X-T3

X-T3

The Best APS-C of 2018? Fujifilm X-T3 Full Review

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make sure to check out our Steve's Darkroom blog post,

Traveling to Seoul & Los Angeles with the Fujifilm X-T3

 
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The Good. With a new 26-megapixel X-Trans CMOS image sensor and the new X-Processor 4, the Fujifilm X-T3 processes, focuses, tracks, and transfers dramatically faster than its predecessor, the X-T2. The AF has also been upgraded,  from 325 focus points to 425, with 2.16M total phase detection pixels, not to mention a better face detection. The X-T3's powerful, low-power consumption processor also improves 4K video capabilities with more cinema-quality specs than the flagship X-H1. And the battery life is slightly better at 390 shots (up from 340 shots). Weather resistance is also present. Continuous shooting is at 20fps at full resolution, 30 fps at about 25% resolution reduction. All that for only $1500... make the X-T3 a powerful bargain.

The Bad. It's hard to complain about a camera that, at $1,500, comes with this many bells and whistles and pro-quality features for photographers and videographers need. But there are a couple of flaws. The non-deal-breaker is the missing IBIS, which helps smooth out videos and extends low-light photography, although the truth is no IBIS will give you true gimbal-smooth performance. The two things that might actually make the X-T3 a deal breaker are 1) autofocus performance (it's improved but suffers in low-light) and 2) ISO performance (noise handling isn't the best).

The Bottom Line. Fujifilm has fully loaded the X-T3 with a better engine and several new features under the hood so it's faster not just in processing images, but also with its autofocus, tracking, and frame rates. It also has more video capabilities, weather sealing, and a slightly better battery life. The AF accuracy isn't as good as we hoped, especially in low-light situations, the noise handling could be better, and our handheld videos are a pain to look at. But considering this is a $1,500 camera with family of great lenses at its disposal, we are happy to make allowances.

Pick This Up If... You're a casual shooter looking to upgrade your X-T2 or X-T20 and need something lighter and more compact than the X-H1. Pro shooters and videographers will also appreciate this as their B-camera.

Click HERE to Buy the Fujifilm X-T3 via B&H Photo-Video!

Click HERE to BUY from B&H Photo-Video!


INTRO

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Fujifilm's X-T2 was definitely due for an update, and we're happy to report the X-T3 has upped the ante and comes packed with upgrades, from its new quad-core processor and its 26MP backlit sensor to its plethora of cinema-quality spec video capabilities and other new features. Think of a hybrid between the X-T2 and the X-H1, but faster, just a little better, and ever so slightly more affordable, and you've got the new X-T3.

This new APS-C body is light and compact, with a design that's easy to handle, intuitive to use, and boasts weather sealing Fuji promises will withstand downpours and temperatures down to 14F. Its image performance is impressive too--the images are crisp and detailed, the color rendition is beautiful and accurate, and the dynamic range is pretty good.

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The videos are great too, and they would have been better if it had an IBIS. According to a couple of Fuji in-house experts we chatted with at this year's Fujifilm Festival, Fuji opted to skip IBIS to keep the body compact, leaving it up to the H1 to satisfy the IBIS need of the many.

Are we impressed? You bet! The X-T3 is so good we couldn't believe it was only $1,500. It's not perfect, and it does leave a few things to be desired especially if you're used to a body with IBIS, a more accurate autofocus, and a better ISO performance. However, at that price point, it's one of the best deals available in 2018.

GEAR USED

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We tested the Fujifilm X-T3 out in Seoul, Venice Beach, and Hollywood using the Fujinon XF 16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR, which we reviewed earlier this year, and the Fujinon XF 50-140mmF2.8 R LM OIS WR, which we will review later on.

KEY FEATURES

  • 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 Sensor with primary color filter
  • X-Processor 4 Image Processing Engine
    • Capable of 4K/60P and 10bit output
    • Features 4 CPU units
    • Startup time of 0.3 seconds
    • Shutter time lag of 0.045 seconds
  • High-precision, 0.5-inch, 3.69 million dot OLED color viewfinder
    • Viewfinder magnification of 0.75x
    • Wide viewing angle (diagonal 38º and horizontal 30º)
    • Display time lag of just 0.005 seconds, refresh rate of approx. 100fps
  • Robust magnesium alloy body
  • Continuous Shooting
    • Approx. 30fps [Only electronic shutter, 1.25 x Crop ] (JPEG: 60 frames Lossless compression RAW: 35 frames Uncompressed RAW: 33 frames)
    • Approx. 11fps (JPEG: 145 frames Lossless compression RAW: 42 frames Uncompressed RAW: 36 frames)
    • Approx. 5.7fps (JPEG: endless Lossless Compression RAW: 62 frames Uncompressed RAW: 43 frames)
    • Pre-shot: Approx. 30fps [Only electronic shutter, 1.25 x Crop ] (max. 20 frames while half press, max. 20 frames after full press, total max. 40 frames)
  • Movie Recording (using a card with the UHS Speed Class 3 or higher)
  • File format
  • MOV (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, HEVC/H.265, Audio: Linear PCM / Stereo sound 24bit / 48KHz sampling)
  • LCD Monitor
    • 3.0 inch, aspect ratio 3:2, approx. 1.04 million dots touch screen color LCD monitor (approx. 100% coverage)
  • 16 Film Simulation Modes
    • PROVIA/Standard, Velvia/Vivid, ASTIA/Soft, Classic Chrome, PRO Neg. Hi, PRO Neg. Std, Black & White, Black & White +Ye Filter, Black & White +R Filter, Black & White +G Filter, Sepia, ACROSACROS +Ye Filter, ACROS+R Filter, ACROS+G Filter, ETERNA/Cinema), B & W Adjustment: -9~+9
  • Bluetooth® Ver. 4.2 low energy technology
WHAT'S IN THE BOX

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  • Li-ion battery NP-W126S
  • Battery charger BC-W126S
  • Shoe-mount flash unit EF-X8
  • Shoulder strap
  • Body cap
  • Strap clip
  • Protective cover
  • Clip attaching tool
  • Hot shoe cover
  • Vertical battery grip connector cover
  • Connector cover (detachable)
  • Sync terminal cover
  • Cable protector 
  • Owner's manual
BUILD QUALITY & DESIGN

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Though many things under the hood have been upgraded, the X-T3's outward appearance will feel familiar to Fujifilm users, especially X-T2 users. The dials are positioned the same way, with the ISO and shooting mode dials on the left hand side of the EVF on top panel and shutter speed and exposure compensation on the right. 

The nice grip is the same, as well as the buttons and dials on the back panel, and it also boasts dual card slots, one of which is UHS-II compatible. As is the three-inch, 1,040K-dot LCD monitor with an aspect ratio of 3:2. Color options include black and silver.

One main thing that is different, though, is the EVF. The X-T3 steps up to a 3.69-million OLED with a higher 100fps refresh rate (vs the X-T2's 2.36M dots & 60fps) giving the new EVF more detail and less lag. The X-T3 also adds a mic jack, a USB-C port (for faster tethering transfers), and a remote release connector.

It's also just slightly heavier at 539g and bigger at 132.5 x 92.8 x 58.8mm (compared to T2's 507g weight and 132.5 x 91.8 x 49.2mm dimensions). Not that it makes a huge difference. The X-T3 is a powerhouse in a small, compact, lightweight body, and it's more than a strong APS-C contender if you want to travel light.

ERGONOMICS

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Much like the design, the X-T3 also inherits the X-T2's great ergonomics and simple operation, making it very familiar to Fujifilm users. Not that it's hard to figure out if you're not. The buttons are placed so that control is intuitive, with the menu and Q (Quick menu) button on the right hand side of the rear panel and the Playback and Delete buttons on the left hand side.

Because of the ISO, Drive Mode, Shutter Speed, and Metering Mode are easily accessible through their dials, you'll spend less time navigating the menu. Not that the menu is hard to figure out since it's simple and straightforward. Because it's compact and light, the camera is also easy to carry and handle.

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The LCD monitor and EVF makes the T3 extremely easy to shoot photos. Besides the usual tilting options, you can also tilt it to a third direction, to the right, allowing you access to new angles when shooting in portrait format. A Vari-angle-style display that flips forward would be a bonus for vloggers or one-man crews, but this LCD is pretty flexible. The EVF has also been moved 3mm outwards so that there's more space between your nose and the LCD.

The only thing to keep in mind is that these dials on the top panel, especially the Drive Mode button, have the same issue as the X-H1, though not as bad. It's still too easy to accidentally turn the dials when you're rushing and haven't locked them in place. In our opinion, they could use a little more tactile feedback. 

MENU & DISPLAYS

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There's not much to be said about the X-T3's menus. Both the main and Quick menu--as well as the My Menu tab--are simple and straightforward, easy to navigate and with only a few items to select from, just like the X-T2. 

The X-T3's LCD touchscreen is capable than previous generation Fuji and Sony mirrorless systems, and more akin to Nikon and Canon's mirrorless offerings. Not only can you use the X-T3's LCD to change focus areas, but to also swipe through photos in Playback mode. This additional feature makes it easier to quickly inspect images, and see if you need to reshoot something.

Sports Finder Mode is also new for the X-T3. This e-shutter mode shows you the standard frame in the EVF, but marks off a 1.25x 16.6MP crop area so you can see fast-moving subjects like cars and birds moving in and out of your frame more clearly. Useful for sports and wildlife photography, but a little annoying if the camera switches into this mode and you find yourself shooting in image cropped incorrectly. We'd rather not have a camera tell us what shooting mode we should be shooting in.

SPEED & AF PERFORMANCE

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The Fujifilm X-T3 is made for speed. Fuji equipped it with the uses the new X-Processor 4 that boasts better and faster processing capabilities. It gives the T3 a maximum AF speed of 0.06 second, a continuous speed of 20fps at full resolution and 30 fps at about 25% resolution reduction when shooting using the electronic shutter, faster tracking, and a wider and more diverse range of video shooting options.

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It also boasts a sensor with increased phase detection AF area spanning the whole frame with 2.16M phase detection pixels. The AF is up from 325 focus points to 425 focus points, the Face and Eye Detection tracking are pretty on point, and low light sensitivity has also been extended from -1EV to -3EV. It's impressive, the way this camera tracks a subject and stays on it.

However, we found that the X-T3's AF is not always accurate, especially when shooting indoors and/or in low-light situations. We don't expect a $1500 camera to be fast enough for sports and action shots, but with adverse lighting, we were surprised to experience unfocused images on barely moving subjects.

Additionally, we found the focus transitions a tad slow when shooting videos. Once the X-T3 has found and locked on a subject, it's fine. But finding that subject, especially when the camera is focused on another one or if that subject is moving, is not as quick as we had hoped nor as smooth. Here's a situation where IBIS may have helped.

We chatted with an in-house expert about this at the Fujifilm Festival, and he basically said that the AF accuracy would get better with updates and as the processor is learning. Whether or not that's true, we have to wait and see. In the meantime, prepare to do multiple takes when you're shooting moving subjects or when you're shooting in low light. 

METERING

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Not much has changed with the X-T3's TTL metering system. Much like the X-T2 and the X-H1, it has 256 zones with Multi, Spot, Average, and Center Weighted metering modes, and an exposure compensation range of -5.0 to +5.0 stops. What's different is the speed. The X-T3 does metering 1.5x faster than the T2.

STILL IMAGE QUALITY

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Besides a few unfocused shots, the X-T3 actually delivers sharp and detailed images, particularly when you're working with good lighting and Fuji's excellent lens options. Thanks to its brand new, back-illuminated 26MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor, moiré is well controlled, the images are sharp and clean, and the colors are gorgeous. 

The IBIS might be missing and the autofocus isn't as accurate in low light situations, but when there's enough light, the photos are beautiful and crisp, and the colors are represented richer and deeper compared to the X-H1's more subdued tones, which we definitely appreciate. 

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Plus, the X-T3 feels like it's got better dynamic range than the X-H1, so you get more details in high contrast shots. We didn't get many opportunities to shoot in high contrast situations -- Seoul was cloudy and Venice Beach was drenched in softer morning light -- but when we did, we got a good amount of detail in the shadows and highlights.

(To be fair, we didn't shoot the X-T3 and X-H1 back-to-back, and Fuji doesn't comment on the dynamic range of each in their specs, so we cannot say, for certain, that the X-T3 has a better dynamic range. We're just saying that it feels a lot more forgiving than the H1.)

What's definitely new as far as still images are concerned is the cooling and warming correction when you're shooting black & white in JPEG format. Fuji calls it the monochrome adjustment function, which is basically the digital version of adjusting your warm and cool tones and contrasts in the darkroom. This feature is available form the Monochrome and Acros film simulations. 

Overall, it's a great camera for still images, good enough for pros to utilize it as their backup camera and for non-pros to rely on it for their photographic needs. It's not for action shots and it's not the best for low light, but it's great for everything else for portraits with good lighting to landscape and street photography.

ISO PERFORMANCE

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The Fuji X-T3 has a better sensitivity range than the X-T2 and the X-H1. While both have a standard ISO range of 200 to 12800 (100 to 51200 extended), the X-T3 boasts a standard sensitivity of 160 to 12800 (80 to 51200 extended).

As far as noise handling, however, we're not quite impressed. Unlike the H1, which handles luminance and chromatic noise well up to 3200, luminance noise started becoming obvious at 800 on the T3 and there are already faint signs of chroma at 2500. At 25,600, the images are unusable. To be fair, this is true for most cameras, but we're also reviewing the Nikon Z7 (and have previously covered the Nikon D850 and Sony A7R3) so we're a bit spoiled.

This, combined with the fact that the autofocus isn't as effective in low light, makes the X-T3 not as effective when you're working with low, unnatural lighting. You're better off shooting at lower ISOs and working with extra lighting.

VIDEO QUALITY

Because of the new processor, the X-T3 boasts more movie recording capabilities than the X-T2 and even the X-H1, which had been designed specifically for videographers. While the H1 allows 4K recording at 29.97, 25, 24, and 23.98p, the T3 offers 59.94p and 50p frame rates as well. It also offers High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC or H.265) compression alongside H.264.

These new features -- on top of the similar slow-motion options and 16 modes of film simulations that include the new Eterna for a more cinematic look -- give this new body an edge. Pros will appreciate the simultaneous HDMI output and SD card recording; this feature allows 4K/60P 4:2:2 10-bit HDMI output and 4K/60P 4:2:0 10-bit internal SD card recording at the same time. Though not available now, it's also expected to support recording in Hybrid Log Gamma at the end of the year with the firmware update.

The only thing that's really missing from this is the in-body image stabilization that was present in the H1. Sacrificing IBIS was a decision made by Fuji to keep the body compact. Considering there are a number of video stabilization options out there for pros and hobbyists alike, it's an easy fix. But if you're looking to stay mobile and shoot handheld, you're not going to get a lot of smooth-looking videos unless you've really mastered the art of duck walking.

If having in-body image stabilization is important, you might want to look elsewhere. The X-H1 has it, as do Panasonic, Olympus, Sony, and Nikon mirrorless cameras.

WIRELESS PERFORMANCE

Not a lot has changed when it comes to wireless performance and accessibility. The Fuji X-T3 has the same WiFi capability as the H1, very similar Bluetooth, and connects to the same mobile app, the Fuji Camera App, for not only sending images to your devices but also controlling the camera (to an extent) via the app's camera remote. Setting it up is also the same, and the QR code makes things just a little faster.

Of course, we found this app more useful for sending images for instant access--you know, when you just can't wait to share a photo on Instagram--rather than remotely accessing the camera to take images. The app still feels a little primitive, mostly in terms of its UI, and using it is more of a pain than a convenience. Personally, we'd much rather use the camera's built-in timer. 

PROS & CONS

Pros
  • Better 26MP backlit sensor
  • Faster, quad core processor with lower power consumption
  • 425 AF focus points with face and eye detection and tracking
  • High frame rate
  • Higher resolution EVF
  • More video capabilities than the X-H1
  • Weather resistance
  • USB-C, microphone, and a remote release connector ports
  • Affordable price
  • Wider sensitivity range

Cons
  • No IBIS
  • AF not very accurate in low light
  • Noise handling isn't good

BOTTOM LINE

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While it might not be perfect, the Fujifilm X-T3 is an impressive value for still shooters and videographers alike. Fuji didn't pull any punches with it, appointing it with an awesome new engine and a few nifty extras. They've upgraded the sensor and slapped on a new energy-saving processor, making it faster and better performing; and it's got more AF focus points and better face/eye detection and tracking, to begin with. There's also the higher resolution EVF, the higher frame rate, a USB-C port, and for videographers and filmmakers, a plethora of video recording options that beat not only the X-H1, but just about every other mirrorless camera on the market that isn't made by Panasonic.

All those new, shiny things for only $1500--about $99 cheaper than the X-T2 and definitely a few hundred dollars more affordable than the X-H1 when those first came out... we're sure you can overlook the missing pieces. Plus it handles beautifully as it's lightweight and compact. We like this camera for casual shooters due for an upgrade as well as photographers and videographers looking for a backup or B-roll camera.

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