Hawaii with Fujifilm X-E3 - Joe Ng


My wife and I planned a trip to Big Island and Kauai in Hawaii in October. I usually bring my X-T2 cameras on these trips. But Fujifilm launched the X-E3 just in time so I bought one and brought it with me for this trip. Bearing in mind I have a X100S and had never upgraded to X100F, one of the reason was that I want to wait for the X-E3 and think it would sit well in my bag as backup camera with X-T2s and X-Pro 2s.

I would like to share my little Fujifilm X-E3 experience in using it for a month so far and hope you find it useful. There is no need for me to explain anything about the image quality as the sensor is same as the one that found in the Fujifilm X-T2 and the X-Pro2. You can find all kinds of reviews and images from Internet.

The first thing I noticed was the beautiful design chassis, mine is black, when I pulled the X-E3 out of the box. I have used most Fujifilm cameras since 2014 except the X-E range. I do own the X100S, X-T2 and X-Pro 2 but couldn’t find a place for the X-E range until now.

I take the X-E3 as an upgrade for my X100S and was surprised with the lightweight nature of it. It is certainly classed as small, lightweight carrying around camera with 4K video. I am a proud owner of X100S but always want to have a compact rangefinder body that can be fully utilized the latest compact Fujinon f2 triple crown lenses and shooting with 4K video.

The build and feel of the camera is phenomenal. Metal built, black coating on mine as well as a very clean and streamlined layout of the camera back. It looks cleaner than the X100S without the D-PAD. It feels like a high quality product, gorgeous to look at, and gorgeous to the touch too.

On the top plate you find a shutter speed dial (up to 1/4000s), the auto switch, the shutter release, threaded, the exposure compensation (+3 to -3 and a “C” position where you can use the dials to dial in +5/-5) and an Fn button. All in all a typical layout Fujifilm X series layout and save you a lot of learning time if you’re a Fujifilm shooter.

The D-Pad is replaced by the the new touchscreen LCD and added my favorite joystick. I know some of you will miss the D-Pad and I did too at first. I basically configured the 4 touches functions of the touch screen the same way as the D-Pad of my X-T2. The joystick is always be my best friend helping me to moving the focus point around. The benefit of the touch screen for me is having a cell phone like photos playback experience. You can check out the official manual pages for details of how the new touchscreen gestures work and I found them very intuitive.

The lack of ISO dial may also be of concern to some people, I shoot almost everything in auto-ISO these days but it did affect me at first when I was shooting the landscapes in Hawaii. My workaround is to change the ISO by using the Q menu.

The design paradigm for the rangefinder style of cameras doesn’t come with tilting screen. I don’t see Fujifilm changing this anytime soon. That was one of the tough call for me to pick either the X-T20 or X-E3. If a tilting screen is a must have item for you, then the X-T20 is your right call. For me, the joystick is far more important than the tilting screen. It is the joystick made me chose the X-E3 over the X-T20 as I am not a focus/recompose shooter. I am also welcoming the new external low power EF-X8 hot-shot flash in order to keep the camera in a smaller package, comfortable small : )

The key thing though, from a stills shooting point of view is that the camera is really small, comfortable to use and well connected. When I was out for the whole day using with the 23mm f2 lens only, it was so well and fun. I really enjoyed carrying the camera around as it is so lightweight and and shoot so easily.

The X-E3 is the first to have the Bluetooth V4.0 low-energy capability that was introduced in 2010. Bluetooth low-energy uses a simple stack that enables asynchronous communication with low-power devices, such as wireless sensors that send low volumes of data at infrequent intervals. Connections can be established quickly and released as soon as the data exchange is complete, minimizing PA on time and thus power consumption. I found this pretty useful and can see that people who want to have a constant connection to their tablet or phone will really find this feature useful.

It has to be said that I shot for whole day (photo & video) using just two batteries and the Bluetooth was connected all the time. I took this image below during the sunset at Haʻena State Park and the Bluetooth transfer had it on my phone within seconds, posted the SOOC image on IG on the fly that’s enjoyable.

Thanks to the updated AF algorithm, I can feel the AF speed, especially in continuous mode, seems even snappier than the X-T2. I can’t wait to test it more on my sports assignments. According to Fujifilm, the new firmware update for the X-T2 & X-Pro 2 will be available sometime in late 2017 so it’s not the feature alone to decide on whether to purchase the X-E3.

I think the Fujifilm X-E3 is a very capable camera for people who want a high quality carrying around compact camera to simply documenting their everyday life, travel and trips. Having a quick and seamless way of sharing the photos and videos on the fly.

The 4K video capability of the Fujifilm X-E3 is one of the reasons why I didn’t upgrade my X100S to X100F. I do shoot videos with X-T2 but I now have a more lightweight option at a very reasonable price $1,150 with me daily. It could be used as a C-roll for some of my assignments if needed. Just keep in mind that each 4K video clip is under 10 minutes.

The technical note about the following clip, filmed in 4K on the Fujifilm X-E3.

Film simulation: Velvia

Video mode: 4K 29.97fps

ISO: 200, 400, 800 and Auto

WB: Auto

Shutter speed: Auto

Lenses: XF10-24mm and XF50-140mm

It would be easier for run and gun if you mount the lenses with stabilizer. Therefore the kit lens XF18-55mm is a good option if you’re into filming making. Otherwise, a monopod or tripod will be your good friend. The touch screen gains an advantage for easy focus racking using the AF system in video mode. On the codec side we have the usual H.264 at 100Mbit/s for 4K and 36Mbit/s for Full HD. I edited all the footages with iMovie without any colour corrections or any enhancements.

I hope you found my experience of using the X-E3 useful. Please feel free to share and comment below and I’ll do my best to answer any questions.

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