Decisions: Fujifilm X100F vs. X-E3

Recently, during a workshop with a Fujifilm X Photographer, I got the opportunity to test X100F and X-E3, along with some other Fujifilm equipment. Of course, the X-H1 is an interesting camera: refined ergonomics, improved weather sealing, the additional LCD screen on top of the body. I consider this camera really attractive, especially from the point of view of the professional photographer and the enthusiast film-makers. As I really enjoy the night photography and shooting in low light conditions, the performance of X-H1, especially with prime lenses, where there is no O.I.S. sounds so tempting; if this would make you forget about the tripod, in most situations, can be a real advantage for the traveller that enjoys leaving his heavy tripod at home (or in the hotel room).

But as I enjoy the rangefinder style design, there are 99% chances we will get IBIS in a body smaller than X-H1. I just don’t see it happening in the future X-Pro3. Too bad; not a deal breaker for me, but still… Now, back to the two cameras!

Fujifilm X100F

It is a camera that you will fall in love with its design (except maybe one thing – more on that, at the end of my story).
I truly love the rangefinder style Fujifilm used in their design to create the X100 series and the X-Pro2 series. I had the X-Pro1 and the reviewed X100S so it is really a question of taste, personal preference and the specifics of your photography style.

There are several upgrades over the old X100 models, as the X100F is “the same”, but totally different. The improved design, better look, the redesigned buttons, even the larger battery from X-Pro / X-T series, upgraded hybrid viewfinder, new materials and new paint, that joystick that is essential for quick focus point selection, the performance – everything makes a huge step forward, especially from my X100S. I am not sure how much progress the X100F brings, related to the X100T, but I know for sure that X100S and X100F are like from two different words.

This camera was on my wish list for my future trip to Japan, until I saw the typical focus hunting, not just once and not only in really poor light situations. I was so disappointed, that it felt like a deja vu, as I was holding my old X100S. And this is a deal breaker for me, as this was the reason I sold my X100S. As long as the X100 series will use the same old 23mm F2.0 lens, I guess I won’t be interested any more in the X100F, or the future model.

I know that X100F is a great camera, loved by so many professional photographers; it’s also a great camera as a backup solution for Event Photography. The biggest advantages using X100F are the hybrid viewfinder, the leaf shutter which helps you sync the flash-light at incredible high speeds, and the built-in ND Filter. But one of the key features in X100F’s design is the hybrid viewfinder, as this is the only Fujifilm compact camera to incorporate this technology. But as I already have the X-Pro2 with this incredible hybrid viewfinder, I don’t see the priority in adding the X100F as a backup camera, or travel camera, just for the sake of a more compact solution. Of course, if the budget permits, you can get all the models and all the XF lenses, so this type of decision is irrelevant and this article isn’t really useful to you.

Fujifilm X-E3

About the X-E3, I was a bit disappointed that they made it so small, as I enjoy better ergonomics (especially for the photographers with larger hands) and in order to keep the comfort in use, there is a limit (in my opinion) to the compactness of the camera; if you go beyond that limit, you might lose comfort and speed of use. In this regards, the X-Pro series means the best size / design / weight ratio for me. But this slight disadvantage might be corrected by adding a hand-grip. I would consider the smaller, but newer X-E3 as a great replacement for X100F. First, there’s the price, where the X100F is now €1,300 and the X-E3 is around €800; combined with the newer, much faster AF and weather sealed XF 23mm F2.0 (which is around €450), you are still in advantage over the X100F’s price. For that difference, you can get extra batteries, SD cards, or a protective filter (but that’s not the point of our comparison, here).

Another improvement over the older generations of X-E series was the addition of the joystick. I believe the presence of the joystick on X-E3, combined with the use of the touchscreen with the swipe gestures that replace the D-pad buttons (quite a bold change, but useful, when you get used to it), can also be a slight advantage over the X100F, in terms of ergonomics, or speed of use. If not an advantage, just a different approach, but surely not worse. As both models still don’t yet offer weather resistant capabilities, there is nothing to compare in this area, but I have heard about Fujifilm photographers who used their non weather resistant cameras in light rain without any technical problems (it’s not something I would advise you to do).


Today, we get a lot of performance inside our cameras: 4K video, or insane ISO level over 50.000 of value, to name a few things that I don’t see as essential, in small cameras like the X100F and X-E3. Some of us appreciate that the manufacturer packs everything of today’s technology in every camera model, some of us find them not so important. But all of us consider the autofocus performance as a priority (or else, we could all switch to manual focus lenses and it won’t matter to worry about it). This is why we see phase detection via PDAF pixels inside the sensor, as a complement to contrast detection system, we see autofocus linear motors, in dual, or quad configuration inside the lenses, that work almost instantly and silently and all the firmware upgrades that continuously improve. There is always a race towards instant autofocus and I guess we all agree to it.

And then the amazing X100F arrived, packed with almost everything Fujifilm can offer in terms of today’s technology, only to be significantly held back by a very old 23mm F2.0 lens. We all know, more, or less about the strengths and maybe a lot more about its weaknesses. This is why I believe the slow autofocus performance due to the use of the same old 23mm F2.0 lens remains a critical factor in deciding between X100F and X-E3. Getting back to the main advantage of X-E3 over the X100F, I should mention the interchangeable lens feature; this small new camera, combined with the XF 23mm F2.0 weather resistant lens will offer better performance in every aspect, especially regarding the autofocus.


Back to the X100F I still believe this is one of the most beautifully designed rangefinder style camera on the market, today. I don’t know any other model to create a more powerful attraction, than the X100 series; also the strongest flavour of the “love and hate” type of feeling was from an X100 series camera. No other model, or series seem to hold more controversy, this is why the choice, when the budget is truly limited is very tough to make. As a final conclusion / explanation, I believe X100F can be the ideal camera for you, if:

  1. This is your only Fujifilm camera and you truly love the hybrid viewfinder;
  2. This is your backup camera, when the main camera is a model without the hybrid viewfinder; or this is the camera for you, or your partner, when travelling as light as possible is really important.

If you already have the X-Pro2, like me and need a second camera (backup, travel light, partner camera), X-E3 seems to be a winner. What do you think?

All photos and text – © Sebastian Boatca 2018 /

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  1. Bonjour Sébastian,

    D’accord avec toi concernant le choix du X100F, mais il est vrai que l’objectif inchangé commence à dater. Dommage, car il a vraiment beaucoup d’atouts et tout ce dont j’ai besoin. En ce qui concerne le XE-3, Il est très intéressant pour ses nouvelles fonctionnalités et le changement d’optique. Ce qui me rebute un peu sur ce genre d’appareil c’est la complexité des menus et justement des nombreuses fonctionnalités. Il faut sans doute dans les premiers temps avoir près de soi le mode d’emploi pour en tirer pleinement parti. Bref, je suis toujours indécis sur le choix à faire.
    Je me laisse le temps de la réflexion. 🙂

    1. Bonjour Gil,
      Je vais essayer de répondre en anglais, car mon français écrit n’est pas au niveau. 🙂
      You are right to question the choice between the two. As I have said, X100F manifests the strongest attraction among all Fujifilm camera models; at least this is how I see it. And it is a great camera. But if we should talk strictly about performance and speed of use, X-E3 is a winner, in my opinion. The touchscreen swipe gestures, the AF speed you get from the compact XF 23, 35 and 50mm F2.0 (also the fact that you can use all X Mount lenses + beautiful old manual focus lenses via the right adaptor; see some of my impressions on my Blog about that), makes the X-E3 a clearer choice. And one more thing :

      I see here a button that puts the camera in full auto mode; perfect when you need the maximum speed to “capture the moment” like Henri Cartier-Bresson, or you simply ask someone to take a picture of you, or for you and that person doesn’t know which settings, what aperture, where is the focus point, etc.
      I see this feature as a bonus.

  2. Le mieux c’est que j’aille essayer ce XE-3. Merci pour ta réponse et tu te débrouilles plutôt bien en français.

    1. Merci beaucoup ! On peut discuter et comparer à l’infini. Le fait de tester chaque appareil photo est le plus important pour la décision finale, car nous sommes très différents et avec des besoins différentes.

  3. I’ve owned an X100, S and T. The S was returned almost immediately as it hunted for focus just like the original and was just as useless focusing in low light as the original. My T on the other hand could quickly acquire focus in near total darkness. Looks like the F has gone backwards. Too bad, as a few minutes ago it was also on my wish list.

    The original was the keeper that got away.

    1. Thank you, Ray for your comment. But don’t let my personal impression make you cancel any real tests with X100F that you, personally should do, to have your own idea if it’s good for you, or not.

  4. You asked about the companion for an X-Pro2 and I tend to disagree with you. I think the better companion is the X100F. And in my case it is the other way around as I had the X100F first. The reason for me is that the controls of the X100F and the X-Pro2 are very similar. And the lens of the X100F just gives a different look and it is the better travel companion. Just my 2ct.

  5. Hi, I stumble upon your blog searching for a comparison between X E-3 and x100F hoping to find an answer on what to choose, I’m a noob/beginner and planning to buy my FIRST camera (an upgrade from a phone camera user). I’m going to use it mainly for my Travels (personal used). What would you recommend for a beginner like me?

    1. Hi Anne,
      Thank you for your comment! I guess, Fujifilm is great for beginners and also for professionals (with all intermediate levels in between). I was into DSLRs, before discovering the mirrorless world and Fujifilm. It could be great if you step directly into Fujifilm, as DSLRs are old tech (excepting the high-end models). Do you have a budget limit? Some expectations? Some models that you like? It’s hard to offer any advice if we don’t know more details about expectations, preference, budget and what type of photography (this, you already said – travel and personal purposes).

  6. Hi Sebi, Thank you for the reply, my maximum budget is around $1300 can’t go beyond that, expectations? ease of use, higher resolution, better build quality for long term use, not really using much of the video mode it’s going to be mostly or mainly for photos. Models that I like? well not going to lie to you, what hook me into fuji is their retro look, it looks like a modern update to an old camera, call me shallow but for me it was love at first sight (well for both models). Type of photography? for travel (scenic shots), family & friends (imagine kids & pets running around).

    I love the look more on X100F but I love the versatility of X-E3. Oh and this will be my only camera for a long time.

    Again Thank You,

    1. Hi Anne,

      As you already said, X-E3 offers a lot of versatility. X-E3 + XF 23mm F2.0 WR give more performance, that the X100F alone, even if X100F might be one of the most beautiful rangefinder style digital cameras out there. But we are talking about a limited budget, trying to make the best of it. And it’s not like X-E3 isn’t beautiful, too. Take it with a grain of salt, but from what I’ve heard online (Facebook, Forums, etc), it seems that X100F might have a bit more technical issues than the X-E3. Later, with supplementary budget (when possible), you can add another lens to your lovely X-E3. More freedom!


  7. Bonjour Anne, J’ai eu le même choix à faire il y a peu de temps. Finalement après beaucoup de réflexions j’ai craqué pour le kit X-E3 & 23mm. Je possède déjà un X-PRO1 avec le 35mm F1,4. Franchement je n’ai aucun regret sur mon choix, j’adore ses possibilités et sa maniabilité. A vous de voir. Salutations.


  8. ordered the X-E3 with 23mm lens kit, it feels just right at my hand (asian petite hands), can’t wait to bring this all over japan.

    Thank You,

    1. Great! I am glad this is the right tool for your needs. For my hands, I find it too small – I use the X-Pro2 with a hand-grip, for bigger hands – such an amazing design, ideal size and shape for me. X-E3, in my hands would be less ergonomic friendly (not that I wouldn’t use it and like it).
      So, enjoy it!

  9. x-t20 or x-t3? can’t decide. Please help. I like rangefinder but will have to go with either x-t20 or x-t3 because of the tile screen.

    1. If the question was X-T30 (newly launched) vs X-T3, that would have been more natural. 🙂 I will go with X-T3 as it’s the most powerful camera in the X line. Whatever advantages the X-T20 might have (and X-T3 does not), they can easily be compensated by the longer list of advantages if you choose the X-T3. 🙂

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