The X-T2 has been succeeded, but how has Fujifilm gone about making one of its finest cameras in the X-series even better? Michael Topham investigates
Fujifilm X-T3 Review: Build & Handling
The X-T3’s design and build quality has changed very little, which is testament to the X-T2’s superb design and how well it has been received. If you were asked to identify the X-T3 from the X-T2 by feel alone with your eyes closed you’d have difficultly identifying one from the other.
First impressions count for a lot and within seconds of picking up the X-T3 you realise you’re holding onto a solid and robust camera that’s constructed to a very high standard. Just like the X-T2, the X-T3 strikes an excellent balance between small form factor and feeling substantial enough in the hand that it doesn’t feel fiddly or awkward to use.
The magnesium alloy body it’s built around is sealed against moisture and dust, providing extra reassurance when the weather takes a turn for the worse. Persistent drizzle at a game of cricket was a good test of its weather resistance and although no harm was caused, the touchscreen didn’t respond well to the wet conditions and was far less responsive than in the dry. Anyone who ends up shooting in the rain will favour using the X-T3’s AF point toggle selector to shift the AF point around the frame, which can also be used to work around the quick menu and change settings in combination with the rear dial. Like the X-H1, the X-T3’s touch screen still can’t be used to navigate the menu interface so there is still room for improvement here.
The layout of dials and buttons across the body is very familiar. Having independent dials to control shutter speed, ISO and exposure compensation makes it a pleasure to use from a users perspective. The only difference to these dials is that they now adopt the cross sectional shape of the X-H1’s dials, with ISO 160 squeezed in-between the ‘L’ and ISO 200 settings. The quick access drive mode and metering mode switches directly below the ISO and shutter speed dials are inherited again, but now they’re just that little larger, making them that bit easier to find and operate from behind the camera.
Just as we saw via a firmware update for the X-T2, X-T3 users can make full-range ISO adjustments via the front dial once the ISO dial setting (A) is set to Command. It means you’re not forced to pull your eye away from the viewfinder to glance at the ISO dial on the top plate at the cost of missing a shot. Depress the front dial and you can toggle between ISO and exposure compensation, however you will be required to set the exposure compensation dial to its ‘C’ setting first. Another option added to the X-T2 via firmware that’s available on the X-T3 out of the box is an Auto option for the minimum shutter speed in the ISO Auto setting. This allows the X-T3 to define the minimum shutter speed automatically according to the focal length of the lens used.
The only X-T3 firmware update we’re currently aware of that’ll follow at the end of 2018 is support for Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG), one of the video formats defined in the ITU-R BT.2100 international standards. This update will also offer the ability to output Film Simulation and F-Log footage simultaneously.
A few other minor tweaks have been made around the body – for example the EVF’s dioptre can now be locked to prevent unintentional adjustments while carrying the camera and the terminal cover is now fully removable, providing uncompromised access to the four different interface ports. It’s great to see the X-T3 offer a 3.5mm headphone socket directly below the 3.5mm stereo microphone input too. Better still, the X-T3 has a widely used USB-Type C port that supports in-body battery charging on the go. To take advantage of it users will need a USB Type C cable as you only get a mains charger and mains cable in the box.
Power consumption has been improved too, but 390 shots is the maximum number of frames possible from a single charge set to its normal performance mode. Those who don’t want to be caught short of power are recommended to buy a spare battery, or look at the optional VG-XT3 vertical battery grip (£299). This houses two extra batteries in addition to the one in the body and increases the battery life to 1,100 shots. The grip also improves the handling in the portrait format and makes the body feel that bit better balanced with larger telephoto zooms. It’s supplied with an AC adapter that allows the two inserted batteries to be recharged in two hours – good if you have access to mains power, but not so good if you don’t. It would have been rather nice to see the VG-XT3 battery grip also support a USB-Type C port for USB charging.
The level of customisation on the X-T3 is even better than the X-T2. You can assign settings to one of six customizable function buttons, or utilise the touchscreen and setup different swipe gestures to one of the four touch functions. I reassigned wireless communication to the Fn1 button on the top plate to initiate a faster pairing with my mobile devices running the Fujifilm camera remote app and found the swipe right T-Fn3 touch function useful. This instantly accesses the X-T3’s large indicators mode and makes exposure variables and icons around the screen and EVF larger – great for those who may struggle to read Fujifilm’s fairly small on-screen settings.
In total you can set as many as 48 settings to the X-T3 function buttons and if you’re one for using back-button focusing, you’ll want to assign the AF-ON option to the AE-L button.