Buyer’s guide to Fuji X-Trans Cameras

It was exactly 9 years ago – January 2012 – when Fujifilm introduced the X-Pro1 camera together with three lenses to launch the famous X-Mount system. Since then, many different Fuji camera bodies have been introduced, and I’ve also shot and owned a few ones up to this day. I really love all different cameras – no matter which brand – but especially the unique Fuji user interface makes me grab my current X-E3 almost every time I go out for a shooting.

But when friends or other interested folks approach me for some advice about buying a new camera, I realized that even though I really love my X-E bodies, I often would recommend a totally different camera to them. This led to the idea of making my Fuji X-Trans camera buyer’s guide video that is linked here! But I’m including some of the essential information contained in that video also in this blog post!

As most frequent Fuji X Passion readers might already know, Fuji bodies that use X-Trans sensor come in three sensor generations (16, 24, 26 MP) and six body lines: X-T „single-digit“, X-H, X-S, X-T „double-digit“ and then, of course, the two „essential Fuji“ lines: X-Pro and X-E. All in all, there are 16 different camera bodies over the years.

(Note that I am not including the basic X-M1 which later led to the X-A line with regular Bayer sensors. I’m also not including the great X100 series with the fixed 35mm equivalent lenses.)

The four Fuji X-Trans sensor generations
My personal general recommendation is to pick a body from the third and fourth sensor generations, thus either 24 MP or 26 MP. They all deliver great image quality, even the 16 MP sensors. Basically, when you zoom in to 100%, any Fuji sensor will look the same, even at higher ISO. So the difference in image quality comes down to the difference in resolution. My conclusion is that the added resolution of the newer sensors is an advantage, especially considering that we’re increasingly using 4k or 5k screens or even 8k TV sets these days.

But what’s maybe even more important is that the newer sensor generations come with significant improvements in low-light AF, also the viewfinder and rear screens are not as noisy when you, for example, are doing night shots on a tripod with 30 second (or longer) exposures.

Between the 24 MP and 26 MP bodies, the performance difference is maybe a bit more subtle. Of course, the newer 26 MP sensors are better in terms of continuous AF, eye detection, video AF, stuff like that. So for action-oriented shooters, this is a worthwhile upgrade. When you are more the laid-back type – landscape, travel, no fast-moving subjects – the 24 MP cameras are still super capable, I don’t find them to be really slow or lacking in performance actually. And they’re a lot cheaper on the used market.

I’m not a video guy (though I run my own YouTube channel…) but note there can be several subtle or not-so-subtle differences regarding video features and video performance between the different Fuji bodies. For example, the X-Pro2 was the first Fuji body with 24 MP sensor in 2016, and it was also the only one with 24 MP that offered full-HD video at the launch date. 4K video was made available with the firmware update version 4.00. All later 24 MP bodies offered 4k video. But again, if you’re a true video guy, maybe only very few Fuji bodies will really appeal to you anyway.

My personal Fuji picks & recommendations
Which camera is the best for you? This is a very personal decision! All Fuji bodies (and in fact, almost all other cameras just as well!) are great these days, so the choice depends on what your focus in photography is on, what body style you prefer, how big is your budget, all these questions. But my feeling is that some of the Fuji bodies really stand out a bit from the crowd, and hence these are my recommendations (including very rough begin-2021 European pricing):

The one that does it all:
Fuji X-T4 … 1799 EUR (new)
If you’re not budget-constrained and don’t mind the weight, this is the Fuji body to go for in my opinion. It is much more versatile than the X-Pro3 in my opinion. (But as I said, there’s no bad Fuji camera out there. If you want the X-Pro3 instead, you’ll know that already!)

The top pick on price/performance ratio:
Fuji X-S10 … 999 EUR (new)
Packs all the X-T4 performance – and also even IBIS! – in a much smaller and more affordable body. Be aware though that this one doesn’t use the Fuji user interface!

My budget tip:
Fuji X-T2 … 450 EUR (used)
A well-made, durable body, great viewfinder. Good if you’re on a budget, you’re not overly focused on action and sports, and you don’t want any compromises in image quality. The only issue with this one is there’s been some talk about certain reflection patterns in very specific backlight situations. I never experienced that but others did – so maybe investigate on this before you buy!

The Fuji for camera connaisseurs:
Fuji X-H1 … 570 EUR (used)
If you want something truly big, hefty and luxurious in a Leica R8 or Contax AX kind of way, this is the one to go for. From the huge, well-made body to the quirky OLED display, it just looks and feels „classic high-tech“ great in your hand. Also, it’s the cheapest option with IBIS today!

If you want compact and elegant:
Fuji X-E3 … 350 EUR (used)
My pick if you like it small and light-weight, are looking for good overall performance and you love the classic Fuji interface and reduced design of the X-E series. But be aware that the viewfinder image is really small! I am really happy that they will continue this line with the X-E4, rumoured to be released this year, but I feel that in terms of price/performance, I will still recommend the X-E3 as well. It would have been different if they’d included IBIS in the X-E4!

Okay, that’s my summary and buying advice for the Fuji X-Trans system cameras. Be aware that – whatever my recommendations above – every Fuji camera can be a great buy if it meets your needs and you can find it at the right price. There are no real dogs out there.

So have a great time selecting the right Fuji body four yourself, stay healthy and let’s hope for many photo opportunities again!

"My name is Thomas C. John. I was born in 1975 and have been crazy about photography since I am 6 years old when my older brother handed me over a Kodak pocket Instamatic camera. I'm working in content creation for websites, infotainment apps and other media and currently live in Cologne in Germany. I do photo assignments as well as dive deeply into my personal photo projects. To give back something to the great photography community out there, I recently started my own YouTube channel. Maybe I belong to the last generation that learned photography when it still was a totally analog process. So also analog still feels very natural to me and continues to be an important part of my creative work."

12 Comments

  1. I have an X-T2, X-T3, X-Pro2 and an X-E3, with 8 lenses and I’m amazed how often the lowly X-E3 is the camera in my hand.

    I bought it on a whim when the price point dropped to a level that was hard to resist. Performance wise, it lacks nothing in comparison to the rest of the pack (same sensor and processor as two of the higher end models above), but the size and weight makes it hard to leave home when photography might not be primary on an outing. Teamed with any of the Fujicrons and it rocks.

    The rumors of an X-E4 and redesigned 27mm with aperture ring and weather resistance if actualized could be a dream kit for the minimalist photographer.

    1. I got my first “real” camera last summer. An XE3 with 18-55. I still don’t know what most of the buttons do, but I’m glad to see so much love for my choice. I hope I will grow into it for many years of fun.

    2. Hi Albert,

      The X-E4 pictures have been leaked now.

      First, I was a bit underwhelmed. Still no IBIS.

      Second, I see that it is even a much more “reduced” approach than the X-E3. On the back and top altogether 2 out of 8 buttons less, the “auto” lever gone, one command dial gone, AF switch on the front also gone!

      Either that is Fuji going cheapskate … or it is really cool, because it is “reduced to the max”. I think we have to really try out that camera. Maybe it still is a bit pricey overall. If it had IBIS it would be a no brainer for me. But without, I think I’ll just wait for a future bargain and be happy with the X-E3 for some time to come!

      And yes, I also love the new 27/2.8 II with aperture ring! This was the main reason I never bought the original one. But I used a friend’s 27/2.8 for some time and it was a brilliant lens!

      cheers,
      Thomas

      1. Hello Thomas, I did see the photos of the X-E4, and besides the lack of buttons, there is another thing that is bothering me. For some reason, Fujifilm decided to replace the strap lugs with slots. I only use rope style straps on my Fujis, and those slots will only accept flat straps. I might just be using the X-E3 for a while longer.

        Today on the Fuji Rumors site, they had the prices for the new lenses. I will be ordering the 27mm upon release. It will probably live on my X-E3 solving the decision between the 23mm or 35mm for general shooting. My big f/1.4 lenses will be better on the bigger bodies.

    1. Hello Mike,

      X-T4: the newest 26 MP sensor
      X-S10: same as X-T4
      X-T2: 24 MP, so second generation (or third because with 16 MP there actually were two sub generations; in my video I simplified that a bit)
      X-H1: same as X-T2
      X-E3: same as X-T2

      cheers,
      Thomas

  2. I have had the X-E2 with XF18-55 that I received as a reviewer’s copy shortly before it was released. My family got together an bought me the XF55-200 a year or so later. The glass is fabulous but pricy. I know there’s newer, better cameras out there but I love the shots I get.

    1. Interesting read. I still use cameras with both the 16MP and 24MP sensors (and even the 24MP Bayer sensor). They’re all very capable, and performance wise I could recommend all of them (but I am not an action shooter). My only concern with the X-Trans I and II models is that they are getting older, so there’s an increasing risk of expensive repairs. Plus, for the X-Pro1, Fujifilm already run out of certain spare parts.

  3. Well then, the specs and user reviews are in for the X-E4 (since this initial article), and it makes me very happy that I jumped on the greatly reduced price X-E3 when it was on sale for $499.

    I had such high hopes for the E4, but the reduction of control elements and tactile gripping surfaces make it a no-go for me.

    Hope the X-E3 lasts a long time. I have to take care to not abuse it.

    1. Yes, the X-E4 is a bit of a disappointment, I have to agree. It was to be expected when rumors said it won’t have IBIS … or any other significant features upgrade (other than the sensor, but that’s just the course of time …)

      But I also don’t want to dismiss the X-E4! It’s a great little camera but … just a bit on the expensive side for what it offers.

      Love the 27/2.8 II though! 🙂

      Actually some of my viewers had asked me about doing an X-E3 video, which I published now after the X-E4 specs were announced. So I was able to include some info and my thoughts on the X-E4 as well in that new video.

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