Fujifilm X-T3 First Impressions

Fujifilm X-T3 First Impressions

Yesterday, Fujifilm announced the X-T3. I wasn't involved in the testing of this new camera but I had the chance to use a preproduction sample on a recent shoot with my friend Jasmin. This is no full review by any means and you'll find specs and full res samples elsewhere. My KAGE buddy, Jonas Rask spend way more time with it and wrote an excellent review.

These are just my first impressions of this new camera. 

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Before we start, I want to state that I write from a very personal point of view. I'm a big fan of the rangefinder style cameras. The X-Pro2 and the X100F are my current favorite cameras within the X-series. When the X-T1 came out, I used it intensively because it offered so much more than the aging X-Pro1. I still liked the X-Pro1 more but the X-T1 was the better tool. The same can be said about the X-T2 vs the X-Pro2. The X-T2 was just more versatile: tethering, more video options, better ergonomics with bigger lenses, battery grip option, ... Other people just love the X-T series better and what I find great is that Fuji provides something for everyone. The X-H1 came along about the time that all my gear (including my X-T2) was stolen. And it made sense to replace my X-T2 with an X-H1 mainly because of the IBIS and added video capabilities. The X-H1 became my best allround tool. And now the X-T3 is out. When I saw the specs, I didn't immediately know what to think of the camera. There's not that single eye catching new feature but can you expect that from the third generation of a camera that was pretty spot on from the start? 

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The camera looks pretty much identical to the X-T2 and that's a good thing. Why change such a near perfect design? I didn't have an X-T2 on hand to compare but I'm pretty sure the dials and especially some of the buttons have been improved. On the X-T2 it could be just a touch hard to push the smaller buttons and rotate some of the dials. Although visually it's hard to see a difference, the X-T3 seemed a lot easier to handle to me. 

A major tiny improvement is the diopter adjustment knob. With the X-T2, I had to reset it countless times. The little knob always got out of wack whenever I put the camera in my bag or something. Now you have to lift the knob in order to turn it. A small thing but a huge improvement in my opinion.

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On paper the new sensor doesn't seem to be a big upgrade from the previous one, just two more megapixels. But for general use somewhere below 30 megapixels is the sweet spot for me. There wasn't any RAW conversion software available yet when I tested the X-T3, so I can only talk about the JPEG files (I kept the RAW files, so maybe I'll come back on those later). It seemed to me that the noise levels are a bit lower and there's a bit more dynamic range with the new sensor. But without the RAWs, I can only say that there is an improvement in resolution and image quality but I don't know yet to what extend. 

More important than the new sensor is probably the new processor. The X-T3 is a powerful beast in a very compact package. I don't often need machine gun mode, but it's nice to have and for some it's essential to capture action. But even for someone who doesn't need that much speed, it's great to have a very responsive camera. 

The autofocus seems also much improved. During this shoot, I shot side by side with the X-H1. The X-T3 clearly had the edge. Most of the shoot I shot with the face/eye detection on in continuous focus, wide open (or close to). The hit rate was almost perfect, despite the rather challenging conditions. This allowed us to shoot very fluid, intuitive and spontaneous. 

There are plenty of other improvements and new features, some that stood out to me are:

- You can now tone your black and white images in camera towards sepia or blue. It's not something that I would use a lot but I'm sure some will love this feature.
- The video features and settings have expanded into the I-don't-know-what-they-mean-territory. There are so many new options here and Fuji has said they will expand upon them even more with firmware updates
- A slightly lower base ISO of 160
- headphone socket is in the main body (yeah!)
- no or less blackout time in the EVF (depending on the settings)
- pre-shooting which improves AF performance even more when shooting with the electronic shutter (up to a whopping 30fps)
- the silver version looks stunning and will be available at launch
- The camera will start shipping in less than 2 weeks.
- touch screen

Although there may be not be a surprising, spectacular huge new feature on this camera, it is a very good evolution of the X-T series. Should you upgrade? Only you can tell, it depends on your needs, subjects and budget. Talking about budget, with all the new full frame cameras recently announced by Canon and Nikon, it's great to see that you can still get a professional workhorse camera for considerably less, and it even has dual card slots :-) 

Will I get an X-T3? I'm not sure yet. Most of my work doesn't require speed and is shot on the GFX. My X-Pro2 and X100F are the cameras that feel the best in my hands for street, reportage and personal stuff. And the X-H1 has the in body stabilization that comes in handy in my video work. On the other hand that face/eye focusing is very tempting and so are the new video features in a smaller, sleek package. To be decided.

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