FIRST LOOK REVIEW: FUJIFILM X-T3 - When a great camera gets better! (PART 2)

In part 2 of the FUJFILM X-T3 First look review, we will have a look at the image quality as well as look at some sample images. At the end, I will write my conclusions about the new camera! If you have not done so, I recommend that you check out Part 1 of the review here first. 

First of all, the usual disclaimer; I shot a pre-production copy of the X-T3 during a two week testing period. The firmware for the last week was version 1.0, which I suspect will be close to final release. As a third party RAW converter was still not available at the time of writing, all images are in camera jpegs and had minimal editing done to them. Please click on the images below for full size viewing.

Especially to test the dynamic range and recovery of highlights and shadows, I do prefer to wait till the RAW converter becomes available for Lightroom and Photoshop. Something that will probably happen over the next 10 days or so. 

By popular demand, I've shot a series of images to look at some basic sharpness and noise; all was set to default jpeg settings, using the Provia Standard Film simulation, shot with the 23mm f2 lens on a tripod, using the 2s timer. Focus distance was about 3ft (1m). No post processing sharpening or noise reduction. 

Zoomed to 200% in Lightroom with the X-T2 being on the left, X-T3 on the right. For fair comparison, the X-T2 images have been upscaled in PS to 6240px wide, like the X-T3.

at 200% ISO 200 / ISO 160

at 200% ISO 3200

at 200% ISO 6400

at 200% ISO 12800
Post publication edit: I've added a second series of images of an outdoor scene; three sets of which, lowest ISO (200 vs 160), ISO 6400 and ISO 12800. These have been zoomed in to 100%. The X-T2 images which are on the left, have been upscaled in PS to 6240 px wide, the same as the X-T3 images.

at 100% ISO 200 / ISO 160
at 100% ISO 6400 / ISO 6400
at 100% ISO 12800 / ISO 12800
As expected for a slight increase in resolution (24Mpx versus 26Mpx), the X-T3 has a very slight advantage in detail and sharpness over its older brother, although the difference is minimal.

I must admit that I was expecting a larger difference between the two cameras when it comes to high ISO performance, especially since it is using the new Backside illuminated sensor (BSI). Realistically, we maybe see about a one stop advantage for the X-T3 compared to the X-T2.

Post publication edit: Looking at the second set of outdoor images above, the actual ISO advantage of the X-T3 seems to be closer to half a stop difference. 

We have to remember that the X-Trans 3 sensor found in the X-T2, X-T20 and X-Pro2, was already pretty good when it comes to high ISO performance on a cropped CMOS sensor.

I have no problem shooting at ISO 6400 and will bump it up to 12800 if needed. Compared to the X-T1/X-T10 the difference is more pronounced and gives at least 1,5 stops better low light performance. For a cropped sensor camera, this is well within the ballpark of the competition and significantly better than the Micro Four Third cameras. Sometimes we need to be reminded that it is not possible to have the same high ISO performance as on a full frame or medium format sensor. It is called physics!

Enough of the pixel peeping. Lets have a look at some real life images now!

Again all images are in camera jpegs that have been downsized for faster loading. Minimal editing was done to them with no additional sharpness and noise reduction.

XF18-135 lens - 1/400s, f14, ISO 2000, Classic Chrome

XF18-135 lens - 1/400s, f13, ISO 640, Provia

XF18-135 lens - 1/400s, f14, ISO 500, Velvia

XF16 f1.4 lens - 1/400s, f14, ISO 4000, Velvia

XF18-135 lens - 1/400s, f13, ISO 1000, Velvia
XF18-135 lens - 1/400s, f14, ISO 500, Velvia

XF100-400 lens with 1.4X TC  - 1/160s, f18, ISO 160, Velvia

XF100-400 lens with 1.4X TC  - 1/200s, f11, ISO 250, Velvia, Electronic Shutter

XF100-400 lens with 1.4X TC  - 1/125s, f18, ISO 160, Velvia

XF18-135 lens - 1/125s, f10, ISO 160, Velvia

XF100-400 lens  - 1/80s, f16, ISO 160, Velvia

XF100-400 lens - 1/160s, f9, ISO 160, Provia

XF100-400 lens  - 1/200s, f11, ISO 250, Velvia, Electronic Shutter
XF18-135 lens - 1/400s, f8, ISO 5000, Acros Y, Electronic Shutter

XF16 f1.4 lens - 1/400s, f5.6, ISO 4000, Acros G

XF50 f2 lens - 1/400s, f10, ISO 250, Classic Chrome

XF50 f2 lens - 1/250s, f11, ISO 1000, Velvia

XF50 f2 lens - 1/220s, f8, ISO 6400, Velvia

XF100-400 lens  - 1/200s, f8, ISO 800, Velvia, Electronic Shutter

XF100-400 lens  - 1/320s, f8, ISO 800, Acros Y , Electronic Shutter, +2 warm tone

XF50 f2 lens - 1/800s, f5.6, ISO 160, Velvia

The subtitle of this review reads: "When a great camera gets better". Well this summarizes very well how I see the Fujifilm X-T3; the X-T2 was and still is a great camera, the X-T3 takes it to the next step!

It is my personal opinion but I sincerely believe Fujifilm went on the right track in not building a full frame camera, since it is just too close to the quality of the CMOS sensor files; having the choice between a cropped sensor (compact/light weight) camera and a Medium format camera for the absolute highest IQ, is the way to go! 

I frequently print large (up to 1,5 meter/5 feet) images off my Fujifilm X-T2 files; knowing that the X-T3 will do even slightly better, gives me the confidence to keep on making images with those cameras for the considerable future!

Some people have stated that the improvements on the X-T3 are rather small... While specific items might indeed appear small, all of them together make for a substantial upgrade. 

Frequent blog readers know that I'm not afraid to be quite critical in my camera reviews even on Fujfilm products as a X-Photographer. With this one it is however quite difficult to come up with a lot of negative points... 

Yes, I would have loved to see a fully articulating screen like on the X-T100 and a shutter button like on the X-H1. I understand both items would have possibly added to the price point. 

What I feel even stronger about is something that possibly can be rectified in firmware/software. A serious update of the Remote Camera app with better Geotagging is due! 

Lastly, two cards slots are great for image back-up... but why does it not allow the back-up video files Fujifilm? Especially since both slots are of the same standard (UHS-II).

Having said so, there is plenty to be excited about and I personally see this camera as my new photographic workhorse for the coming years! Is it perfect? No, but no camera is or will ever be! 

"Who is this camera is for"? 

To me it is for the serious amateur or pro-photographers that want the latest and greatest CMOS sensor mirrorless camera in a compact and light weight body. I might sound like a fan-boy but I sincerely believe the X-T3 is presently the best cropped sensor mirrorless camera on the market, irrespective of camera brand. I can see a lot of people that are still on the X-T1 pick up a X-T3 straight away, especially at the 1499,-USD price point. 

X-T2 users like myself, that want better autofocus tracking, faster frame rates and a better Electronic shutter, will probably want to upgrade as well. If you are an X-T2 user and the only reason you won't to upgrade is to have better image quality (especially at higher ISO), then I do not recommend upgrading. You'll be doing so for the wrong reasons. 

On a side note, I ordered mine after just one hour of shooting the camera and the main reason was the performance of the new processor and autofocus performance. By the way, yes we do pay for our cameras as Fujifilm X-Photographers!

Sport shooters should give this camera a serious look as this might be the camera that make you switch from your old technology DSLR's.

Beside being a great still camera, surprisingly the X-T3 is also a very capable video camera as long as you don't plan on shooting video run and gun like on an X-H1; if used as a video camera, I would mount it on a good video rig and/or gimbal. 

While a lot of the video functionality of the X-H1 came across, it took video to the next step. Some X-T3 features might cross transfer to the X-H1 in future firmware updates although I believe the largest part is probably dependent on the new processor which the X-H1 does not have. Guess these users will have to wait for a possible X-H2. 

The X-T3 should be available in most countries by September 20, 2018. Pricing (rounded up to the next $) for the US market, UAE and some other non-European countries is:
  • 1500,-USD for the body only (silver or black)
  • 1900,-USD for the body + XF18-55 lens
  • 1700,-USD for the body + Battery grip
  • 2100,-USD for the body + Battery grip + XF18-55 lens

As always, feel free to share this blog and part 1. No need for prior permission as long as Bjorn Moerman Photography is credited in the shared post.

Overall I'm very happy with what Fujifilm has come out with for a X-T2 replacement. It is things like this that shake up the camera industry! Well done Fujifilm.

Till then, 


Unknown said…
Could you please try some long exposures without 'Long Exposure Noise Reduction'? This the one single point where my X-T1 is far better than my X-T2. With the X-T1 I can leave noise reduction off for exposures in the range of a few minutes, while on the X-T2 images are useless without noise reduction. I'm hoping the new sensor is better in this regard.
Anonymous said…
As a X-H1 owner/user it does hurt that only after 6 months a new release has better video options than the X-H1 "Hybrid" camera. I truly hope that 4k 60p 10bit can be pushed down to the X-H1 if nothing else.
Anonymous said…
it is evident that the new sensor (or firmware) have a different behavior of the red colors
Bjorn Moerman said…
Long exposure photography I tend to do only shooting RAW; waiting for the RAW converter from ADOBE and others to come out first.
Unknown said…
I'm not sure that a photo in bright sunshine is going to say that much about high ISO performance. What's needed is a dark and contrasty scene --it's that which would show the differences between the sensors. Of course it should be done in RAW but JPG's might give some indication in the meantime. I would be delighted if there really was a one stop improvement as I'd expect around 1/3 to be the difference between the backlit technology and what Fuji had on before. One stop would bring it up to at least the standard of something like the D750.

Whatever, I enjoyed the blog and look forward to updates in due course.
Anonymous said…
Im not sure where Fuji are going with their APS c line up. The X-H1 was recently launched as their flagship camera and video centric/hybrid camera and they then make their photo centric camera a whole leap better in video performance. So really apart from IBIS the H1 is below the XT-3 on all fronts and you need a grip to use all its functionality.
Alec said…
Upscaling X-T2 or X-H1 images (X-H1 images were slightly brighter to my tastes but close to X-T2 when I shot a comparison) results in a non-level playing field. Upscaling always makes everything look that little bit blurry. Downscaling the X-T3 would have been more useful if you wanted to an equal size comparison pixel to pixel. Even better would be moving the camera just the tiny bit to make sure the pixels matched.

Thanks for trying to do an ISO comparison though!
Anonymous said…
Hi Björn,

You “expected for a slight increase in resolution”. The thing is that that set of photos was taken with f/11 where diffraction kicks in. So I’m not surprised resolution differences are visible.

Anonymous said…
me too "As a X-H1 owner/user it does hurt that only after 6 months a new release has better video options than the X-H1 "Hybrid" camera. I truly hope that 4k 60p 10bit can be pushed down to the X-H1 if nothing else."
Anonymous said…

DUP'ed from DPR ;-)
Thank you very much, Bjorn, for this nice and comprehensive review.

About the high ISO, this is unexpected to me as well.

Yet I was just wondering if you had 2 pics from the X-T3 and X-T2, taken at 3200/6400/12800 ISO taken iin real life low light conditions (on a tripod is fine)... Something tkane at dawn or event night or interior, like almost full aperture with a much slower shutter (20th-60th os a second) would be fantastic !! With a crop at 100%

Yours are currently taken with a small aperture and a superfast shutter, which means there was plenty of light when you took them ...

And I think this does not reflect the true ability of cameras to cope with low light (i.e. in high ISO).

Many thanks, again, for the review !

Anonymous said…
does anyone know what the city is in last picture shot with XF50?
Unknown said…
What about a larger buffer for continuous shooting?
The x-t2 shoots only 27 images, unlike dslr like Nikon D500 which has 3 times as much as far as I remember.
Bjorn Moerman said…
"does anyone know what the city is in last picture shot with XF50?"

It is Monaco in the south of France.
his surprised me…less noise at 80iso than 160 on the X-T3

I just did a 12 page story for ELLE magazine and shot the whole story at 80 iso. To buy eye there appears to be less noise. What am I not getting. Isn't the base iso 160? That is a rhetorical question, I know it is.

Bjorn Moerman said…
Benjamin, yes strange. Time permitting I’ll do some tests myself. ISO 160 is indeed the native and should be the best noise.
Did you see his chart on the video?

Perhaps I will go back to 160 iso this weekend where I am shooting Haute Couture for ELLE and STYLE magazines here in Paris.
I’m not a professional but had to read the reviews along with your photographs which are following Fuji cameras expressions. It helped me a lot to identify the best one.
mariah said…
very informative review. I also think that ISO 160 would be best for this. You took it with plenty of lights and thats very nice. Thankyou for this wonderful review. You have helped plenty to decide.