3/9/18

Fujifilm XE-3 Mirrorless Camera

It's been a bit since I reviewed anything on here. But considering the circumstances, I thought it might be worth my while. You see, nearly all of my camera equipment was stolen out of a friend's car in Seattle a few months ago. Canon kit - a body and two lenses - as well as my beloved Yashica T4, my laptop, flask, some motorcycle gear, and about half of all the clothing I own. It sucked, most certainly. The kind of sting that comes only from knowing someone is out there drinking from your flask, shooting photos with your gear, and tippy typing on our computer. But that's not what this is about. This, my fearless readers, is about the little mirrorless camera I acquired as a stop-gap. Something to hold me over while Kyra and I film the first three episodes of our new travel show, Perpetual Motion.

Much research went into this acquisition. Much. Like maybe a solid 48 hours without sleep. My criteria was convoluted. Something small, easy to carry, not too expensive, but that could also shoot images fit to print. I initially looked at Leica. And nay - too expensive, too much commitment. Then at some Sony stuff. An older A7 (small-ish, full frame, etc), but it seemed soulless, no matter what Linhbergh says. If I was going to gamble, I wanted something that inspired me. Something which would allow me to create an image on the camera, not in post. Something that made me feel like I was shooting film, only not wasting a wad of coin every time I burned a frame. And so I started looking at Fujifilm - much to the delight of my friend Nimi from Big D Speedshop, an avid Fuji shooter, fellow surfer and generally dope dude.


What I settled on was the new Fujifilm XE-3 with a 23mm f/2 lens, which is effectively a smaller, less expensive version of Fuji's X-Pro2. I had shot a few frames with a friend's X-Pro1 a number of years ago and liked what it produced. The rangefinder styling was both aesthetically pleasing to me and also less distracting to my subjects (seeing more of my face, and less of the camera, if you will). Again, though, I wasn't quite ready to give up my Canon goods. While the heartless fucks who stole my stuff did get away with a great deal, I still have a well-loved 70-200mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.2 and a 50mm f/2.5 macro lens that someone I once knew *cough* may have stolen from somewhere she once worked. So the idea of investing in an entirely new system (Fuji, Sony, whatever), was a bigger pill than I was ready to swallow. Especially considering the circumstances, this was a camera that would be used lightly while we filmed our new show. Not something I had to rely too greatly on or anything I was planning to replace a proper rig with. And then...

Objects in mirror are closer smaller than they appear. An example of just how small the XE-3 is.
Photo: Nathan Slabaugh


Before I give you my feel goods, here are specs on the XE-3 courtesy of B&H Photo...

  • 24.3MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS III Sensor
  • X-Processor Pro Image Processor
  • 2.36m-Dot Electronic Viewfinder
  • 3.0" 1.04m-Dot Touchscreen LCD
  • UHD 4K/30p and Full HD Video Recording
  • Extended ISO 51200, Shooting to 14 fps
  • 91-Point AF with Custom AF-C Settings
  • Built-In Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • Film Simulation for Photos and Videos

If you compare these, uh, features(?) with, say, the Canon 7D Mark II through which I've shot many of thousands of images through, you'll find there is little difference. And yet the two cameras couldn't be any further apart. The XE-3, for starters, is about one-third the weight of my the Canon rig, operates more like an old-fashioned rangefinder (albeit with an EVF), has a touch-screen at the back, built in WiFi, and aperture selection on the lens (this is how all the Fujifilm cameras operate, BTW, and something you'll be familiar with if coming straight from a 35mm SLR - you know, like if you're a time-traveler). Plus, an assortment of dials and knobby things that adjust all sorts of shit - and some that you can customize to adjust even more shit.

It's old school meets new school in many ways. And to be honest, I'm not going to go much further into things because remember how I spent 48 hours researching this shit? Yea, you can too! What I will tell you is that the XE-3 and Fujifilm systems, in general, are fun to use, easy to operate and with their ability to emulate a variety of actual Fujifilm products (Velvia, Provia, Superia, et al.), this little guy is an awesome travel companion. Something I think I'll continue to use long after we're finished filming.

If you want to see an assortment of photographs I took with the XE-3 in Baja, all of which came SOC and remain unadulterated, click HERE.

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