Fujifilm has just announced the $1,500 X-T3, which is the latest addition to the company’s X Series lineup of APS-C mirrorless cameras. It’s the follow-up to 2016’s X-T2, a beloved camera — among Fujifilm shooters, anyway — that’s grown more powerful and capable over time thanks to a bevy of firmware updates. The X-T2 of today is an entirely different beast than when I first tested it. Its autofocus, video capabilities, and subject tracking have all been extensively fine-tuned. But having hit the ceiling for what it can get out of the X-T2, Fujifilm has decided that now’s the time for new hardware.
The X-T3 marks the debut of a new 26.1-megapixel sensor, it can shoot 4K video at 60 fps, and it promises the best auto-focus system that the company has produced yet. It goes on sale September 20th at a starting price of $1,499.95 (or $1,899.99 with the familiar 18-55 kit lens). The X-T3 actually costs $100 less than the X-T2 did at launch. To hit that price point, Fujifilm moved assembly of the camera from Japan to China, a decision that isn’t sitting so well with some of the company’s fans. Unlike the proud, prominent “made in Japan” that was stamped onto the back of the X-T2, the China acknowledgement is hidden away behind the rear LCD.
But after handling the X-T3 for a bit — and as someone who has tallied years of experience with the X-T1 and X-T2 — I think you can probably leave any negative assumptions or concerns over build quality at the door. This feels like an X Series everywhere I look and feel. Fujifilm has already produced several bodies and lenses between China, Thailand, and the Philippines, and there’s been no obvious disparity between them and the Japan-made units. The X-T3 shares the same body style and button placement as the X-T2, though it measures slightly larger and is a tad heavier.
I want to run through some of my favorite smaller additions before going too deep on specs. The X-T3 connects over USB-C (USB 3.1) for faster tethering performance, though Fujifilm tells me that charging the battery by USB takes about as long as it did with the X-T2. What, we can’t put USB Power Delivery into a camera? The X-T3 has a built-in headphone jack for audio monitoring (you don’t need the vertical grip anymore), and has a pull-out, lockable diopter; it was way too easy to accidentally rotate the old one, so I’m glad Fujifilm took notice. The dials on top and buttons on back are all a little larger, too.
At 3.69 million dots, the X-T3’s 0.5-inch OLED electronic viewfinder is far sharper than the X-T2’s was. Its refresh rate is 100 fps, and there’s a display time lag of 0.005 seconds. Fuji hasn’t made any substantial changes to the rear LCD beyond making it a touchscreen. It’s still a 1.04 million-dot panel, which is falling behind the mirrorless pack a bit, but now you can tap to focus or even fire off a shot if you feel the need. It still tilts three ways (up, down, and to the right), but won’t flip 180 degrees for selfies or blogging.
The new backside-illuminated X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor is paired with Fujifilm’s X-Processor 4, a quad-core CPU that is three times faster than current X Series cameras. More power means the X-T3 refocuses and meters 1.5 times more frequently than the X-T2 does. The new processor is also more efficient, so Fujifilm has upped the estimate of shots you’ll get on a full battery from 340 (X-T2) to 390. That’s nice and all, but you’ll definitely still want to carry a spare.
Fujifilm has spread phase detection pixels — 2.16 million of them in all — across the entire sensor area. For single-point focusing, you can choose between seeing either 117 AF points or the overwhelming-but-very-precise 425. Offering such a comprehensive spread of phase-detect AF points might prove one of the X-T3’s best strengths. Low-light focusing could be another. The X-T3’s phase detect AF can focus down to -3EV compared to -1EV on the X-T2. Fujifilm also says that the camera’s face and eye detection have gotten better (with eye detection now available in AF-C). These changes all lead to much higher hit rates for the autofocus system across the board, the company claims.
Continuous autofocus using the mechanical shutter tops out at 11 fps; with the X-T2, you had to buy the expensive vertical grip to get that 11 fps burst mode, but now it’s all in-body; no accessories required. Switch over to the electronic shutter (and a 1.25x crop) and you can crank that way up to 30 fps of blackout-free continuous shooting.
All of Fujifilm’s usual film simulation filters are here — as is the company’s signature, phenomenal JPEG output. And the X-T3 also picks up a new “color chrome effect” that boosts saturation and detail in shadows. This was already available on the company’s GFX 50S medium-format, but now it’s coming to the X Series. There’s also now an option to adjust monochrome shots between warm and cool tones to your preference.
And then there’s video, the area where Fujifilm claims it has achieved a number of firsts. The X-T3 “is the first mirrorless digital camera capable of internal SD card 4K/60P 4:2:0 10bit recording and the first mirrorless digital camera with APS-C or larger sensor that is capable of 4K/60P 4:2:2 10bit HDMI output,” according to the company. It supports H.264, but also adds H.265 for more efficient compression; opting for HEVC allows you to set a high-quality bitrate of 400 Mbps when shooting 4K at 30 or 24 fps. (The limit for other modes is 200 Mbps.)
Fujifilm says it has reduced rolling shutter to under 10 milliseconds. The X-T3 gains the Eterna film simulation that debuted on the X-H1; it’s useful for quick grading if you don’t want to go all in and record F-Log. The company also added zebra stripes to help with exposure and “a new noise reduction algorithm and 4K inter-frame noise reduction.”
On multiple fronts, the X-T3 seems to be a great evolution of the X-T2. With a new sensor, speedier processor, significantly improved autofocus, and even better EVF than before, there’s a lot to like — and that’s before factoring in video and buttery-smooth 4K60P. The X-T2, like the X-T1 before it, proved itself to be an excellent workhorse cameras, so I’m looking forward to some time testing the X-T3.
If you want or need in-body image stabilization, you’ll need to look to the X-H1; Fujifilm still considers that camera its flagship despite all the advancements it’s making with the X-T3. A lot of what’s here will no doubt be found in an eventual X-H2 and, as is tradition, a lower-priced XT-30. But outside of IBIS, if you’re firmly in favor of upgrading to the latest X Series, it’s hard to imagine how or where you’ll be disappointed.