Mirrorless


Lab Test: Fujifilm X-E3

December 12, 2017

PDN is a member of the Technical Image Press Association which has contracted with Image Engineering to perform detailed lab tests of digital cameras. See here for a full methodological rundown of how Image Engineering puts cameras through their paces. Full res files of every visual in this review are available to download for your pixel-peeping pleasure here. A hands-on review of the Fujifilm X-E3 will appear in the Feb. issue of PDN.

Introduction

The Fujifilm X-E3 is the first Fuji camera to use Bluetooth Low Energy to maintain a constant connection with a paired smartphone and will automatically transfer images to your phone as you shoot them. It also features a new image-recognition algorithm to enhance AF tracking on moving subjects. Thanks to the algorithm, the camera can track subjects half the size or moving twice as fast as previous cameras.

Also new is a touch display that enables you to assign camera settings to swipe gestures (swipe right, left, etc.). The 3-inch display also supports touch focusing.

The X-E3 uses a 24.3-megapixel X-Trans CMOS III image sensor with a native ISO range of 200-12,800 (expandable to 100 and 51,200). It can record 4K/30p video for up to 10 minutes at a clip with clean HDMI output. Full HD video can be captured at up to 60p and you can use the camera’s film simulation modes while recording.

The camera can burst at up to 14fps using an electronic shutter or at 8fps using a mechanical shutter.

On the design side, the X-E3 features a focus lever to assign AF points. It’s also the most compact and lightweight model with a viewfinder in the X Series.

Additional features include:

  • 0.4 sec. startup time
  • 1/4000 mechanical shutter
  • 1/32,000 sec. electronic shutter
  • Shutter time lag of 0.050 sec.
  • Shooting interval of 0.25 sec.

It will ship later this month for $900. It is available to order now.

Resolution

• 24.3 megapixel sensor used fully: at ISOs of 200 and 400, 2094 line pairs per picture height were recorded, representing 105 percent of the theoretical maximum.

• Improvement over the X-E2S, which had a 16.3 megapixel sensor that captured 1743 line pairs per picture height at ISO 200 (1741 at ISO 400), and also better performance than some other recent cameras in the same megapixel class.

• Native ISO range in the X-E3 extends one step higher, to ISO 12800.

• 95 percent or more of the sensor used at all ISO s tested. Even at ISO 12800, 1903 line pairs per picture are captured (95 percent of the theoretical maximum).

• In comparison, the X-E2S captured 1531 line pairs per picture height at the same approximate ISO, which was an extended ISO, and 1549 line pairs per picture height at its top native ISO of ISO 6400.

This graph shows the loss of contrast (y-axis) as a function of the spatial frequency in line pairs per picture height (x-axis) for different ISO-sensitivities (colored lines). The further to the right a curve stretches before descending, the better the resolution at that ISO.
The limiting resolution for each ISO can be found by identifying to the highest spatial frequency which results in a contrast of 0.1, or where the ISO curve crosses the thicker horizontal thicker black line marking 0.1. The vertical pink line is a reference representing half the number of pixels in the sensor height (the Nyquist frequency).

Texture loss

• MTF50 measurements shows similar results in scenes of high and low contrast at ISO 200 (1139 line pairs per picture height, compared with 1090 line pairs per picture height).

• This represents an improvement over the X-E2S, which produced 983 line pairs per picture height at high contrast at ISO 200 and 929 at low contrast.

• At ISO 400, the difference between MTF50 is larger although still slight (1160 in high-contrast scenes, versus 1070 low contrast).

• Relatively many artifacts are produced (28.5 percent at high contrast at ISO 200, and 36.2 percent in low contrast; rising to 36.7 percent at ISO 3200 in high contrast images and 55.0 percent in low contrast scenes).

An artifact is an alteration in a digital image due to technology or technique of processing. Artifacts stem from noise, compression, and sharpening. This graph plots the calculated difference in digital signal between two methods (DeadLeavesCross & DeadLeavesDirect). The colored lines represent response at different ISOs and in reference to a high-contrast target and a low-contrast target. Values plotted are the Dead Leaves SFR difference against the spatial frequency. The larger the area under the curve, the more artifacts are present.

Edge contrast / sharpening

• Along a high-contrast edge, the X-E3 shows a moderately strong degree of sharpening, with maximum measurements of overshoot of 10.7 percent at ISO 400, and 9.4 percent undershoot at ISO 200.

• In general, overshoot along the high-contrast edge ranges between 10 percent and 11 percent for speeds from ISO 200 to ISO 800, and undershoot is between 9 percent and 9.5 percent at the same range.

• Along the high-contrast edge, the predecessor X-E2S produced overshoots almost twice as large at the lower ISO settings (17.8 percent to 18.2 percent ) and similar levels of undershoot as the X-E3 (9.4 percent -9.8 percent ).

• Along a low-contrast edge, the X-E3 produces more sharpening: at ISO 200, for example, overshoot is 11.7 percent and undershoot 15.2 percent .

• Sharpening at higher ISOs along both high-contrast and low-contrast edges is much milder in the X-E3 than its predecessor: high contrast edges produce an overshoot of 2.1 percent at ISO 3200 (2.9 percent undershoot), compared to the X-E2S’s overshoot of 8.0 percent at ISO 3200 (0.2 percent undershoot).

This graph shows the degree of sharpening in the image by representing an over- and undershoot along contrasted edges. The colored lines represent measurements at different ISOs and in high- and low-contrast situations. The size of the dip before the edge (in both depth and breadth) indicates the degree of undershoot; similarly, the amount overshoot is indicated by the height and breadth of the peak. Thus, larger dips and/or peaks indicate that a sharpening effect is visible.

OECF VN / visual noise

• Visual noise assessed at 100 percent (modelled; Viewing Condition 1) ranges from a observable 1.1 at ISO 200, to more noticeable values of 1.5 at ISO 800, and 1.8 at ISO 3200.

• At ISO 6400, visual noise is obvious (2.1) when viewed at 100 percent .

• In Viewing Condition 2, in contrast, noise is only noticeable in the extended ISOs of hi1 and hi2 (1.2 and 1.5, respectively). From ISO 200 to ISO 3200, test results ranged from 0.4 to 0.6.

• In Viewing Condition 3, visual noise values range from 0.5 at ISO 200 to 0.7 at ISO 6400.

• The visual noise is most visible in the mid-tones, especially the darker portions of mid-tones.

This chart shows the noise behavior at various ISO-sensitivities (colored lines) as a function of the brightness of the target image, which is indicated by the relative darkness of the circle on the outer edge of the diagram (noise in shadowed areas are above, and in highlights below). The larger the area inside a curve, the stronger the noise. The degree to which noise disturbs the appreciation of an image, depends on the image size and the viewing condition. The right-hand side of the chart shows the visibility of the noise in an image that is displayed 100% on a monitor (VN1). The left-hand half shows the visibility of noise in a 40-cm tall print (VN3).

This chart shows the noise behavior at various ISO-sensitivities (colored lines) as a function of the brightness of the target image. The perception of noise is represented by the area that is encircled by the curve. The larger the area, the stronger the noise. How much the noise disturbs the viewing of an image, depends on the image size and the viewing distance. This chart shows the noise visibility for an image that is displayed 100% on a monitor (VN1).

This chart shows the noise behavior at various ISO-sensitivities (colored lines) as a function of the brightness of the target image. The perception of noise is represented by the area that is encircled by the curve. The larger the area, the stronger the noise. How much the noise disturbs the viewing of an image, depends on the image size and the viewing distance. The chart shows the noise visibility for an image that is about postcard size (scaled to a height of 10cm) viewed at a distance of 25cm.

Dynamic Range

• The dynamic range of the X-E3 is good, and, at most speeds, very slightly improved from the X-E2S.

• The exception is at ISO 200, where the X-E3 shows a slightly smaller dynamic range than the X-E2S. (9.6 f-stops compared to 10.7 f-stops in the X-E2S.)

• At ISO 400, the newer X-E3 has a dynamic range of 9.8 f-stops (9.3 in the X-E2S), at ISO 1600 10.8 f-stops (9.3 in the X-E2S), and at ISO 6400, 9.0 f-stops (9.0 in the X-E2S).

Color Reproduction

• Color reproduction is very good, with only two colors tested showing strong deviation.

Color reproduction is shown here in two ways. The upper figure is a chart comparing a reference color (right-hand half of each color patch) directly with the color reproduced by the camera (left-hand half of the color patch). Below is a table that lists the DeltaE of each color patch. Red cells indicated strong color deviations, light green cells represent colors with noticeable deviations, and a dark green field represents a moderate deviation.

Automatic white balance

• The automatic white balance in the X-E3 is good, especially at ISOs between ISO 1600 and hi2 (ranging from 0.5 to 0.7).

• At ISO 200, the newer camera shows a white balance of 1.3, while the older X-E2S shows 2.2.

• At ISO 400, both models produce results of 1.1, and at ISO 800, white balance is 1.2 in the X-E3, worse than 0.5 produced by its predecessor.

Video

• Capable of recording 4K videos.

• Video resolution in frames grabbed is 1078 line pairs per picture height at ISO 200 (100 percent of the theoretical maximum), and 1024 (95 percent of theoretical maximum) at ISO 1600.

This graph shows the loss of contrast (y-axis) as a function of the spatial frequency in line pairs per picture height (x-axis) for two ISO-sensitivities in video mode (colored lines). The further to the right a curve stretches before descending, the better the resolution at that ISO. The limiting resolution for each ISO can be found by identifying to the highest spatial frequency which results in a contrast of 0.1, or where the ISO curve crosses the thicker horizontal thicker black line marking 0.1. The vertical pink line is a reference representing half the number of pixels in the sensor height (the Nyquist frequency).

• Sharpening in video is stronger in the X-E3 (8.1 percent overshoot and 4.5 percent undershoot at ISO 200) than the previous model (1.2 percent overshoot and 0.3 percent undershoot at ISO 400, the lowest for video). A similar trend is visible at higher ISO (ISO 1600): 4.7 percent overshoot and 1.1 percent undershoot in the X-E3 compared to 1.3 percent and 0.3 percent.

This graph shows the sharpening in the image due to an over- and undershoot along edges. Depending on the size (based on width and height) of the additional emerging area, a lower (shallower additional area) or stronger (higher and narrower additional area) sharpening effect is visible.

• Dynamic range is better: 8.7 f-stops at ISO 200 and 8.0 at ISO 1600, compared with the X-E2S’s 6.3 at both speeds.

• Visual noise is slightly improved: at low ISO (200), visual noise is below 1 at all viewing conditions (0.9 at Viewing Condition 1, 0.6 in Viewing Condition 2 and 0.7 in condition 3). In contrast, the X-E2S showed visual noise values of 1.3 or 1.4 in each viewing condition at low ISO.

• At high ISO, the visual noise is slightly higher albeit still an improvement from the X-E2S, ranging from 1.1 in Viewing Condition 2 to 1.7 in Viewing Condition 1.

This chart shows the noise behavior at two ISO-sensitivities (ISO100 and ISO1600) as a function of the brightness of the target image. The amount of noise perceived is reflected in the size of the area encircled by the curves. The larger the area, the stronger the noise and its perception. The degree to which the noise disturbs the viewer, depends on the image size and the viewing distance. This chart shows the noise visibility for a video frame that is displayed 100% on a monitor (VN1).

In Depth

The Fujifilm X-E3 is a mirrorless camera with very good resolution. At lower ISOs (e.g. ISO 200 and ISO 400), the camera uses more than 100 percent of the theoretical maximum available from its 24.3 megapixel sensor (2094 line pairs per picture height.).

These resolution measurements show that the X-E3 performs better than in its predecessor, the Fujifilm X-E2S. This previous camera’s smaller 16.3 megapixel sensor captured 1743 line pairs per picture height at ISO 200 (1741 at ISO 400, both 107 percent of the theoretical maximum).

The X-E3 is also very consistent: all resolution measurements from the Fujifilm X-E3 show 95 percent or more of the sensor being used. Even at ISO 12800, 1903 line pairs per picture height are captured, representing 95 percent of the theoretical maximum. In comparison, the X-E2S captured 1531 line pairs per picture height at the same approximate ISO (which was an extended ISO) and 1549 line pairs per picture height at its top native ISO of ISO 6400. The X-E3’s resolution measurements also show better performance than some recent cameras in the same megapixel class by other manufacturers.

The native ISO range in the X-E3 also extends one step higher that in the X-E2S, to ISO 12800.

The Fujifilm X-E3 can handle both high- and low-contrast portions of scenes. At ISO 200, high-contrast parts of the scene are recorded with a MTF50 value of 1139 line pairs per picture height, and 1090 line pairs per picture height in low-contrast portions of the scene. This represents an improvement over the X-E2S, which produced images in which the MTF50 at ISO 200 was 983 line pairs per picture height in high-contrast parts of a scene photographed and 929 in low-contrast scenes.

At ISO 400, the difference is larger between the MTF50 values from low- and high-contrast scenes in images produced by the X-E3. However, the difference is still minor: 1160 line pairs per picture height at high contrast, versus 1070 at low contrast. At ISO 3200, MTF50 is 717 line pairs per picture height in high-contrast scenes, and 681 at low contrast. Relatively many artifacts are produced (28.5 percent at high contrast at ISO 200, and 36.2 percent in low contrast; rising to 36.7 percent at ISO 3200 in high contrast images and 55.0 percent in low contrast scenes).

Subjective visual comparison of high- and low-contrast portions of a scene in images shot at ISO 200 and ISO 3200, shows obvious smoothing in the image shot at higher ISO. Despite this, the higher ISO image still shows detail; combined with little disturbing noise, this creates a pleasant impression of the image.

The Fujifilm X-E3 produces a moderately strong degree of sharpening albeit milder than its predecessor. Sharpening measurements for the X-E3 along a high-contrast edge, range up to an overshoot measurement of 10.7 percent at ISO 400, and 9.4 percent undershoot at ISO 200. In general, overshoot along the high-contrast edge ranges between 10 percent and 11 percent for speeds from ISO 200 to ISO 800, and undershoot is between 9 percent and 9.5 percent at the same range. In contrast, the Fujifilm X-E2S produced overshoots along a high-contrast edge almost twice as large at the lower ISO (17.8 percent to 18.2 percent ) and similar levels of undershoot as the X-E3 (9.4 percent – 9.8 percent ). The X-E3 produces more sharpening along a low-contrast edge than along a high-contrast edge. At ISO 200, overshoot along a low-contrast edge is 11.7 percent and undershoot 15.2 percent , higher than the over- and undershoot reported above for high-contrast edges.

At the high end of the native ISO range, sharpening along both high-contrast and low-contrast edges is less stark in the X-E3 than its predecessor. For example, high contrast edges produce an overshoot of 2.1 percent at ISO 3200 (2.9 percent undershoot), compared to the X-E2S’s overshoot of 8.0 percent at ISO 3200 (0.2 percent undershoot). At ISO 6400, the X-E3 produces overshoots of 1.9 percent (high contrast) and 2.8 percent (low contrast), compared to 7.5 percent (high) and 6.2 percent (low) in the X-E2S. Undershoots at both high- and low-contrast edges measure 1.8 percent in the X-E3, compared to 0.4 percent and 2.2 percent in the X-E2S.

Visual noise assessed in Viewing Condition 1 (a modeled ‘viewing’ at 100 percent enlargement), shows noticeable noise at all ISOs (ranging from hardly observable (1.1) at ISO 200, to 1.5 at ISO 800, and 1.8 at ISO 3200). At ISO 6400, visual noise is disturbing in its obviousness (2.1) when viewed at 100 percent .

In Viewing Condition 2 (mobile screen or postcard-sized print), in contrast, visual noise is only obvious in the extended ISO s of hi1 and hi2 (1.2 and 1.5, respectively). At ISO 200, visual noise is measured at only 0.4, and values of 0.5 and 0.6 are recorded at ISO s between ISO 400 and ISO 3200. Similarly, in Viewing Condition 3, modeling the conditions of a large print 40cm in height, visual noise is not observable: values range from 0.5 at ISO 200 to 0.7 at ISO 6400. Only at ISO 12800 does the noise measurement rise to 1.0.

Visual noise is most noticeable in the mid-tones, especially the darker portions of mid-tones.

The visual noise results are overall slightly improved from lab test results of the X-E2S. However, at the lower ISO in Viewing Condition 1, the noise is slightly more visible in images produced by the X-E3 (e.g. 0.8 in the X-E2S versus 1.1 in the newer camera at ISO 200; 0.9 compared to 1.3 in the X-E3 at ISO 400; 1.5 versus 1.8 in the X-E3 at ISO 3200).

The dynamic range of the X-E3 is good, and, at most ISO speeds, very slightly improved from the X-E2S. The exception is at ISO 200, where the X-E3 shows a smaller dynamic range than the X-E2S. (9.6 f-stops compared to 10.7 f-stops in the X-E2S.). At ISO 400, the newer E-X3 has a dynamic range of 9.8 f-stops (9.3 in the X-E2S); at ISO 1600, 10.8 f-stops (9.3 in the X-E2S); and at ISO 6400, 9.0 f-stops (9.0 in the X-E2S).

Color reproduction is very good, with only two colors tested showing strong deviation when reproduced by the Fujifilm X-E3. The automatic white balance in the X-E3 is good, especially at ISOs between ISO 1600 and hi2 (ranging from 0.5 to 0.7). At ISO 200, the newer camera shows a white balance of 1.3, while the older X-E2S shows 2.2. At ISO 400, both models produce results of 1.1, and at ISO 800, white balance is 1.2 in the X-E3, worse than 0.5 produced by its predecessor.

The Fujifilm X-E3 is quick enough for most uses. The camera starts up in 0.8 seconds, half a second faster than the X-E2S. The Fujifilm X-E3 can record 13.6 JPEG frames per second for up to 39 images before the camera slows down, and 13.6 RAW images per second for a total of 22. This is better than the X-E2S (7.1 JPEGs per second, and 3.3 RAWs per second with a maximum of 10 recorded before the camera slowed down).

As this is a mirrorless camera, the autofocus time was measured using Live View. At 300lux, the autofocus takes only 0.24 seconds, with a total shooting time of 0.36 seconds. In low light, the autofocus in Live View takes 0.27 seconds for a total shooting time of 0.38 seconds.

Video        

The Fujifilm X-E3 can record 4K videos, and its video resolution measurements are therefore improved over results from the X-E2S with its Full-HD video. The X-E3 records 1078 line pairs per picture height (100 percent of the theoretical maximum) in frames grabbed from a video recording made at ISO 200, and 1024 (95 percent of theoretical maximum) at ISO 1600.

Sharpening in video is stronger in the X-E3 (8.1 percent overshoot and 4.5 percent undershoot at ISO 200) than the previous model (1.2 percent overshoot and 0.3 percent undershoot at ISO 400, representing the lowest results for this model). A similar trend is visible at higher ISO (ISO 1600): 4.7 percent overshoot and 1.1 percent undershoot in the X-E3 compared to 1.3 percent and 0.3 percent.

Dynamic range is better: 8.7 f-stops at ISO 200 and 8.0 at ISO 1600, compared with the X-E2S’s 6.3 at both speeds.

Visual noise is slightly improved: at low ISO (200), visual noise is below 1.0 at all viewing conditions (0.9 at Viewing Condition 1, 0.6 in Viewing Condition 2 and 0.7 in Viewing Condition 3). In contrast, the X-E2S showed noise of 1.3 or 1.4 in each viewing condition at low ISO. At high ISO , the visual noise is slightly higher albeit still an improvement from the X-E2S, ranging from 1.1 in Viewing Condition 2 to 1.7 in Viewing Condition 3.