“Despite the retro looks and the presence of old-school dials, the X-E3 is every bit modern as you’d want your camera to be”

Fujifilm launched the X-E3 in India yesterday – a mirrorless camera with a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor with a number of upgrades and new features when compared to the X-E2. In fact, Fujifilm’s strategy has always been to create cameras that catered to varying needs and shooting demands rather than the usual “flagship-midrange-entry level” model that DSLR companies are usually seen following. The X-E3 is designed as an alternative to the X-T20, with size, weight and a touchscreen being its USP. We had some time with a test unit of the camera at the launch event and here are our first impressions.

Size Matters

The reason many photographers are starting to slowly shift over the mirrorless cameras is due to their incredibly smaller and lighter bodies in comparison to their DSLR counterparts. The Fujifilm X-E3 takes this one step further by weighing just 337 grams (body only, with SD card and battery). The two kit options available for the X-E3 is the Fujinon 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 (310 grams) and Fujinon 23mm f/2.0 (180 grams) and with either lens attached, you’re still looking at a very compact shooting system weighing under 700 grams. The X-E3 itself is about 4.7-inches long and 2.9-inches tall, easily smaller than most flagship smartphones with good cameras. Of course, it is not thin like a smartphone, but given the fact that no smartphone will come close to the image quality of a dedicated large sensor camera, it is a worthy trade-off. With respect to competition in the mirrorless/DSLR segment, it is just a few millimetres bigger than both the Sony A6300 and the A6500. Regardless, the X-E3  with a Fujinon 23mm f/2.0 mounted on it still fits easily in the palm of one’s hands.

fujifilm, xe3, mirrorless camera
The Fujifilm X-E3 is small enough to fit in the palm of your hands

Retro in the Modern Age

The mirrorless segment has been seeing significant improvements and traction amongst consumers over the last few years. As such, most players have tried to focus on developing products that closely emulate DSLRs in terms of looks and layout. Fujifilm has instead always sought to rekindle the love for everything retro, and the X-Series is an ode to everything that photography used to be decades ago. To those who have used Fujifilm cameras, you will find yourself right at home with respect to the controls. Unfortunately, there is no dedicated ISO dial, but you do have a shutter-speed dial and an ISO dial for direct controls. Pair that with the manual aperture ring on the Fujinon lenses, and you’d quickly get used to being able to change settings on the fly, more quickly than you’d be used to on a DSLR.

Easy access dials on the Fujifilm X-E3 make changing settings on the fly a piece of cake

Despite the retro looks and the presence of old-school dials, the X-E3 is every bit modern as you’d want your camera to be. On the back, one of the most useful features happens to be the little joystick, which helps move the focus points around. The only other cameras to have this are the far more expensive X-Pro2 and the X-T2. Even on Sony, the joystick only makes an appearance on the Sony A9, which is almost four times the cost of the X-E3. Being able to quickly move the AF points around is very critical to be able to get the shot in a timely manner and Fujifilm introducing this to a lower tier of their cameras is very encouraging.

Lastly, there is the 3-inch touchscreen LCD with 1.04 million dots of resolution. You can use the touchscreen for focusing duties, or even examining the shots you have taken by enlarging the photos as you would on your smartphone. Unfortunately, the screen is fixed inside the body and does not tilt or pull out in any way. The Sony A6300 has an articulated LCD, but does not come with a touchscreen. The more expensive A6500 offers a touchscreen and an articulated screen but costs more than the X-E3.

Final Thoughts

Fujifilm has marked the camera at Rs 70,999 (body only), XE3 with 18-55 kit is priced at ₨ 1,02,999 and XE-3 with 23mm F2 kit is priced at ₨ 89,999. Just for reference, the 23mm f/2.0 lens costs Rs 44,999 and the 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 costs Rs 54,999, so the kit options for the X-E3 are far cheaper than buying the body only option and lenses separately. In comparison, the Sony A6500 costs Rs 1,19,990 for body-only while the A6300 is priced at Rs 74,990 for the camera with a 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6. The price points of all three cameras make it hard to draw a direct comparison, especially since we don’t yet have images and video files from the cameras for comparison. Is the Fujifilm X-E3 overpriced or does it fit snug in between what the competition has to offer? This is something we’re going to be able to answer once we have reviewed the X-E3, but for now, the camera is indeed impressive and addresses a number of issues of not just its predecessor, the X-E2 and brings some much-needed features to modernise the series.

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Swapnil loves writing about technology but hates bios. Gadgets do grab his attention from time to time, but it's the science that goes into making machines that really fascinates him. He brings to the table a keen insight into human-machine interaction thanks to his formal education being in psychology and is constantly exploring the impact of this new digital lifestyle is having on society and individuals. Besides writing on the digital world, Swapnil also spends a lot of time behind the camera as an avid photographer, with a special love for shooting time-lapse videos and landscapes. Before diving deep into the world of technology journalism, he used to moonlight as a concert photographer.