Fujifilm X-T3: As Good as It Gets

 

Fujifilm X-T3, the very latest in the company’s X series APS-C sensor mirrorless cameras, stands out as the best of many worlds. K Madhavan Pillai explains why.

Fujifilm X-T3

Despite the jargon and testing methodology, for a photographer, it all comes down to whether a camera makes a more worthy contribution to one’s vision and way of doing things. The X-T3 was launched in India with aplomb at the same time that markets around the world saw its release, just over a year after the X-T2 made its way quietly to these shores. A glance at the specifications alone show why those who bought the X-T2 would have possibly preferred to wait for the X-T3. Yet, the biggest advantages are not apparent on paper. This is what we shall mostly dwell on in this review.

Features
This may sound seemingly mundane, but absolutely worth mentioning… I upgraded the firmware over WiFi, through my phone before testing! The X-T3 is packed to the brim with features that improves on the X-T2 in every area, making it a wholly new camera that opens up advantages to more types of photographers and filmmakers than the X-T2 could service.

The X series has always been unlike other cameras, and not just in its retro-styled handling. While other companies offer improvements in absolute terms (lower noise, or increased latitude), Fujifilm works with concepts as a whole (controlling noise while boosting tonal range within specific colour palettes, or human eye perception of tones in low or high light levels). In this, Fujifilm’s colour science, or Film Simulation modes, used for both stills and video, is extremely enjoyable and the biggest reason to buy the X-T3 (enabled with the latest Simulations, including Eterna from the X-H1).

The new sensor is the company’s first BSI X-Trans sensor, and is coupled with a quad core X-Processor 4 for eye-watering framerates of up to 30fps (1.2x crop, electronic shutter, no EVF blackout, EVF at 100fps in the ‘Performance Boost’ mode), with the option of enabling a Pre Shot function (if you missed a moment, you can go back to about 30 frames from before you released the shutter).

The sensor is able to deliver a lot of detail in both shadows and highlights without adding noise. This expands options in lower light levels and high contrast lighting conditions. 1/60sec at f/8 (ISO 6400). Photograph/K Madhavan Pillai

The EVF and LCD (now a touchscreen) both have better resolutions, and the sensor has reduced shutter roll for smoother pans, or for reduced distortions at high shutterspeeds using the electronic shutter. Of course, this means you need to use the highest speed SD cards, which the X-T3 supports.

The X-T3 is now among the most advanced video enabled cameras, with Super 35mm DCI 4k60, H.265 or H.264 codecs, 10-bit 400mbps recording internally, with external recording of 10-bit 4:2:2 footage, with F Log (Eterna).

Handling
The X-T3 is made with durability in mind, but without compromising on its form and weight. It is an enjoyably light camera that sits well in the hand. I did not particularly miss the lack of in-body IS because of this, and also because its high ISO performance allowed me to confidently dial up ISO when needed. Access to controls like AF modes is wonderfully customisable. Rather than allow every function to be set on every button or dial, Fujifilm has maintained a degree of efficiency in doing this more intelligently, with the correct setting available where required. While the control layout has not changed since the X-T2 and would satisfy the most demanding photographers, the addition of a touchscreen on the X-T3 now adds a whole new level of functionality.

he X-T3 offers several continuous shooting options. It takes some getting used to, especially if you also want to conserve power. It also ensures you dont miss frames. This is from a quick 20fps burst with the pre-shot mode on. Exposure: 1/250sec at f/8 (ISO 1250) Photograph/K Madhavan Pillai

Performance
Fujifilm has improved performance in every single area over the X-T2. AF is much faster… now good enough for almost every situation. While it still lags a little behind Sony’s third generation, especially in tracking, it is effective for most purposes. I rarely missed focus. Shooting speeds, dynamic range and colour management, and quality of JPEG files all show huge upgrades to currently exceed the best available with APS-C cameras. I was impressed by how easy it was to get the tonality I wanted. Video has now improved to the point where the X-T3 challenges the best out there, and exceeds most… period. The only lacuna (in a sense) is battery life. While it can be intelligently conserved for a day of shooting (about 650 frames), I would run through it in less than half a day in the ‘Performance Boost’ mode.

The increased dynamic range benefits reproduction, allows greater control of colour palettes, and hugely improves conversions in post processing. Exposure: 1/32sec at f/11 (ISO 250) Photograph/K Madhavan Pillai

Conclusion
At the time of its launch, Fujifilm had boldly stated that the X-T3 would challenge full frame in a manner that would turn the tide in favour of APS-C. For most purposes (professionals and amateur), it certainly does. The only other camera that could offers it some immediate competition is the slightly lower priced Sony A6500, which has in-body IS. In any case, pro video filmmakers would prefer the use of gimbals. Considering its other impressive video capabilities, the favour shifts to the X-T3.

When it comes to stills, as a reviewer, I can easily see the X-T3 being used for everything from photojournalism to weddings, street photography and sports. Combine it with the excellent line-up of Fujinon lenses, and there isn’t much that this little beauty won’t do for you. The bottom line for me is that the X-T3 is a lot of fun to use. Add in the various Film Simulation options, flexibility to control every aspect how images turn out, and the extremely high quality of JPEGs (very rarely have I felt so compelled to use the JPEGs over separately processing RAWs), and it’s overall speed and accuracy… the combination, simply put, is as good as it gets.

FINAL RATINGS
Features
Sensor, colour science at its best, video features
13/15
Performance
JPEG quality, colour, dynamic range, speed, AF
43/45
Build Quality
Metal, fully weather-sealed, rugged
19/20
Ergonomics
Intuitive, customisable controls, design
14/15
Warranty & Support
Two-year warranty, limited service network
 3/5
MRP Rs. 1,17,999 (body only) or
Rs 1,49,999 (with Fujinon XF
18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS kit lens)
OVERALL 82%
VALUE FOR MONEY 4/5
Who should buy it? Street, portraiture, fashion, sports or documentary photographers, serious video filmmakers… and anyone who wants uniquely styled colour palettes.
Why?  A highly capable sensor within an analogue SLR-styled body, that marries speed, precision, and colour science.

 

Tags: Camera review, December 2018, Fujifilm, FujifilmX-T3