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Fujifilm X-T3: Stylish shooter with superb handling

The Fujifilm X-T3 has well-designed controls and a comfortable rubberised grip.
The Fujifilm X-T3 has well-designed controls and a comfortable rubberised grip.

The Fujifilm X-T3 is the latest flagship model of the Japanese imaging firm's X-T mirrorless camera series.

Its major improvements come in the form of an upgraded 26.1-megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS 4 image sensor - up from its predecessor X-T2's 24.3-megapixel image sensor - and a faster X-Processor 4 image processor that is said to be three times faster than X-T2.

As a result, the X-T3's autofocusing (AF) performance is 50 per cent faster than that of the X-T2's and it comes with more AF points at 425, compared with the X-T2's 325.

Even though it is 27g heavier, 1mm taller and 1cm deeper than the X-T2, the X-T3 does not look much different. Its design and manual-control dials are still inspired by the SLR film cameras of yesteryear.

An aperture ring on the lens lets users adjust the aperture size, while a shutter-speed dial on the top right of the camera is for changing shutter speed.

On the top left of the camera is the ISO dial. Both the ISO and shutter-speed dials have a lock button that you press to activate to prevent accidental turning. This makes better sense than with the X-T2, on which you need to press the lock button to turn the dial.

Only the exposure compensation (EV) dial does not have such a locking mechanism. But I have yet to encounter any accidental turns when handling the camera, as this EV dial has greater resistance than the other dials.

  • SPECS

  • PRICE: $2,299 (body only), $2,899 (with XF 18-55mm f/kit lens)

    IMAGE SENSOR: 26.1-megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS 4

    DISPLAY: 3-inch tiltable touchscreen LCD with 1,040,000 dots; electronic viewfinder with 3,690,000 dots

    SENSITIVITY: ISO 80 to 51,200

    SHOOTING SPEED: Up to 11 frames a second

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

    WEIGHT: 539g (body with battery and memory card)

  • RATING

  • FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

My favourite control remains the rear joystick, which is sited beside the thumb rest. It lets you change AF points quickly as well as navigate the menu.

Above the joystick is a Q button that lets you access the most used functions in one menu window.

The settings in this menu, which includes dynamic range, film simulation modes, noise reduction levels and others, can be changed using the clickable command dial at the back of the camera.

Add these well-designed controls to a comfortable rubberised grip and sturdy body and you get a camera that handles superbly. It looks and feels good when held too.

The camera can be charged using a USB-C cable. This means one less charger to take along for your travels. It comes with two SD card slots, allowing you to have either more storage or immediate backups.

The X-T3 starts up in less than 0.5 seconds and shuts down in one second. This is faster than most mirrorless cameras' power up and shut-down timings of two seconds each.

With an SD card that has a writing speed rated at 90MB a second, the X-T3 was able to capture 34 RAW images in 3.2 seconds before the buffer ran out. That is about the advertised speed.

The AF performance is fast for a mirrorless camera. Using the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 kit lens, getting a focus in bright sunlight is almost instantaneous. In dim lighting conditions, it takes one second at most to secure a focus with the aid of the AF assist light.

During video recording, I was able to achieve sharp focus within one second at most, whether panning to a new scene or zooming into a subject. The 4K videos I shot are crisp and detailed.

The still image quality is excellent, with great dynamic range (DR) - especially when you crank up the DR setting to 400 per cent - and sharp details. Colours are accurate and vivid, even in the standard film simulation mode.

The ISO performance is stellar too. There is no image noise at ISO 1,600. Noise artefacts start to appear only at ISO 3,200, but photos are usable up to IS0 12,800. Anything above ISO 12,800 is not recommended, as there is too much chromatic noise.

Battery life is rated at 390 still images on a full charge. But the battery went flat after I took about 370 images - the average for mirrorless cameras.

• Verdict: Apart from its average battery life, there is nothing to fault about the Fujifilm X-T3. If you are looking for a great value-for-money APS-C mirrorless camera, the X-T3 is highly recommended.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2018, with the headline 'Stylish shooter with superb handling'. Print Edition | Subscribe