A new acquaintance – Fujifilm X-E3 & XF 27mm f/2.8

I’ve just sold off the Fujifilm X-T30 with the 18-55mm kit lens and the Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 to slim down my gear. I used that money to purchase a DJI Osmo Pocket and the Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8, but I’ve always wanted to check out the X-E3 and the XF27mm f/2.8 as well, so when I found a used and reasonably priced offer online with both I just couldn’t resist.

The XF 27mm f/2.8 – a small, pancake lens, but is the missing the aperture ring a deal breaker?

I guess that slimming down things didn’t actually work since I now got more gear than before I sold the X-T30, but I’m constantly re-evaluating my gear and trying out new stuff to see what works for me. I’ll write a post on the DJI Osmo Pocket very soon to let you know how that’s working out.

PS! I got the chance to take a few “product images”, inspired by Jonas Rask, so all product images, now by yours truly. But follow Jonas Rask, a great photographer and a huge inspiration for me and the blog. Read his review of the X-E3 over at his blog.

Why another camera?

The Fujifilm X-E3 with the XF 27mm f/2.8 lens.

I wanted a smaller, more compact, more simplistic camera for my everyday use. The X100f is supposed to cover that area, but I want to be able to switch lenses and the lens on the X100f is known to be soft wide open. With the X-E3 I can use all my lenses, and even with the Fujicrons, the kit is pretty small.

The X-E3 with the XF 23 f/2.

I’m also not sure what focal length I like the most; 35mm or 50mm, in full-frame terms. Lately, I’ve been using the XF 35mm, which is like a 50mm in full-frame, on the X-E3, and comparing it to the 23mm on the X100f (being 35mm in full-frame), but I haven’t come to any conclusion so far.

The X-E3 vs the X100f.

Attaching the XF 27mm it gets even smaller, but I do like an aperture ring on my lenses, so the XF 27mm is still under consideration, and I might end up selling it to focus just on X-E3 with the Fujicrons. This may also end up forcing me to sell the X100f, but so far I have a few reservations about the X-E3 in favor of the X100f.

First impressions

The camera is pretty small and reminds me of the X-T30, even the shutter sounds the same, which for me, is a negative. I did not like the shutter sound of the X-T30 at all. It has an auto switch which can come in handy if I want to hand over the camera to somebody else, the shutter speed dial and compensation wheel are both in familiar places, but there’s no ISO dial :-(. Using the XF 27mm with this camera will probably make me use this combination more like a traditional DSLR; control the aperture on the front control wheel and shutter speed on the back control wheel. This is completely fine, but I do miss the aperture, iso, and shutter speed dial setup from my X-T3, even when using the X100f. My solution so far has been to put ISO on the function button right by the compensation wheel on the X-E3 so I have dedicated controls for my adjustments, which works, but a dedicated ISO-dial would be much better.

The X-E3 with the XF 23mm f/2.

Everything else is pretty much similar to other Fuji cameras in this price range; great features & good, not stellar build quality, but overall good value for the money. It was the same when comparing the X-T30 to the X-T3.

No D-pad, but a nice, though quite small, joystick. I like my D-pad on the X100f and X-T3 and not a big fan of the screen swipe alternative.

Compared to the X100f, there’s no optical viewfinder, but that’s ok since I never use the one on the X100f anyway. In some ways, the X-E3 looks like another range-finder camera, namely the way bigger, medium-format Fujifilm GFX 50R, which also intrigues me, but the steep price keeps that way into the future.

The Fujifilm GFX 50R – sort of a X-E3 with a bigger sensor, beefier body, and a huge price difference.
Photo from the Fujifilm product page.

I don’t have particularly large hands, but this camera body feels small in my hands, and almost too small. I know I said, in the beginning, I wanted a smaller camera, but with the XF 27mm f/2.8 mounted it feels a bit too tight. I don’t have anywhere to put my paws 😉 . Using an XF 23mm or XF 35mm, where I can wrap a few fingers around the lens, makes it much better. A thumb rest would also improve the grip a lot.

Image quality, tech specs and all that jazz

A quick technical summary (copied from DPReview):

  • 24MP APS-C sensor with X-Trans color filter
  • Improved AF tracking
  • Wi-Fi with Bluetooth for constant connection to a smartphone
  • Shutter speed and exposure comp dials
  • Twin clickable command dials
  • AF Joystick
  • 4K (UHD) video at 30, 25, 24 and 23.97p
  • USB Charging

The X-E3 shares the same sensor as the X100f and the image quality is the same. I tested the eye focus, which worked ok, but it’s obvious that my X-T3 is far better. There seems to be an improvement in autofocus performance compared to the X100f though, and my wife took some test shots of my diving, using continuous focus and 8fps rapid shooting, which it handled quite well.

In conclusion

It’s a bit early to say if I’ll keep this camera, but it has a lot going for it. The clean, almost minimalistic design is appealing and it handles quite well, even if I have to use the front and back control wheel. Compared to my X100f it is a bit smaller, lacks the built-in ND of the X100f, but can take all my XF-lenses, which is a huge plus. It might serve as a backup camera, and without a lens mounted it doesn’t take up much space in my backpack. My biggest negatives so far are the shutter sound and the fact that it might be too small.

As for the XF 27mm f/2.8 things are looking a bit bleaker; the lack of an aperture ring is really bad, the focus performance is pretty unstable, almost unusable in low light and the focal range is right between my to favorite focal ranges, 35mm & 50mm, which makes it a bit weird. Its only advantage is the size, but I like my Fujicrons more so it will probably end up on the used market again pretty soon.

I’ll give the X-E3 a few more weeks and then decide if it stays or not. So far I think the X100f is safe, because I lean more towards the 35mm focal range, love the built-in ND-filter it has and the shutter sound is magic.

After reading my conclusion, and perhaps similar thoughts in my other reviews, you might have noticed that I base most of my decisions on how the camera makes me feel and if it inspires me to go out and shoot pictures, not so much the technical details. I love how Fuji handles colors and most other attributes of the actual photo, and most of these properties are shared among all the Fuji camera bodies. I now it will deliver, but will it inspire? That is the question for all my gear. For more technical details & reviews look at the reviews in the “Further reading” section below.

Sample photos from the X-E3

X-E3 & XF 35mm f/2 @ 1/50s, f/2 and 640 ISO
X-E3 & XF 35mm @ 1/100s, f/2 and 1250 ISO
X-E3 & XF 35mm @ 1/500s, f/6.4 and 200 ISO
X-E3 & XF 35mm f/2 @ 1/1000s, f/11 and 640 ISO.

And now some photos my wife took using the X-E3 with the XF 23mm f/2 & XF 35mm f/2.

X-E3 & XF 35mm f/2 @ 1/6000s, f/2 and 640 ISO
X-E3 & XF 23mm f/2 @ 1/4000s, f/2.2 & 400 ISO
X-E3 & XF 23mm f/2 @ 1/180s, f/14 and 400 ISO
X-E3 & XF 35mm f/2 @ 1/1250s, f/13 and 640 ISO.

Further reading

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  1. Rå bilder 👍🏻

  2. I’m a satisfied X-E3 shooter and was just looking for recent reviews out of curiosity. Thanks for sharing! I’m wondering what your thoughts are two or three months in the future. What did you decided on the 27mm? That’s one lens I can’t be happy with OR without in my life! When I had it, I didn’t love. Now that it’s gone, I want to try it again. :o)

    Thanks so much for the great content!

    • Thanks a lot for the positive feedback. That’s really appreciated. I’ve sold the X-E3 and the XF 27mm are listed for sale. The camera didn’t get used that much and the lens is already covered by so many other of the lenses I got so I just can’t afford to have it laying around. Many Fuji-shooters love the little 27mm but for me it just didn’t work out.

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