Fujifilm currently has a solid lineup of APS-C mirrorless cameras to suit pretty much any type of photographer, and a few months ago, it added a new model to its roster that might just be its best offering yet. We're taking about the Fujifilm X-T3, which is a followup to 2016's X-T2.
This premium mirrorless camera is aimed at experienced amateur photographers or professionals, as it's the world's first APS-C camera with the ability to record 10-bit 4:2:0 (colour sampling) video straight onto its SD card. You also get an exhaustive list of capabilities for capturing both stills and video. In short, it's one of the most feature-rich cameras Fujifilm has to offer yet. It's time to see how the Fujifilm X-T3 fares with real-world usage.
Fujifilm X-T3 design and ergonomics
Physically, the X-T3 looks almost identical to the X-T2, with a similar button layout and design. The body is slightly heavier at 539g, and with the 18-55mm kit lens, the overall package could feel a bit fatiguing after about an hour of shooting. The handgrip isn't very pronounced but we found this camera comfortable enough to hold thanks to the textured rubber coating on the body. The Fujifilm X-T3 was also designed to withstand dust, water, and freezing temperatures, which is nice.
The X-T3 has the kind of retro design that's now become a staple with Fujifilm's X series cameras. If you've used even the lower-end models, this button layout should be instantly familiar. We have three main dials on the top for ISO, shutter speed, and exposure compensation, of which, the first two have buttons to lock them in place and are stacked on top of another set of rotary controls.
The one below the ISO dial lets you change the drive mode, while the one below the shutter dial lets you change the light metering mode. You adjust these parameters using tabs that stick out from the base of each dial. The system works well, but we struggled a bit with the metering tab as the shutter button gets in its way.
You also get two horizontal multi-purpose command dials, similar to what we saw on the Fujifilm X-E3. There are several more controls at the back, including a four-way navigation pad and a joystick, plus some more rubber cladding for you thumb. The buttons have good feedback but some of them are a little too small, which could be an issue if you're shooting with gloves on.
The electronic viewfinder or EVF has a soft rubber shroud attached. You also get an eye-sensor, which lets the camera automatically switch between the LCD and the EVF when you bring it up to your eye. There's a diopter adjustment dial as well. The EVF has a high resolution of 3.69 million dots, a 60fps refresh rate, and a magnification of 0.75x. Enabling Boost Mode bumps the refresh rate up to 100fps.
The 3-inch LCD is a touchscreen, but this needs to be enabled, and the setting for it is buried in the camera's menu for some reason. The display has a resolution of 1.04 million dots and is easily legible even under sunlight. There's a three-way articulating arm, similar to what we've seen on the X-T2. You can flip it out sideways by about 70 degrees if you need to shoot vertically, and it can also flip up and down. However, it can't flip all the way over to the front, so this camera isn't very well suited to vlogging.
On the right, we have a weather-sealed flap for the two SD card slots. Cards rated up to UHS-II for speed are supported. You can configure two cards for redundancy, or have stills saved on one and video clips on the other. Over to the left, there's a single flap covering the microphone input, headphones socket, Micro-HDMI port, and USB-Type-C port. You can use a power bank to charge the battery through the Type-C port when the camera is off, or even keep the camera powered while you continue to use it.
The Fujifilm X-T3 is available as just a body, or it can be purchased with an 18-55mm kit lens, which is the package we received for review. The lens is extremely well built and feels every bit as premium as the camera itself. It has a optical stabilisation and an aperture range of f/2.8 at the wide to f/4 at the telephoto end. There's a switch for manual or auto aperture control and three rings for adjusting the aperture, zoom, and focus.
In the box, you get some manuals, a neck strap, an external charger for the battery, and the EF-X8 hot-shoe flash, since the camera lacks an in-built one.
Fujifilm X-T3 specifications and features
The Fujifilm X-T3 features a slightly higher-resolution26.1-megapixel sensor, compared to 24.3 megapixels on the X-T2. More importability, it also has the newer X-Trans IV image processor, which promises better autofocus speeds, more accurate face and eye detection, and the ability to push out higher bit-rate videos.
There's a hybrid autofocus system just like before, but the number of PDAF points has been bumped up to 425, which covers nearly the entire width of the sensor. Burst shooting is also improved to 11fps when using the mechanical shutter and upto 30fps with the electronic shutter, but with a 1.25x crop factor. The native ISO range is 160-12,800, and the maximum shutter speed is 1/8000s.
For video, the Fujifilm X-T3 can shoot at up to 4K at 60fps or at up to 1080p at 120fps. The camera also supports the DCI-4K 17:9 format with a 2160x4096 resolution. 10-bit recording to the SD card is only available if you choose the H-265 (HEVC) codec, otherwise the camera defaults to 8-bit quality. If you're using the HDMI output to record to an external device, the X-T3 can shoot 10-bit 4:2:2 video, which is something many professionals would be happy with. F-log is also supported if you wish to shoot with a flat colour profile and grade the output in post-production.
The menu system is well organised, but fist-time Fujifilm users will need some time to familiarise themselves with the layout. Most of the buttons on the back can be customised to your liking; you can create a custom menu with the settings you access the most, and you get a wealth of options for stills and video to play around with. Fujifilm's popular film simulation modes are present too, and now include a Classic Chrome effect for softer colours and enhanced shadows, apart from the usual ones.
The camera has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, which can be used with the Fujifilm Camera Remote app. The implementation isn't very good though. It's a real chore pairing the camera to a phone over Wi-Fi, and even after paring, shooting remotely or browsing through the images you've shot are slow, clunky affairs. Bluetooth pairing is easier and can be used to copy photos to your phone, but the auto-transfer feature didn't work quite as advertised, in our experience. We were not very impressed, and Fujifilm's effort is far behind what other manufacturers currently offer.
Fujifilm X-T3 performance and battery life
We begin with our ISO test, in which we check how the X-T3 handles noise at high ISO levels. This also gives us a fair indication of how the camera will perform in low light. We're happy to see that there's an imperceptible increase in noise levels up to ISO 1,600, which is quite impressive. At ISO 3,200, the shaved regions of the pencils exhibit a slight loss in detail, but there's still no visible noise.
It's the same at ISO 6,400, which is very good. At ISO 12,800, which is the maximum native limit, the edges of the pencils start to get a little fuzzy and there's a bit of noise in the shadows. With the extended ISO 25,600 setting, the image becomes quite grainy and isn't really usable. You can adjust the ISO in one-third-stop increments, which gives you a good amount of control. Overall though, the X-T3 fared well in this test.
In daylight, the Fujifilm X-T3 was quick to lock focus, and both face and eye tracking were very responsive. Unlike with previous X-series models such as the X-E3, the X-T3 can track a subject's eye even when they are not directly looking at the camera. However, there were a few odd instances when the camera tried to track faces on subjects that weren't people. It didn't happen too often but we suggest that if you're not shooting human subjects, it's best to turn this off.
The increased number of autofocus points helps in locking focus on subjects that are at the edges of a frame. For single-point focus, you get all 435 AF points in a 17x25 grid, but for zone and tracking AF, you get 117 AF points laid out in a 9x13 grid. The joystick and the command dials make it very convenient to switch between different AF modes.
Image quality was very good when shooting under good light. Even JPEG files taken directly off the camera offered incredible detail and lively colours at 100 percent, with no post-processing. The 18-55mm lens performed well for casual shooting in our experience. Objects around the edges of frames didn't always have the best sharpness but we didn't encounter any chromatic aberration or barrel distortion issues.
The zoom range isn't much, but even at 55mm, the lens maintained good sharpness. Thanks to the large sensor, we were able to get very usable crops from our shots.
The lens stabilisation worked well in low light. The touchscreen is handy, especially when you want to pull focus from one end of a frame to the other. It can also be used as a touchpad for moving the focus point around when using the EVF. However, we wish the interface was a bit more responsive, as we felt a very slight delay from the time we touched the screen to when the focus point actually shifted. It's not a very big deal, but for finer adjustments, the joystick works quicker.
The camera has a built-in panorama mode, which shoots a burst of images as you pan around. You can choose the direction of the pan, which is nice. The end results however were a bit hit-or-miss for us, as vertical striations appeared slightly warped.
Burst mode worked nicely, and we were able to get a good hit-rate with moving subjects. The X-T3 offers five different continuous autofocus options for different scenarios but we found it best to leave it at ‘multi-purpose' for consistent results.
Low-light performance was commendable. The Fujifilm X-T3 lacks sensor stabilisation but the lens kind of made up for that in our tests. Focusing speed remained solid, and the camera offered a good dynamic range. Colours were also still rich, and some of Fujifilm's film simulation filters did wonders to enhance the look of our photos. Night shots can be relatively free of noise if you keep the ISO at about 3,200. You get three customisable Auto ISO settings to choose from, and each one can have a different minimum and maximum limit, which is very convenient.
The X-T3 does a very good job with video too. The quality of 4K video is very good under good light, and the high-framerate 60fps mode is rock solid. Image quality is vey good and you can even vary the tracking sensitivity and autofocus speed when shifting focus from one object to another, depending on the kind of transition you're looking for. The camera does get a bit warm even with a couple of minutes of shooting 4K video, though.
We were particularly impressed with the face and eye tracking speed of the X-T3. The camera never lost its lock on a person we were shooting even as he moved all over the frame. The person's face was always in focus at all times without any hunting issues. However, we missed not being able to track objects, which was little disappointing. You can do this when shooting stills, but there isn't an option for video.
Video quality was still good at night. When manually increasing the ISO, we found that noise in the shadows is suppressed very well till ISO 6,400. Going upwards did reveal some noise in the shadows but it was still an acceptable amount.
Since the camera lacks both in-body stabilisation and electronic stabilisation, you're really dependent on the lens. This isn't a dealbreaker by any means, since even with just OIS from the lens, footage we took while walking came out fairly stable. Plus, you don't get any of the annoying shimmer effect that comes as byproduct of electronic stabilisation.
The Fujifilm X-T3 is rated to deliver around 390 stills on a single charge. Of course, what you get will vary a lot based on the how you are shooting, and whether or not you have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi enabled. For video recording, each charge rated to deliver approximately 40 minutes at 4K, without face tracking. In our experience, we typically ended up with about 50 percent battery life remaining after taking 180-200 stills and video clips. Some time was also spent fiddling with the menus to change settings, which slightly ate into the battery life.
The X-T3 is Fujifilm's most feature-packed APS-C camera yet, and in many ways, it competes with the company's own flagship camera, the X-H1. In fact, both are priced similarly for just the body. The biggest difference between the two is the presence of 5-axis sensor stabilisation in the X-H1, which the X-T3 lacks.
Instead, the X-T3 boasts of slightly better features such as 4K video recording at 60fps, and better eye and face detection thanks to the newer and faster image processor. If you absolutely need in-body stabilisation, you should consider the X-H1, but we think a lot of people could be happier with the X-T3, simply because of the sheer number of features it offers.
Also worth considering is the fact that the Fujifilm X-T3 costs around Rs. 1,49,999 (with the 18-55mm kit lens). This puts it very close to full-frame mirrorless camera territory, and many would be tempted to swing that way.
A couple of things could have been better, such as tracking for non-human subjects in video mode, better access to the metering dial, and a fully articulating display. Also, it's high time that Fujifilm overhauled its smartphone app, which just feels dated and clunky.
However, the X-T3 still makes a compelling case for itself, as it's easily one of the best compact APS-C mirrorless cameras in the market right now, and offers an incredible set of features, backed by great performance.
Price (MRP): Rs. 1,49,999 (with 18-55mm kit lens)
- Weather-resistant and rugged body
- Exhaustive feature set
- Great performance for stills and video
- Decent battery life
- Dual SD card slots
- Metering dial can be tricky to use
- Tracking in videos is limited to faces
- Clunky smartphone app
Ratings (out of 5)
- Build/ design: 4.5
- Image quality: 4
- Video quality: 4.5
- Performance: 4.5
- Value for money: 4
- Overall: 4.5