Fujifilm X-T3 First Impressions: The Best APS-C Camera Available?

The Fujifilm X-T2 made a splash in the mirrorless market when it was released and Fujifilm has gone above and beyond with their newest model, the X-T3. The design from the X-T2 to X-T3 remains relatively unchanged, but the X-T3 received a major feature overhaul. The X-T3 introduces a brand-new sensor and processor, an upgraded autofocus system, and video capabilities that even filmmakers are taking a notice to. Initial impressions and reviews are saying that this is the best APS-C mirrorless camera on the market. The Fujifilm X-T3 is available now in black or silver and costs $1499 for the body only, or $1899 with the XF 18-55mm kit lens.

Key Specifications

  • 26MP BSI ‘X-Trans CMOS 4’ sensor
  • 425-point hybrid AF system
  • Improved AF Tracking and Face/Eye Detection AF
  • 20 fps shooting with AF (11 fps with mechanical shutter)
  • 30 fps shooting in 1.25x crop with electronic shutter
  • ‘Sports Finder’ mode gives preview of area around a 1.25x crop
  • 69M-dot electronic viewfinder
  • Three-axis tilting touchscreen
  • 10 bit 4:2:0 H.265 internal video capture (4:2:2 over HDMI)
  • UHD/DCI 4K/60p from 1.18x crop region
  • UHD/DCI 4K/30p using full width of sensor
  • Internal F-Log capture (HLG coming by end of 2018)
  • Dual UHS-II SD card slots
  • USB C-type connector can be used for charging battery
  • Headphone and Mic Sockets

Build

Although the XT-3 does look similar to its predecessor, there are some build changes that are notable. The Fujifilm XT-3 now is constructed from four pieces of magnesium alloy panels. An upgrade from three on the XT-2, which gives the XT-3 a more durable and solid build. Fujifilm went out of there way to ensure great sealing from moisture and dust as well. A mirrorless that actually has quality weather sealing is tough to find, the XT-3 seems to solve that problem.

It has dual SD card slots which support UHS-II media, dual slots have proven to be an important feature for many (see outrage on Canon and Nikon mirrorless bodies). It also has a USB-C port and a new 3.5mm headphone jack. This is a very lightweight and compact mirrorless camera. That’s great news, but it does mean that the camera feels fairly small in the hands. Fortunately, you can add an optional MHG-XT3 grip if it is too small for you. The control dials on top of the camera still leave plenty of room for your thumb regardless of the optional grip. Fujifilm is one of the only camera manufacturers that still places analog controls for exposure on their bodies. There is a dial for shutter speed and ISO, while most Fujifilm lenses have an aperture ring as well. I really like the traditional controls and they are easy to use.

Autofocus

The XT-3 sticks with the same innovative phase- and contrast-detect focus system as the XT-2. However, the new sensor and processor really unlock the potential of the focusing system.  The XT-3 sensor has 2.16-million phase-detect AF pixels that cover approximately 99% of the horizontal and vertical axes. Compare that to the X-T2’s 500,000 pixels…that’s a four-fold increase. Those pixels are particularly useful when focusing during video or when using continuous focus. This means that the autofocus system is much improved when it comes to tracking moving subjects. Users can utilize up to 425 AF points, but that can be dialed down to 117 for more precise and targeted focus, and the size of the focusing area can be manually adjust as well. The XT-3 also offers an improved Eye Detect AF feature, touch focus using the rear LCD, and focusing down to -3 EV. This thing can also shoot bursts at 11 fps in mechanical shutter mode and 30 fps in electronic shutter mode – note that images are cropped to 16 MP, but 30 fps is blazing fast.

Image Quality

The XT-3 could very well be the best APS-C camera on the market.  The 26MP BSI ‘X-Trans CMOS 4’ sensor is wonderful and produces great images. The XT-3 now offers native ISO at 160-12,800 (expandable from 80-51,200) and noise handling has been improved from the XT-2 at lower ISOs, but appears to be a little worse at higher ISO values.  Dynamic range has improved 1/3 EV from the XT-2 as well.  Although full frame sensors will always have an advantage in noise handling and dynamic range, the XT-3 does pretty darn good (and you’ll save some money over full frame). Image and video quality plus the expansive feature set definitely put it in the category of elite APS-C crop sensor cameras.

People have been raving about the video quality and features on the XT-3. It records 4K video at 60 fps with 10-bit color depth. That puts the XT-3 on par with some of the best cameras out there in terms of video. It also supports super-efficient H.265 compression, which really speeds up recording bit-rate.

The one downside is no in-body stabilization system (IBIS).  The Fujifilm X-H1 offers IBIS so it’s disappointing to not see it in the XT-3.

Closing Thoughts

The XT-3 is a jack of all trades and you will be impressed. The combination of size, image quality, video quality, and autofocus system make this one of the best cameras available right now. Yes, full frame bodies will get you better image quality, but the balance of features in the XT-3 make it the APS-C camera to own. The value for the money is really unbeatable. The traditional dial controls are great, autofocus is fast, RAW and JPEG stills have great quality, and 10-bit 4K video is class leading. This is a really good camera, period. Compare the XT-3 to the Sony A6500, the Nikon D500, and the Panasonic GH-5. Let us know what you think if you picked a XT-3 up.

 

Matt Meisenheimer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matt Meisenheimer is a photographer based in Wisconsin. His artistry revolves around finding unique compositions and exploring locations that few have seen. He strives to capture those brief moments of dramatic light and weather, which make our grand landscapes so special. Matt loves the process of photography – from planning trips and scouting locations, taking the shot in-field, to post-processing the final image.

Matt is an active adventurer and wildlife enthusiast as well. He graduated with a degree in wildlife ecology and worked in Denali National Park and Mount Rainier National Park as a biologist. He also spent 6 months working in the deserts of Namibia before finding his path in photography. Matt’s passion for the wilderness has taken him to many beautiful places around the world.

As a former university teaching assistant, Matt is passionate about instruction. It is his goal to give his students the technical and creative knowledge they need to achieve their own photographic vision. He truly enjoys working with photographers on a personal level and helping them reach their goals.

You can see Matt’s work and portfolio on his webpage at www.meisphotography.com

1 reply
  1. Pat Dooley
    Pat Dooley says:

    APS-C has its place now and Sony has a replacement for the rather good A6500 on the way. Full frame sensor prices are dropping and, combined with mirrorless technology, will soon obsolete APS-C. Micro 4/3 and every other popular interchangeable lens camera technology. I’m waiting to see how good Panasonic’s upcoming full frame camera will be. I expect it to be a video star.

    OTOH, it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between the 1″ sensor on the Sony RX10, for example, and a full frame sensor in normal light, unless you pixel peep on a 4K monitor or make huge prints. In low light, no contest. There will always be a role for a quality cameras with a better sensor than a phone and much more zoom range than a phone, without the hassles of interchangeable lenses.

    We’re headed to a world where 95% of the population are happy with the image an iPhone produces. Photographers will have full frame mirrorless cameras from multiple players and a huge range of current and vintage lenses to choose from, so they can make great images that may not even have been possible a generation ago. But, who will see them? Who will buy them?

    Reply

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