The Fujifilm XE3 is a mid-range mirrorless camera, aimed at enthusiasts who want the quality and lenses of the X-system in a compact body. Announced in September 2017, the XE3 is the successor to the four year-old XE2, and like that model features a rangefinder-styled body with an electronic viewfinder (0.62x / 2360k dot OLED) built-into the corner. Fujifilm has however shrunk the body a little while packing it with its latest technology.

The XE3 becomes the latest model to sport Fujifilm’s 24 Megapixel X-Trans III, an APSC sensor with embedded phase-detect autofocus. Its quality and performance are already well-known from the X-Pro2, XT2 and XT20, although it comes with autofocus enhancements arriving as firmware updates for the other bodies. Like the XT20, the 3in / 3:2 screen is touch-sensitive, although now supports gesture controls in playback like pinching and swiping. While you can use the touchscreen to adjust the AF area, the XE3 also offers the joystick of the X-Pro2 and XT2, uniquely equipping it with the best of both Worlds. Unlike the XT models though, the screen is fixed in place and doesn’t tilt-out.

Like the XT2 and XT20, the XE3 can shoot 4k video at 24, 25 or 30p for up to ten minutes, or 1080p up to 60p for 15 minutes; unlike the XT2 though there’s no optional battery grip to extend clip length, and like all Fuji cameras to date there’s no frame rates above 60p on any resolution for slow motion. In addition to Wifi, the XE3 becomes Fujifilm’s first body to offer an always-on low-power Bluetooth link to your smartphone. I spent some time with a final production model to bring you some hands-on first impressions and sample images below!

 

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The XE3 becomes Fujifilm’s first body to offer an always-on low-power Bluetooth link to your smartphone. Once paired over Bluetooth, you can simply fire-up the Fujifilm app on your phone and it’ll automatically connect to the camera using Wifi for remote control or image transfer – much easier than manually browsing and selecting Wifi networks.

At launch, the smartphone app’s features remain the same as previous versions, bar the additional support for a Bluetooth initiation. This means the XE3 inherits the annoying GPS implementation of previous models where the app can embed location co-ordinates from your phone for a 60 minute period, but doesn’t bother to update them as you move to a different location during that time. I’ve spoken to Fujifilm about this on several occasions and am pleased to report the issue is recognized and an update to the app promised in the future. Sadly there’s no timescales, but since the functionality is provided by the app, this auto GPS updating should be available to all models.

 

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The body, at 121x74x43mm and 337g including battery, is a little thinner and narrower than the XE2(S) and a fraction lighter too, although if you’d like more to hold onto, the optional MHG-XE3 boosts the height and grip a little while providing a dove-tailed base (albeit not for portrait shooting like an L-bracket). Like all Fujifilm bodies to date, there’s no built-in stabilisation, with the XE3 instead relying on optical stabilisation on some lenses.

 

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Interestingly the XE3 dispenses with the traditional cross-key buttons to the right of the screen which on previous models were used for direct access to the ISO, white balance, AF mode and the Film Simulations. In their place, the XE3 exploits gesture controls on the touchscreen, so swiping up, down, left and right accesses the AF mode, ISO settings, Film Simulations and White Balance respectively. Meanwhile the space where the cross keys used to be now provides larger thumb rest area.

In practice it works well and if you’re familiar with older Fujifilm X bodies, it’s surprisingly intuitive as the swipe direction matches the previous button direction. Suffice it to say you can also tap to reposition the AF area, and you can also double-tap to enlarge an area for focus confirmation. In playback you can swipe between images and pinch to enlarge them. I’ve demonstrated some of the gesture controls in the video below.

 

 

 

There’s a lot of overlap between the XE3 and XT20, and both bodies cost roughly the same. I love having the Bluetooth, gesture control and AF joystick on the XE3, but miss the tilting screen of the XT20, omitted here to save space; ultimately a lot will boil down to your preferences on body styling and viewfinder position and how much you desire the smallest X-body.

Ahead of my full review, here’s some sample images shot with a final production sample.

Above: Model:X-E3, Shutter speed:1/27, Aperture:4.0, ISO Sensitivity:800, Focal length:18.0 mm

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Above: Model:X-E3, Shutter speed:1/8, Aperture:2.8, ISO Sensitivity:800, Focal length:18.0 mm

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Above: Model:X-E3, Shutter speed:1/20, Aperture:3.2, ISO Sensitivity:800, Focal length:20.5 mm

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Above: Model:X-E3, Shutter speed:1/58, Aperture:4.0, ISO Sensitivity:800, Focal length:55.0 mm

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Above: Model:X-E3, Shutter speed:1/60, Aperture:2.8, ISO Sensitivity:640, Focal length:18.0 mm

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Above: Model:X-E3, Shutter speed:1/60, Aperture:4.0, ISO Sensitivity:400, Focal length:55.0 mm

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Above: Model:X-E3, Shutter speed:1/60, Aperture:4.0, ISO Sensitivity:640, Focal length:55.0 mm

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Above: Model:X-E3, Shutter speed:1/18, Aperture:3.6, ISO Sensitivity:800, Focal length:18.0 mm

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Above: Model:X-E3, Shutter speed:1/14, Aperture:3.6, ISO Sensitivity:800, Focal length:18.0 mm

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Above: Model:X-E3, Shutter speed:1/34, Aperture:4.0, ISO Sensitivity:800, Focal length:55.0 mm

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Above: Model:X-E3, Shutter speed:1/60, Aperture:4.0, ISO Sensitivity:400, Focal length:18.0 mm

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Above: Model:X-E3, Shutter speed:1/9, Aperture:8.0, ISO Sensitivity:800, Focal length:18.0 mm

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Above: Model:X-E3, Shutter speed:1/38, Aperture:6.4, ISO Sensitivity:800, Focal length:35.8 mm

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