Fujifilm X-E3 and X-Trans Sensor Review

Let’s start with saying this:

Fujifilm needs to change and stop being stubborn with their X-Trans Sensor philosophy and adopt new technology...

Fujifilm X-E3 Review

First things first. Fujifilm X-E3 is one beautiful and capable camera. On the other hand it is being crippled by what many seems to praise, its X-Trans Sensor. All though there are many that are swearing by X-Trans Sensor I personally think that it is over engineered and not at all more capable sensor than Bayer sensors. With all those theoretical benefits of X-Trans sensors came one big problem, at least for me. Demosaicing!

Fujifilm X-E3 with XF 18-55mm f2.8-4 Kit
Fujifilm X-E3 with XF 18-55mm f2.8-4 Kit

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X-Trans Sensor Problems

Let’s start with looking at the difference between X-Trans Sensor and Bayer sensor. I will not go too deep in to this one since I am not an engineer but rather a Photographer who cares about my image quality and ease of use.

Bayer vs X-Trans Sensor Layout
Bayer vs X-Trans Sensor Layout

As you can see there is a fundamental difference in RGB layout. What I can say is that at the end it would not matter that much if there are no actual downsides. Unfortunately they are.

By pushing the image in Adobe Lightroom, one can see downsides of this type of layout immediately. There is a clear representation of Green color on my lowlight images since the sensor layout have one clear block of Green pixels in the middle of the sensor. (Try this with low light night images).

X-Trans High ISO performance

Now on the positive side of the X-Trans Sensor is its amazing high ISO performance. I was shooting at ISO 12800 without any problems. Image quality was acceptable for any use and I was pretty happy with it. As you can see on this image below.

Fujifilm X-E3 High ISO Performance at  ISO 12800
Fujifilm X-E3 High ISO Performance at ISO 12800

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Considering that this one was taken just before sunrise here in Düsseldorf Germany, I was pretty surprised how well this Sensor was doing at ISO 12800. Of course noise is there but it is very well controlled and it really looks pleasing. Dynamic Range was also great even at ISO 12800.

X-Trans Sensor Dynamic Range

That leads us to the Dynamic Range of X-Trans sensor in Fujifilm X-E3. And let me be straight, it is amazing. Let’s take a look on that image above and look at the sky and how well sky and colors are looking. I was really blown away with this especially since it was performing way better than my Full Frame Sony a7II in low light and high ISO.

Now let’s take a look at this image. I saw this boat coming right under the Rheinturm here in Duesseldorf Germany and I thought that it would look cool so I waited till boat was right under the tower and with sun being behind it, it was bad lighting for any sensor, i thought. But Fujifilm X-E3 or should I say its X-Trans sensor surprised me again. Dynamic range performance was amazing. Here take a look.

Fujifilm X-E3 Dynamic Range is amazing
Fujifilm X-E3 Dynamic Range is amazing

In original RAW image, auto exposure was well balanced. With my edit and with help from Adobes Enhance Details feature I was able to bring all those details back. Again I was surprised how well this sensor was doing in terms of Dynamic Range.

X-Trans Sensor and Artifacts AKA “Worms”

OK so this is the big one for me. As I said I was really happy with Fujifilm and besides terrible “magical” kit lens 18-55 f2.8-4, this was the reason why I sold my Fujifilm X-E3. No matter how big of a fan you are or how much you like your Fujifilm camera with X-Trans sensor, we need to be honest and I need to say what I have experienced and do it honestly. “Worms” are there and they look pretty bad. For a long time I tried to understand why it is happening. Is it software, hardware or is it just me? I tried different software and also adjusting my editing a bit. It didn’t help. After testing all my options I came to realize that it is simply because of X-Trans sensor layout and how it is being demosaiced. There are tons of discussions and people defending this and also criticising Fuji for this (also different software too). At the end it doesn’t matter really, since it is making my work harder and workflow more complicated. So it is a no go for me. If you have time to read a bit more about X-Trans sensor here are the links from other people talking about it so you can understand a bit better.

PetaPixel- X-Trans vs Bayer Sensors: Fantastic Claims and How to Test Them

Tony Northrup- How cameras see color: RGB vs RGBW, Bayer vs Fuji X-Trans, Purple isn’t real?!

As you can see there are different opinions and that is fine. My problem is that it affects my work, my workflow and at the end my final image. If you are fine with all those things than great, there is nothing bad that will affect you from using X-Trans Sensor.

How I see it

I will try to explain my opinion quickly here. My understanding of this problem is actually simple. X-Trans layout + not-that-great demosaicing process are causing those artifacts in images. I am blaming it on both Fujifilm and (in my case) Adobe Lightroom. It might be that Fuji is not sharing enough informations with Adobe so they can do it better or it might be that overall process is way too complicated and time/resource/performance consuming that Adobe was like NAH we are not going to sacrifice our Software reputability, stability and speed just because Fujifilm is one stubborn camera manufacturer.

As I said, I have tried other software solutions and they are pretty much the same. With Adobe Enhance Details in Lightroom Classic one can get pretty decent results and I can confirm that. But honestly I don’t want to do that… There are other thing in my life that I need to spend my time on 😉

For clarification those artifacts are mostly seen on green parts of your image and foliage/trees/grass (It seems that Fujifilm does not like nature :D). here take a look on those two images. They are not the same but they will show you what I mean. Is it pixel peeping? Of course it is 😀

X-Trans Demosaicing problem. Right Top Fujifilm X-Trans. Right Under Olympus Bayer.
X-Trans Demosaicing problem. Right Top Fujifilm X-Trans. Right Under Olympus Bayer.

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Now my problem is not just with one image cause it will create problems while editing and in different lighting situations we will have different types of problems. People that are shooting JPG (for some reason) they will not see those problems. On the other hand for us/me that are editing our photos, it is not that easy… Is it something that could be overlooked, yeah definitely, just not for me.

Fujifilm Build Quality and Quality Control

How should I say this…. Build Quality was OK at its best… If you spent 1.2K on a camera and “magical” kit lens (more on that “magic” later) you would expect to have something well build and reliable… For me it was not the case unfortunately . Fujifilm X-E3 with Fujifilm XF 18-55 mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS was for me really nice combination and from what I have red online and saw ONLINE it was a no brainer just pure perfection for someone that sees photography as a beautiful hobby 🙂 Small, travel friendly, capable and very “well” reviewed ONLINE.

Let’s start with camera. It was really nice and small, nice to hold in the hand. Ergonomically just fine for my needs. Unfortunately there was a bit of play between the main body and outer shell (I guess) where the grip is. When I held my camera I could feel this outer part moving with a little squeeze. And it was really strange that front side was breading and it was like there is some sort of emptiness between outer side where “leather” is and main boddy. To me was same as when you squeeze hard plastic bottle and it was so wrong and bad. On top of that there was that silent plastic click when plastic was coming in touch with inside of the camera. It was not much honestly but it felt wrong… Whole body was breading… other than that Fujifilm X-E3 was just fine. Buttons were tactile and responsive, dials also. Not too much to complain about.

Fujifilm X-E3 Build Quality Problem
Fujifilm X-E3 Build Quality Problem

FujiFilm X-E3 Display/EVF

Display was OK and not to much to complain about. There is just that one STUPID thing with display. If you have your sunglasses on a sunny day and you turn your camera in to the portrait orientation to take a photo you will not be able to see anything on your screen….I am not sure but it seems to be the case with all Fujifilm cameras for some reason. Honestly I do not care what was the reason/reasons for this or what is the technical background for this nonsense, since at the end no matter how perfect that explanation might be it is useless for us consumers…. We still cant use our cameras with sunglasses, go figure…

On the other hand EVF was really nice and pleasant to use. Nothing bad to say. Just EVF doing its job i guess 🙂

Fujifilm X-E3 Menu

So this is the part where I will say that Fujifilm is awesome. Menu on any Fujifilm camera is amazing. Well organised and simple to use. In comparison to any other camera it was joy to use and make adjustments. All those extra function are well placed and easy to find and setup. There is just one, lets say, annoying thing and that would be the option to reset your camera to Factory Defaults. Unfortunately there is no such option on Fujifilm cameras. I check this directly with Fujifilm here in Germany, since I wanted to reset my camera when I was about to sell it. Unfortunately only option was to reset my setting and that is it. In contrast, for example with Sony one can perform Factory Default Reset and camera will have that initial setup same as when it was new. With Fujifilm it was not the case.

“MAGICAL” Fujifilm XF 18-55 mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS

I will not even try to be sensible here, since I hate that thing more than anything in my photography life.

Long story short. I bought my camera with this kit lens since it was nice combo and everyone ONLINE was praising it as a “Holy Grail” , “Magical Lens” , “MUST HAVE” blaBLAbla. After just playing a bit with my new gear I have had other things to do and not that much time in my life for photography in those week or two. I did take few shots but didn’t have much time to edit my photos. What I saw on small camera display was OK. I didn’t bother too much since there was not a single “review” ONLINE that was saying something wrong about camera or lens, so I didn’t bother. Finally after 2 weeks I have had some time to go out for a walk and take some shots…..

Magic Disaster

It was a nice day and I took some nice photos. Back home, and I was at my desk editing my images…. I was terrified with what I saw… Right part of the image was so bad, almost like if I used Vaseline or something to make it soft and messy…. and every photograph have had the same problem.

Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f2.8-4  after 3rd repair/replacement
Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f2.8-4 after 3rd repair/replacement

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No matter what Focal length or F stop, it was just terrible. And the worst part was that I have missed my 14 days no questions asked return window that we have here in Germany (Amazon is 30 days, retail shops 14 days. Go figure) So I needed to send lens back for repair….. 3 times…. Basically I was there with my “new” 20 days old camera without a lens to use it with for more than 2 months… It is a long story that I will write soon about. Moral of the story is that we should not trust what they say about gear online. Let’s be honest, positive feedback (good terms with manufacturers) is reviewers bread and butter and they need to eat too 😀 I have had such a terrible experience ( It could be just me, who knows) and that taught me something. Also at this point my Fujifilm X-E3 was on Ebay….

Fujifilm and Changes

So all of this aside, I saw that Fujifilm is changin. Starting with their medium format cameras that came with Bayer Sensors and now we are seeing that with X-T4 and introduction of IBIS. Unfortunate X-1ooV is without IBIS and also with X-Trans sensor. So I am waiting to see what will happen with Fujifilm in the future. I am really happy with my Olympus OMD 10 Mk3 and 12-40 f2.8 Pro lens, and honestly there is nothing new and worth buying these days anyway… Just old tech repacked and renamed…

Final Words

I know that there are a lot of people using Fujifilm cameras and they seem to be happy and for that reason I am happy too. Whatever keeps you shooting is, in my opinion, great gear. But I also think that we need to be a bit more skeptical and question a lot more about how all this new gear is presented to us. At the end we are the ones that are buying all of that “NEW” gear and we are the ones that are not doing anything to make all those manufacturers build better gear and actually give us something new. Stop buying basically the same gear with a new name and all those gimmicks and they will need to change, create and then sell something actually new and useful and not just old tech with new name on it…


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5 thoughts on “Fujifilm X-E3 and X-Trans Sensor Review

  1. Marc Beebe says:

    You have made me glad I can not afford one of these Fujifilm cameras. I would be very sad indeed if I’d spent the money they cost here in Canada and then had such disappointments. I think I will stick with my “cheap” cameras which do not fail me and are good enough for what I do.

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    1. Alen Makota says:

      Hi Marc, thx for your comment. I have had unfortunate luck with Fujifilm 😄 I mean they are not that bad but their lenses are subpar to let’s say Olympus lenses and definitely Canon/Nikon lenses tat costs same money. For example my Oly 12-40 f2.8 Pro is super sharp and reliable and there is basically no need for me to buy anything else, except maybe 45mm f1.2 Pro for bokeh and DOF 🤣

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Marc Beebe says:

        Alen, I have a variety of cameras myself. The Nikon has the best lens, the Canon the most functionality, et cetera. All have a certain area of excellence. But none cost so much as one of the Fuji X series! In fact one of the disappointing cameras I have is a rather expensive Lumix ZS60, which had impressive specifications but failed to live up to the promise. I do have a Fuji – an old point-and-shoot FinePix F80 EXR, and it is great for what it is. It only cost $70 used though. I think the term we’re looking for is “value”, and you’ve made me question whether the new Fujis really have it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Alen Makota says:

        I totally agree with that Marc. I mean just look at the price of X-T4 😀 and add to that lens that is actualy capable of resolving that sensor and resolution you will be at 2-3K 😀 no thank you. Fujifilm X100V was really interesting camera for me and if it have had IBIS and Bayer sensor I would be all in (I love that design and formfactor for everyday carry around in my jacket pocket camera) unfortunately we saw what happened with that one 🙂

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      3. Marc Beebe says:

        Me too; love the X100V design because it is really retro – reminder of my youth. But they are the better part of $1,500 here, and that’s like all my other cameras put together!

        Liked by 1 person

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