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Fujifilm X-T3

Fujifilm X-T3

| On 30, May 2019

October 2018 (revised May 2019)

I’m not sure if the Fujifilm X-T3 is an upgrade to the X-T2, or the X-H1 – it has features that will make owners of both of those models envious.

Physically, the X-T3 conforms to my traditional mental image of a camera. The silver accents on the weather-sealed magnesium alloy body give it a style that I find pleasing, and the physical controls provide a classic sense of design and usability. It looks familiar, it appears comfortable.

 

 

Contents

Testing the New
Basics
Connectivity
Performance
Focus
Manual Focus
Back Focus
Focus Bracket
Video Focus
Shutter
Exposure
Save Options

Film Simulation, White Balance, Filters
Drive modes
Video

Video (Dynamic Range)
Review
Battery
Conclusion
Disclosure

What’s New

Inside is Fuji’s 4th generation X-trans sensor – APS-C sized with a 26Mp resolution. And a new processor to match.

That delivers speed improvements across the board. Shooting at a Toronto music venue with terrible lighting conditions, I was very impressed not only by the speed and accuracy of the focus system – but also by the face and eye detection, which worked well even when shooting profiles.

The X-T3 has some features I’ve not seen elsewhere, and this review is based on firmware 1.01 – Fuji has promised more features in firmware updates before the end of 2018.

New is a sports finder mode – which introduces a 1.25 crop and takes 16Mp images – but provides a viewfinder mode that extends beyond the frame, so you can see subjects just before they enter the image.

And a 30 frame burst mode also with a 1.25 crop – but that’s not compatible with sports mode.

A new monochrome tone adjustment capability – 19 steps from warm to cool – adds to Fuji’s already best in class mono capabilities.

These settings can be applied to both the Acros and standard mono film simulations.

A new digital microprism manual focus assist mode … it’s interesting in a retro kind of way,

Fuji continues to provide more manual focus assist options than the competition.

There’s pre-shot which starts recording images when the shutter is soft-pressed.

I’ll detail video below, but let me preview that by saying

H.265, cinema 4K, 60 frames, 10 bit, 400 mbit data rate.

It’s a huge improvement over the X-T2 and the X-H1.

That gives Fuji a significant lead in video, as I record this video, they’re best in class.

One thing Fuji did not add is in body stabilization. They do have some very fast lenses though. And in camera stabilization isn’t much of an assist for video anyway.

 

Other videos about the X-T3

Fujifilm X-T3 vs X-T2

Fujifilm X-T3 vs X-H1

Fujifilm X-T3 Travel Tips (in Thailand)

Fujifilm X-T3 Best Video Settings

 

The following affiliate links are useful to do a price check on this camera. If you use these links to purchase, I will receive a small commission, which helps to support my reviews.

B&H Photo      Amazon

 

 

Testing what’s new

In the video, Sonam and I took a closer look at SportsFinder, Pre-shot, Burst and focus, using the XF 50-140 lens.

For Sportsfinder, switch to CH – fast burst, turn on sports finder mode.

Now it turns out that Sportsfinder is not compatible with electronic shutter, so the maximum burst is 11 frames.

Image size is set to a special version of M – 16.6 Mp.

We selected Continuous AF with wide tracking, using AFC 4 for a suddenly appearing subject.

Shutter 1/1000 Aperture F2.8.

As I walked through the scene, the focus seemed to lose me – but the images are all in focus.

Then we switched off sports and turned on the electronic shutter and pre-shot, which saves the last few images before the shutter is fully pressed.

Sonam soft-pressed and clicked the shutter when my feet left the ground. And we got about 10 frames before takeoff. Depending on the scene, both are useful.

 

Basics

The X-T3 is mirrorless, and if you were looking for a mirrorless model to be small and light you’d be best to try another model, like the X-T20.

The X-T3 with battery and memory cards weighs in at 540 grams (19oz).

It is both elegant and functional, making it both attractive and easy to use.

The size gives it a look and feel that says serious camera.

The abundant physical exposure controls – dials for shutter, ISO and EV, a lens ring for aperture, a meter collar – complete the picture.

Along with one of the best viewfinders – it’s crisp and clear and very responsive.

The diopter has sufficient range to allow me to shoot without my glasses.

I like the large dial – pull it out to set and press it back in to lock it in position.

The grip is slightly less than I’d like, but I can hold the X-T3 comfortably with the thumb rest on the back.

There are also front and back control dials – which can be clicked for additional functionality.

The LCD flips up and halfway down, and press the latch to rotate out for low angle portrait-mode shooting. It doesn’t face front for selfies, which would make this a very attractive camera for vloggers.

But it is a touch screen, with settings to tap and snap, set focus or select the focus area.

And a joystick – both to set the focus point and navigate menus. Even with touch, this is my preferred focus selector.

Ports on the left side with a removeable door – a nice touch for video shooters mounting the X-T3 on a rig.

Fuji included an HDMI clip with the X-H1, but not here.

Videographers will appreciate mic in and headphone out connectors. The remote control port is hidden behind a small door on the right side.

Two card slots on the right, both supporting UHS II – and you’ll want the fast UHS II cards to take advantage of the burst speeds and the video data rates included here.

A variety of customizable buttons – include the stealth button on the front side.

The customization screen will help you find the buttons and set your preferred functions for each.

This kit includes the Fuji 18-55 lens which ramps from F2.8 to 4.

In my opinion, this is a better than average kit lens.

 

Connectivity

As soon as you turn it on, the X-T3 wants to be connected to a smartphone.

I obliged, by pressing pairing registration in the free app.

Once paired, that triggers the camera to sync the date and time.

Use smartphone sync setting to add location.

One useful feature is that the app alerts me to new firmware and the entire upgrade process is done between the phone and the camera. Nice improvement.

The X-T3 can be set to automatically transfer images to the phone. This tags the images to be transferred. When you turn the camera off it reminds you to change the wifi on the phone to the camera’s adhoc network.

Then the images are transferred so you can share them with friends and post them to social media.

That’s a setting you can also disable in the app.

 

Battery & Performance

The battery rating has improved about 15% over the X-T2 – using the same 126S battery.

There’s a boost mode – by default it’s activated with the bottom button on the control circle.

What you’ll notice is that with the boost off the display slows after a few seconds.

A soft press on the shutter restores the normal frame rate.

There’s a new battery grip to match the X-T3, and although it wasn’t available for this review, it’s not as necessary as it was. As there are no operational changes as there were with the X-T2.

 

Focus and Touch

Focus mode is controlled by a switch on the front – single, continuous and manual.

Touch focus works in manual mode in continuous mode, hold your finger on the screen to burst; in video mode touch starts, but doesn’t stop recording.

The screen also supports four custom swipe modes – for quick access when you run out of customizable buttons.

I was able to make swipe motions work more consistently on the X-T3, but that meant that I was often accidentally switching into sports mode even when I intended to change the touch focus mode.

I set that motion to none.

Also note that the default swipe up is histogram, which includes an RGB display

And is this a good time to whine that the touch functions here are all over-ruled by the button/dial setting page three settings?

And that that’s where you’ll find the touch pad area settings to select focus area while shooting with the viewfinder.

I use the right side to keep my nose out of it.

Incidentally, the touch pad feature is not very responsive and is relative, so it might take a few swipes to move focus to where you want.

Let’s start by setting auto focus mode to All.

Then press the joystick and use the front or back dial to cycle through the area options – wide, three sizes of zone, six sizes of single.

That’s easier than changing using the menu.

Single can be positioned on a 25 horizontal by 17 vertical grid – 425 points that come within millimeters of covering the entire screen.

Use the joystick or touch to select a point. Even small points at the edges focus accurately and quickly.

And if 425 seems a bit much – the menu can reduce to a 9×13 grid – 117 points.

Face and eye detection feels completely re-engineered.

It quickly picks up a face and detects an eye even if the subject isn’t facing the camera.

Continuous has five preset configurations and a sixth where the parameters – for tracking – how long it waits to change and for speed – how quickly it changes – and zone area – in addition to auto, centre, which covers the centre area of the image and front, which concentrates on the subject closest to the camera. 

I set up my playmobil train to test that, which you’ll see in the video.

In autofocus continuous, which can follow an object, single and zone don’t.

Only wide/tracking does that, and only the 117 points are available.

There is no explicit way to select an object to track.

With the multipurpose AFC – 1, as long as I set the focus point where the locomotive enters the scene, it picks up the train and follows it along.With an 11 frame burst the train is generally in focus, as you can see from the background, going by the number on the front of the engine, there are a few misses.

 

Manual Focus

Switch to manual focus and a distance meter appears on screen – the blue area indicates the depth of field for the current aperture.

Manual focus includes three assist modes.

Press the back dial to see an expanded view, turn to change the magnification. Use the joystick to move the area.

In the menu turn on focus check, then the X-T3 switches to expanded view as soon as the focus ring is adjusted, that’s a setting I use.

In stills mode with manual focus, press the DISP button to change to a dual window view focus assist. This unique to Fujifilm feature is available in the viewfinder and on the LCD.

Screen setting dual display enables you to switch the expanded view and the whole scene.

Another cool Fujifilm feature – rotate the screen for portrait shooting and the display rotates too!

A long press of the back button to switch

to digital split image – useful if the scene has vertical lines.

Again for digital microprism – this is new

And for peaking.

Set peaking using the menu, where colour and sensitivity can be selected.

 

Back Focus

For back focus, the AF-L button will activate auto focus even in manual mode.

But I use the button dial settings to customize it to AF-On.

You can also customize the button dial setting for shutter AF, with settings for single and continuous modes.

For back focus shooting, I’m usually single off and continuous on.

Instant AF governs whether the AF button activates single or continuous focus

– but after customizing continuous to the shutter, I don’t need this.

Other focus options include AF+MF, which allows manual adjustments in auto focus mode;

Interlock of focus with exposure, on by default.

 

Focus Bracket

It’s easy to miss the focus bracket feature – it’s hidden in the drive settings.

First choose it as the bracket option. Then use focus bracket to select the settings.

It can take up to one thousand minus one images, with a focus change that varies from one to ten undefined units and with an inter-image interval up to 10 seconds. With 0 it takes the images continuously. Set the drive dial to bracket and snap.

There’s a bit of trial and error to get the right settings for a scene – and although there’s no in-camera focus stacking option, that’s easily done in photoshop.

 

Video Focus

And let’s do a quick check on focus for video:

First, video options are independent of stills. On the video menu, which is the default when the camera is in video mode, the video focus area is selected – there’s only one size and it’s a 7×13

91 point grid. In video mode only continuous and manual are available. And the menu output to the HDMI recorder is cropped – so you can’t see the top of the screen. Sorry.

In order to use the selected point, make sure the Movie AF mode is on Area.

Multi is a full auto mode, equivalent to wide for stills.

There are Custom continuous settings, but not like stills. Here you select the sensitivity from five levels – five stays locked on the subject.

And an 11 step speed setting.

With quick and fast, it refocused as I walked through. But with locked on and slow, it stayed with me as Sonam passed through the shot.

 

There are independent video settings for face and eye detect.

I’m impressed by how well those work.

Manual assist options are reduced to two – standard and peaking, with four colours and two response options.

The focus check option works while recording – so you can punch in to check focus without affecting the recording.

But the dual display option is not available in video mode.

In manual focus mode, touch works – but when recording touch works only in continuous.

It works nicely for a smooth rack focus. 

 

Shutter

Before we get to exposure, let’s have a look at the shutter options, as they affect the exposure settings.

The X-T3 has six options, each is explained with a help tip on the bottom of the screen.

There’s a standard Mechanical shutter, for shutter speeds up to 1/8000.

In the video, you can see how it works with a one second exposure – physical front and back curtains. In addition to a fully silent Electronic shutter, there’s Electronic front curtain, which does have a mechanical sound component but has a shorter blackout. There’s a Combined setting and then Combined with electronic front up to 1 over 8000 and combined electronic front up to 1 over 32000.

The on-screen tips for these settings are useful, and I’d be happy if Fuji would incorporate these for more settings and features in the menu. Particularly as in general, the menu does not explain why a dimmed option is unavailable.

Note that for a fully silent shutter, you’ll have to turn off the simulated shutter sound – in addition to volume settings, there are three sound effects.

 

Exposure

You’ll have to adjust your exposure thinking when shooting with the X-T3, and I think that’s a good thing.

First, there’s a physical meter setting using the collar under the shutter dial – one of my favourite things – as I can set the meter mode without a menu dive.

Average, multi, centre weighted and spot – but remember I’ve linked spot to the focus spot.

The lock for shutter speed doesn’t lock the meter collar.

If you want to see what mode you’re in on-screen, use the display custom settings to select photometry – it appears bottom left.

But if face/eye detect is on, the meter displays that – as it’s a meter mode that over-rides the others.

In video, although face detect is displayed, when it’s off, the meter mode doesn’t appear.

Now, forget about PASM, and just think about what you want to adjust – the camera does the rest.

Start by setting the dials to A – ISO on the left, shutter on the right and the lens’s aperture ring to A. In the bottom left you’ll see that’s the equivalent of program mode.

Use the lock buttons to keep ISO and shutter in place.

Before adjusting exposure settings – decide if you want the screen to display the actual exposure –

Preview exposure and white balance in manual mode – or not.

A complementary display setting – natural live view – doesn’t display some settings like film simulation when on, but does display advanced filters and black and white modes.

Off does display film simulations, white balance and other settings.

Confused? Yup, me too.

As long as we’re here – turn on image disp if you want to see the image after you’ve taken it.

That feature, incidentally, turns the display sideways when shooting in portrait mode.

It’s great, but not fully implemented – like for selecting the direction in panorama mode.

If you want to set the aperture, move the switch and turn the ring on the lens.

If you want to set the shutter, unlock and use the shutter dial.

Adjust one and the X-T3 sets the other accordingly,

Then use the exposure compensation dial to adjust as needed.

Three stops up and down or set it to the C position and use the front dial for five up and down.

Or set both aperture and shutter and let the ISO manage the overall exposure.

Note that the physical shutter dial, with one stop increments, might not have the granularity you’d like.

The back control dial offers the 1/3 steps up and down to the next stop. From 1/125 that’s down to 1/80 and up to 1/200. Set the dial to T and use the back dial exclusively, with settings from 15 seconds to 1/8000 with the mechanical shutter, 1/32000 with the electronic.

Or B – bulb settings – up to 60 minutes with the mechanical shutter.

Incidentally, if the exposure display numbers seem small, try the large indicators mode – available for both LCD and viewfinder. There’s  customization screen to select which settings are displayed.

ISO ranges from 160 to 12,800. The H and L ISO positions can be set from the button dial settings.

H is 25.6 or 51.2; L – 80, 100 or 125.

And here is also where you find the ISO dial setting. I’m switching to command and I’ll show you why I prefer it in a second.

Back on the camera menu, there are three auto ISO settings – each with a default and a maximum as well as a triggering shutter speed.

And now, with the ISO dial on A, the front dial can select all the standard and extended ISO settings from 80 to 51.2 as well as the three auto ranges.

Fuji’s approach to ISO is more conservative than most. many brands offer considerably higher values. However, even at the high settings, Fuji’s images are clean, relatively low grain and free of colour shifts.

The included EF-X8 flash has a guide number of 8. And there’s an extensive flash control menu.

The dynamic Range settings are sometimes useful to    manage high contrast scenes. auto selects 100 or 200.

The 400 setting is available with ISOs over 640 – note screen left that the DR setting reverts to 200 if I lower the ISO below 640.

Alternately, and note that these are mutually exclusive, D range priority can manage automatically or use the strong and weak settings.

This setting also over-rides the highlight and shadow adjustments.

 

Save Options

The X-T3 has three aspect ratios, including 1:1 for square images and three resolutions.

There are also two JPEG quality settings, as well as RAW and combinations.

With two memory cards, there are options to save sequentially – when one card is full it switches to the other, backup which records to both, and RAW to one card, JPEG to the other.

The only option for video is sequential, but you can choose which card to use first.

 

Film Simulation and White Balance

Fuji’s signature feature is their film simulations – standard, vivid, soft and chrome – which are applied to JPEG images.

There’s also a menu option – color chrome – to deepen colours in shadows.

This works with both dynamic range settings – providing lots of opportunity to fine-tune challenging images.

Other film simulations provide settings for negative – high and standard – Eterna for video production and three mono settings.

Sepia, a standard black and white and Acros, based on the analog film type.

Both mono and Acros have four variants simulating colour filters.

For Acros and mono a colour tone provides 19 steps from a warm amber to a cool blue.

I’ve tried the simulated grain setting – but never successfully.

For grain, try a high ISO instead.

White balance includes a basic set of presets, kelvin from 2500 to 10,000 and three slots to capture and save custom settings.

There’s a white balance colour adjustment panel.

After selecting the film simulation and the white balance, further fine-tuning is possible with adjustments to the highlight and shadow tone, colour has a 9 steps adjustment – plus 4 to minus 3 and 9 steps of sharpness.

While useful, I’d like to have a little more range for these settings.

It is worth noting that if you find that sometimes the X-Trans sensor is a little contrasty, setting the highlight and shadow to -2 will soften your images. I find that particularly useful for video.

I find advanced filters a bit of a misnomer and I’m not sure they have a place on this camera. These are gimmicky affects that I rarely find useful.

Well, I do kind of like dynamic tone.

And if you’re shooting RAW, you’ve always got a file without the effect.

And there’s multi-exposure

Yeah – feel free to explore on your own.

 

Drive modes

Most drive modes are selected using the collar under the ISO dial.

I set continuous high, continuous autofocus, sports mode and 11 frames – the fastest supported by the mechanical shutter. Saving the medium JPEGs set by sports mode, that captured 11 frames for 19 seconds, then it slows to about 7 per second.

The ES 20 setting uses the electronic shutter, taking 20 full frame JPEGs per second for 3 seconds before slowing to 9 per. There’s no shutter sound, so you can’t tell when you’ve run out the buffer – an onscreen indicator would be very useful.

ES 30 did not live up to its billing. With crop JPEGs, it took 64 frames in the first 3 seconds slowing to an average of 10 per second over 30 seconds.

The buffer always clears in less than ten seconds.

I’ll leave it to you to judge which is best for your needs.

Time lapse, the intervalometer,  isn’t on the drive collar, but in the menu. There are extensive options for interval and an unlimited number of images. No video output setting, but that’s easy to do in your video editor. If you are shooting for video, set the aspect to 16×9.

And I don’t know, is panorama a drive mode? Pick size and direction and then pan in the direction shown on screen until you get the shot. Usually takes a few tries.

 

Video

With both cameras and lenses, Fuji is clearly making video a priority.

The improvements here should make everyone sit up and take notice.

I’ll provide an overview in the remainder of this video, but will also post a Best Video Settings for the X-T3 with more details and a few hacks.

In the menu, most of the video settings – those with a movie camera icon – are independent of their still counterparts, so they will change when you switch the mode dial from stills to video.

First up – both the current and popular H.264 and the new and improved HEVC high efficiency video codec H.265,  are supported.

Both can output 4:2:2 10 bit to an HDMI recorder.

H.265 can record 10 bit to SD card. That, along with Fuji’s Flog and MKX lenses, elevate the status of this camera to the head of the class.

For H.265 there are two compression settings – a higher quality All Intra setting

– best for editing and further processing and a higher compression long GOP setting.

These settings are not available for H.264.

I’m not sure that you’ll see the difference – the All intra saves more data per frame, while the Long GOP – which stands for group of pictures, saves fewer distinct frames, recording only the incremental changes. 

Both of those settings – and as my default I’m using H.265 and All Intra – support a variety of resolutions and frame rates, with some exclusions and limitations.

Using All intra, the 17×9 aspect DCI cinema 4K resolution – 4096×2160, is supported at 29 and 24 frames in both drop and non-drop versions – Only 400 mbits data rate is available.

Note that the amount of recording time available my dual 64GB cards in the X-T3 for each of these settings is displayed lower right.

Switch to long GOP to record up to 60 frames, and with lower bit rates.

The 4K 16×9 video aspect is supported at the same frame and data rates.

HD 1080 is also supported with frame rates up to 60 and data rates up to 200 mbits.

In H.264, the highest data rate is 200 Mbits.

The X-T3 has zebra – an exposure guide preferred by video shooters.

The level can be set from 50 to 100 in 5 step increments, and it conforms to a waveform reading, where 100 is the maximum legal broadcast video level. That’s useful, but many also use 70% as a guide to properly exposing white skin.

If you plan to use it, best to assign it to a custom button to make it easy to turn on and off.

 

Video Dynamic Range

In the video, you’ll see the DSC Labs XYLA chart with 21 rectangles which reduce light by one stop each from left to right.

With the lights off, exposing the leftmost chip to 100% zebra, using standard settings, the X-T3 captures 8 stops above the noise floor.

Using Eterna with 100 dynamic range is about the same, although the lower levels are slightly raised.

Increasing the dynamic range to 400, again, rasing the lower levels, but now is clearly nine stops.

With F-Log – there are eleven, maybe twelve stops, and this is the quietest noise floor I’ve seen with any log settings – likely thanks to the 640 ISO.

By the light of a single candle, face detect is somewhat less reliable. Using the Eterna film simulation and an ISO of 25,600 with a custom white balance, the results provide the right mood for this scene.

There are a variety of output variations between SD and HDMI recordings, including 4K to both.

I’m using an Atomos Ninja Inferno to record these screens, and to check out the various output options.

With HDMI output display OFF, the output is clean and changing the movie mode setting also changes the output to conform to the selection.

Several nice things here.

The LCD and viewfinder work when an HDMI device is connected.

Touch functions work, including movie silent mode which I’ll get to in a minute

Both zebra and peaking are displayed on the external device when it’s in menu display mode.

Recordings are limited to 30 minutes in all formats – one area where the competition offers better.

Headphone level – it’s handy to have it on the movie sound menu, but it should be duplicated on the setup sound menu, as that’s the natural place to look for it.

In video mode, if you want a smooth exposure transition – use AutoISO, which transitions smoothly as I turn off the big light

With auto aperture, the X-T3 makes a stepped transition.

While the X-T3 does show a rolling shutter effect, it’s not as pronounced as most.

The remote control app is useful, and can be used to record video. It’s major limitation is that the only video mode is HD – and there are no options to change it.

The last setting – Movie silent mode – disables all of the physical controls – use touch and the control pad to access and change the exposure and other settings, even while recording.

One of the advantages of using silent mode is that it simplifies switching between stills and video, as the video and stills settings remain independent.

This enables me to switch to stills, adjust the settings and when I return to video, they’re as I like them for video. Combined with the independent menu settings, this makes the X-T3 much more versatile for both.

 

Review

When reviewing images, there are multiple display options to see all the EXIF and other details.

Among other features, there’s an extensive RAW conversion capability – that includes film simulation and the colour chrome effect. You can copy images from one card to the other, and record voice memos.

Fuji’s menu system is clear and reasonably well organized, with the exception of the setup tab.

My menu can be helpful to create a custom menu set for your frequently used options – but as there are many, many items that can’t be placed on my menu, and that includes most of the setup screens, it’s not as helpful as it could be.

My operational complaint with the menu is that it resets – something that’s particularly annoying when adjusting settings like the display customization – you try something and when you return to make a further adjustment – you’re back at the beginning.

So, it’s nice that the menu sets to video when I’m in video mode – and it’s nice that My Menu is the default when it’s on. But starting back at the beginning doesn’t feel helpful. So I’m imploring the Fuji engineers to please, let’s have a option to return to the last used item.

 

Battery and charging

The X-T3 can be charged and powered with USB using a PD type USB-C charger.

A one-piece battery charger is included, but the plug doesn’t swivel closed.

 

Conclusion

And there’s more to look forward to – Fuji has promised a firmware update that will include Hybrid Log Gamma before the end of 2018.

I realize that this is a hotly contested category, but for the moment, the X-T3 is the best APS-C camera on the market.

 

About my reviews

The Fujifilm X-T3 used in the review was borrowed (from Fujifilm Canada) and returned after the review. I am not sponsored nor paid for this or any other review by any camera manufacturer or their media agencies. They did not have the opportunity to review the video, nor this post, prior to posting.

If you have decided to purchase this camera, please use the following links. I will receive a small commission, which helps to support my reviews.

B&H Photo      Amazon

 

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