The FujiFilm X-T3 at the 2019 Dusi Canoe Marathon

Introduction

For a number of years, I have been going through to the Dusi Canoe Marathon to test out bits and pieces of new equipment. This year I decided to get hold of the FujiFilm X-T3 to see how it performed.

To recap, I first took an X-T1 down to test it out and then I went back a year or so later to test out the AF firmware update as well as the then new 50-140 f2.8 lens. There was a lot to be excited about on both occasions, but I couldn’t help but feel that the FujiFilm X-T series just wasn’t up to the task overall.

Since then we have seen the X-T2 come and go and now we are on the latest in the X-T line of cameras, the X-T3.

Dusi Canoe Marathon 2019

The X-T3 in many ways is an incremental improvement over the X-T2. Much of the ergonomics is the same as Fuji continues to finesse the design and layout of the controls. Where the X-T3 really differs from the X-T2 is on the inside. I don’t think anyone, myself included, thought that the jump from the X-T2 to the X-T3 would be as big as what it was. Not only was there a new sensor, but the AF system was given a complete overhaul and now seemed to be right up there with what photographers expected, and what some traditional DSLR cameras had been offering. Video recording was greatly improved as well and the little Fuji now presented as a real option for videographers.

My Impressions

I was amazed at just how easy it was to get comfortable with a camera that is a lot more advanced to what I am used to using . For the most part I was able to make minor adjustments to how it comes out of the box from FujiFilm, and then just leave it at that.

2019 Dusi Canoe Marathon

The joystick, something that is also on the XT-2, is a joy to have and is one of the few things I miss from my days of shooting with Canon bodies.

I have also photographed sporting events for many years with the Nikon D300 type bodies and for the first time I feel that one could easily replace those (D300, D300s, and even the D500) with the Fuji XT-3. The autofocus was bang on and I felt confident that it was going to nail the focus every time – something that, when it comes to sport anyway, the XT-1 was never really able to do.

2019 Dusi Canoe Marathon

For the most part I had the camera set to continuous autofocus with the centre focus point selected. On the occasions where I did use focus tracking I found that it worked really well, but I am just more comfortable with selecting a single focus point. If photographing sports where an athletes change of direction could be sudden, and where the athletes are running very fast (Rugby, football, basketball etc…..) then I think the focus tracking would be used far more. With paddling however, it isn’t as necessary as, for the most part, you know exactly which line the paddlers are going to be taking.

2019 Dusi Canoe Marathon

The faster frames per second that the X-T3 offers is also a nice addition. I never really used the option of shooting ‘blackout free’ and opted to rather get as many frames per second at max resolution. Again, this might really come in handy in faster paced sports, but I felt it wasn’t needed.

The Battery

Something I never got to try, but I like the sound of, is the ability to power the camera using a large capacity power bank battery via the USB-C port. In practise, a cord sticking out the side of the body may be awkward so it is something I would like to try before giving it the thumbs up. However, power banks are a lot more affordable per MaH compared to camera batteries so many may put any ‘awkwardness’ aside in lieu of the cost saving.

(FujiFilm recommends batteries from Anker – specifically the PowerCore Speed 20000 PD and the PowerCore+26800 PD. It isn’t easy to find this info on the FujiFilm site so here is the direct link to the info: http://bit.ly/2UD2w4p )

A concern of mine is the size of the battery Fuji has gone with for the X-T3. Essentially it is the same as the X-T2 battery and I wish it was something a little bigger.

2019 Dusi Canoe Marathon

For years I have suspected that the mad rush in the mobile phone world to see who can make the slimmest/thinnest phone is a kind of arms race between the manufacturers and it gives them bragging rights on their next press release. Ask most people if they want a thinner phone or a longer battery life (two things that essentially contradict one and other), and most people will go for the longer battery life.

I can’t help but feel that the same thing is happening here. In a quest to make their cameras as small/compact/thin as possible Fuji is basically saying that size is more important than battery longevity and i’m not so sure everyone would agree. We have already seen a 2mm increase in the minimum thickness of the X-T range since the X-T1 as they try desperately to squeeze in more features – why not just give us a bigger battery whilst you are at it? Whatever happened to form follows function?

The Sensor

The sensor on the X-T3 is a new offering that includes more megapixels over the X-T2 as will as back-illumination. The bump in megapixels is always nice to have and it is great that it hasn’t really come at the cost of having more noise. What noise I did experience was well within what I would have expected and was easily managed in post. What was nice was being able to crop a little more in post and still be left with a decent size image.

Conclusion

Firstly I would like to thank FujiFilm South Africa for lending me the camera through their official Durban stockist – Photo Freedom. It is great to finally have someone in Durban with decent stock of all the Fuji goodness.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the X-T3 and it has confirmed my belief that you only really needs to update your camera every other model. I never really needed what the X-T2 had to offer, but the X-T3 is a whole different story.

The only things that I didn’t enjoy were the same small battery (mentioned above) and the lack of a proper articulating LCD. I don’t really shoot video, but I would like to dabble and feel that an articulating LCD is a must – come on Fuji, basically everyone on the Internet is asking for this one! Also, now that I think of it, the X-T3 lacks sensor stabilisation and that feature is also becoming a must for video shooters. Yes, FujiFilm offers the X-H1 that has this (without the proper articulating screen) but you have to ask why go through the effort of making the X-T3 as good as it is for video and then limiting it in this way. Perhaps we will see a merger between the X-T and X-H ranges over time as it is becoming difficult, in my opinion anyway, to justify having two ranges that are becoming increasingly similar.

The addition of better video, more megapixels, faster continuous shooting, and a host of other upgrades, with really very few downsides, make this an excellent choice and a camera that I highly recommend……..and desire!

 

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