Fujifilm X-T3 Review
Usability - How easy is it to use?
For the new X-T3, Fujifilm refined the hybrid analog and digital design introduced with the X-T1
Fujifilm X-T1. It is a highly tactile design that combines traditional mechanical controls with the modern convenience of dual control-dials and an 8-way joystick. Although quite similar to its predecessor, Fujifilm is keen on making continuous improvements to the ergonomics their digital cameras.
The Fuji X-T3 is build upon a solid metal frame with rubber coating front and grip-side back of the camera. The entire camera feels very solid and dense.Weak points come do to hidges. There are two for the rear LCD. While the one enabling vertical tilt is among the most solid, the one for horizontal motion does not feel as durable. There is bit of flex to the plastic of the battery-compartment door which is made of plastic.
This is a mid-size mirrorless camera which makes it a little smaller than a DSLR, more so in depth. The rubber-coated grip at the front is shallow and narrow yet allows reasonable purchase over the camera when paired with a small to medium lens. A rubberized protrusion along the upper-rear edge of the body greatly helps keep the camera steady. Holding the camera, most controls on the grip-side are within comfortable reach. There are controls on the right too but since aperture is usually controlled by a ring around the lens barrel, one has to switch the hand position when changing ISO, Drive Mode.or Deleting files.
The front of the X-T3 has a few items around the lens mount. Starting clockwise from the upper-right, there is a standard Sync-Port to connect studio lighting. A 3-way Focus-Mode switch is found at the lower-right. This one selects between Manual, Continuous and Single focus. The Lens-Release is at the lower right of the lens mount. Higher up there is an unmarked customizable button, an AF-assist lamp and the front control-dial above it. The mostly redundant clickable front control-dial now protrudes slightly from the body, making it easier to use than previously. The dial has nice ribs and firm detents.
With three dials, two of them stacked, on the top plate, plus the aperture-ring on most Fujinon X-mount lenses, this is where the action is. All these controls make the top of the X-T3 rather crowded while making it possible to read the camera state without a status display. Although these dials make camera controls very accessible, they are unusually complicated. Top-plate controls from left to right:
The top half of the left-most dial controls ISO sensitivity. This ISO Dial has markings for ISO 200 to 12800 in full-stops with 1/3 steps in between. Within this range, control is direct and ISO can instantly be read. Unfortunately, there is insufficient space for all sensitivies in 1/3 stops, so Fujfilm added ISO 160, L, A and H positions:
- Unsurprisingly, ISO 160 sets the camera to ISO 160 which is the native sensitivity of the X-T3 sensor. All other positions are customizable.
- L accesses one expanded ISO, either 80, 100 or 125.
- H does the same for either ISO 25600 or 51200.
- A accesses either Auto ISO or delegates control over ISO to the front control-dial. Therefore, if the ISO dial is at the A position, senstivity can be set to anything, including one of 3 types of Auto ISO. Each of these can be customized futher in the Shooting Setting menu.
The ISO dial has moderately firm detents which diminishes the chances of accidental changes. A lock button in its center locks the dial at its current position. Since some positions are programable this therefore does not completely lock in ISO. Also note that, if one of the expanded ISO position is selected, the X-T3 will use the next closest standard sensitivity when the Electronic Shutter is engaged.
Right below the ISO dial, there is a Drive Mode dial which has 8 positions: Movie, Bracket, Continuous High, Continuous Low, Single-Shot, Multiple Exposure, Advaned Filter and Motion Panorama. The really good news is that the X-T3 has a Movie Mode which makes it ready to record video and switches the preview to the right aspect-ratio, either 16:9 or 17:9, depending on the format selected in the Video menu. Braket performs one of 6 types of braketing, as configured with the Shooting Setting menu. Most bracketing modes are highly customizable.
Continuous Drive modes are rather complex on the X-T3. There are 6 speeds to choose from for Continuous High and 4 for Continuous Low which tops out at 5.7 FPS, the maximum speed at which continuous AF and AE are possible. All Continuous Drive modes are covered in the previous page of this digital camera review. Multiple-Exposure creates a photo by super-imposing two images and support retrying for the second frame. Advanved Filter mode offers a choice of simple filters which can all be done by software instead. Motion Panorama captures a wide or extremely wide field of view by panning the camera in any direction. The only issue with the Drive Mode dial is that it is easy to rotate the ISO dial while changing drive modes, unless the ISO dial is locked, of course.
Between the ISO dial and the Shutter-Speed dial, there is the housing for the built-in EVF. On top of it, there is a standard hot-shoe to connect an external flash. On the side of the housing, a View Mode button cycles over different modes for the Eye-Start Sensor. The most practical one turns off both the EVF and LCD until the sensor is triggered. This can save battery-life, as long as Eye-Start Sensor is not triggered by something else. Other modes select the EVF, LCD or automatically switch between the two.
The Shutter-Speed dial is the most anachronistic control on this mirrorless digital camera. It is marked in full-stops with no intermediate detents from 1s to 1/8000s. The rear control-dial must be used to select 1/3 stops or any shutter-speed outside of this range. The T position allows any shutter-speed compatible with the selected shutter type to be dialed-in using the rear control-dial. The B position enables Bulb mode, as long as the Electronic-Shutter is not selected, otherwise it always exposes for one second only.
Like the ISO dial, the Shutter-Speed dial has an A position to make shutter-speed selection automatic. This effectively puts the camera into P or A mode, depending if the lens aperture is on Auto or not. On prime lenses, this is a distinct position of the aperture-ring. On zooms, there is an Auto switch on the lens barrel. The Exposure-Mode is implicit by the placement of these dials. This interface is crucial to understand. Any accidental movement of these dials causes the mode to change which is why Fujifilm placed a lock button on the Shutter-Speed dial too.
There are actually two more dials on the top plate. The Metering Mode dial is just below the Shutter-Speed dial. It selects between all metering modes: Multi-Segment, Center-Weighed, Spot and Average. The final dial is for Exposure Compensation. It is marked in ±3 in 1/3 EV steps. There is also a C position that allows the front control-dial to set ±5 EV of EC. When mutiple parameters get mapped to the front-dial, such as having both EC and ISO set to A, the front control-dial must be clicked to cycle over available parameters.
Some photographers complain that the locks slow them down, while others find them essential. There is no lock on the EC dial which is another one that can accidentally lead to incorrect exposuret. Of all these controls, the aperture-rings on lenses are the most problematic. This forces photographers to constantly keep an eye on the aperture shown on the EVF or LCD.
Tucked between the Shutter-Speed and EC dials, and we really mean tucked, there is a small and hard-to-reach customizable Fn button. Luckily, the X-T3 has a total of 6 user-defined buttons. In front of the Fn button, lined-up with the inner-edge of the grip, there is a standard two-stage shutter-release with moderate travel to the halfway point. The shutter-release is surrounded by a rotating power-switch.
Both sides of this digital camera have a hard plastic door. On the left, there are HDMI and USB-C connectors plus two mini-jack. One mini-jack serves as stereo audio input or wired remote, the other to connect a stereo headset. The right door covers dual SDXC memory card slots, both supporting UHS-II cards. This door has a soft rubber seal to protect the compartment from adverse weather.
The Fujifilm X-T3 features a high number of controls on its back which is dominated by a wide 3" tilting 1 megapixel LCD. Right above the screen, there is a 0.5" EVF with a large 0.75X magnification and an outstanding 3.7 megapixels of resolution. This EVF is a marvel to look at. It is extremely sharp and refreshes at 100Hz which renders motion very fluid. Contrast is excellent and colors look remarkably natural. New to the X-T3 is its Sport Finder mode which shows a 1.25X crop frame within the full image. At 20 or 30 FPS, this mirrorless captures exactly what is shown in that region while allowing the photographer to see just outside of it. This facilitates framing of fast moving subjects.
In low-light, the EVF maintains a relatively bright image while getting noisy. A lag is perceptible in moderately dark locations which is to be expected. Noise in the preview fluctuates which makes confirming focus a little difficult in low-light. Luckily, the X-T3 has a number of Manual Focus Assist modes, including the unique Digital Split Image, Digital Microprism plus the usual Electronic Magnification and Focus Peaking. The latter two are available at all times, while the former can only be used with the camera in MF mode.
Where both displays falter is that they are only Exposure-Priority in Manual exposure. The most significant advantage of an EVF over OVFs found on DSLR is that they read data right off the sensor are capable of showing a representative preview, yet it is not the case most of the time with the X-T3. The histogram is based on the display so its only accurate in Manual exposure mode.
The back of the camera is plastered with buttons. Directly to the left of the EVF, there are Delete and Playback buttons which work as usual. It is not possible to delete an image from the Instant Review though. On the other side of the EVF, one finds the rear control-dial which is clickable, with AE-L to one side and AF-L to the other. Both these buttons are customizable. Even the click action of the rear control-dial can be changed with 42 functions to choose from. The default is to activate Focus Check.
Below the rear control-dial, the Q button brings up the classic Fujifim 4x4 grid of icons. When this menu is open, an 8-way joystick just below the Q button selects an icon and the rear control-dial cycles over available settings. It is puzzling why the front dial does not serve this function since it would make changing settings much more ergonomic, rather than constantly moving the thumb between the joystick and dial. The 8-way joystick is highly versatile. In Capture mode, it selects the Focus Point or Focus Area. It can also navigate the menu system. Pressing the joystick serves as OK button or to center focus.
There is a 4-way controller with a central OK button further down. The middle button opens the Menu system while each directional one can be assigned an individual function. Each direction can be assigned oneof 42 functions. Among those, there are a wealth of useful functions. The last button on the back is the Disp/Back button which is used to cycle over display modes or cancel actions in progress.
The bottom of the X-T3 has a metal tripod mount which is in-line with the optical axis of the camera. This is ideal for panorama photography. There is also a plastic battery-compartment door and a battery-grip connector covered by a rubber rectangle which detaches completely from the camera.
Fujifilm has made a number of improvements to the ergonomics of their X-T series cameras since the introduction of the original X-T1. Buttons and dials are all in the right place while giving access to all major functions, yet controlling the camera remains overly complicated. ISO and Shutter-Speed dials are incomplete and need to be complemented by menu options and a control-dial to cover their entire range. Both can be fully replaced with dual control-dials by setting ISO to A which must be configured for direct control and Shutter-Speed to T. This leaves the EC dial to do what it is there for. That can be replaced too though but then the front control-dial must be clicked to cycle over different parameters which makes the camera interface modal.
Both lower halves of the stacked dials are challenging to access and may cause their upper counterpart to rotate accidentally which is why these dials have locks. It seems like firmer detents would have solved the problem more efficiently. The EC dial is a little too easy to knock out of place and, although not specific to this camera, all Fujifilm X-mount lenses have way too soft aperture detents. This means that the X-T3 is more prone to shooting at the wrong setting than a camera of this caliber should.
Although there is complexity and a number of minor ergonomic issues, the Fujifilm X-T3 is one of the most efficient camera to control. Setup a certain way, one quickly learns to work around the pitfalls and make this mirrorless and reliable digital camera.
Fujifilm X-T3 Highlights
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|
Peak Design Travel Tripod Review
Review of the unique Peak Design Travel Tripod with its own ballhead and the universal ballhead adapter.
Nikon Z-Mount DX Lens Roundup
Review of Nikon Z-Mount lenses for APS-C mirrorless digital cameras. Covers all current Z-mount DX lenses available.
Nikon Z50 Review
The first Nikon APS-C mirrorless is built around a 20 MP BSI-CMOS sensor with ISO 100-204800, 209-Point Phase-Detect AF, 11 FPS Drive and 4K Video capability. Compact body with dual control-dials and 2.4 MP 0.39" EVF with 0.68X magnification, 100% coverage and an Eye-Start Sensor.
Mirrorless Digital Camera Buying Guide 2020
The Mirrorless Digital Camera Buying Guide was fully rewritten for 2020, including all new systems from Nikon, Canon and Leica joined by Panasonic and Sigma. This new extensive 2020 Edition shows in 5 simple steps how to choose a mirrorless camera.
Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 Review
This highly capable and compact mirrorless ranked as Best Beginner Mirrorless Digital Camera of 2019. Its 20 MP Four-Thirds CMOS sensor with Anti-Alias Filter is pared with 5-axis stabilization to maximize sharpness. Features a tilting 2.8 MP 0.39" EVF with large 0.7X view and Eye-Start sensor in a body with dual control-dials.
Best Digital Cameras of 2019
The Best Cameras of 2019 awarded by Neocamera: Best Travel-Zoom, Best Premium Compact, Best Ultra-Zoom, Best Mirrorless and Best DSLR.
10 Gifts Photographers Will Love
The 2019 gift guide for photographers showcases photography gear that amateur and enthusiasts will enjoy. It is divided into 3 price categories to suit different budgets from $50 to $200 USD.
Sony Alpha A7R IV In-Depth Review
The newest Sony high-resolution mirrorless packs a 61 MP Full-Frame BSI-CMOS sensor on 5-axis Sensor-Shift system. It shoots at 10 FPS, records 4K Ultra-HD video and focuses with a new 567-Point and 425-Area Hybrid AF system with Realtime tracking. This professional-grade camera features a 5.8 MP 0.5" EVF with 0.78X magnification, 100% coverage and an Eye-Start Sensor plus triple control-dials in a weatherproof body. This review shows exactly how the A7R IV performs and compares to top Full-Frame and Medium-Format digital cameras.
Olympus OM-D E-M1X Review
Professional Micro Four-Thirds mirrorless sporting an ultra-high speed 20 MP sensor with 121-Point Phase-Detect AF on a 5-axis image-stabilization system effective to 7-stops. 60 FPS drive with blackout free view on a huge 0.83X magnification 2.4 MP 0.5" EVF. Even a builtin GPS in a dual-grip double dual-control-dial IPX1-rated weatherproof and freezeproof body.
Nikon D3500 Review
The lightest DSLR packs a 24 MP APS-C sensor with ISO 100-25600 sensitivity-range, 5 FPS drive and Full HD video capture. Basic features with simple ergonomics.