Fujifilm X-T3 camera review: Surprisingly different
Handling, Imaging performance
Building upon an award winner
In case you missed our earlier report here, the X-T3 is Fujifilm’s latest mirrorless camera. It gets a new back-illuminated X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor, and the latest X-Processor 4 image processing engine, allowing for better performance in virtually every aspect compared to its predecessor, the award-winning X-T2. The full rundown of its updated capabilities have been covered in our earlier report, so we’ll jump straight to our user experience and performance handling of the X-T3's imaging capabilities.
User Experience and Handling
From a physical perspective, nothing has changed compared to the X-T2. However, the touchscreen now gains added functionality. Like with the GFX 50R, swiping up, down, left or right activates (or deactivates) a custom function that you can assign, so you have eight custom functions available literally at a touch. You can also customize which part of the screen is active when your eye is to the viewfinder, helping you avoid accidental activation.
That, plus the Q-menu (which now supports touch in the same vein as the X-H1) makes the new X-T3 one of the most customizable cameras on the market at the moment. Its implementation is so good that takes away the need for menu diving, though we must say it takes a bit of getting used to as it’s fairly easy to accidentally swipe across the screen.
Handling-wise, the X-T3 feels very much like the X-T2, even though the newer camera is actually slightly taller and deeper (132.5 x 92.8 x 58.8mm compared to 132.5 x 91.8 x 49.2mm). The top dials have been made slightly larger to match those of the X-H1, but we didn’t feel that aided our shooting experience much.
What did make a big difference was the new camera's vastly snappier experience. Not needing the extra VG-XT3 battery grip to enable boost mode allows you to keep the overall size of the camera down while still getting the 100fps viewfinder refresh rate. Blackout free shooting at 30fps means you can really follow the action. And adding Phase detection AF to the entire frame (2.16M phase detection pixels in total) certainly speeds up autofocusing immensely.
We are also fond of Fuji’s Sports Finder mode implementation. At the expense of about 15~20% of the frame area, you can use the electronic shutter to get a frame rate of up to 30fps with autofocus. You’ll still get to see the entire frame though (Sports Finder mode just adds a box to show the cropped area) so you can more easily track the subject. You still get images that are about 16.6MP in size, which should be good enough even for publishing needs.
AF tracking works extremely well with both stills and video, and it seemed like the camera does a better job at picking up faces (and eyes) as the focus point seems to snap over faster. Eye-detection AF now works in AF-C mode too, so that’s definitely a boon for shooting sports or dance. Just look at the clip taken at the X-T3 launch event below. We’re zooming in and out with the camera while recording, but focus remains locked on the dancer’s face. (Video was taken at ISO 12,800, 1/250s)
The one time we had issues was when the face we were trying to track wasn’t the brightest in the frame, as the AF point would tend to snap away to the brightest face available. Still, all it took was a quick adjustment of the AF-C settings to "Preset 2" to solve that issue so it’s a case of using the right presets for the appropriate scenario.
There’s also a new Pre-Shoot function on the X-T3 which works much like the Sony RX100 IV’s “End trigger”, but with stills. Once you half-press the shutter button to focus, the camera will start taking pictures, stopping when you fully press down – handy for trying to catch just the right moment. This is almost similar to how Sony's Predictive Capture works on its smartphones, only this time it's in the context of a proper camera shutter button, leveraging on your half-press actuation. Combined with the high frame rate of capture, this gives you a good chance to catch the exact moment you intended to capture.
With the picture below, the rider is spinning at pretty high speed, but we were able to pick the instant when he's perfectly square to the camera, letting us see his face and the logo on his t-shirt clearly.
There's plenty of fine detail to be had at the lower ISOs, and we do think sensor has pretty good latitude for post-processing in both highlights and shadows. Where the camera performs slightly worse than its predecessor is in the high ISO department. Despite the fact that the camera focuses much better in low light, it also seems to be more prone to detail loss due to aggressive noise reduction. Luminance noise starts to creep in from ISO levels 6400 onwards, leading to a loss of fine detail. As such, we’d recommend a maximum usable limit of ISO 12,800 for this camera as this is what you'll get at ISO 25,600:-
That aside, there’s little to pick on in terms of imaging performance. Colors are rich and images are well rendered, while the abundance of film simulations make it easy for you to get your preferred look straight out of the camera. AF is fast and accurate, with the option to easily fine tune things to best suit the situation at hand. Video capture performance is also much improved, with a more complete feature set and there’s an abundance of customizable buttons to let you change settings on the fly.