FUJIFILM X-E3 Review – Sample Footage and First Impressions

November 13th, 2017

The new FUJIFILM X-E3 is the latest edition to the ever growing family of FUJIFILM’s X-mount line. This APS-C sensor-sized, mirrorless stills camera, can shoot high quality 4k (UHD) video and, dare I say it, is the best they have produced so far! As a reviewer, I had the chance to work with the X-PRO2, X-T2, X-T20 and the GFX 50S. While all produce nice looking images, the new X-E3 sets itself apart from the crowd by offering greater ease of use (mostly due to the added focus lever and LCD touch screen), enhanced autofocus capabilities and very pleasing video quality. Read on for my FUJIFILM X-E3 review. 

FUJIFILM X-E3

FUJIFILM was kind enough to supply me with a production sample that I could use and explore for a few days; here are my findings from my FUJIFILM X-E3 review:

Ergonomics

The first thing I noticed when taking the camera out of the box was how light-weight it is, to the point of not being sure if FUJIFILM had decided to pull my leg and send me an empty camera shell! In a world where every gram counts, particularly in relation to international travel, this is a big advantage.

FUJIFILM X-E3. Lightweight camera body (Weight includes battery and lens cap)

Next was the right hand grip. For my small hands the camera was very comfortable to hold. The combination of the back button layout and the new responsive focus stick made it very easy to use. The front focus mode selector (Manual/Continues/Single) is also located in a very logical place. Flip that physical button, and your desired focus mode is ready to function in a split second.

User Experience

The focus lever was works almost perfectly when using it in conjunction with the autofocus mode. You simply place the little square where you want your focus to be (also possible during filming) and the lens will take you there. In general, the autofocus system worked like a charm most of the time. Gimbal users would definitely benefit from the continuous AF mode found in this camera.

The new LCD screen is bight enough to be used outdoor but, more importantly, can be set to become a “touch screen” panel. Changing between focus points by simply tapping on it was a very positive experience. When it comes to down sides, the LCD screen is fixed, so filming from anything but your eye level becomes a challenge.

FUJIFILM X-E3 – Tap on the LCD to focus

Maybe the biggest downside of this camera is the lack of image stabilisation, so remember to pair your camera with a stabilized lens if you are planning to shoot a lot of handheld footage.

FUJIFILM X-E3 video settings menu

FUJIFILM X-E3 Menu 

The FUJIFILM X-E3 maintains the menu structure found on other recent FUJIFILM cameras but, like in the past, if you are looking to change any less common parameters, you will have to dig for those in other menus. Saying that, I must admit that in reality assigning customizable FN buttons is very easy, so I did not find myself constantly digging into the menu, allowing me to concentrate on filming. By the way, the LCD itself can become assignable (equivalent to 4 FN buttons) and all you have to do after assigning a gesture to it is swipe in one of the four directions.

FUJIFILM X-E3 Video Features

When it comes to video frame rates and resolutions, the FUJIFILM X-E3 offers different frame rates depending on whether you are recording in UHD 4K, full HD or HD resolutions. Unfortunately, the maximum you can shoot in UHD 4K is 29.97. Note that this is a “world camera” so changing between 50Hz and 60Hz frame rates is very easy.  While I did not test the quality of any of the 1080p shooting modes, to my eyes this camera produces the best image coming out of any other FUJIFILM camera currently on the market. True, it is only 100 MBit/s in 4k (UHD) but the color fidelity feels very robust.

FUJIFILM X-E3 resolution and frame rates

One setback that should be taken into consideration when shooting in 4K, is the restricted 10-minute recording time (15-min in full HD and 30-min in 720p). And while on the subject of restrictions, bear in mind that this new camera does not support F-log, either internally or externally, leaving you with only the FUJIFILM film stock simulations instead.

On the audio side, this camera is very similar to the FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (see my review here) and X-T20 (see my review here) with a 2.5mm remote/audio microphone jack and no headphone socket, it leaves a lot to be desired. On the positive side, audio levels can be adjusted while recording.

FUJIFILM X-E3 – Adjustable audio level control while recording

 

Functionality

I’ll start with charging the battery. This is something that I keep mentioning across all of my other FUJIFILM camera reviews: how many times have you put a battery in the charger to charge and the light goes green immediately? That was the case (again) here and it was a bit confusing. Apparently, in FUJIFILM’s world, a green light means “charging” and no light means “battery charged.” Way to take a global standard and flip it on its head!

FUJIFILM X-E3 – “Q” button layout

By now, I’m pretty familiar with the FUJIFILM menus and I must say that assigning video related functions to the various buttons, and in particular the ‘Q’ button, is very straight forward. The ‘Q’ button really will become your best friend when fast access to the different shooting parameters is needed.

It was also a pleasant surprise to find out that I could finally change my viewing method between LCD and EVF while recording, WITHOUT being stuck on the one I chose to use last, BEFORE pushing the record button. Sounds like a minor improvement but in reality, when filming and constantly changing between looking at your subject on the LCD and then EVF, this little feature finally becomes on a par with most other cameras on the market.

When it comes to lowlight recording, ISO 3200 and anything below is VERY clean (ISO 6400 is still OK, with some noise in the shadows). The EVF is very nice and easy to work with and the light meter is accurate and effective.

FUJIFILM X-E3 Pros (in no particular order)

  • Truly nice 4k (UHD) video quality!
  • World camera (NTSC/PAL)
  • Focus lever for pointing at desired focus points
  • Responsive fast autofocus
  • Touch screen autofocus
  • Accurate focus peaking
  • In manual focus mode, touch screen focus can override
  • In manual focus mode, distance chart is available
  • Easy way to spot how much recording time is left on the SD card
  • Good EVF. Makes manual focusing easy
  • Extremely lightweight body
  • Audio levels can be adjusted during recording
  • Plenty of customisable FN buttons, including a way to assign four functions to the LCD screen and execute those commands by swiping the screen to any of the four directions
  • Histogram

FUJIFILM X-E3 Cons (in no particular order)

  • No 4K/60p
  • Lacks an articulated screen
  • No in-camera body stabilization
  • Lacks a headphone socket for monitoring audio
  • Non standard 2.5mm audio microphone input
  • 10 min recording time limit in 4K (15 min in full HD)
  • Battery/SD card compartment is too close to the tripod attachment screw. Every time you want to change one of those, you will need to unscrew your tripod plate from the camera
  • When ending a recording session it takes the camera a few seconds to store the clip
  • Average rolling shutter preformance

FUJIFILM X-E3 – Non standard 2.5mm audio input

The lens used in this FUJIFILM X-E3 review was the FUJIFILM XF 16-55mm f2.8 R LM WR. It is on of FUJINON’s flagship “XF standard zoom lens” with a Full Frame focal length equivalent to 24mm – 84mm and a constant f/2.8 aperture throughout the range. Here is a quick list of the Pros and Cons I found while combining it with the X-E3:

Pros:

  • Excellent sharpness throughout the zoom range
  • Manual aperture ring
  • Constant f/2.8 aperture
  • Weather-sealed design
  • Speedy focus motor

Cons:

  • No optical stabilization
  • Heavy

Conclusion:

During my FUJIFILM X-E3 review, I found the X-E3 to be the best mirrorless stills camera that can shoot video FUJIFILM have ever produced. It offers an excellent combination between affordable price, video picture quality, fast accurate autofocus in video mode and portability. It’s a pity that FUJIFILM did not include log picture profile support, as this would have made the camera truly shine! If you are on a budget and looking for an affordable high-quality camera that can shoot video, this is a camera for you to consider. On a side note, the price difference between the X-T20 and the more expensive X-E3 is $100. If I had to choose between the two I would have preferred filming with the X-E3, hands down.

FUJIFILM X-E3 – I simply loved working with this camera!

Camera settings used for this FUJIFILM X-E3 review: 4K (UHD) 25p. Film Simulation: Pro Neg Std. Sharpness -4, Shadow Tone 0, Highlight Tone 0. Edited on Adobe Premiere Pro latest edition. Color corrected with FilmConvert set to make: default, model:default, setting: FJ Velv 100. No sharpening added to the final video.

Many thanks to Alon Ohana from Alon Ohana Music Production. You can visit his site by clicking here and Ronit Shahar

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 Steven Dale
Member
January 30th, 2018

No doubt Fuji will release firmware updates in near future. Their updates are one reason I switched from Sony to Fuji.

s b
s b
Member
November 15th, 2017

On my computer monitor (admittedly not a calibrated video monitor) the sample footage looks nice but quite under-saturated and almost has a retro-film cast, like the old Cibachrome 35mm transparencies. There wasn’t much detail in the shadows it seemed to me also. It is a nice look for some purposes, but as an example, did not give me much confidence I could grade it for multi-purposes. I’ll have to wait for more reviews on how it holds up for other kinds of projects.

 jiri vrozina
jiri vrozina
Member
November 15th, 2017

On a final note between xt2 and xe3.
I have not tested them side by side, but i use Zeiss ZF prime lenses with Metabones ULTRA Speed booster.
I own two XT2 bodies and the whole Zeiss ZF set. Most of my paid jobs are shot is full HD.

1/ XE3 Bitrate for full HD and 720/1280 HD is 36/18 respectively. Reall shocker in 2017.
2/ Screen does not tilt, so if you use tripod, slider, gimbal …etc, you will find it hard to monitor XE3 without an external recorder or monitor.
3/ EVF is also larger and has got better magnification on XT2.
4/ To use optional Battery Grip for XT2 is very handy for longer recordings and Audio.
5/ Having Mechanical ISO Wheel on XT2 is very practical too to change ISO Quickly during recordings.

There are just a few features i miss on XE3 personally for my kind of work, but Low Bitrate recording in Full HD is a major dissapointment for me. I would really buy Fuji XE3 for my Crane 2 gimbal if they improved on bitrate. I also own Fuji xf10-24/4 zoom lens which i own for gimbal recordings. I get it, Autofocus and touchscreen is very handy.
I woul also prefer Fuji to increase Shadow and Highliht Tone to -5 as it is on other major DSLRs. This will give it far better look for internal recording and grading without external recorder. Perhaps the6 will enable Internal F-log recording in future.

Lastly Johnnie,
Just because i do not agree with you 100% all the time, it does not mean i do not agree 99%.
I enjoy your reviws and keep doing good job.

Regards Jiri

 Andreas Paleologos
Andreas Paleologos
Member
November 14th, 2017

I’ve been so impressed with the continuous autofocus in this camera in video. It just nails it, and finds focus very quickly. I shoot most of my video work with the GH5, but the AF is not usable or reliable. The X-E3 seemingly instantly finds focus and locks on. Super impressive. Even in stress test doing really fast cross pans from different subjects, it’s like you’ve programmed it to focus.
Now I just wish they made a new 18mm mkII with the new silent focus engine. 18mm is my favourite Fuji lens.
(The GH5 is still my work horse with continuous recording and other pro features. But Fuji is coming.)

 Antoine Naudet
Antoine Naudet
Member
November 13th, 2017

Thank you Johnnie for this nice review. I love your little documentaries made for those reviews, it speaks much more than just watching a guy talking about the gear.
I’m quite curious about why you prefer this XE3 over let’s say, the X-T20. Could you elaborate a bit more, please?
I’d like to know also if we could see somewhere how you rigged the camera to make your documentary. I’m a video newbie, and I’d love to learn the best way to handle these tiny cameras, which is a paradox to pair with such cumbersome lens. Do you simple use a tripod, or additionnal rig? How do you deal with a ND filter on the lens with or without a hood? Or do you have a mate box + filter?
Thank you for all your precious infos.

 jiri vrozina
jiri vrozina
Member
November 13th, 2017

It can not be the best mirrorles camera Fuji have produced because of its bitrate in HD and FHD. There is also ISO wheel missing.
Here is recording specs. XT2 is still the Fuji King.

3840 x 2160p at 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97 fps (100 Mbps MOV via H.264)
1920 x 1080p at 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 50, 59.94 fps (36 Mbps MOV via H.264)
1280 x 720p at 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97, 50, 59.94 fps (18 Mbps MOV via H.264)

 jiri vrozina
jiri vrozina
Member
November 14th, 2017
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

Dear Johnnie,
I do not use auto focus but please do tell me how is the picture better on X-e3?
Just curious.

Regards
Jiri

Peter Kent
Member
November 13th, 2017

“I could finally change my viewing method between LCD and EVF while recording”

Sold! Now I can’t wait for the X-T2S, looks like Fuji is ready for a reliable hybrid camera.

 Funky Punky Monkey Junk
Funky Punky Monkey Junk
Member
November 13th, 2017

Unfortunately, I just can’t see investing in such an obscure lens mount.

 Toby Reynolds
Toby Reynolds
Member
November 14th, 2017

Out of curiosity what do you find obscure about it? You can mount basically any lens onto it.

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