Fujifilm X-T3 Review – Next generation X

In the midst of more camera companies stepping up and entering the mirrorless camera market with full frame cameras galore, Fujifilm is launching its next generation APS-C. And make no mistake, the X-T3 is indeed next generation APS-C mirrorless.
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The debacle will be inevitable. Should I go “full-frame” or stick with APS-C or even M43? But this is nothing new. Sony and Leica have been doing full-frame mirrorless for quite some time. But now we have Canon and Nikon in the game. Let’s just agree on one thing: Added competition is a consumers best friend!
Fujifilm has always stated that APS-C delivers the best compromise between image quality and size of gear. They entered the medium format mirrorless segment with an intention to offer supreme mirrorless image quality and resolution slightly disregarding size. Whether or not this dual format strategy is clever remains to be seen.

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X-T3 – XF200mm f/2

Marketing strategies put aside, let’s get on with the topic at hand, the newly announced Fujifilm X-T3 camera. I’ve had the chance to test out the camera for the past month or so, and I’ve tried my best to put it to the test in various situations. Not as deliberately as with my X-T2 review back in 2016, but I did manage to find some galloping horses.

Let’s just get the disclaimers out of the way first, so we can continue on common ground.

Disclaimer: The camera used in this review is a pre-production prototype camera. Image quality might therefore not be final.
Disclaimer II: All productshots of the camera are shot by me for Fujifilm Corp.
Disclaimer III: I’m an official X-photographer. That’s spelled brand-ambassador. My views are most likely as biased as they come. This being said, I’m an open and honest guy and I speak my opinions. I have used, and still use to this day, all other imaginable camera systems, be they analogues, digital or pinhole. Whether you believe my views of this camera or not, at least you get to see some colourful images of horses 😛

All is new at the frontline

This writeup is bound to get a little long, since basically everything inside the X-T3 is new and next-generation. In line with what Fujifilm have been doing with the X100 series, they’re keeping exterior refinements to a minimum, under the common sense moniker to “not fix what isn’t broken!”

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X-T3 – XF23mm f/2

So let’s start out by looking at the very core of this machine. The sensor and processor.
These are the heart and brains of the X-T3, and they’re both a real step forward in terms of dynamics, IQ and speed.
A lot of talk always revolves around the sensor qualities itself, while a lot of people tend to forget about the processor. This is a paradox since the sensor is basically a lightsensitive plate, while the processor is actually what interprets, analyses and renders the final image that you see in your output. So if you like Fujifilm colours and IQ, that isn’t the sensor talking. Thats the processor.

All new backside illuminated 26.1MP sensor

The new X-Trans 4 sensor inside the X-T3 is a backside illuminated sensor. What this means is well described at Wikipedia:

A traditional, front-illuminated digital camera is constructed in a fashion similar to the human eye, with a lens at the front and photodetectors at the back. This traditional orientation of the sensor places the active matrix of the digital camera image sensor—a matrix of individual picture elements—on its front surface and simplifies manufacturing. The matrix and its wiring, however, reflect some of the light, and thus the photocathode layer can only receive the remainder of the incoming light; the reflection reduces the signal that is available to be captured.[1]

A back-illuminated sensor contains the same elements, but arranges the wiring behind the photocathode layer by flipping the silicon wafer during manufacturing and then thinning its reverse side so that light can strike the photocathode layer without passing through the wiring layer.

What this will do in day to day shooting is offer a little bit more light gathering ability, and hence a little more dynamics. We should see less noise at higher ISO since digital amplification of signal can be reduced, as well as a little bit of a dynamics increase.
The most notable result of this is that the base ISO on the X-T3 is now ISO160 as opposed to the ISO200 on the X-Trans 3 sensors. Extended ISO goes down to ISO80.

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The new 26MP BSI sensor of the X-T3

The other new thing on this sensor is that it now has a 100% phase detection autofocus coverage. That means that edge to edge, you will be able to use the far superior PDAF instead of being limited to CDAF in the outer portions of the frame.
The low light limit of PDAF has also been lowered from -1EV in the older generation to an impressive -3EV. In real life, trust me, this works VERY well.

The all new X-Processor 4

This is where things get really interesting. The new processor in the X-T3 is a true powerhouse, that solves a lot of the issues with speed that the X-Processor Pro couldn’t quite handle.
Most notably is a much faster readout, so you can now have blackout free EVF shooting at 30fps. Albeit in a crop mode, but still. It handles an insane amount of data readout. There are a lot of notable speed improvements, so I will mention the most important ones here.

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Horse jumping is a good way to test autofocus. X-T3 – XF200mm f/2

Speed and AF abilities

The X-T3 now handles fps bursts of up to 30 fps in a new 1.25x sports-crop-mode. This mode results in 16.6MP images, and when combined with the electronic shutter (ES) you get completely EVF blackout free 30fps shooting. When shooting RAW + jpeg in this mode the buffer will fill after 33 shots, but when shooting jpeg only it will handle 60 frames in the buffer. Without the sportscrop mode, the X-T3 will do 20fps with ES and 11fps using mechanical shutter. The buffer in these modes will hold 36 shots of RAW+jpeg and between 80 and 145 shots in jpeg only mode.

The tracking in these highspeed modes are continuous. That mens that shooting a horse coming straight towards you a galloping speed can actually be held in focus with the 200mm f/2 shot wide open. I was quite impressed with this, so I have made an example of it, and packaged 33 consecutive shots for you to download and check out for yourself. The shots are jpegs SOOC, only resized for uploading.

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33 consecutive shots – XT3 + XF200mm f/2

You can download them HERE

You now have an option of pre-shooting with the ES. What the camera does is starting to take images already at halfpressing the shutter. It it’s constantly filling and clearring the buffer, so as to be perfectly ready and in focus for when you depress shutter completely. I used this for most of the horse-shooting in this review.

In regards to autofocus points you now have up to 425 AF points as opposed to the 325 on the X-T2/X-H1. This obviously aids in gaining more precision from the AF system.

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Eye-AF works like a treat. X-T3 – XF200mm f/2

Eyetracking has been improved considerably, and is now very very precise, and once locked on it is quite hard to get rid of it. Trust me, my kids tried at numerous occasions, and failed 😀
I don’t use this feature much, since I’m a one-shot-kind-of-guy, but I know that a lot of you guys use this feature vigorously, and you will be glad to know that it has indeed been improved quite a bit.

Color Chrome and B&W toning options

The new processor makes it possible to use the “COLOR CHROME” processing found presently only in the GFX50s. It’s a rendering to the jpegs that further enriches and deepens colorsaturation. I use it a lot on my GFX, but it does take approximately a second for the GFX to save files using this rendering. The speed of using this render on the X-T3 is considerably faster than on the GFX. I don’t know how much. But it is faster.

You now also have the option of selectively toning your black and white jpegs in real time, so you now have other toning options than the generic standard of “Sephia” toning. This is something that I really like, and if you use Acros with +1-2 in warmth you will get some very nicely toned black and white images.

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Acros +2 warmth SOOC jpeg. Very cool to have this grading option.

Digital Microprism

In the manual focus department you now have the option to use the yellow coloured focus peaking, that was first introduced with the X-H1, and which feels way superior to me than red, white or blue.
But in addition Fujifilm included a very cool digital micro-prism focusing aid. It works just like the old micro prisms of old SLRs, only digitally emulated. It works really well for me, but only when using real vintage manual focusing glas. Using the focus-by-wire of the Fujinons isn’t a good option for this focusing aid.

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Focusing the old vintage Helios 44m is as good as ever with the new focus aids

Overall the new processor makes this camera fly in all aspects. With everything from AF, to burst, over general operating speed, things are screaming with this camera. It is a really noticeable change!
And as an added bonus, they even kept power consumption low, so now you have an added 10-15% longer battery life compared to the X-T2. This is definitely also a welcome change.

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X-T3 – XF35mm f/1.4

Build and feel

Whereas the innards of the X-T3 has seen a complete overhaul, the outer build of the camera has remained literally unchanged. Fujifilm has hit a home-run with the X-T2 layout, and they have been widely recognised for that. So they did the perfectly natural thing of not changing something that wasn’t broken.
Fujifilm did decide to launch both the black and silver option at the same time. So no more waiting for a graphite edition.
The silver coating is really nice, and has a little more sheen than the X-T20/X-E3 type silver.
The X-T3 has the exact same button layout as the X-T2. The same. Period.

They did include some new things though.
The X-T3 now has touchscreen operability as has become the norm in todays camera market. It works the same way as on the X-H1 giving you added 4 way swipe functionality, AF point and shooting options as well as the option to turn it off 😛

 

The diopter on the side of the EVF prism is now equipped with a lock. So to change it, simply pull, turn, and push it back to lock. FINALLY!

The Exposure compensation dial has been moved further inwards on the top plate to avoid any accidental turnings. Especially over time as with use resistance will lessen (at least it has on my X-T2)

All the ports that you need are now in the house itself. That means the Audio out, mic, HDMI, and new USB-C interface is now enclosed below the hatch on the left side of the camera, which as an added bonus is now detachable for use on video-rigs, gimbals etc etc.
The battery grip now serves as only that, a battery grip. No added boost speed, no added ports. Just a basic battery capacity expansion with buttons.

 

The camera is built in China, not Japan. Some people have already launched public concerns about this, but this to me is ridiculous. The build quality is every bit as fine as the X-T2 and if I didn’t look at the label behind the flipscreen, I wouldn’t even know. If it has any long term usage consequences remains to be seen. But we’ll see. For now it will be fair to expect lower production costs, and hence lower final consumer pricing.

Video

As usual this is NOT my field of expertise. I still hold on to the oldschool thought of a picture speaking more than a thousand words. I did try out a bit of video with the X-H1, but my interest in video kind of faded from there. So this will mostly be a listing of featured that are now part of the X-T3 that will make video shooters very happy.

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X-T3 with the MKX 18-55 T2.9

For starters you now have true 10 bit 4:2:0 video to SD card using the H.265 codec. You still have 4:2:2 10 bit out of the HDMI.
In both DCI and 4K you now have a maximum of 400mps at 30fps, and you can do 60fps at both full DCI and 4K.
These specs are quite impressive, and again support the claim the the new X-Processor 4 is one fast chip!

Fujifilm also finally added zebrastripes to the video helping aid, which I also now a lot of videographers will love (and have needed for a long time)

Image Quality and samples

Obviously this is what is important, all the fancy specs above boils down to this sole part of the camera. Image Quality.
This term is so subjective, so analysing it without going into pixel peeping territory can be quite challenging.
What I’m noticing is a slightly lesser grained appearance at the higher ISO’s. This is expected because of the new BSI sensor. It’s not really that pronounced, but it is there when you peep. The highlight control is also a little better and I found it quite a bit harder to blow the highlights than on my X-Pro2. If that is on account of me becoming a better shooter, I don’t know. Fact is that I had less blown highlights than I’m used to at the same settings and conditions.

I also really tried to provoke the problem that appeared on the X-Trans3 of seeing a gridded structure of the sensor when shot into direct sunlight. I simply couldn’t provoke it. Maybe they fixed that issue.

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JPEGs like this would usually show artefacts with the XT2. Here I cannot see it. (SOOC jpeg)

You get a couple of extra megapixels at 26mp comparison to the 24 in the X-Trans 3 sensors , which is always a welcome addition for some added cropping power. As long as it doesn’t compromise signal/noise ratio which it appears it hasn’t.

All in all image quality is better. I have not been able to test out RAW files, since there is no software supporting it for now, so all my experiences are based on in camera based renderings of jpegs which have always been very awesome with Fujifilm. The X-T3 is definitely no exception.

Image Samples

Below you can see my usual type of sample shots. Yes, they have been edited using software. But they are jpegs as a starting point. If you want SOOC jpegs with no editing applied, you need to view them somewhere else, which is probably quite possible 😉

Make sure you view the gallery, and you can download each image in the gallery as a scaled 3000px jpeg. All metadata is embedded.

 

Conclusion

The X-T3 is an amazing camera. It’s a true next generation APS-C sensor and processor in what has been tested as a perfect enclosure. Brand new on the inside, same on the outside. It has incredible speed bumps in regards to tracking, burstshooting, overall speed and rendering and the videospecs are really quite impressive. But what is more important to me is the added dynamics to the image quality. The X-T3 is a very serious mirrorless camera. And with ins conception I see no reason why I would buy a full frame mirrorless camera.

 

Other reviews:

My good friend Tilman Jentzsch has made a great writeup using the X-T3 mainly at concerts: http://blickwechsel.ch/2018/09/06/a-first-look-at-the-fujifilm-x-t3/

The incredibly talented Bryan Minear also has a great writeup out. He has the right attitude focussing on images instead of spec talk: http://bryanminear.com/the-empire-strikes-back-xt3/

 

jr050680

77 thoughts on “Fujifilm X-T3 Review – Next generation X

  1. I was expecting your review! Well written and dedicated. The specs are fantastic, and the layout is always beautiful. My only concern is where this leave the H-X1. That said, I’m definitely considering upgrading for my X-T20 to this, but still it will be interesting to see this chip on a future X-PRO3 or X100V (?). As always, great images, Jonas.

  2. Amazing photos as always, Jonas! The X-T3 is definitely a game changer. I myself use the X-T20, and I love every bit of it! I’m always so inspired just looking at the photos you took and hope I can accomplish that with my little X-T20 someday. Keep on creating! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Justine. It means the world to me when people actually see through the gear and acknowledge my photography. That is, after all, what its about, right?

  3. Just curious about the silver version. I believe they do not call it graphite silver, is the silver in xt1 and xt2 different from xt3?

    1. Hey Rolf. Not really. They made some differences to the grip electronics, since they moves a lot of ports into the camera. Also they moved a pinhole at the bottom of the camera, so it won’t fit.

  4. Hi Jonas,

    I have never found eye detection to be successful on the xt2, but if its as good as you say on the xt3 then I shall buy one asap.
    Did you find any problems with eye detection at all?

    Regard

    1. Hey Michael. In the prior releases I’ve never commented much on the Eye AF. It has gotten better with each update, but still never really great. This really changed with the XT3. My 9 y.o. couldn’t fool it. It is really precise.

      1. Hi Jonas,

        Using Fuji X acquire software I have saved all my XT2 settings to the backup file.

        Would it be possible to reload these settings to a new XT3 or would the fact that

        there are more menu options on the XT3 confuse the reload?

        Regards

  5. I’m not on the market for a new camera but had to read the review for your photos which are following Fuji cameras evolution : each iteration is better than the previous ! (irrespective of the camera / lens)

  6. H i Jonas,

    great review.
    But what about the shutter-noise.? Is it like the X-T2 or as quite as the X-H1?
    Thank you.

    Hambi

  7. I suspect that you recieve your pre-production model and then immediately start thinking of a suitable title for the review, since all review titles always are entertaining. 🙂

  8. Great work, thank you! to me it would be interesting to know if the AF from the older f1.2 or f1.4 lenses is now improved on the x-t3 in comparison to a pro2/t2… Running kids (or similiar objects) are often too fast in my opinion for the older combinations (56 1.2+ pro2 or similar). Would you please tell me your opinion, Jonas (if tested)? Thank you!

    1. Hi Roman! Sorry to intervene. Is a combo of x-pro2 and 23mm not fast enough for kids? I find that most of the shots are crisp. And the 35mm with f2 lens improves this even more. Do you have an option to check this?

    1. The XT2 processor can’t handle the color chrome. It can easily handle the colouring feature of the black and white. If it will come, I have no clue. Could be great Kaizen though 🙂

  9. Jonas, I always look forward to your reviews. They are very well written and provide just the information I’m looking for. However, it is your sample photos that put you in another league. They are consistantly excellent and varied, giving us a wide variety of uses, from street to portrait to sports to landscape. I have to call out your “stripes” street photo. Excellent eye and a really funny shot!

    Fuji is wise to have you as an ambassador. You represent them well.
    Regards, Doug

  10. Been in a bit of a photography slump for quite a while sadly but seeing your images and hardware impressions it has a great effect at stirring the old passion for getting back to it. As always, your insight and visuals do a lot to sell the brand and inspire others. Keep up the awesome work sir.

    1. Scott, I’m sorry to hear about you being in a stale state. Keep pushing my friend. And thank you yet again for your continued support. You’ve been reading along since as long as I can remember. I’m really humbled my man! Thank you.

  11. Awesome review and amazing images as always! I see that you are really enjoying that 200f2 as well. I´m a bit confused by the ES and its intended sports usage as I had understood that ES was not good for moving subjects, something about rolling shutter?

    1. Hey Andres. Thank you so much. Yes I have really been enjoying the 200/XT3 combo. Obviously the only sports I got the chance to shoot was the horses thing, But they are really fast moving, albeit not that erratic in movement as football players etc.
      The ES has been given a boost in that the processor readout has gone from 1/25s to between 1/40s to 1/60s – This is quite a noticeable change, and eradicates most of the rolling shutter artefacts UNLESS the subject is right in front of you running left to right. Then its not fast enough. But for diagonal movement and things far away captured by tele, I found the ES works with minimal to no distortion of the image 🙂

  12. Very interested to see how well the electronic shutter works, or does it still have the problems inherent in earlier models.

    1. Obviously the only sports I got the chance to shoot was the horses thing, But they are really fast moving, albeit not that erratic in movement as football players etc.
      The ES has been given a boost in that the processor readout has gone from 1/25s to between 1/40s to 1/60s – This is quite a noticeable change, and eradicates most of the rolling shutter artefacts UNLESS the subject is right in front of you running left to right. Then its not fast enough. But for diagonal movement and things far away captured by tele, I found the ES works with minimal to no distortion of the image 🙂

  13. Very much enjoyed your review and of course, the sample images. I will be pre-ordering my x-t3 as soon as I can. Thank you!

  14. Hej Jonas,

    stunning pictures as always..
    What holds me back from going with Fujifilm.. there are no adpters for my minolta glass since the x-t2 came out..
    Did that change with the new X-T3?
    Or do you know one adapter that works?

    Cheers

  15. Beautiful article !! Really very interesting … more there is only buy the xt3 🙂
    I have only one doubt: have you tried to put the xt3 in stand-by to see if the “awakening” from the stand-by is now a little faster? In the sense: I currently use fuji xt20 and the battery lasts very little. So sometimes I turn off the camera and turn it on whenever I have to use it. Or I put it on stand-by, always for the same reason: make the batteries last longer.
    The problem is that the xt20 to “wake up” from the stand-by takes some time and this makes me lose several moments.
    I would like to find a solution.
    Thanks so much!
    Alan

  16. Is the weather sealing and body construction improved like it was on the XH1? I’ve had to send my XT1 and XT2 in a few times while my XH1 has handled the same wilderness abuse/conditions incredibly well.

    I prefer the XT layout and have been waiting for the release of the XT3 in hopes it has the same build improvements of the XH1. All the wonderful new improvements mean nothing if it is in a box to get repaired.

  17. Really well written review. Was pleased to hear that the new processor and sensor provide better dynamic range and more accurate autofocus. Brilliant photos you’ve included in this review! Can you recommend any older lens that’s fun to try if you like street photography?

  18. Can you comment on how the focus peaking is different? I would like to use my m glass . Correctly using them on xt1 . How much better is focu peaking on a scale from 1-10? Jack

  19. I follow you on Instagram and love your photos. Your reviews are always great to read, even if “biased”. I bought the X-T1 because it was the first camera to remind me of the good ol days. But now, the pre-sale starts in 63 minutes. I’ve been looking forward to this. With Nikon and Canon both kinda missing the mark on their mirrorless tries, do you consider this a home-run for Fuji? And should I buy it!? 🙂

  20. Thank you for this review, Jonas. I recently dumped my Nikon APS-C gear and bought an X camera (X-T2) after years of indecision. I don’t regret it but I won’t upgrade just yet.

    Off to read Tilman and Bryan’s write up.

  21. Beautiful pictures as usual! I’d love to see how you process your colors, your rendering is gorgeous!
    And the XT3… well getting one just for the viewfinder which will be a nice upgrade from the XPro 2 which I love.

  22. Nice shots, great colors.
    AND THAT 200/2 lens is AMAZING! It makes me think about Nikkor 200/2 lens again… Ups. Oh right, when I save some money, I might buy this amazing APS-C camera from Fuji as my second backup.

  23. Nice series of photo and great review. I find RawTherapee can process XT3 RAF file without issue. You can try it before Adobe LR updates its support for XT3. Many thanks

  24. I see yo ushot a tiny bit in ES. Did you notice or have any occurrence of rolling shutter(in stills mode)? I had a horrible experience with this in the XT2 and it was the main motivator that I had to abandon ship. I was quite sad considering the lust for the lenses and the availability to intermingle the F2’s and lower 1.4 and 1.2 varients as well. Thanks so much in advance, you may be the help I need to switch from Nikon to Fuji!

  25. Hey there Mr. Rask

    That was definitely the best review that I have read yet on this gorgeous camera. I was wondering if you used the touchscreen to focus and fire the shutter? I know it’s a bit of an obscure feature that not many will use, but I am quadriplegic and I’ve figured out a way that I can take pictures but it requires a good touchscreen. That’s why I use Olympus but I really want to switch to Fuji, is it quick and responsive in that regard? Thank you in advance for the reply, again it was an excellent review:)

    Nick

  26. I just pre-ordered my Fujifilm X-T3 on Amazon. It says it will be launched on September 20th.

    Do you know when they will start shipping?

    Perhaps some estimate based on what happened with X-T3.

    Curious, because I want to take it on a trip in October.

  27. Your shots show your eye as an artist. When I look at many photo galleries, they are testing the camera but not inspiring. You combined it all and I got to see color rendition, sharpness, contrast, pureness of blacks and whites, edges and the subtle parts of strong images that bring the eye and emotion. Excellent work. Lenses – I am ready to order an XT3, switching from an older full frame Nikon with f2.8 lenses that grabbed every image quickly and sharply. What lenses do you recommend for travel and portraiture?

    Cheers

    Evy

  28. Hello Jonas
    Just discovered your blog, and glad I did!
    Thanks for the very informative review and beautiful, interesting photographs.
    Seems like an amazing camera.
    Best wishes,
    Mike

  29. Hi Jonas

    Many thanks for the superb and interesting review.

    A quick question on the Silver colour, how does it compare to the XT2 Graphite? The reason I ask is that I am reluctant to trade in my XT2 for a much brighter silver version.

    Thanks

    Sameer

  30. Great writeup Jonas. It encourages me to move up to from XT2, putting that body as my #2 and sell my X-T20.
    They are loaning me a T3 in Seattle and i am eager to test it. In addition, I’ll add that your test photos are pleasant, revealing and informative. The best of any review I’ve seen. I would encourage you to add RAW samples to this or a successive review to show your readers how the BSI sensor handles backlighting and direct incoming sun as an improvement to the T2’s tendency to make coronas of unrealistic color with blown highlights, even in RAW with proper exposure.

    A Q: Has the X-T3 improved the shooting mode ring under the ISO knob? I’ve always found that to be fumbly, and easily knocked off the setting when handling the T2.

    Again, thx for your writeup.

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