fujifilm X-E3 has a touch screen while X-T20 has not. If you think however that a touchscreen on a mirrorless camera functions just as those on Lumix or Olympus cameras do, you’re in for a dissapointment. You cannot drag and drop focus points, you cannot use touch screen in Menu (you can, but only in Quick Menu). Think more live view in a DSLR rather than a smartphone camera. The screen is also fixed, so you cannot tilt it in any way. If you, just as I did, think this isn’t a big deal, let me tell you that it is. There are tons of situations where you use the tilting screen without even thinking about it, you will be reminded painfully about all of those once you start using the X-E3.
- Buttons, or lack of them. Very little dials and buttons, especially for a Fujifilm camera. No D-Pad on the back is supposed to be compensated by touch screen gestures, something that, as you probably figured out already, does not even come close to the functionality. Although the gestures are pretty responsive once you master where and how to do them, you will get alot of mistakes and loose the functionality alltogether when using gloves.
- Joystick – it is there and it is the main way of communicating with a camera. It is the same joystick that Fujifilm still sticks to their 2018 models (X-H1) and it is horrible and universally reviled, but Fujifilm does not seem to care. First of all it stands out of the body so the posiibility of breaking it is very much real, even in you’re using a professional camera bag. It is terribly fiddly and sometimes just by touching it wierdly it moves focus point immediately to the edge of the frame. Really not something to rely on in any situation when time is a factor. I get that joystick solution might be more fiddly than the buttons, but if you see what you get on cameras from Lumix, Sony, Canon and Nikon, the Fujifilm offering is simply not there.
- Handgrip – it does not have any. Of course Fujifilms knows as well as other camera makers that people are supposed to be using cameras with their hands, so it is not like they don’t know that you will get carpal tunnel from holding their flat bodies in your hand for hours on end, they just want you to pay extra €150 for the grip. Similar strategy to stripping their cameras off functions and offering them back if you want to pay additional €300 for battery grip. Not cool Fuji. If you want something as basic as an integrated grip you need to fork €2k for X-H1
The camera has bluetooth which you can use to connect to Fujifilm’s terrible app that doesn’t work most of the time (the Android version, the IOS seems stable). You can also use it for geotagging using your smartphone’s GPS but you need to keep the connection on and it kind of blocks your phone, so you will get pretty tired of this pretty quickly.
The camera is not weather sealed which of course does not matter but is the gimmick of the day, which of course means that there will be tons of people swearing by how much they need it. Weather Sealed does not mean waterproof, you can get effects that are exactly the same as any kind of weather sealing by buying a 5 cent plastic bag at your local convenience store. Really, if the rain is heavy enough to destroy your non weather sealed camera, it is probably heavy enough to make your front glass awash with water drops.
When it comes to autofocus the camera is very snappy and fast, even in low light situations. It is of course not the end all be all of autofocusing, as Fujirumors people would have you believe, but its effects are very reliable, to the point that you can simply trust your camera and stop chimping after each shutter release.
In summary, if you are into Fuji and need a second body or are a casual shooter who does not plan to use and carry the camera for long periods of time, this is the camera for you. In my opinion it is super uncomfortable to use due to its size and ergonomics (X-T2 can get away with not having a grip more due to its size). The camera also does not have IBIS, I think it might be the only mirrorless released in 2017 without it (other than the specialised GH5s which does not have it on purpose). I do not really advise you to buy this camera, especially with how it compares to the X-T2 in every aspect, including the price. If you just need a second body or want to look retro while making some street photography, by all means this is the camera for you.