I was approached by Fujifilm Switzerland a few days ago. They offered that I tested the Fujifilm X-T3 which came out today. As you might imagine, the opportunity was to good to be missed, and what a treat to take part in providing feedback and value in my field of photography through this new body.
I am convinced, but you will understand it as you read through this article, that this new camera is going to make a lot of noise albeit the usual naysayers, simply because it is not meant to be a body for everyone, and it’s a good thing, everyone must find their fit.
Series of “a photojournalistic” approach in it’s purest form !
The aim of this test was a real life situation, full speed, of a pre-production body (therefore a few functions of the firmware or certain buttons were non functional yet), in order to see what it allowed and discover it’s performance.
I therefore took this Fujifilm X-T3 body mounted with a 16-55mm lens with me during this photo coverage of the famous HauteRoute Alps 2018. This camera body was going to blend in my kit and share the coverage with my fujifilm X-H1. Both bodies would be used in parallel. At this stage I was just hoping that it would not be a dead weight but really provide great potential.
I shot over 1000 images a day, RAW + JPG, and edited 150 key visuals daily. All this was to be culled and edited in 3 hours for a delivery during the evening briefing.
Through cold, wind, rain, dust, humidity, night conditions, here is my review of the Fujifilm X-T3
What is the HauteRoute Alps ?
The Haute Route Alps is the most mythical amateur & professional cycling race in the world. The extremely high level of riders taking part is impressive, but it is still accessible to those amateurs wishing to get an experience of a lifetime. The 450 participants who took part in this edition from Megève to Nice, cycled over 800 kilometers, with 21’000 meters positive elevation over 7 days, quite impressive to say the least.
During this sport event, my job was to cover the entire official part of the race, therefore creating the landscape visuals, key visuals, brochure visuals, and everything needed for the brand HauteRoute marketing which we could take from the events such as social media, stand-ups, POS visuals for future needs of the organisation.
The days started around 5- 5.30am, an early start, before the rising sun, and ended around 10 or 11pm once the briefing had ended and the evening cocktail had taken place, by then I was editing the final set of images of the day.
The visuals and shooting conditions were quite diverse. The altitude of our “production playground” was from 500m altitude to 3500m, and temperatures varied between 2°Celsius and 26°Celsius, with a very scalable humidity ratio, and obviously… some rain.
A series of images was culled and edited every night with Capture One Pro (the Fujifilm version of Capture one pro was not yet announced). One of the major workarounds was that I could not edit my RAW files, as none of them was recognised by any software such as photoshop, LR or Capture One Pro. I therefore shot RAW + JPEG, to keep my raw files safe, and edit all the JPG’s to provide them to the organisation on a daily basis.
I had taken way too much gear with me, as usual, but here is what I used during the whole week
- Fujifilm X-H1
- Fujifilm X-T3 (prr-production)
- Fujifilm 16-55mm 2.8 WR
- Fujifilm 55-140 2.8 OIS WR
- Fujifilm 35mm 1.4 WR
- Samyang 8mm 2.8
- Extender 1.4x
- Battery Grip X-T3
- Battery Grip X-H1
- 8 batteries (1 in each body, 2 in the battery grips, 2 spare)
- 1 Patona Dual USB charger
- Profoto A1
- Profoto Air Remote Fuji
- 1 Macbook Pro Mid-2012 with Capture one Pro
- 1 multiple plug adapter with 5 outlets to charge the whole set of batteries in 2.5 hours
Compating X-H1 & X-T3
Historically speaking, i come from the DSLR world. I was a canon & nikon user for years, but used fujifilm during our analog years. My entry into the mirrorless came through the Fujifilm X-H1, a body close to the DSLR as it was the one which came out when i took the leap. I didn’t want to invest in the X-T2 at the time, sensing the X-T3 would come out in the year, product shelf life implied, why invest in a great body but still technologically weaker at the time ? Well to be honest, the X-T2 is still a beast, and i tested it during the Geneva Triathlon in Geneva and it totally rocked. If you’re not up for the X-T3, and can get your hand on an X-T2 second hand, go for it !
Colour consistency between Fujifilm X-H1 & fujifilm X-T3
The first thing which struck me, and that is for me something huge, is colour consistency and accuracy between bodies. I have never encountered such a precise and unique colour consistency between various models of cameras from the same brand. Wether the Fujifilm X-T2, X-T3, X-H1, stick raws or JPG’s one beside the other with the same presets, you’ll get the same result. You will see the differences due to sensor size, and file sizes will vary, but the quality and colour rendering will be the same, absolutely consistent. It takes real pixel peeping to pick which body the images came from.
What a treat to take the consistency element out of the workflow loop just to match camera models when working with 2 different bodies. Batch processing made easy, wedding photographers, event photographers, and photographers working in studio with 2 cameras will just love fujifilm for what they have achieved.
Weight & first handling impression
The other important element is weight. Close to the X-T2, over 1 whole day, or such a week, we can’t quite imagine how weight can impact performance. By improving the weight, the gear, I can improve my skills and my work. The Fujifilm X-H1 was already quite light in comparison with a DSLR body, but when you have the X-T3 in hand, the X-H1 seems like a heavy piece of kit. The downside of this featherlight body is that you must really be cautious when hitting the shutter button, camera shake can occur if you’re triggering like a bull in a china shop. Go smooth, be gentle with that shutter button.
Quality of the JPG’s
The quality of the JPG’s and images from the X-H1 are just amazing, but that’s if we don’t take into account the new X-T3. The sharpness, crispness, of these files are just fantastic. Added to the exceptional Autofocus of the new cross-sensor of the fujifilm X-T3, it’s a clear winner !
Iso 80 ! Oh Yeah !
Rumours were talking about a base 160 ISO, but Fujifilm opted for an Extended ISO 80 on the L(ow) segment. You an now head out and shoot in extreme light conditions, open up wide at 1.2 or 2.8 depending on your lenses, achieving this beautiful creamy look for example with the 56mm 1.2. Thanks Fujifilm !
Performances of the battery
Batteries have not changed, some rumours were announcing a potential change, but Fujifilm opted for improving the inner software and hardware of their cameras instead. They kept the NP-W126S model, an improved version of the NP-126 from the initial fujifilm bodies. The performance of the battery is clearly not extreme, but in comparison with the X-H1 it was quite noticeable over a whole day. The X-H1 forced me to change battery by the end of the day, when the X-T3 was still running comfortably, with the same image shot ratio.
You will need to work on your settings and optimisation which I could not yet do with this pre-production body, to improve performance of the battery.
A cycling race goes fast, very fast. Some riders reach 110km/hour in descents and a nice and steep 30 to 40km/hour in the ascents for the top of the pack. In order to get my visuals, I had to either shoot from the motorbike, speeding at 80km/h for rolling shots, and others where i got of the bike, trotted uphill or got down low. I could not afford to change batteries whilst being a passenger of the bike, the X-T3 was a perfect companion from this point of view
Autofocus & Continuous mode + Boost mode
As you may have figured out from the speed of the cyclists, I really needed a powerful, effective and fast Autofocus system, with a hit-miss ratio closest to zero possible. The Strength of the Fujifilm X-T3 is its speed. It’s fast, not only is it fast, but i can say it’s a beast in Autofocus Continuous mode !
Comparing the X-H1 continuous mode and the one of the X-T3, the latter was clearly optimised, and the linear and non-linear continuous mode hooked the rider after 2-3 frames. Considering the sped of the riders, we’re talking top of the league Autofocus.
Evolutions of the body
One of the major upscales of the body, as simple as it may seem, was the ability to lock the dioptre adjustment button. You might say that it’s not a huge evolution, but none of the major camera brands delivering products for the last 50 years had thought of providing such a feature, preventing it from loosing our settings. Some have placed their adjustment knob where it might not move too much, others have put some click adjustments, put a little dot to know where we stood, but nobody had ever secured it… and that’s BRILLIANT !
The sensor and it’s performances
The sensor is by all means a large improvement, I won’t go into technical details of all the nanoTech, because in my humble opinion, this is not the essence of technology, but truly a tool for photographers.
I have noticed quite a few differences in quality with this new X-T3 body, the transitions between high/low light are much softer, and obviously it’s not in sport that we will see that best, but I have seen it in portraits, and will clearly see it in my portrait and commercial work on further projects.
I will come out with more details and a new article on RAW processing of the X-T3 when everything will be ready for them.
What i don’t like on the X-T3
Battery Grip X-T3
In comparison with the X-H1 there is one element that I do not like, and it’s the battery grip. While it is similar to that of the X-T2, with this little “protuberance” giving a greater grip to the fingers, but storage question, it is not at all practical and I am forced to keep it fixed on the case in my bag to avoid the risk of breaking it (although I’m sure it must be very solid), and to optimise my storage space. it goes everywhere, it can not be simply slipped into a compartment.
In my eyes, a grip type X-H1 on the bottom only would be quite suitable, and no need to add this additional grip, sincere gimmick.
Position of the quick mode button
I do not like the position of the Quick button that is perfectly placed on the X-H1 and is not practical on the X-T3.
I also do not like the very low position of the selection button “focus point”, due to the position of the Quick Mode, but I have big thumbs, but I am regularly in the wrong place with the latter, as with the X-T2 finally.
“open” Pins of the battery Grip
I would have liked to see the securing of the “pins” of the battery grip, perhaps by imagining a block that fits into the case instead of a series of pins without changing the configuration or placement.
Removable plastic “gum” for grip connection
I would have also liked that they address the problem of this little piece of gum that must be removed to place the battery grip, you know, this small rectangular gum hiding the sensors under the box of fujifilms X series. 2 solutions, either I live all the time with the grip, either without, but I can not be in a dual situation like the one below.
Real life situation problem with the grip & Gum
I have the grip for the day, so I use the L + R batteries of the grip. At the end of the day, while I put the grip to load quickly in my car, I detach in 5 seconds, I fix my flash and I will shoot the ceremonies of awards without having to tell myself that I haven’t forgotten the rubber cover and the plastic cover on the pins of the grip.
So currently either I have the grip and I protect my case, or if I remove it quickly, I must put this gum in place or goodbye waterproofing and hello the entry of dust, moisture, liquids in my case … in my view are the biggest concern on the bodies, and the biggest potential risk in the long run.
I discovered the mode “viewfinder sport” which makes a modification of the view “eyecup” and which changes the type of JPG has Medium 3: 2 instead of Large 3: 2 initially configured and a 16megapixel files. The problem had to be “human” because this mode was activated without me understanding why, it had to come from a combination of keys or whatever, but I messed up some frames because of that, and went back in the menus to disable it.
This mode allowed on the other hand to have a global view of the subject to follow it in Continuous mode, and to have a frame “inside” the frame, allowing to see enter and leave the cyclists of my composition.
Writing and buffering on cards
The conclusion is without appeal, a need for UHS-II is imperative for the X-T3 if one really wants to use CM, CH modes, with a consistent and fast buffer.I noticed a big difference in the writing or display time between Fujifilm X-H1 and Fujifilm X-T3.
When with the X-H1 I can use a UHS-I has 90mb / s without concern, the X-T3 has more trouble especially in image preview mode, to manage the reading of files.So I used Lexar Professional SDXC UHS-II 64Gb at 150mb / s and these were perfectly adapted to the daily needs on the X-T3.
The good news is that Lexar is once again in the race for memory cards and we will see new models coming out soon.
Profoto & Fujifilm
During some shots, I wanted to unravel shadows, or simply make awards at the end of the evening. To do this I attached my Profoto A1 Canon mount directly to the X-T3 case and passed the Profoto A1 in X-Sync mode initially. This removes the TTL option, but had the advantage of preventing me from holding the flash by hand.
having activated the CM mode, no problem, 100% triggering of both the flash and flash power 5.5, iso 1600, 1 / 200e, f5.6 on 6-10 frames.
I also tested in TTL mode with the profoto Air Remote-F pour Fuji, and the rendering of TTL images was perfect, allowing me now to associate as with my Fujifilm X-H1, my whole profoto range from profoto B1x to profoto D2 with my Profoto A1.
I like this case. It suffered shocks, falls when unscrewing on 4m on slate stones and sloping rocks, and its rendering is simply excellent (sorry fujifilm for scratches and marks on the case and on the metal ring of the lens) .
The quality of the JPG in Standard, Classic Chrome and Acros + R are superb, and apart from the pre-production bugs, I found nothing really problematic.
Whether for portraiture, sports, the interior in low light, the AF has been up to it. Of course, I had a few blurs, I transmitted Lag’s concerns regarding the shutter button and the buttons that did not work, or disabled menus to Fujifilm, knowing that everything came from a pre-production model and not from of the final body.
I had trouble giving the Fujifilm X-T3 back to its owner, Francine Gambarini of Fujifilm Switzerland, because I am conquered, but he had to continue his journey for the official presentation to my regret.
Who is this fujifilm X-T3 made for ?
If you are not in the mode of the pixel war, and in that of APS-C vs Full Frame, that you look for a housing for your professional activity, efficient, efficient in AutoFocus, with clean grain for 6400 Iso (With a good DXO or C1Pro totally manageable and pleasing), this case is for you.
I need a second body, and at this point, the question arises for me to invest in the purchase of two boxes Fujifilm X-T3 and sell the X-H1 because I do not do too much video, or get my ass in gear and start doing some video and have 1 X-T3 as the second body.
I look forward to the release of X-T3 to the general public, as well as software updates to accept RAW, and especially … especially … the coming out of a waterproof case to continue my visual adventure in the last element that is dear to me … the water!
The whole coverage of the hauteRoute alps
Want to see the whole set of images and what was shot during a whole week ? discover more, like it or hate it, just enjoy it 😀
Registration Day Megève :
Stage 1 – Megève – Megève :
Stage 2 – Megève – Valloires :
Stage 3 – Valloires – les 2 Alpes :
Stage 4 – Les 2 Alpes – Risoul :
Stage 5 – Time Trial – Guillestre – Risoul:
Stage 6 – Risoul – Auron :
Stage 7 – Auron – Nice :
Feedback & Questions
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