Fujifilm’s latest X-series camera was released a few weeks ago to much fanfare and insofar as I can see much critical acclaim. And for once in my life I find myself in the vanguard, an early adopter of Fujifilm’s latest electronic marvel even before Adobe have caught up.
Do I like it? Well, I sold the Fuji X-T20 within 48 hours of taking delivery of the X-T3 so confident was I after just one play that the older model wouldn’t get a look in unless I left the X-T3 at home; and why would I do that?
As always I will leave the technical stuff and a discussion of the cameras’s specifications to others. I’m an enthusiast photographer rather than a working pro and what matters most to me is that very nebulous quality of the user experience. User experience. Easy to type but very hard to define largely because it will vary considerably from one person to another.
A camera needs to feel “right” in my hand. I can’t write the exact feeling down but know it when I experience it. The X-T3 is a little bigger than my now-departed X-T20 (a camera I really enjoyed using) although it is a form factor I’m familiar with as I already own the X-T1 which is my infrared/full-spectrum camera these days. With one of my primes attached or the 18-55 “kit” lens the X-T1 feels great in the hand. Not perfect but still very, very good. I knew therefore before I placed the order for the X-T3 that I’d be purchasing the battery grip especially if I intended expanding my focal length opportunities by buying a telephoto lens at some point in the future (spoiler alert: that future is now the past).
The X-T3 body with my 35mm f1.4 prime does indeed feel great in the hand and I’ve been using this combination a lot recently. The 18-55 likewise balances well as do the two Samyang primes in my bag (12mm and the fisheye) although the Fuji 55-200 does feel a little front heavy although this was not unexpected. The battery grip though transforms the handling from good to great. It’s good also to have the choice of travelling very light with just body and a 23mm prime for example or putting on the grip for better handling with the bigger lenses and of course three times as much battery power. As an aside, I got 1,216 images (2,432 files as I shoot RAW+JPEG) from one charge using three batteries and the grip which is pretty much what is claimed by Fuji (1,170 from memory is the claim).
The auto-focus is not strictly something many would class as handling but it does contribute to the overall user experience as slow or poor AF can be very frustrating at best. On the X-T1 focusing with the Fujifilm 35mm f1.4 R can be slow and the lens often hunts especially in more challenging conditions. But keep in mind this lens is a venerable OAP in lens-terms having been first released for sale on January 9th 2012. I was therefore amazed and very surprised at the very nifty focusing achieved with the X-T3. It will never compete with more modern lenses in the speed stakes due to its older design and engineering but comparing it on the X-T3 versus the X-T1 does reveal a very welcome improvement in user experience. Of course, this is my subjective view and I’ve not carried out any laboratory testing but at the end of the day it’s how the gear behaves in real life and not in a laboratory that really matter – at least to some of us!
What I’ve not yet had the opportunity to do is a “proper” day out complete with a tripod, numerous lens changes and the deployment of filters but that should be possible next week fingers crossed.
So, all first signs are positive. I never expected to be an early adopter but having got caught up in the excitement as a fellow photographer anticipated the release of the “T3” I found myself swept along and with an order in the basket just the day before the official UK launch. I never expected to get it within 48 hours either. With the 18-55 attached I set off for a few days in Northumberland to celebrate my birthday not really expecting much in the way of photography but nevertheless knowing that I had a pretty capable camera should opportunities arise.
Oh, and that telephoto lens? Our journey from Elland to Northumberland took us pass the Metro Centre in Gateshead and of course the Boss decided that would be an ideal opportunity for a coffee and a break from driving (not that she drives!). Long story short – Jessops – a few secondhand lenses – Fuji 50-140 f2.8. I tried it on an X-T2 body (the shop hadn’t any X-T3 bodies) and knew that I was about to take another irrevocable step into the Fuji-X system. I barely took the lens off the X-T3 for the following three days.
* All images Fiji X-T3 from JPEGs – just wish Adobe would get their finger out! Perhaps I should just move to Capture One 🙂