Long-Term Test: Fujifilm X-T3

By Daniel Lezano. Posted

There is no avoiding the fact that mirrorless cameras are steadily eating away at the digital SLR market. All the major brands, including established DSLR giants Canon and Nikon, are adding to the number of CSCs in their range. You only need to look at the number of DSLRs launched in the last year or two and compare this to the number of mirrorless releases to note the way the tide is turning.

While Fujifilm had its own range of Nikon-based DSLRs many years ago, it has for some time exclusively developed its own range of mirrorless cameras. The decision to put all their (digital) eggs in one basket has proven to be a good one – since it hatched its first X-series model (X-Pro1 in 2012), the X-series has diversified and taken an increasingly larger chunk of the market.

That's no surprise, as almost every model launched has offered good design, innovative features and fine performance. The X-T3 was no exception, scoring 93% when reviewed in our February 2019 issue. Since the initial review, we've had the opportunity to use the camera on a number of occasions to get a broader picture of how it handles, operates and performs. With the initial tests taking place over the tight period of a week or two at best, having a longer period of time allows for discovery of points, both good or bad, that may have been missed with the original test.

The longer we've had time to use the X-T3, the more we've got to appreciate the depth and breadth of the features it offers and the quality of the images it can produce.

HANDLING

The X-T3 is particularly strong in this area, proving to be one of the most enjoyable cameras we've used in years. As well as looking stylish, the retro design is very functional and intuitive – the large dials on the top-plate, the aperture ring, the pair of input dials and the small number of buttons all help to make operation of the X-T3 fast, intuitive and above all fun. There are times when you'll have to access the menu to set some lesser-used functions, but in the menu everything is quick and easy to reach. The fact there are so many customisable buttons means you're able to set up the X-T3 to your way of working, further speeding up the process of selecting features.

In general, I've had no problems with the control set-up of the X-T3, although I've had to tweak the touchscreen and AF settings whenever I shoot portraits. My preference is to set an off-centre point so that when using the camera in an upright position, it's quicker to focus on the eye as only minimal recomposition is required. As a left-eyed user of the viewfinder, I've had to switch off the touchscreen facility as my nose kept changing the AF point location, and ensure both the Face AF and toggle dials are deactivated to prevent the AF points from moving. Thankfully, the Fuji's menu features a comprehensive set of options.

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FEATURES & PERFORMANCE

As a photographer who prefers to use the finder rather than LiveView on the LCD monitor, I'm very pleased with the size and quality of the X-T3's electronic finder. Contrast is high and sharpness is excellent, with plenty of exposure information. Plus points too to the dioptre adjustment dial, which needs to be popped out before use, thus preventing it being accidentally rotated.

If like me, you regularly shoot portraits using manual flash, note an option on the second page of the Screen Settings. The finder's electronic screen normally provides an accurate representation of how the final image will look, so you've a good idea of the exposure, White Balance and so on. However, when using manual flash, you'll need to set the Preview Exp/WB in Manual mode to Off, otherwise when you set the manual flash exposure (eg 1/250sec at f/11), the finder screen will become very dark.

Fujifilm is one of the most proactive brands when it comes to firmware updates, which brings performance improvements and extra features. The latest version (v3.00) sees additional AF modes and enhancements to the AF system, while v2.00 brought benefits for video, so it's definitely worth ensuring the firmware is up to date.

x-t3

EDITOR'S VERDICT

A year is a long time in digital photography and while there have been several excellent cameras launched since the release of the X-T3, it still stands strongly against more recent rivals. When it was first reviewed, the X-T3 offered as good a choice for serious amateurs and professionals as anything in its price range and that opinion still remains. Its small size and robust build makes it a camera as suitable for shooting landscapes as it is for travel or in the studio, while the range of features will leave few wanting for anything. Some may question whether its 26.1-megapixel APS-C sensor can compete with full-frame but the answer to that is a simple 'yes'. Image quality is excellent and the influx of new optics into the lens range – which now amounts to over 30 – ensures there is plenty of choice as well as quality.

Some may rue the lack of body-integral stabilisation but that's not a major omission in my view, especially as the Fuji X-H1 offers that facility for those who really need it. The X-T3 isn't perfect, but thankfully its negatives are small and for the most part can be rectified via the settings menu. If there is one area that could be improved upon, it's the life of its battery, which could be better.

Features like dual card slots, excellent AF and metering systems and above a sense of enjoyment from using it makes the X-T3 one of the very best cameras on the market. And even though body only it is now £50 more expensive then when it first launched, it still offers fine value for money.

SPECIFICATIONS

Price: £1,399 (body only) / £1,699 (with 18-55mm lens)
Image sensor: APS-C X-Trans CMOS 4 (23.5x15.6mm)
Lens mount: Fujifilm X-mount
Resolution: 26.1-megapixels
AF system: Hybrid (TTL contrast / phase detection AF)
Metering: 256-zone, spot, average & centre-weighted
ISO range: Auto + ISO 60-12800; expands to 80-51200
Shutter speeds: 1/8000sec-30 seconds & Bulb
Continuous frame rate: 11 frames-per-second (fps)
LCD: 3in 1,040,000-dot touchscreen vari-angle monitor
Finder: 0.5in 3,690,000-dot OLED viewfinder
Storage: Dual-slot SD (SDHC/SDXC)
Size: 132.5x92.8x58.8mm
Weight: 539g (including battery and card)
Website: www.fujifilm.co.uk

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