Earlier last month I took the Fujifilm X-E3 with me on my trip to northern Norway’s Lofoten Islands to put it through it’s paces shooting landscapes. My usual travel set up is the X-T2 as my main camera with the X-T20 as a secondary camera, which I use for shooting video, doing time-lapses and shots at a different focal length when my X-T2 is attached to a tripod. The X-E3 is a really similar camera to the X-T20 and recently I’ve been getting a few questions about which to get and what the differences are, so after Fujifilm kindly offered to lend me one I took the X-E3 with me on the trip in place of my usual X-T20.
Here’s a video I put together outlining the practical differences between the two cameras.
Overall I found the X-E3 to be an excellent camera, which is to be expected as it shares all the same image making capabilities of the other cameras in Fuji’s current X Series line up – a 24,3mp sensor, the X Processor III and 4k video at 30 fps. Basically you’re getting the same image quality as the flagship X-Pro 2 or X-T2 in a camera for around half the price but where Fuji differentiate the cameras is in the feature set. The X-E3 lacks the weather sealing and tough build of the higher end cameras, the EVF is smaller, and the smaller body make it a little less ergonomic in the hand than the bigger X-Pro 2 and X-T2.
However, this is all true of the X-T20, and while that camera can be described as a baby X-T2, the X-E3 with it’s rangefinder styling is more a more diminutive X-Pro 2. The two smaller cameras have a lot in common; they’re similar in price, they have similar features and their similar dimensions make them feel almost the same in the hand. A major factor in which you prefer is going to come down to whether you prefer the more SLR style of the X-T20 with it’s “pentaprism” bump or the rangefinder styling of the X-E3, but there are other important differences. For me the major one was the lack of articulating screen on the X-E3. A lot of the landscapes I shoot are wide angle with the camera close to the ground, and an articulating screen is superb for this. I really missed it in the X-E3 and often found myself having to get down on my hands and knees in the snow to see the screen or use the viewfinder, and back home in Portugal I spend a lot of time shooting at the coast, so an articulating screen is really an essential on any camera I use for landscapes now.
The rangefinder styling of the camera also necessitates moving the drive dial from the left of the top plate of the camera and using a button combined with the rear dial to change drive settings. I found this a little less intuitive as I’m often switching between single shot, bracketing and video mode and personally I found it easier with the dial, although I accept that this is subjective. The X-E3 also replaces the d-Pad of the X-T20 with a joystick, which I found much more useful. The introduction of the joystick on the X-T2 was something I really liked as it made it considerably easier to quickly select my focus points and it's something I really miss on the X-T20. Having it on the X-E3 makes focusing a lot easier for me, and I much prefer it to either the d-pad or touch focus. The X-E3 also features Bluetooth connection as well as the standard wifi that the X-T20 has. It's a nice touch, but not something I really use much.
Overall though the X-E3 is a superb camera for the price and which you choose between this and the X-T20 is almost certainly going to be about style preferences rather than any significant differences in the cameras' features. And while it lacks some of the more professional features and build of the flagship cameras you certainly won’t notice that in the images it produces, which are identical. That being the case, the X-E3 makes a fantastic entry into the Fuji X Series, a great carry around camera with the bundled 18-55mm lens, or as a back up camera to something like the X-T2, X Pro2 or X-H1.