My First Impression of the Fujifilm X-T3 - Joe Ng

2018-09-06

When Fujifilm announced the upcoming release of the X-T3, I think many of us were wondering what features and functions would be implemented in this new model, especially after the X-H1 had already set a high bar with the current X-Trans sensor and processor. So what did Fujifilm have up its sleeve for the next generation X-Trans sensor and processor?


Personally, the X-T3 is a camera that I have been eagerly waiting (though, not very patiently) to test out, especially since it reminds me of a pivotal moment in my photography career when I initially switched from Nikon to the Fujifilm for all my work assignments. Needless to say, I’ve been a firm believer of the original X-T1 since it was first released.


With that being said, I want to note that I am an official Fujifilm X-Photographer; however, this is a non-contractual relationship and all views are my own. As I shoot exclusively with Fujifilm cameras, and have been for several years now, Fujifilm gave me the opportunity to test out the X-T3 prototype and provide feedback on my experience with it. This blog post is based on my time with the prototype/pre-production model - as such, the image quality for the photos featured in this blog are those of the prototype.


To effectively put this camera to the test, I brought this camera along on my actual working assignments in order to fully gage how the camera reacts, behaves, and delivers. Rather than providing you all with a pixel-by-pixel analysis of the sensor and other technical details of the camera, I will focus on its key features and my general impression - the good, the bad, and everything in between.


Below are some of my favorite new features in the X-T3:

>> 100% phase detection area coverage

>> 4th Generation Sensor / Quad Core Processor

>> 425 AF Points, 2.16mil phase detection pixels (.5mil on X-H1)

>> Burst shooting (up to 30fps in ES)

>> Improved face & eye detection

>> 4K 60fps in APS-C, 10 Bit, up to 400Mbps, 4:2:2 (HDMI), 4:2:0 (SD) / H.265 / All-Intra

>> 30 minutes of continuous recording without power grip

>> 3.69 M-dot hi-resolution EVF (Same as X-H1)

>> 3-way tilting touch LCD

>> Headphone and mic in body 3.5mm

>> Bigger dials and buttons

Camera Body and Controls: The Twin Brother of the X-T2

When I opened the box to unveil the X-T3, my initial thought was that it looked nearly identical to the X-T2. This is something that I welcomed with open arms as a working photographer, as I didn’t have to fuss over learning and remembering new controls and the layout of the various dials. Like I always say, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.

I noticed that there are some components that the X-T3 has borrowed from the X-H1 with minor adjustments. The EVF (3.69 M-dot .75 Magnification) has been positioned slightly further away from the LCD screen, allowing for more room between your nose and the LCD screen, something that I think we can all appreciate.


The locking diopter is one of my favorite features - no more adjustments are needed after taking my camera in and out of its bag since the dial will no longer twist and turn when it rubs against the fabric, or when my fingers accidentally brush against it.


The X-H1 3-way tilting touch LCD screen has also made an appearance on X-T3. I find this quite useful when wanting to change my focal points while shooting in video mode.


The headphone has moved into the body of the X-T3, rather than requiring the power grip at all times. This is great as it’s much easier to simply put the camera body onto a camera rig without the grip. It also incorporates larger dials and buttons (similar to X-H1), so changing between settings is much easier even while using gloves during our frosty winter weather in Vancouver.

Autofocus: How Far Can It Go?

The sensor and processor, together, are the heart of any camera. The brand new 26MB BSI sensor offers 100% phase detection area coverage and the new Quad Core Processor operates 150% faster than the previous generation’s processor.

100% PDAF coverage

With the X-H1’s revision to its autofocus algorithm, it now subdivides each of the 5 subdivisions into 4 new sub-areas. These 4 sub-areas then have 3 AF information pieces each. Simply put, that means that the X-H1 is taking 60 pieces of data information from each AF point. This new system provides dual reading process, one for AF and the other for exposure, which significantly elevates the autofocus performance (face and eye detection included). It takes 240 Data Readout for a single point (vs 60 on X-H1). You now get a much lower light intensity limit for which the PDAF will gain correct focus; with the X-T3 we’re all the way down to -3EV.


By having a new Sports Finder Mode (only in Electronic Shutter) with a 1.25 crop at 16MB, I can shoot up to 30 fps. It’s worth noting that the rolling shutter effect is still present when shooting with fast subjects that are crossing the frame or when panning the scene very quickly. Keeping this in mind, I found it easy enough to adjust my shooting position to avoid any predictable distortions in my photos.

20fps Electronic Shutter Burst Mode

Video: A Different Animal

Fujifilm has been a household name in the broadcasting video industry for quite some time. By introducing the X-H1 and Cinema Zoom Lenses, and the MKX18-55mm and MKX 50-135mm lenses, it is clear to see that they want to be taken more seriously in the video market with their mirrorless cameras. The X-T3 takes these video functions and quality to a whole new level.


One feature that really stood out for me was the ability to shoot 4K internally at 50p or 60p up to 200 Mbps with H.264/H.265 or 4K 30 frames per second with up to 400 Mbps H.265 All-Intra to 4:2:0 10bit (SD), 4:2:2 10bit (HDMI). I should note that a large size V90 SD card is needed for 400 Mbps H.265 All-Intra recording. You also have to ensure that your computer hardware is powerful enough to handle High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) video editing. The new processor is powerful enough to support Zebra Highlight Warning.

Zebra Highlight Warning

Another piece of good news is that you can record 30 minutes of 4K video without the power grip and allows for seamless video recording by automatically writing the video file onto the second memory card once the first one is full. Additionally, the power grip now supports a seamless transition if the battery dies. I noticed that the rolling shutter has improved slightly compared to the X-H1, but keep in mind that it is still present.

Final Thoughts

I hope my initial thoughts of the Fujifilm X-T3 have been useful. I started shooting with the X-T1 four and a half years ago back in 2014. Evidently, there’s been an enormous jump from the old X-T1 to the X-T3 today.


Fujifilm has taken the X-T3 to the next level with the new turbo engine. With its enhanced video quality and features, it’s truly one of the top-end hybrid, mirrorless cameras in the APS-C market. I personally prefer the weight and size of the X-T3 over the X-H1. As my video assignments do not usually require run-and-gun filming, I can live without the IBIS. For me, the bottom line is to have a compact camera with an excellent sensor and processor, and I can tack on a small, external gimbal to mimic the effect of an IBIS.


Make sure to take a look through my images and view them in the gallery.

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