Home Reviews Fujifilm X-T3 — is it a leap forward and will I buy...

Fujifilm X-T3 — is it a leap forward and will I buy one?

374
19

The Fujifilm X-T3 APS-C mirrorless camera has just been introduced at £1349 body only. How does this new model compare with the X-T2 which I have used since its introduction two years ago? Should I consider upgrading?

As an aside, I haven’t handled an X-T3 yet, so this is not a full review, rather a first reaction to the new model.

Since the overall design of the new camera has not changed, I can be confident that its physical form and handling will be no surprise. There seem to be no arbitrary changes to basic controls, what Thom Hogan pleasingly calls “moving the cheese.” He rightly condemns arbitrary changes unless cheese moving unequivocally improves users experience.

Some high-quality cheese has indeed been added in the form of a higher resolution EVF and a touchscreen LCD, both of which seem to be useful changes. Note that Thom Hogan welcomes additions of cheese which enhance usability. 

Key features

What then, in my opinion, are the key new features of the X-T3?

It has a brand new sensor, a 26.1MP BSI X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor, combined with an X processor 4. This means the sensor can be read 50% faster than the one in the X-T2 and the processor is three times faster. It enables the X-T3 to shoot at up to 20 fps using its electronic shutter or 11 fps mechanical, plus up to 30 fps in Sports Finder mode see below.

It has significant improvements in autofocus since the sensor now has phase detection pixels spread across its entire area. Since the X-T2 is already good, although not there with the very best performers, the further improvement in autofocus performance is highly welcome for action, sports and wildlife photography. Much improved Face and Eye detection AF modes are also added as well as a new Sports Finder Mode which can shoot 16MP images at 10, 20 or 30 fps by applying a 1.25x crop. Using this mode, one can see a full image preview with the cropped region also shown, a feature which aids anticipation of the movement of the subject.

Thd range of improvements to video capability is going to be important for some but not to me. The X-T3 can now go head to head with the very best. A recent review by DPReview (LINK) states, “The GH5 still rules the roost when it comes to video features, but the X-T3 runs it pretty close.”

  Harvest home (David Bailey, X-T2)
Harvest home (David Bailey, X-T2)

Touch enabled

The higher resolution EVF improves on the already excellent finder on the X-T2. The LCD is now touch-enabled which is very useful in some situations. There is now a headphone socket, a lockable diopter control and a USB-C connection which enables charging of the battery. Valuable additional cheese.

Customisation Options: Like the X-T2, the X-T3 has nine customisable buttons but now offers besides four functions which can be assigned to directional swipes on the touchscreen. All this makes the X-T3 even more attractive to photographers with widely differing shooting preferences.

The X-T3, like the X-T2, has two SD slots. I find this both useful and re-assuring since I usually use the second slot on the X-T2 as a backup. I am amazed that the full frame Nikon Z7 has been released with only one XQD card slot. XQD cards are admittedly fast but also very expensive and having only one slot is asking for trouble. That would be a big negative for me and a potential deal-breaker for a wedding or event photographer.

DPReview’s conclusion on the X-T3 is: “At a time when Nikon, Sony and Canon are trying to push enthusiasts into their full frame mirrorless systems, Fujifilm is providing a credible alternative for photographers who don’t want the cost or weight of that format. And, with both a 33mm f/1.0 (50mm f1.5 equivalent) and 200mm f/2 (300mm f/3 equivalent) on the roadmap, there will be ways to minimise the difference. For many people, myself included, the APS-C format lends itself to offering a balanced range of video and stills capabilities. And with the X-T3, it’s possible that Fujifilm has released the camera to wrestle-away the D500’s APS-C crown.”

  Pilseley Farm (David Bailey, X-T2)
Pilseley Farm (David Bailey, X-T2)

In other words, the X-T3 is not just an X-T2 with some modest improvements but makes significant steps forward in all key capabilities. It’s a worthy successor and a cracking camera by any standard. The verdict appears to be that APS-C mirrorless, at least in Fujifilm form, is not going to roll over before the CaNikon full frame onslaught. Do I want an X-T3? You bet I do!

I shall not, however, be buying an X-T3 for two reasons. Firstly, I am still in love with my X-T2 and am of a generation which considers a two-year-old camera as only just unboxed. Secondly, and decisively, there is the fact that the budget will not run to an X-T3 at a time when I am planning to replace my creaking 2011 iMac 27-inch desktop with a high-spec successor when the new models are released soon. I am therefore setting my sights on the X-T4 in 2020. Long live the X-T2, at least till then!

____________

19 COMMENTS

        • David,

          I can explain it. It’s the mask (used to modify the sky I guess). There is a clearly visible outline around the trees, and along the fences, etc. I was the first thing I saw when looking at your picture and it’s particularly bad in the tree on the left.
          Sorry about not liking it as much as others but I’m only trying to post some positive critique 😉
          Ian

          • Thanks for this, you’re right and I shall redo the tonal selection to eliminate with some manual refinement.

            David

  1. Nice article and photos, David. My local ‘pusher’ has a Fujifilm demonstrator in with an X-T3 tomorrow. I may take a look at it if I can find the time. I agree that a camera that is only two years old is only a baby in nappies. Most digital cameras are teenagers at most. The last two cameras I used were from 1926 and 1940 respectively and yesterday I spent the day practising photo techniques from 167 years ago.

    As an amateur, the one card slot thing does not bother me at all. My M10 has only one card slot and all of my film cameras can take only one roll of film at a time. It is not so long ago that wedding photographers used film. Where has our sense of adventure gone?

    William

    • Wise words, William. Perhaps I should pay more attention to my Agfa Silette from the 1950’s and my Canon A1 from 1970 both of which languish in a cupboard? unfortunately so do my film skills.

  2. "..I spent the day practising photo techniques from 167 years ago.."

    I so often say that I so much prefer women’s conversation to men’s, as women’s conversation isn’t so ‘competitive’ as men’s. So I’m trying very hard not to say "..only 167 years?.." ..and I’m wondering whether or not to say that last Sunday I spent the day ‘Salt printing’ – that’s Fox Talbot’s method from the mid eighteen-thirties: soak a piece of paper in salt solution, let it dry, then paint on silver nitrate so that the two interact and you get light-sensitive silver chloride (silver nitrate isn’t light-sensitive, it seems).

    The resultant silver chloride is sensitive the the ultra-violet in daylight, but as it was a fairly dull day in Brixton (London) at ‘Photofusion’, we used desk-mounted UV lamps to pump light thro’ the negs and onto the paper. Then ‘developed’ – although you could see the image perfectly: no invisible ‘latent’ image here – in salt water, fresh water, hypo and wash.

    (If I were at home – which I’m not – I might offer pics of a couple of ‘salt’ prints, but I don’t have them available just at the moment.)

    There ..I think I resisted mentioning what I did, and how old the process is/was ..even though I thought that the mention of it might be of interest to a handful of people. (It’s hard to be a man and not be competitive, eh?!)

    • Wet Plate Collodion, David. I was not trying to be competitive, just trying to put a 2 year old X-T2 in context. Our conception of what is old seems to be contracting all of the time.

      William

      • No, no; YOU weren’t trying to be competitive, but I was trying so hard not to be ..but then I gave in, and was! (..I must try harder..)

  3. I’m a devout Fuji user but I’m a little underwhelmed by the X-T3. In no way is it bad, in fact the improvements are impressive. But for me, they don’t add much over the X-T2. Of course I’d love faster focusing but I’m not struggling with the X-T2 either. I do shoot video but not on the high end, I’m not someone that needs 4k @60 FPS 4:2:2 etc. I would have been better served by the addition of IBIS or a forward facing screen, or even some digital stabilization.

    I’m a little disappointed in Fuji; they usually hook me in somehow with their new camera bodies but this time I’m not that excited. This camera wasn’t designed for me, and that’s ok, but I don’t think I’m alone in this thinking, I suspect there are a lot of other Fuji users that were ready to upgrade their 2-year-old X-T2 but are now holding off.

    • I understand your reservation based on your needs. As someone who is doing more wild life and action, I would value any improvement in faster focussing and better tracking hence my enthusiasm for the X-T3. But like you I do not have a beef on any major aspect of the X-T2.

      • A general comment. Sorry about this recurrent “Object Object” Name in comments. It did a system fault which I am investigating. It happened after a system update by Squarespace, the hosts of this blog, last week. It shouldn’t be taken literally…..

  4. Funny to read DP REVIEW two years ago D500 best dx they ever tested. I have nothing against Fuji but to think a 400 cipa w battery grip 1100 something is going to upset D500 1200 something w/o battery grip i think Fuji drinking joy juice, some Nikon shooter w all kinds of glass not going to change, Fuji just chooses not to play in full frame.

  5. I will join William on the chorus of that Harvest image looks impressive, and on an XT2 too – the decision not to consider buying an XT3 looks like a good one on this basis alone David.

    On the subject of single cards ala Nikon Zee’s or Zed’s, The XQD format is very sturdy, and incredibly bullet proof, in fact while the single card discussion has circulated around the net on the back of Nikons Mirrorless foray. It has become clear to me there isnt a single XQD user, pro or otherwise actually saying they have had a failure of any kind. Perhaps that is what fuels Nikons argument for moving to a more expensive card format in a single slot arrangement. On the same topic, my Nikon Df only has a single SD card slot, as does my Leica X, which I dont worry about, but then Im not paid to produce images for my next lunch – which would probably change my opionion a little.

    Nice article, and good to read about the new crop of camera’s. I will stick with what I have for now, and get outside and enjoy them before winter comes.

    Dave

    • Dave,
      Thanks your comments.

      Re XQD cards, few cameras use them in comparison to SD cards so one would expect there to be much less experience of failure. Nevertheless I take your point that experience with them to date is very good. This does not however remove the strong preference I and others have for two cards wherever possible. Murphy’s law, or perhaps Sod’s law decrees that rare failures always occur at the time of maximum inconvenience when you lose the best images you have ever taken!

      Your advice about getting on with the shooting and enjoying it is spot on.

      David

  6. I had a try of the camera in chrome today. It looked very nice in that finish and it felt very good in the hand. The EVF seems like an improvement on previous EVFs I have seen on Fujifilm cameras. It also has a swipe left/swipe right touchscreen feature which was beyond (should that be below?) my age bracket. I did not go too much into the electronic side of things, but on the physical handling side the exposure compensation dial has been moved in-board apparently in response to people who said that they did not like it moving involuntarily. However, so far as I am concerned, and I am usually out of step with most ‘modern’ photographers, this is a retrograde step. The previous exposure compensation dial on Fujifilm X series cameras was the best there is of any current make of camera, but now what was a one handed operation has now become a two handed operation for me. It is still better, though, than the clunky system on the Leica M10 where you have to raise the camera to your eye before changing the exposure compensation. Design engineers need to be experienced photographers and to talk to photographers about how they use cameras when they are taking photographs.

    The clip on power grip was very nice, but I would not normally use this unless I was shooting a lot of sports or wildlife.

    On to the really significant news, my dealer says that pre-orders for the X-T3 already exceed those for the Nikon Z and Canon R series combined. I believe that size and price and good quality lens availability have a lot to do with this.

    William

    • William
      Most interesting. Your last sentence hits the nail on the head.

      As an ex full frame Canon user, I know their image quality and capabilities and would not disparage them. But the question is are those extra qualities and capabilities worth the added weight of both bodies and lenses at up to twice the price?

      Re Fuji lens quality, Ken Rockwell (!) makes a good point:
      "The Fuji X-Mount Lenses are all extraordinary. What most photographers don’t realize is that Fuji has for many decades, just like Canon and Nikon, also made far more advanced optics, like binoculars for the military and for use in space, as well as lenses for motion pictures and television with six-figure price tags at discount. Unlike mud brands like Sigma and Tamron (or even LEICA), Fujinon has loads of experience actually supplying optics that cost more than some people’s houses, and puts that same know-how into these lenses."
      I hope his inclusion of Leica in such lowly company does not put you off the burden of his praise of Fuji in respect of the quality of their lenses. In any case, he is talking here only about experience producing those very specialised lenses.

      David

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.