Fujifilm X-T3 Review
Performance - How well does it take pictures?
Performance starts with image quality, which is the criteria used as the foundation of our digital camera ratings. Ergonomic issues may get in the way, but in the end, image quality counts the most. For an ILC, image quality greatly depends on the lens used. While color, noise, exposure and dynamic-range are properties of a camera, distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberrations are properties of the lens. Sharpness and contrast depend on the weakest link. That is, a camera cannot capture more details than a lens lets through. Conversely, it is quite possible for a lens to transmit more details than a sensor can capture.
Image Noise & Details
Image quality from the Fujifilm X-T3 is excellent and is competitive with modern flagship APS-C digital cameras. The new X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor in this mirrorless received a small 2 MP increase in resolution compared to the X-Trans CMOS III which itself has a 50% jump in resolution compared to the X-Trans CMOS II. While that previous jump was exceptionally impressive, the latest is minor and does not quite match the clean output of the third-generation sensor.
The X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor captures images vith virtually no noise from ISO 80 to 400. This sensor can capture the finest details, although the default Noise-Reduction diminishes critical sharpness. This can be adjusted ±4 to taste, with the optimal setting being at -2. ISO 80 is Expanded yet looks just as good as the native ISO 160 sensitivity.
At ISO 800, the smallest amount of noise start appear only when images are shown at their maximum size. For a 26 MP image, this larger than a 24" x 16" print. The only reason this is worth mentioning is that the X-Trans CMOS III sensor on the X-H1 performs even better in this respect, as can be seen in the indoor crop comparison page of this review. Although this image quality is superb, it slides just below the very best APS-C cameras on the market.
Depending on the Noise-Reduction level chosen, ISO 1600 is either slightly noisier or softer than 800. The impact on image quality and final print sizes at this sensitivity is minimal though. Dynamic-range drops by a tiny amount as the darkest details start being masked by image-noise.
The first notable dip in image quality occurs at ISO 3200. Images taken at that ISO become visibly softer and lose a stop of dynamic-range pushing blacks into dark grey. Noise-Reduction at this level is aggressive and, even tuned down to -4, never stops completely. Colors are remarkably unnaffected and images still capture much fine details. ISO 6400 is both a notch softer and noisier, although mid-sized prints are still completely acceptable. ISO 12800 continues the trend while allowing typical prints to come out nicely.
There is much more image-noise appearing at high Expanded sensitivities. ISO 25600 produces high luminance noise which eats away at details yet manages to maintain color and contrast impresively well. Small prints are entirely possible at this level but not very useful at the maximum ISO 51200 which really obliterates details due to its high amount of noise. In an emergy, it can be passable as subjects are still entirely recognizable.
Sharpness is controllable in 9 levels. The lowest -4 setting is very soft and the highest +4 is certainly oversharpened. The default setting of zero is a tad soft. Pushing it to +1 makes a really nice improvement without any artifacts. At +2, some over-sharpening artifacts appear in the most extreme conditions yet is probably the ideal level for overall image quality. Anything higher shows easily noticeable sharpening artifacts.
Color & White Balance
Color accuracy of the X-T3 is very good. Hues are realistic with different Film Simulation modes mostly affecting saturation. The standard Provia film exaggerates saturation which can be improved by setting Color to -1. Alternately, using Astia film simulation provides a similar rendition of hues but with somewaht muted colors.
Automatic White-Balance is quite dependable under typical conditions. It handles both natural and artificial lighting well, only leaving the occasional yellow cast under low artificial lighting. Natural light seems to always be rendered correctly, even as light levels drop. The Custom White-Balance option is there for difficult situations and is perfectly accurate.
The Multi-Segment metering system of the X-T3 is very reliable and highly consistent. It is less conservative than the X-T1 which results in brighter images in exchange for some over-exposure of small highlights. Large areas are rarely over-exposed except for backlit situations. EC is easy to adjust as needed and the X-T3 provides very good feedback for over-exposed areas by bliking them in the EVF.
This mirrorless camera captures a very wide dynamic-range. At ISO 400, it can double that dynamic-range which is better than most APS-C cameras. At ISO 800, Dynamic-Range can be pushed to 400%, up and until ISO 12800, which gives it a performance that almost matches the class-leading X-Trans CMOS III sensor used in the X-H1.
The Fujfilm X-T3 is introduces a new Dynamic-Range Priority mode. This can be turned off or set to weak or strong levels. In this mode, Dynamic Range, Shadow Tone and Highlight Tone settings are locked out and the camera takes into account feedback from the sensor to optimize all those settings. One expects this to produces images with more tonatility yet makes result less predictable.
The headline news for the Fujifilm X-T3 is an entirely new Hybrid AF system which delivers a huge leap in performance compared to previous Fujifilm sensors. There are 2.1 million Phase-Detection pixels evenly distrubuted through the entire sensor surface which deliver phase information at high-speed for processing by the X-Processor 4 for autofocus.
Using contrast and phase information throughout the sensor, the X-T3 creates a virtual 425-Point Autofocus system. By combining a number pixel and phase sensors, this camera can focus down to -3 EV, which two stops better than previous generations. Given that the AF points are virtual, they can be resized into small areas or combined into larger ones. The smallest point covers a tiny fraction of the frame which does not overlap any other point. It can be expanded to 6 times the size linearly or combined into areas of 4 different sizes.
The new Hybrid AF system is extremely quick. It looks focus with incredible accuracy, even in dim lighting. Since it is an on-sensor system, it never suffers from front or back focusing issues. Single-shot AF is nearly instant and completely reliable, regardless of the chosen focus point or area.
When Continuous AF is enabled, the X-T3 keeps focus locked within the selected area very well and extremely smoothly. There is no signs of focus stuttering common with Contrast-Detect AF systems. Larger areas give the camera more information and opportunity to lock focus, so AF-C works much reliably in Area than in Point mode. With only a single-point selected, focus can lag behind fast moving subjects.
Manual Focus is performed via a fly-by-wire focus ring on most Fujinon lenses to date. The sensor uses information gathered for autofocus to show where the camera is manually focused using its MF Assist modes.
Although AF-C is fully achievable during 5.7 FPS bursts, the camera still attempts and even manages to some extent at faster continuous drive modes. The faster the drive moe though, the less reliable the system becomes. Still, this is even better than expected.
This is easily one of the fastest mirrorless digital camera ever made. The X-T3 responds instantly to every button and dial without ever slowing down the photographer. The menu system and playback mode are faster than before too. The EVF keeps up with action and shows virtually no lag even when shooting continuously. At speeds of 10 FPS of more, there is no blackout either, making it easier than every to follow action.
Continuous shooting up to 20 FPS is possible at the full 26 MP resolution when in Electronic-Shutter mode. With the mechanical shutter, maximum continuous speed drop to a still rather fast 11 FPS. Although there is a RAW buffer for roughtly 32-36 frames, the X Processor 4 is very fast and manages to clear JPEGs out of the buffer much more quickly. Bursts of 145 JPEG images are possible at 11 FPS. At 5.7 FPS, there is no limit, provided a UHS-II memory card is used.
The following measurements characterize the performance of the Fujifilm X-T3:
- Power-On: Below ½s without sensor-cleaning. Excllent.
- Power-On to First-Shot: 1 second. Superb.
- Autofocus: ¼s, even in low light. Class-leading.
- Shutter-lag: Immediate with no blackout. Spectacular.
- Shot-to-shot: 1/3s with AF. 1/5s with MF. Excellent.
- Playback: A little less than ½s to enter or exit. Good.
- Power-Off: Under 1s with sensor cleaning. Great.
- Video: Instant. Perfect.
There has never been such a solid all-around performance from a mirrorless digital camera. With the mechanical shutter, there is a short blackout which is very normal. In fully electronic mode, the view is blackout-free and shows no perceptible lag. The AF system is just rock solid and, although it may not be able to track the fastest action, is still faster than the majority of high-end cameras.
Shot-to-shot speed are impressive. One can get at least 3 shots every second with AF enabled and faster in MF mode, assuming you can press the shutter that fast! Even from off, one can fire a shot very quickly. A welcome improvement is that video recording now start instantaneously.
The Fujifilm X-T3 is powered by a small proprietary Lithium-Ion battery which provides 390 shots-per-charge. This is about average and goes down quickly while reviewing images. Another battery is highly recommended not to run out unexpectedly.
Performance - How well does it shoot video?
Fujifilm brought many high-end video features introduced for the X-H1 to the X-T3 and even improved them. This is their second digital camera to capture Cinema 4K and 2K modes with 4096x2160 and 2048x1080, respectively. In those 17:9 aspect-ratio videos, the X-T3 can record at 60 FPS which the X-H1 cannot do. There is also support for 4K Ultra-HD at 60 FPS and 1080p Full-HD at 120 FPS with plenty of frames rates starting at 24 FPS to choose from.
There are two codecs availablle, the common H.264 and the more efficient H.265. Bit rates are available from 50 to 400 Mpbs, although 60 FPS video can only reach 200 Mbs.A choice of Long GOP or All-Intra encoding is offered. The former uses less space while the latter is easier to process by software since each frame is encoded independently.
Recognizing that photography and videography needs are not the same, the Fujifilm X-H1 offers separate configuration for Film Simulation, Dynamic-Range, White-Balance, Highlight Tone, Shadow Tone, Color, Sharpness and Noise-Reduction, Focus Area, Movie AF, MF-Assist, Face/Eye Detection and Focus-Check. Additionally video can be stored as F-Log and Peripheral Light Correction is available for video only.
Audio is highly configurable with Auto, Manual or Disabled input. This is controllable separately for the internal stereo microphone or stereo audio input. In Manual input mode, the audio level can be adjust from -30 to +6 dB. There is also an Audio Limiter, a Wind Filter and a Low-Cut Filter.
Time Code is supported by this camera, a feature only normally found in serious video cameras. It can be displayed or not and the start time can be manually entered or taken from the internal clock. There is an option to include Time Code in the HDMI output too. The X-H1 is equipped with front and rear lights to indicate that the camera is recording. Settings include options to use the front, back, both or none in steady or blinking mode.
Video performance of the Fujifilm X-T3 is impeccable. Output quality is exceptional with virtually no compression artifacts at high bit-rates. The high-speed sensor output allows it to capture motion with very few sings of rolling shutter. The camera starts and stops recording instantly, recording exactly what is intended.
Fujifilm undoubtedly produced a winning mirrorless digital camera with the X-T3. It is the culmination of years of refinement and careful selection of compromise to deliver one of the most impeccable perform yet. The new 26 megapixels X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor and X-Processor 4 together push the performance envelope for both photographers and videographers with features unmatched by other APS-C offerings.
The X-T3 is an extremely feature rich digital camera built into a durable professional grade body which is weatherproof and freezeproof. Its hybrid analog and digital design provides direct access to an outstanding number of photographic controls with its dual control-dials, 3 dedicated dials, 8-way joystick, 4-way controller and 6 highly customizable buttons. Photographers can configure this camera to match their preference and, although somewhat complicated, ergonomics of this camera make it extremely efficient.
There is little that the Fujifilm X-T3 cannot do. The only major omission is built-in image-stabilization which Fujifilm only included in the X-H1. Exposure lattitude is class-leading and the new 425-Point Phase-Detect AF system is extremely flexible with a speedy performance down to low light levels. Video features of this mirrorless are truly impressive, supporting up to Cinema 4K at 60 FPS.
Image quality of the X-T3 falls just shy of class-leading due to higher image-noise than previous generation of X-Trans sensors and those used in flagship APS-C DSLR. Dynamic-range though is stellar starting at ISO 800. The metering system is very reliable and consistent, even though it is less conservative than on the X-T2. Color rendition is excellent and the white-balance system renders colors neutral under anything other than low artificial lighting.
What this mirrorless gives up in image-quality, it more than makes up for in speed. The X-T3 is extremely responsive and extremely quick at everything. Autofocus speed is amazing thanks to 2.1 million on-sensor Phase-Detection elements. It locks focus quickly and completely accurately down to -3 EV. Continuous AF follows subjects very smoothly across active AF areas.
A large 0.5" EVF with an incredible 3.7 megapixels, 100% coverage, 0.75X magnification and an Eye-Start Sensor shows one of the most amazing views through an EVF. The preview looks very natural with life-like colors, good contrast and a spatious view. We must complain though that the view is not Exposure-Priority except in Manual exposure mode which is ashame for such a spectacular EVF.
With excellent image quality, class-leading speed, a sophisticated and rich feature-set in an ergonomic body that puts so many controls at hand, the Fujfilm X-T3 earns our highest Excellent+ rating.
Fujifilm X-T3 Facts
Sensor-Size: 24 x 16mm
Actual size when viewed at 100 DPI
|26 Megapixels Mirrorless||ISO 80-51200|
|Fujifilm X Mount|
|0.50" Built-in EVF 3.7 Megapixels (0.75X)||Full manual controls, including Manual Focus|
|Automatic Eye-Start sensor||Custom white-balance with 2 axis fine-tuning|
|1 Axis Digital Level||Spot-Metering|
|Weatherproof down to -10C||Hot-Shoe & Sync-Port|
|Built-in Dust Reduction||Stereo audio input|
|20 FPS Drive, 79 Images||Lithium-Ion Battery|
|4096x2160 @ 60 FPS Video Recording||Secure Digital Extended Capacity x 2|
|3" LCD 1 Megapixels|
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