Fujifilm X-T3 Review

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”Fujifilm’s first real attempt at hybrid mirrorless ended up revolutionizing the entire industry.”

Introduction

Initially released fall 2018, the Fujifilm X-T3 marks the successor to the highly popular X-T2 and represents Fujifilm’s next-generation APS-C camera. It aims to fill the gaps in capabilities created by the predecessor, most notably removing the limitations in performance caused when used without the external battery grip. With the predecessor, the reality was that users needed the battery grip as it was a necessary component to unlock the full camera’s potential. However, with the release of this camera, Fujifilm has aims to address that among several other shortcomings. Not only does this camera feature a refined body design, it now delivers a 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor, updated processor, and advanced video features. The camera is now properly aimed to compete with Sony’s a6500 and Panasonic’s GH5. Today, we will assess the strengths, weaknesses, and address whether or not these improvements are enough to make the camera competitive in today’s market.

Fujifilm-X-T3-Mirrorless-Digital-Camera-specs

What are some of the goods, bads, and uglies of the Fujifilm X-T3?

Pros:

Image Quality

It features a brand new 4th generation 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS sensor with Back-side illumination and no Anti-Aliasing filter. Combined with the updated processor, the performance delivers here, hands down is the best Fuji has to date, outperforming even their flagship X-H1. Not only does it offer more resolution, but the back-side illumination structure of the sensor also delivers better low light performance. As we’ve come to expect, images have the acclaimed Fujifilm colors, good contrast, and excellent dynamic range. The dynamic range also provides a 1/3 stop improvement due to the camera’s new base ISO of ISO 160.

Like the predecessor, it features Fujifilm’s acclaimed film simulation modes, which allow users to choose between 10 film stocks for added visual flair.

It has a continuous burst rate of 11 fps with mechanical shutter and autofocus or up to 30 fps using the electronic shutter, albeit at a 1.25x crop. The buffer depth is also quite good for the mechanical shutter, 145 JPEG and uncompressed 36 RAW. With these kinds of results, it’s quite a competent sports, wildlife, and journalistic tool.

Video Quality

The camera is surprisingly capable as a video-centric camera. It shoots true DCI 4K up to 60 fps, albeit at a small 1.2x crop, and 1080p full HD video up to 120 fps. Though, when shooting at 120 fps, you will incur a 1.29x crop. However, the resulting images are sharp and lack any moiré like the competing cameras at this frame rate. And when shooting at DCI 4K at 60 fps, you will also incur a crop. But, considering there are very few cameras on the market that even shoot at this frame rate, this is a fair trade-off. Even more so, the predecessor topped off at 4K 30 fps, with a crop. However, unlike the predecessor, it shoots 4K video up to 30 fps at full sensor readout, with no crop.

The camera also offers incredibly competitive bit rates, which range from 100 MBps to 400 MBps, providing ample freedom for post-production adjustments. This type of data rate rivals the competing cinema cameras that are easily twice this camera’s price.

But, the reality is this, it shoots using the latest H.265 codec in Cinema 4K up to 60 fps in 10-bit 4:2:0 at 400 MBps. That simple fact makes this camera a significant leader in video, and best-in-class at this price point, easily rivaling the Panasonic GH5 in capabilities. The improvements made here clearly show Fuji is making video a serious priority. This kind of performance is entirely unexpected from Fujifilm, as they’re not historically known for video cameras.

The video quality itself is clean and sharp, though not oversharpened. When coupled with the acclaimed Eterna film simulation, the footage this camera delivers requires little post-production, if any at all. The color rendering is gorgeous straight out of the camera, making it an excellent choice for those who prefer a fast turnaround.

For those who prefer external recorders, you’d be pleased to know it supplies a 10-bit 4:2:2 signal. Once connected, it can also output any of the film simulations or Fuji’s F-log profile for greater dynamic range or more flexibility. However, do know, F-log is now also available in-camera as well. Both the LCD and viewfinder work when connected to an external recorder, so does silent movie mode and touch functionality.

Unlike many cameras in this class, it does not suffer from rolling shutter while panning or shooting strong verticals. Thus, it’s an excellent option for walk and talks, sweeps, or filming action.

When shooting 4K 60 fps, it has a time limit of 20 minutes—however, 4K 30 fps records at the industry-standard 29 minutes and 59 seconds.

It features zebras for highlight clipping warning and exposure indication.

Low Light Performance

With the new processor, the base ISO for the camera has reduced by 1/3 stop now to ISO 160 instead of ISO 200. With that, this camera now has a native ISO range from ISO 160 to 12,800, further expandable to 51,200. The trade-off for the added sensor resolution is a slightly worse low light performance when compared on a per-pixel level basis to the predecessor above ISO 6,400. However, it does deliver cleaner images when shooting at lower ISOs, and this trade-off is well worth it for the added resolution and better autofocus performance. Nevertheless, the performance remains excellent for this class of camera during real-world use. While Fuji’s approach to ISO is more conservative than most, the entire native ISO range delivers. It’s images that are relatively clean, with little grain and virtually no color shifting. Users can expect usable images up to ISO 6,400 without the need for much post-production noise reduction.

Focusing Performance

It features an intelligent hybrid phase-detect AF system with 425 selectable points that provide virtually edge-to-edge coverage of the entire frame. Compared to the predecessor, autofocusing performance is much improved. With the level of coverage now supplied, users have immense flexibility and freedom when composing. The system delivers responsive, accurate, and consistent performance. Even the smallest points towards the edges of the frame focus accurately and quickly.

It also features both face and eye detection for use during photos or videos. And like the Sony and Canon cameras, the tracking and accuracy delivered here, too, are excellent. Users can even customize which eye is the priority for greater accuracy. And these options work well in both photos and videos, where it very rarely wobbles to recheck focus, even if subjects are in profile. It’s clear with this camera Fuji has rewritten and redesigned the algorithms used. The performance shows to be far superior to the predecessor. Fuji claims a 1.5x time faster focusing system, and that’s surely the case. Hands down, this is the best performance of all the XT series cameras to date. In many respects, the technology used in this camera closely matches that of Sony.

Like the predecessor, it inherits the AF custom settings, which allow users to customize the autofocus tracking to better tailor the system towards the specific shooting demands.

With the addition of a touch screen, users can now perform touch focus during recording for smooth racking focusing.

It features helpful focus assist tools like peeking and magnification. Users can also enable a Dual Display view for constant magnification in both the EVF and LCD for more convenient manual focusing. However, this doesn’t work in video. Instead, you can perform magnification to punch in to check focus without disrupting recording.

Battery Performance

Battery life has improved 15% over the predecessor. And even though it uses the same NP-W126S battery, Fuji now rates the battery to deliver 390 shots making the camera slightly above the 350 shot lifespan industry-standard expected. Nevertheless, considering the camera’s power and capabilities, additional batteries are a must for longer shoots.

Like the predecessor, it also supports USB charging.

Display & Viewfinder

It has an electronic viewfinder with a slightly smaller 0.75x magnification than the predecessor. However, it now offers an improved refresh rate of 100 Hz and a better resolution of 3.69M dots. These both combine to deliver a better viewing experience with less latency, with sharper and more accurate rendering.

It features a 3.0-inch touchscreen LCD monitor with a resolution of 1.04M dots. This screen offers the same articulation as the predecessor, which tilts 45 degrees in both the landscape and portrait orientation for more comfortable high or low angle shooting.

User Interface

It features a Silent Movie mode, which offers independent exposure settings strictly for use during video. During this mode, users change settings solely through the touchscreen, which leaves the physical dials free to maintain the proper settings. Overall, it’s useful, and it simplifies switching between stills and video. And when combined with the independent menu settings, the camera is quite versatile for both shooting formats and an ideal hybrid shooter.

Unlike the predecessor, it features a touchscreen display. Fuji has also added four helpful custom swipe gestures for quick access. These smart gestures virtually provide additional custom buttons when a vacant physical button is unavailable. The touchscreen also sports touch shutter, touch focus, and selects the focus area.

It features classic Fuji menus, which are clear and reasonably well organized. Like the predecessor, it also provides the customizable My Menu. With this menu, users can create a preset list of their favorite or most frequently used settings on a single page. And, once configured, it becomes the default menu. However, do know this menu doesn’t support every menu setting.

Virtually all the physical buttons are customizable, giving users immense freedom to customize the camera to their desired configuration. And when combined with the Quick Menu, they can operate the entire camera without the need for the main menu.

Physical Layout & Ergonomics

The build quality is as you’d expect for a flagship camera. Excellent. It features a robust magnesium alloy chassis, which makes the camera entirely dust, weather, and freeze resistant. The overall design and layout are largely identical to the predecessor, with several key refinements. Firstly, it now provides a more pronounced grip for more comfortable prolonged shooting. Secondly, Fuji has redesigned most of the buttons to make them either taller or deeper, to give a more natural feel, and reduce the difficulty of making changes. Nonetheless, the camera remains elegant, attractive, but quite functional and easy to use. Like the predecessor, it looks and feels like a professional camera with an abundance of manual controls the professional market demands.

Like the predecessor, it features dual adjustment control dials to control shutter speed and aperture, which you can also click for added functionality.

Like the predecessor, it has an AF joystick for quick and responsive AF Point selection or menu navigation.

Unlike the predecessor, the camera now features locking dials to prevent accidental changes during transportation.

Niche Features/Extras

It features a microphone input and improved preamps for better audio capture.

It has a built-in headphone input, which removes the need for purchasing the battery grip to access this feature like the predecessor.

It features extensive RAW conversion capabilities that also include adding film simulations.

It features dual SD card slots, both of which are UHS-II compatible.

It features a USB-C port for faster file transfer.

It features built-in intervalometer to shoot time-lapses.

Cons:

Video Capabilities

Unlike some cameras, it splits movie recording into 4GB chunks, which require post-production merging.

Autofocus Performance

Face and Eye-detect AF don’t provide any user control when multiple subjects are in the frame. The camera automatically selects the subject and is often wrong. And there’s no way to customize or select which particular subject to track. Thus, in these situations, single-point AF or other alternative solution is best.

While the autofocusing system on this camera is sophisticated, it doesn’t support touch tracking like the competition. Instead, touch only re-engages the focus.

Display

The camera doesn’t offer a fully articulating screen like the X-T100. Thus, it is not the ideal choice for vlogging or self filming, as it will require an external monitor to check to the frame, making it a much bulkier setup.

Ergonomics

The main menu doesn’t support touch navigation, leaving users to navigate solely with the joystick.

Like the predecessor, it also features a relatively shallow grip for such a robust camera. It’s not exactly light either, so it can be slightly uncomfortable during prolonged use as there’s not much to hold.

While it’s a mirrorless camera, if you’re looking for a small, light, and compact camera, you’d be best to try another model like Fuji’s X-T20. This camera with battery and memory cards installed weighs in at 539g, which is quite hefty. The weight is well balanced, but the camera has some bulk, no doubt about it.

Lacking Features

It lacks both in-body and digital stabilization. Instead, if you desire stabilization, you will have to use one of the Fuji lenses with optical stabilization or consider purchasing the X-H1 if this a potential deal-breaker for you.

It lacks any custom shooting modes or presets, so users can press a single button to engage a preset camera configuration.

Is this a good beginner camera?

Yes.

What we have here is a camera very similar to the predecessor. One that takes everything already great about that camera, most notably the stylish design, customization, and handling. But, it makes refinements to make the camera even more competitive in today’s modern age. Overall, Fuji has delivered one of the best all-rounded APS-C cameras on the market and have shown their prowess with this release. It’s a fantastic camera and one that competes in several essential areas. With the updated sensor and processor, Fujifilm has proven this camera is even competitive with the full-frame competition. Overall, it builds on the existing tradition of wonderful stills cameras, but now with capabilities to be an impressive tool for video as well. And, while advanced in many respects, it makes an extraordinary beginner’s camera if your budget allows.

What are the best lenses & bundles for the Fujifilm X-T3?

General Photography:

Fujinon XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

Specifically for Macro Photography:

XF60mmF2.4 R Macro

Specifically for Landscape & Astrophotography Photography:

Fujinon XF16mmF2.8 R WR

Specifically for Portrait Photography:

Fujinon XF 23mm F1.4 R
XF35mmF2 R WR
Fujinon XF50mmF2 R WR
XF90mmF2 R LM WR

Specifically for Sports & Wildlife Photography:

Fujinon XF200mmF2 R LM OIS WR

Specifically for Product & Still Life Photography:

XF60mmF2.4 R Macro

Extra Batteries:

Fujifilm NP-W126S Battery

SD Cards:

Sony TOUGH-G series SDXC UHS-II Card

Is the Fujifilm X-T3 a good camera for you?

Yes.

Interestingly, the starting price of this camera is lower than the predecessor. Yet, this camera represents a significant improvement and the superior offering in Fujifilm’s current lineup. The fact is that Fuji has resolved virtually every single issue and shortcoming on the predecessor, while thoroughly removing the need for the grip.

For those looking for a video-centric camera, this is an excellent choice and one that aims to be stiff competition to the Panasonic GH5. While Fuji isn’t historically a video camera manufacturer, this release changes that reputation. With the addition of 10-bit DCI 4K, their beloved film simulations, and strong autofocusing performance, this is an extraordinary video camera. If you’re looking to get your feet wet with video, this is an almost perfect tool. The only minor drawback is the lack of stabilization. Otherwise, the image straight out of the camera will require very little post-production processing. And it’s a streamlined and straightforward package that easily rivals the pros in this section of the market. While not perfect, it remains one of the most compelling mirrorless cameras for video and the sweet spot between quality and price.

It’s a shame the rear LCD doesn’t fully articulate, as this is otherwise the ideal vlogging camera. If you’re willing to live without the fully articulating screen, this could be a contender for you.

With the brand new sensor, amazingly fast readout, and updated autofocusing, this is an excellent photography-centric tool for virtually any medium. It can easily shoot anything from portraits to sports, wildlife, or journalism.

Should current Fujifilm owners upgrade? Absolutely. Even more so if you currently own the X-T2 or X-H1, as this camera delivers the best of both in a single unified body. Not only that, it has a wealth of features that make a compelling hybrid shooting experience.

In the end, this is the perfect sweet spot between performance and quality. This camera makes an excellent all-rounder and delivers exceptional value-for-money. While it’s technically the successor to the X-T2, it provides a feature set that will surely make even X-H1 owners envious. Fuji may not classify this camera as their APS-C flagship, but that’s very well what they’ve created.

Overview
  • Image Quality
  • Video Quality
  • Focusing Performance
  • Low Light Performance
  • Dynamic Range
  • Battery Performance
  • Display & Viewfinder
  • User Interface
  • Physical Layout & Ergonomics
4.4

Summary

Fuji has delivered one of the best all-rounded APS-C cameras on the market and shown their prowess with this release. It’s a fantastic camera and one that seriously competes. With the updated sensor and processor, Fujifilm has proven this camera is even competitive with the full-frame competition. While the X-T3 is technically the successor to the X-T2, it provides a feature set that will surely make even X-H1 owners envious. Fuji may not classify this camera as their APS-C flagship, but that’s very well what they’ve created.