2020.01.24

Chapter 1 - X-T1

Time flies, I have been using the Fujifilm X-T line cameras since 2014. As you know, I am a photojournalist and my assignments are primarily covering sports, editorials and events. My Nikon D4 and 700 was my work horse from 2010. Lugging around the D4 and D700 and couple lenses on a full day assignment became a drag. A not-great back doesn’t help. It was the Fujifilm X100S that I bought on Black Friday in 2013 that got me started.


I remember when Fujifilm first announced their release of the X-T1, I was thinking about whether or not I could live with it for all my assignments. The weight of my Nikon bodies, grip and lenses were definitely some of the main factors of why I wanted to make the switch. While I like the noise performance and shallow depth-of-field of full frame, and love optical viewfinders, I wanted to cut size and weight, but as much as possible, retain a similar capability to my Nikon package. As a working photographer who spends a lot of time with a camera in hand, I was also looking for a camera to ‘bond’ with. The intangibles; the intersection of ergonomics and feel are very important to me. Once the Fujifilm X-T1 landed on my hands, I never looked back.

Chapter 2 - X-T2

The Fujifilm X-T2 showed up two years later. It was a camera that I have personally been very eager to see to be released, especially it was a memorable moment that I switched from Nikon DSLR to Fujifilm mirrorless X-T1 for all my working assignments. Being a firm believer of the original X-T1 since it was released from day one.


The autofocus is hands-down better than the XT-1 with the greatly improved AF-C tracking autofocus. The AF-C Custom Setting was one of my most exciting parts. As half of my assignments are covering sports/actions events, I can select the setting that fits the shooting situation the best quickly.


As I am not a “focus and recompose” shooter, the joystick makes selective focus quick and direct, and it is a feature used for virtually every shot. A click to auto-center the focus spot is a Fujifilm typical useful touch. The viewfinder is even better than that of the XT-1. The new three-direction tilting LCD screen does help for my low angle portrait shoot in my wedding assignments. These were meaningful improvements.


Dynamic range on the raw files is impressive that from black lava landscapes to hot equatorial skies high contrast situations. I was frankly surprised at how much detail the sky held in many shots. Unsurprisingly, I had found the 50% megapixel jump useful for larger prints and some of the cropping I had to do for faraway wildlife. I don’t feel a huge need for another megapixel jump going to the next generation.

Chapter 3 - X-T3

Another new cycle of X-T line, X-T3 is a twin brother of X-T2 landed on my hands after two years. 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.


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.


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. I believe with the future firmware upgrade, it can go down to -6EV like the XPro 3.


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. I found that it is easy enough to adjust the shooting position to avoid any predictable distortions.


One feature that really works out for me is the ability to shoot 4K internally at 50p or 60p up to 200 Mbps with H.264/H.265. I found the 400 Mbps H.265 All-Intra to 4:2:0 10bit (SD), 4:2:2 10bit (HDMI) would be overkill for my assignments. By any chance you want to work with this setting, a large size V90 rating 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 finally powerful enough to support 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.


From my personal travels to working assignments, X-T3 is always in my bags. I can’t wait to see what is next in 2020...

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