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Fujifilm X-T3 Preview |


Fujifilm is updating its popular X-T2 mirorrlesscamera in a big way. The X-T3 ($1,449.95, body only) has a new sensor and processor, squeezing 26.1MP into an APS-C form factor and supporting up to 30fps Raw image capture with minimal viewfinder blackout, albeit with some caveats. It’s not quiet the affordable version of Sony’s full-frame Sony a9, which shoots at 20fps with no blackout, as the sensor readout isn’t as speedy (more on that later), but promises to be a solid option for photographers capturing fast-moving action using the mechanical shutter and a speedy 11fps shooting rate. And while it omits the in-body image stabilization offered by the a9 and the pricier (but not as speedy) Fujifilm X-H1, it’s also smaller and more affordable than either. Check back for a full review—the X-T3 starts shipping September 20.

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All About the Dials

Fujifilm is launching the X-T3 in both black and silver versions for the same price. This is a departure from previous models, which have started in black and later garnered a special edition Graphite Silver version at a higher cost after the initial launch. As with other premium X cameras, the X-T3 is protected from dust and splashes when paired with a Weather Resistant (WR) lens.

The camera features a slim mirrorless lens mount and a modest handgrip. It measures 3.7 by 5.2 by 2.3 inches (HWD) and weighs 1.2 pounds, both figures without a lens mounted. It looks and feels a lot like the X-T2. That’s a good thing if you’re a fan of Fujifilm’s dial-based approach to camera control.

On-body controls start on the front. You get a physical switch to change the focus mode, located at the bottom left corner, along with a front command dial and a programmable function button.

Fujifilm X-T3

A dedicated ISO control dial is positioned at the left side of the top plate. It features a central post that locks it in place. A second dial, used to adjust the Drive mode, is nested at its base. The hot shoe is directly to its right, atop the EVF—there’s no built-in flash, so you’ll need to mount an external one in the shoe to shed light on dim scenes.

The right side of the top plate is the shutter speed dial, also locking, with the metering pattern control dial nested into its base. There’s also a dedicated EV adjustment dial, with settings from -3 to +3EV in third-stop increments, a programmable Fn button, and the shutter release and power switch.

Rear controls are also familiar to X-T2 owners. The Delete and Play buttons are at the top left, above the LCD, with AE-L, the rear command dial, and AF-L positioned in the same row, but to the right of the EVF.

The remainder of the controls sit to the right of the LCD. You get the Q button, which launches an on-screen menu to quickly adjust a number of camera settings, a dedicated focus point selector, a four-way directional pad with a center Menu/OK button, and the Display/Back control.

Fujifilm X-T3

The LCD is a similar design to the one on the X-T2—it tilts up and down, and swings to face toward the right, but can’t swing all the way out to face forward. It’s the same size as the X-T2, 3 inches, and the same resolution, 1,040k dots. It’s a touch screen this time around—the X-T2 didn’t support touch.

The EVF is all new. It’s an OLED with 3.7 million dots of resolution, and while its 0.75x magnification is a little smaller than the 0.77x offered by the X-T2, it’s a modest change at best. The extra resolution—the X-T2 has a 2.4-million-dot EVF—is palpable. The EVF lag time has been cut to 0.005-second and its refresh rate improved to 100fps.

The camera features the normal array of wireless connectivity, including Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, for image transfer to and remote control via an Android or iOS device. It sports dual SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card slots, both supporting UHS-II transfer rates. The battery is rated for 390 shots per CIPA standards, better than the X-T2’s 340 or the X-H1’s 310. A battery grip will go on sale, but it’s not needed to increase the capture speed as with other Fujifilm cameras.

Physical connections include a PC Sync socket, a USB-C port, a micro HDMI output, a 2.5mm microphone input, and a 3.5mm headphone jack for audio monitoring.

More Frames, More Pixels

The X-T3’s big new feature is its autofocus system. It can fire at a brisk 11fps with its mechanical shutter and 20fps using its silent electronic shutter, both with subject tracking and at full 26MP resolution. Fujifilm has expanded the phase detection focus area to cover nearly the entirety of the image sensor, where it was limited to just the central area in the X-T2 and X-H1. There are a total of 2.16 million phase detection pixels, the most we’ve seen in any image sensor. Additionally, the focus system is rated to operate in light as dim as -3EV, a full two stops dimmer than the -1EV supported by the X-T2. Both Face and Eye Detection are available in continuous focus mode (AF-C), useful for portraiture and event photography.

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The camera also has a few tricks up its sleeve for even faster capture. One is a 1.25x crop mode, which cuts resolution to 16.6MP but bumps the capture rate to a staggering 30fps with continuous focus available, the fastest Raw imaging we’ve seen from any camera. It also supports pre-capture buffering—hold the shutter button down halfway and the X-T3 will commit frames to its buffer, but will only write them to the card when you press the shutter all the way in. It lets you capture action slightly after it happens, in a similar fashion to the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II.

The amount of shots you can capture in a burst varies with shooting format and burst rate. At 11fps you can nab 42 Raw images with lossless compression enabled, 36 uncompressed Raw shots, or 145 JPGs. Boosting capture to 20fps gets you 36 compressed Raw, 34 uncompressed Raw, or 79 JPG images. Finally, the 30fps rate gets you 35 compressed Raw, 33 uncompressed Raw, or 60 JPG shots.

Fujifilm X-T3

There are some caveats, of course. Fujifilm claims a 50 percent improvement in autofocus performance, but it is unclear at this time how quickly the X-T3 can focus and track subjects—we expect it to have no problem at 11fps. The autofocus hit rate at 20 or 30fps is the big question mark.

Using the electronic shutter may also result in distorted images of fast-moving subjects—so far the only camera with sensor readout quick enough to avoid the rolling shutter effect for fast action photography is the Sony a9, a high-end model that costs about three times as much as the X-T3. Fujifilm states that the X-T3’s sensor reads in 0.017-second when using the 1.25x crop setting, about 1/60-second. This is slower than the 1/160-second managed by the Sony a9. A Fujifilm representative describes the full sensor readout speed as “a little slower” than 1/60-second.

The image sensor is a 26MP BSI CMOS design with an X-Trans color filter array. It’s the first APS-C sensor we’ve seen with more than 24MP since the short-lived Samsung NX1 and its 28MP BSI imager. It features a native ISO range of 160 through 12800, and can be pushed as high as ISO 51200 and as low as ISO 80 in extended mode.

Video is available at 4K DCI quality and up to 60fps, a first for an APS-C sensor camera. The X-T3 records 4:2:0 10-bit footage internally to a memory card at up to 400Mbps, and can send out a clean HDMI signal at 4:2:2 10-bit to an external recording device. A flat F-Log profile is available for either recording mode, and you can also apply film looks (including the cinematic Eterna) to video. A firmware update, coming later this year, will support simultaneous recording to both a memory card and external recorder, something the camera cannot do at launch.

First Impressions

The Fujifilm X-T3 looks like a solid all-around performer. It’s less expensive than the X-H1, but a much better fit for capturing the fleetest of moments. Fujifilm’s native lens library is vast, and while there isn’t a ton of third-party support, native options cover the entire gamut of focal lengths. The 20fps burst rate, at full resolution, puts it in the same class as the full-frame a9, albeit with the smaller APS-C sensor format. And we’ve not yet seen a camera that fires in Raw format at 30fps—it will be interesting to see how good focus accuracy is at such a brisk pace.

I would have loved to see Fujifilm add image stabilization to the X-T3’s body, even if it necessitated the camera being a bit larger. But that feature is reserved for the X-H1, which is less than a year old. You’ll likely have to wait for the eventual X-H2 to get a camera with in-body stabilization and such quick capture rates.

The X-T3 is set to ship in a few weeks. Check back soon for a full review.

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