Photo by Nienetwiler - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24288334
Back in 2011, Fujifilm lefts its mark in the photography community with the release of the X100. While Canon and Nikon were busy trying to outdo each other with specs, Fujifilm released a camera that looked just as good as it handled. The X100 didn’t have the resolution nor speed, but it was fun to use. Sporting a retro design with manual dials, it set the tone for the future releases of Fujifilm.
Photo from https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/fujifilm-x-pro1
Photo from https://wkoopmans.ca/notebook/?p=15960
By March 2012, Fujifilm began its line of interchangeable lens cameras with the X mount. Starting out with just the X Pro 1 and 3 lenses (18mm f2, 35mm f1.4 & 60mm f2.4), it mirrored the launch of the Contax G system with the G1 and 3 similar lenses (28mm f2.8, 45mm f2 & 90mm f2.8). Eventually, more lenses were released for the X mount making it the most well-rounded APS C mirrorless system.
Photo from https://www.fujivsfuji.com/fuji-xt2-vs-xt1
With the release of the X-T1 in January 2014, Fujifilm showed photographers they were capable of designing a camera body that was ergonomic, rugged and timeless. Improving on that in July 2016, the X-T2 caught the eye of professionals with dual card slots, faster autofocus and 4k video.
Photo from https://www.sonyrumors.co/sony-a7-iii-vs-canon-eos-r-vs-nikon-z6-specs-comparison/
Going into 2018, the competition was tighter than ever. Sony released the a7iii at the start of the year with Canon and Nikon entering the fray later on. Although the X-T3 was highly anticipated, its release was quite the shock. Not only did it closely match the industry standard that was the a7iii, but it also dethroned the Panasonic GH5 as the king of video. This was surprising with Fujifilm’s reputation as a stills camera 1st and a video camera 2nd.
Almost 3 years have passed by the time of writing and a lot has happened since then. I’ve had my X-T3 ever since November 2018. However, rather than doing a technical review, sharing my experience would be more helpful.
Coming from the entry level X-A3, the 1st thing that stood out to me were the ergonomics. The grip was comfortable and the EVF was sharp and clear. It had dedicated dials for the aperture, shutter speed and ISO plus a joystick for moving the focusing point. This allowed me to immediately start shooting without having to dive into the menus.
The autofocus was significantly improved as I could shoot moving subjects now. The eye detection and tracking made the biggest impact on my photography since it enabled me to take candid photos of people. In spite of having shot Formula 1 with the X-T3, I have yet to fully maximize its performance since I don’t regularly shoots sports and action.
Even though travel photography is my passion, this is the area with the least improvement as the X-A3 already had good colors and image quality. While the X-T3 had better low light performance, it isn’t much of an upgrade.
What was impressive however was how small and lightweight it is considering its performance and features. For a fraction of the price of other top of the line cameras, I was getting most of the performance, which is more than enough for me and most people.
While the aesthetics of a camera doesn’t affect the images, having one that’s compact and good looking inspires me to go out and shoot. This meant I could take the camera with me wherever I went such as school or family gatherings. In capturing daily life with my camera, I found my niche as a documentary photographer.
As time passed, I began to learn more about its value and its flaws. While no serious problems came up, I have some issues with the dials not showing the right settings. Examples include being in Bulb mode instead of shutter priority and shooting in burst instead of single shot.
In spite of being replaced after only 1.5 years by the X-T4, the X-T3 has aged well for a digital camera. At launch, it had more value for money than its competitors. As its cost went down, its value further increased through firmware updates. In fact, it even shares the same autofocus performance as its successor. As a result, the X-T3 isn’t the same camera that was released back in 2018.
The question now is “Who is the X-T3 for in the year 2021 and beyond?” It started at 1500 USD and now goes as low as 900 USD 2nd hand (as of the time of writing). Knowing that good cameras don’t go bad, it’s still a viable option for professionals who need a competent hybrid camera for stills and videos. However, with its more accessible price, it is now a serious contender for enthusiasts who want something well-featured and long-lasting. It doesn’t have IBIS nor a fully articulating screen, but it’s still highly usable for all sorts of photography and videography.
Eventually, the time will come when the X-T3 will cost as much as entry-level cameras. Would I even go as far as to recommend it for beginners and casual shooters? That would have to be a “Yes” and a “No”. Suggesting it for first timers may seem counter-intuitive, but having the dedicated dials could actually help them better understand the exposure settings. Additionally, those who get an X-T3 as their first camera might not have to upgrade at all. However for casual shooters who don’t need a high-spec camera, they’d be better off with a phone or a more basic model.
As an inexperienced beginner, I went with the Fujifilm X-T3 expecting to use it for the long term. With more personal experience and even more cameras out now, was it the right choice? I’d say yes without a shadow of a doubt. This doesn’t mean other cameras are rubbish as practically all cameras are good nowadays. However, combining its performance and form factor, the X-T3 has served its purpose well as a tool for my travel and documentary photography; and it will continue to do so in the future.