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: Performance
The X-T2 presented a big leap in performance over the X-T1. With the X-T3, Fujifilm’s objective has not only been to make autofocus faster, but increase the accuracy and responsiveness of it for the type of user who demands first-rate AF when shooting high-speed action, sport or wildlife, which often involves fast and erratic movements through the frame.
The wider spread of phase detection AF pixels combined with quick data processing has enabled this and constitutes a lightening fast autofocus performance no matter what size or position the AF point is at in the frame. The full potential of this was realised at Goodwood motor racing circuit, where the Zone and Wide/tracking AF modes were used with the X-T3’s high-speed burst settings. The X-T3 wasn’t out of its depth when it was asked to focus continuously on cars approaching head-on at high speeds before negotiating a chicane. It successfully managed to acquire sharp focus from the first frame, rarely dropping focus during subsequent frames captured at 11fps and 20fps.
This phenomenally impressive AF performance, combined with blackout free continuous shooting at up to 30fps all adds up to make the X-T3 a seriously capable camera for high-speed shooting, but despite Fujifilm’s best efforts, rolling shutter artifacts do continue to persist when using the electronic shutter – something that was observed in a few of my images where I found myself panning with cars at high speed.
It’s not just with high-speed subjects that the autofocus has improved. Performance of face-detection AF has taken a giant leap forward, far surpassing the responsiveness of the X-T2. This is immediately obvious when Face/Eye detection is turned on. It does a good job of recognising faces right into the far corners of the frame, both in AF-S and AF-C modes. Eye-detect AF is effective at determining the crucial point of focus on a face too, with a yellow square inside the green face detection box clearly revealing which eye it’s locked onto. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s as good as Sony’s sublime Eye AF, but it’s a big step forward in the right direction and will be of great use to anyone who shoots static or moving portraits under pressure, or is apprehensive of their focus point positioning.
For a majority of my testing, two Toshiba Exceria Pro 32GB SDHC UHS-II cards capable of a 240 MB/s write speed were loaded into the twin card slots. With these the X-T3 sustained 40 raw files being taken at 8fps and 36 raw files at 11fps before the buffer became full. Turning the electronic shutter on, I managed to shoot 34 raw files at 20fps (without 1.25x crop) and 33 raw files at 30fps with the 1.25x crop. Switching across to Fine JPEG saw the X-T3 reach 145 frames at 11fps using the mechanical shutter and 79 frames at 20fps with the electronic shutter. This number reduced to 60 frames at 30fps. These speed tests this confirms that the X-T3 is capable of shooting more frames in faster succession than was previously possible on the X-T2.
The performance of the X-T3’s EVF is excellent. It displays a sharp and accurate view whilst faithfully representing colour as seen by your eyes. Shooting settings automatically rotate in the EVF based on the shooting orientation and although the idea of swiping your thumb across the screen to move the AF point when the EVF is raised to your eye might sound good, it’s not as fast or precise as using the AF toggle.
The ‘normal’ 60fps refresh rate is perfectly adequate for general shooting and helps to keep power consumption low, but for tracking, panning and times when you want the smoothest viewing experience you’ll want to make sure you engage the X-T3’s performance boost mode, which is assigned to the button below the Menu/OK button as default. In playback mode you’ll notice that by double tapping an image it presents a magnified view based on where the focus point was, which is very useful for analysing sharpness. The three-way tilt design of the screen is fantastic for low angle work in both orientations and has an advantage here over the two-way tilt screens found on the X-T20 and X-T100.
Fujifilm’s cameras are well known for their faithful colour rendition and the results straight out of the X-T3 in both JPEG and Raw file formats capture faithful, true-to-life colour. The TTL 256-zone metering system rarely misjudges a scene and with exposure compensation only a thumb flick away it’s easy to dial in exposure on the fly when it’s needed. Users can be confident leaving white balance to its AWB setting to render natural colours and there’s a new option that allows you to assign AWB lock to any function button. If you’d like to get creative, or feel your shots could benefit from a boost, the X-T3’s suite of 16 film simulation modes can be easily called upon. The new monochrome adjustment function also provides a good level of control over giving black and white images a warmer or cooler feel.
The X-T3’s wireless connectivity options are easy to comprehend. Set it up with a Bluetooth enabled mobile device and you’ll be prompted to join the X-T3’s Wi-fi if your device is already connected to another Wi-fi network. You can enable the Auto Image Transfer function to sync your most recently captured images to a smartphone when you enter playback mode too. This feature works well, but it’s worth checking you have the resize image for smartphone (3MP) option switched on unless you specifically want full-size files, which take longer to transfer and will fill up your smartphone or tablet’s internal memory a lot faster.