We reported on the launch of the Fujifilm X-T3 digital mirrorless camera a couple of months ago. I was impressed then. Now I’ve had a chance to use the camera extensively for a couple of weeks, I’m even more so.
Fujifilm X-T3 Features
To recap briefly, the Fujifilm X-T3 uses a 26-megapixel APS-C sensor. That means a crop factor of close to 1.5:1. That is, a 50mm lens on this camera provides the same field of view as 75mm on a 35mm film camera.
It also makes for a smallish camera body and fairly compact lenses.
The sensor is Fujifilm’s own X-Trans CMOS 4 model. Rather than the Bayer filter pattern used in many cameras, it used its own XTRANS arrangement. This makes it far more resistant to moiré, reducing the need for heavy-duty filtering, and thus increasing detail. Read about it in our earlier report if you want to know more about that.
Continuous shooting of up to 30 frames per second is available using the electronic shutter, or 11 frames per second using the physical shutter. With the electronic shutter, speeds of up to 1/32,000 seconds are available. If you have enough light (and exceptionally good timing), you can freeze nearly any motion.
Movie recording of up to 4K – that’s real 4K at 4,096 by 2,160 pixels, as well as UltraHD – is supported at up to 60 frames per second. At that speed it can record with 10 bits and colour resolution of 4:2:0 to card, or output at 10 bits and 4:2:2 to the built-in HDMI output.
There’s also slow motion available, with shooting at up to 120 frames per second in FullHD.
Storage and inclusions
There are the usual accessories in the box, including a battery charger. One nice extra is a tiny little flash unit that slips into the hot shoe. I know, we’re supposed to spurn on-camera flashes, but sometimes you need utilitarian photography. A flash might not be artistic, but it can help make sure things are clear. This one slips into your pocket. The camera’s own battery powers it.
Power and file transfer are via a USB Type-C socket. The camera also supports Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for advanced functionality.
There are two SDXC card slots with support for cards of up to 512GB.
The fact that a USB Type-C port is available for file transfer doesn’t necessarily mean that the transfers will be fast. I plugged the camera into my computer and dragged into it 239 RAW and JPEG files, and one movie file. They amounted to 4.33GB in size. It took four minutes and 3.8 seconds for the files to transfer from the U3 rated SD card in the camera. That works out to a speed of 18.2MB/s.
Transferring the files from the card using a fast card reader took 52.8 seconds, for a speed of 84.0MB/s.
I remain especially taken with the dials and controls of the Fujifilm X-T3. Most interchangeable lens cameras (DSLR or mirrorless) let you choose things like aperture priority, manual, automatic and so on from a dial. The paradigm is quite different with this camera. You set the shutter speed to automatic by turning its dial to that position. Or you can set it manually by spinning the dial to a different position. You set the aperture to automatic by turning the lens ring to that position. Or you set it manually by turning it to a different position. You set the ISO to … well, you get the picture.
For fully automatic operation, letting the camera make all decisions apart from composition, you just leave everything on their auto settings. For aperture priority shooting, turn the ring to your chosen aperture. If you like automatic, except that you don’t want a high ISO rating (and thus potential grain, turn the ISO dial to your preferred figure and leave everything else on auto. Adjust exposure to account for tricky lighting by turning the exposure compensation dial.
Look, it’s different to what we’ve become used to. But I for one think it’s a far more effective system. Sure, it takes a little learning, but having all those controls directly accessible, without ever having to change some setting, means that once you’ve learned how to do it, you can do it fast and surely.
And you can do it even when the camera is switched off. The switch for manual focus is on the front of the camera body.
The camera is light in the hand. The body of the Fujifilm X-T3 weighs 539 grams with battery and card. For review purposes the camera was provided with the Fujinon XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS lens (priced around $500). This is 27mm to 84mm equivalent and it weighs 310 grams. So, the whole thing was around 850 grams. Light in hand, easy to handle.
Back at the launch, I did hear some fellow invitees complain that the grip on the camera wasn’t very large. Since I come from the days of 35mm film cameras where having an unnecessary lump on the camera body wasn’t a thing, I found the camera very comfortable in my hand.
In terms of operation I would have liked a couple of minor changes:
- Easier to use levers on the two bottom dials – for drive mode and focus pattern. I found them a little hard to get to when at their extreme positions because they came near other controls or the viewfinder mound in the middle of the camera.
- Re-arranging the order of the items on the drive mode dial. Movie mode is at one end of the options. At the other end is panorama mode. The standard single shot mode is three clicks to the left of that. A single shot should be at the end position so that it can be quickly and certainly found by touch alone.
The viewfinder in the Fujifilm X-T3 is an OLED model with 3.69 million dots. There’s a dioptre adjustment so you can make sure everything is in focus to your eyes. I found it nicely bright, but with a tendency towards excessive contrast. On bright days I was sometimes unable to make out detail in darker parts of the composition. Of course, that had no bearing on the quality of the resulting images.
The rear monitor can tilt back by around 45 degrees for overhead shooting and tilt up by 90 degrees for low shooting. It also was nicely bright and worked well under most lighting conditions.
The drive dial has two continuous shooting modes: low and high speed. You can set the parameters for each so that your favourites are readily available.
There’s a panorama mode, too. This guides you through what is essentially a burst. It does the stitching together of the frames in camera, and the results looked well done for what they were. But what they were was a bit disappointing. The camera didn’t just stitch the pictures together but scaled them down so that the whole panorama was just 6400 pixels wide by 1440 pixels tall. A standard image is 6240 pixels wide. If you plan on making a giant panorama print, then you’ll want to shoot individual shots and stitch them together externally. Perhaps retaining original size would be too much to ask of the processor built into a camera.
Taking photographs with the Fujifilm X-T3 was simply a delight. The focus was fast and sure, and the automatic settings seemed to choose sensibly most of the time. At least, when I allowed them to. I generally prefer to leave a camera in aperture priority mode. That way I can set the depth of field and let it sort out everything else.
Colours were natural in their default state. There was never any sense of over-enhancement of colour richness.
I confess, initially Ithought something was quite wrong with the
Fujifilm X-T3 camera. Obviously, as a review camera, it had been used by others before itgot to me. Normally I factory reset a camera upon receipt, but I must haveforgotten this time. I took some photos andthey were remarkably dull: low in contrast, colours muted, generally disappointing:
Fortunately, I later noticed that the camera was set to record both JPEG and RAW. There must have been some weird settings in place for processing the JPEG file. The RAW image, though, was as it should be:
As always, check your settings!
With a camera reset all that was gone. The result was lovely colours and smooth detail. Here’s one garden at a fine country house near Canberra:
And here’s a detail on the lilac:
Above I mentioned that it was disappointing that the camera scales down images in panorama shots. Here’s one such:
And here’s a detail from that shot, 750 pixels wide.
But here’s a 750 pixel crop of an original shot, taken with the same settings as the panorama shot. You can see how much detail has been lost in the rescaling:
The Fujifilm X-T3 is a beautiful camera, well designed and well suited to beautiful photography. Once you have used all those dials for just a little bit, you will be reluctant to go back to a digital camera with the more modern, and decidedly less usable, control layout.