December 19th, 2020
On January 19, 2019, I published a non-technical review of my Fujifilm X-T3. Looking back at the article ‘non-technical’ was a poor choice of words, it was more of a first impressions review considering that I had only been using the X-T3 for a month up to that point (I had purchased and started using the camera a month prior in December 2018). As a follow up to my first review, I wanted to provide a more long-term review, or perspective, on how I feel about the camera after two years of regular use. I should note that what follows is going to be from a strictly landscape photographer perspective. I don’t shoot action or sports photography and I have not used the X-T3’s highly competent video capabilities. So, there are going to be some obvious omissions about features and performance that I won’t cover simply because it doesn’t apply to my style of photography. My approach here is to simply benchmark the Fujifilm X-T3 against itself based on my own use and experience.
Starting from a high-level perspective, I have found the X-T3 to be reliable. That is not to say, however, that it has been perfect. I have experienced some of the user reported issues of the LCD and EVF not turning on when the camera has been turned on or, vice versa, the LCD and EVF not turning off when the camera has been turned off. However, this has occurred only several times over the course of two years. The issue is remedied by turning the camera off, taking the battery out, and putting the battery back in. Was it concerning at the time? Sure. Is it an issue? No. To be fair to the X-T3, any of the cameras I have owned over the years have at one time or another experienced a glitch or two. While we often expect perfection from our gear, perfection often doesn’t happen. As a unit, my X-T3 has not suffered any failures that have prevented me from taking a photograph and I do not think twice about using the camera under any conditions.
Reviews often mention the somewhat limited battery life of the X-T3 and it is a fair criticism. It isn’t great, but it isn’t terrible either. For those that are hybrid shooters it will certainly be a limiting factor but for those of us who are strictly still photographers I find the battery life to be OK. Regardless if it's the X-T3 or not, you should really have backup batteries anyways. If you are primarily a landscape photographer like I am do not let the battery life dictate whether or not you should get this camera. Purchase extra batteries and you’ll be fine.
In my initial review, I mentioned the ergonomics of the X-T3 as being relatively comfortable and adequate. After two years I think that’s still a fair assessment. Your mileage will vary depending on the size of your hands, of course, but the ergonomics are fine. I often wish the grip was a bit bigger but it’s not a deal breaker. You can purchase grip extensions for the X-T3 and while I have considered it, I also realize that it would interfere with the otherwise compact nature of the camera. I have never dropped the camera, so the grip is at least functional.
From a technical perspective, the X-T3 handles nicely. Like I said, I do not use the X-T3 to its full potential. I don’t often rely on auto-focusing or other features such as multiple frames-per-second or video. Most of my images are taken from a tripod using a 2-second timer. On the odd occasion where I do have to use auto-focus I have found it to be accurate. You should really do yourself a favor, though, and go read a review that has spent time benchmarking auto-focus, frame rates, and video because I don’t have anything of value to offer here. What I want to spend the remainder of this review on is the photographic experience with the X-T3.
I have found the X-T3 to excel in two specific areas: image and lens quality. Regarding image quality, I think Chris Nichols at DPReview said it best “why isn’t anybody else using this sensor in their cameras? It is still the best APS-C sensor that we’ve come across.’1 The image quality is truly excellent. You will occasionally see user comments and reviews lament the fact that the X-Trans sensor requires specific RAW converters to extract the full potential from the RAW files. While this is true, I would not consider this to be a barrier for entry, especially considering the quality of the rendered image. Fujifilm RAW files allow you to recover an incredible amount of information. If I had to offer a critique of the Fujifilm RAW files, I would say that the colors tend to run cool but the images are easy to edit and any color correction is easily fixed.
Fujifilm lens quality is unquestionably good. A good barometer of what to expect is in the standard Fujifilm 18-55mm kit lens. Kit lenses have earned a reputation of inferiority due to cheaper build quality and optics that, while generally good for the price, can be inconsistent. The Fujifilm 18-55mm kit lens is not your typical kit lens. While it is not weather resistant it has a nearly all metal construction and is a stop faster at f2.8 (versus a more common f3.5). While the Fujifilm kit lens is more expensive than a kit lens from Nikon or Canon, the extra money does net you extra gains. This approach to lens manufacturing is common across a wide range of the Fujifilm family of lenses.
There are three lenses that I use for my landscape photography: the 16-55mm, 55-200m, and 100-400mm. And all three of them are fantastic. I find image quality to be excellent and surprisingly so at either ends of their focal lengths. They’re not perfect, zoom lenses rarely are, but the compromises that you might expect, such as softness, distortion, chromatic aberration, are well controlled. Build quality, as expected, is excellent. Complaints have been made about the 100-400mm using a combination of high-grade plastic and metal. I understand where those complaints are coming from, this lens is expensive, but I find that the build quality is equal with their metal constructed counterparts. I’ll put it this way: there is nothing about the construction of any of these lenses that would make you feel that compromises have been made. Tolerances are tight, weather sealing is robust 2, and attention to detail is evident. These are quality lenses and I highly recommend them all.
At this point you have likely noticed that I have little bad to say about the X-T3. There’s a reason for that; the X-T3 is truly a fantastic camera. It offers a compelling set of features and gets many of them right. In practice, I find the X-T3 just…works. The process of taking a photograph is simple and unobtrusive. The image quality is fantastic with robust lenses that deliver excellent results. After two years I still find the X-T3 to be an enjoyable camera to use that continues to serve my landscape photography well. It’s hard to ask for much more than that.
1. https://youtu.be/VlDnXbMYNlw?t=299. While his comment was specifically about the Fujifilm X-T4, both the X-T4 and X-T3 share the same sensor.
2. The Fujifilm 55-200mm is the only lens out of the three that I own that is not weather resistant.