First Impressions: Fujifilm XT3 (Fujifilm’s Jack of All Trades Camera?)

The Fujifilm XT3 is promising some major upgrades, and we got to test it first.

Fujifilm announced their latest X-Series camera yesterday, the Fujifilm XT3, boasting sensor and image processor upgrades that promise to deliver significant performance improvements over its predecessor. Make no mistake about it, this is a huge step forward for Fujifilm and they didn’t pull any punches with this camera, targeting photographers and videographers alike with some impressive features. We were invited to the media briefing as well as the launch event where we learned about all of the latest advancements they’ve packed into the X-T3, and got to spend some hands-on time with the camera as well.

Tech Specs

A highlight of the Fujifilm X-T3’s specs are below. Full specs for the X-T3 can be viewed here.

  • 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 Sensor with primary color filter
  • X-Processor 4 Image Processing Engine
    • Capable of 4K/60P and 10bit output
    • Features 4 CPU units
    • Startup time of 0.3 seconds
    • Shutter time lag of 0.045 seconds
  • High-precision, 0.5-inch, 3.69 million dot OLED color viewfinder
    • Viewfinder magnification of 0.75x
    • Wide viewing angle (diagonal 38º and horizontal 30º)
    • Display time lag of just 0.005 seconds, refresh rate of approx. 100fps
  • Robust magnesium alloy body
  • Continuous Shooting
    • 30fps [Only electronic shutter, 1.25 x Crop ] (JPEG: 60 frames | Lossless compression RAW: 35 frames | Uncompressed RAW: 33 frames)
    • 11fps (JPEG: 145 frames | Lossless compression RAW: 42 frames | Uncompressed RAW: 36 frames)
    • 5.7fps (JPEG: endless | Lossless Compression RAW: 62 frames | Uncompressed RAW: 43 frames)
    • Pre-shot: Approx. 30fps [Only electronic shutter, 1.25 x Crop ] (max. 20 frames while half press, max. 20 frames after full press, total max. 40 frames)
  • Movie Recording (using a card with the UHS Speed Class 3 or higher)
    • File format
      • MOV (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, HEVC/H.265, Audio: Linear PCM / Stereo sound 24bit / 48KHz sampling)
    • Movie compression
      • All Intra/Long-GOP, can be used with the following settings:
        • DCI4K/4K 29.97p/25p/24p/23.98p 400Mbps
        • Full HD(2048×1080)/Full HD(1920×1080)94p/50p/29.97p/25p/24p/23.98p 200Mbps
      • File size/ Frame Rate/ Recording Time
        • [DCI 4K(4096×2160)] 94p/50p/29.97p/25p/24p/23.98p 400Mbps/200Mbps/100Mbps 59.94p/50p: up to approx. 20min. 29.97p/25p/24p/23.98p: up to approx. 30min
        • [4K(3840×2160)]94p/50p/29.97p/25p/24p/23.98p
        • 400Mbps/200Mbps/100Mbps 59.94p/50p: up to approx. 20min. 29.97p/25p/24p/23.98p: up to approx. 30min
        • [Full HD(2048 ×1080)] 94p/50p/29.97p/25p/24p/23.98p 200Mbps/100Mbps/50Mbps up to approx. 30min.
        • [Full HD(1920×1080)]94p/50p/29.97p/25p/24p/23.98p 200Mbps/100Mbps/50Mbps up to approx. 30min.
        • [Full HD(1920×1080) High speed rec.] 120p/100p 200Mbps (recording) up to approx. 6min.
        • Recording movies in 400Mbps can be done with DCI4K/4K 29.97p/25p/24p/23.98p.
        • DCI4K 59.94p/50p is not available when H.264 is selected.
          • For recording movies, use a SD memory card with UHS Speed Class 3 or higher. For recording movies in 400Mbps, use a SD memory card with Video Speed Class 60 or higher
        • LCD Monitor
          • 0 inch, aspect ratio 3:2, approx. 1.04 million dots touch screen color LCD monitor (approx. 100% coverage)
        • 16 Film Simulation Modes
          • PROVIA/Standard, Velvia/Vivid, ASTIA/Soft, Classic Chrome, PRO Neg. Hi, PRO Neg. Std, Black & White, Black & White +Ye Filter, Black & White +R Filter, Black & White +G Filter, Sepia, ACROS, ACROS +Ye Filter, ACROS+R Filter, ACROS+G Filter, ETERNA/Cinema), B & W Adjustment: -9~+9
        • Bluetooth® Ver. 4.2 low energy technology
        • 16 Film Simulation Modes
        • Accessories included:
          • Li-ion battery NP-W126S
          • Battery charger BC-W126S
          • Shoe-mount flash unit EF-X8
          • Shoulder strap
          • Body cap
          • Strap clip
          • Protective cover
          • Clip attaching tool
          • Hot shoe cover
          • Vertical battery grip connector cover
          • Connector cover (detachable)
          • Sync terminal cover
          • Cable protector
          • Owner’s manual

 

Ergonomics

The Fujifilm X-T3 will feel immediately familiar to anyone that’s shot with the X-T2 before. In fact, you’ll likely confuse the X-T3 for its predecessor in the X-T series at first glance – until you notice the “3” in the logo in front upper right corner of the camera body.

The front of the X-T3 continues the minimalist profile of its predecessors. Aside from the Fujifilm and X-T3 logos themselves, the only things you’ll find on the front besides the lens mount are the Autofocus mode dial, PC Sync port, and a customizable function button. The grip on the right hand side of the X-T3 felt very similar to previous models in the X-T as well.

On the top of the X-T3 is where you’ll find the majority of the controls. Starting from the left is a dedicated lockable ISO dial, with a drive move selector dial nested underneath. Moving rightward is the diopter adjustment knob that functions similar to adjustment knobs found on analog watches. You’ll be able to adjust the diopter to your liking by pulling the dial out, and pushing it down will lock it in place to prevent accidental changes. Next up to the right is the hot shoe, followed by the viewmode button that will control whether the X-T3 will display through the EVF and the rear touch screen LCD, or both. Continuing on rightward, you’ll find the lockable shutter speed dial, with the metering mode dial nested beneath it. Next up are the camera On/Off switch, shutter button, and another customizable function button. Rounding things off on the far right of the Fujifilm X-T3 is the exposure compensation dial. There are two customizable command dials on the front and rear of the X-T3’s grip as well (we kept the front dial assigned to aperture control and the rear dial assigned to shutter speed adjustments).

The minimalist design continues moving towards the back of the Fujifilm XT3. The first thing you’ll notice on the back of the camera are the 3″ tilting touch screen LCD and the 100 FPS EVF which the X-T3 inherited from the flagship X-H1. To the left of the EVF are the Delete and Playback buttons, while the AE-L (Exposure Lock) button, rear command dial, and the AF-L  (Autofocus Lock) button are found on the right side. To the right of the LCD monitor, moving from top to bottom are the Quick Menu button, the Focus Joystick, Selector buttons, Menu/OK button, as well as the Display/Back button. Holding down the Display/Back button will allow you to customize the functionality assigned to a lot of the buttons found throughout the X-T3’s body as well as the gesture controls for the touch screen LCD.

To the left side of the LCD is where you’ll find the 3.5mm microphone jack, 3.5 mm headphone jack, charging capable USB-C connector, and the Micro HDMI Type D connector. The door covering these ports is removable, handy for anyone intending to use the Fujifilm XT3 in a camera cage rig setup with external microphones, headphones, power source, and monitor/recorder connected to the camera.

The 2.5mm remote release connector as well as the pair of UHS-II SD card slots can be found on the side of the X-T3. Yes, you read that correctly; the Fujifilm X-T3 features 2 UHS-II SD card slots. Make of this what you will given the recent #slotgate controversies surrounding the Nikon Z6/Z7 and the Canon EOS R.

 

Build Quality

The Fujifilm X-T3 felt every bit as durable as its predecessors. Like many of the other cameras from the company, the Fujifilm XT3 is weather sealed. While New York did get hit by some heavy rain during our time with the X-T3, we were indoors at the launch event and didn’t really get to put the weather sealing through its paces. Stay tuned for our full review for that.

As a preview, the Fujifilm XT2 in previous testing has survived tumbles across concrete, monsoon like rains, etc. It’s very well sealed and put together.

 

Ease of Use

If you’re used any of the other cameras in Fujifilm’s X-Series, the X-T3 will immediately feel familiar. I know some photographers love the Quick Menu system in previous X-Series cameras, but I was never a big fan until trying it again with the X-T3, and I contribute this to Fujifilm making the rear LCD monitor touch capable. I found the Quick Menu much easier to navigate via the touch screen as opposed to the joystick and rear dial. As someone who shoots in manual almost 99% of the time, the dedicated mode dials for ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture on the X-T3 made it a joy to use. Fujifilm didn’t have any vertical grips available when giving us the Fujifilm XT3 to test, but unlike the X-T2, you do not need to attach a vertical grip in order for the camera to operate at it’s maximum ability. As a portrait shooter, however, I can definitely see the benefits of having one attached to help reduce hand strain, especially when using heavier lenses.

 

Autofocus

Autofocus performance in the Fujifilm XT3 is noticeably improved over its predecessor, despite the X-T3 still lacking any sort of in-body image stabilization. We were given a loaner X-T3 along with the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f2.8-4 kit lens and the Fujinon XF 80mm F2.8 macro lens at the media briefing, and spent the afternoon testing the camera in a number of different lighting conditions around Manhattan. For the most part, the X-T3 performed admirably, acquiring focus almost instantaneously in bright, high contrast, outdoor conditions as well as indoor low light scenarios with mixed lighting.

We did notice some degradation in autofocus performance however during the X-T3 announcement event held in Brooklyn later that same evening. Fujifilm had setup a disco themed roller derby rink in a dimly lit warehouse, lit by a mixture of hot lights, multi-colored disco lights, and neon lighting. The fog machines were also on full blast, generating so much fog that it was spilling out into the check in area. Fujifilm may have overestimated the performance of the new sensor and image processor in the X-T3, but we applaud them for letting everyone test the camera out in this type of scenario as opposed to the professionally lit studio setups so commonly found at camera launches. Given Fujifilm’s track record, I’m sure we’ll see autofocus improvements addressed in future firmware updates.

Also, shooting in an environment like that is pretty difficult to do.

 

Image Quality

Camera profiles for the Fujifilm X-T3 are not yet available for Adobe Lightroom and Capture One. All sample images seen within this First Impressions article are JPEGs shot using a production model Fujifilm X-T3 running Version 1.0 firmware.

 

First Impressions

During our limited time with the Fujifilm XT3 yesterday, we came away quite impressed with how much more polished it felt compared to the already excellent X-T2. Coming in at just shy of USD $1,500 for the camera body itself, the Fujifilm is definitely positioning the X-T3 at the top end of the APS-C mirrorless market. Given all of the bells and whistles they’ve crammed inside the small body though, that price point is certainly justifiable. For comparison’s sake, Sony’s top end APS-C Mirrorless A6500 retailed for $1,400 when it first launched two years ago, and the X-T2 actually retailed at an even higher $1,599 at launch.

With more resolution power than even the full frame mirrorless Sony A7 III (26.1 MP in the Fujifilm XT3 vs 24.2 MP in the A7 III), the Fujifilm X-T3 is a worthy consideration for any serious photographer and videographer looking for a compact, powerful workhorse. The Autofocus in the X-T3 has seen significant improvements over the previous generation, it comes equipped with weather sealing, two UHS-II SD card slots, USB-C, and even 4K/60P 10bit internal video recording. The only thing it can use is a larger battery.

Stay tuned for our upcoming full review of the Fujifilm X-T3. Fujifilm will start shipping the X-T3 later this month on September 20, 2018. Can’t wait to get your hands on one? You can pre-order it on Amazon.