Fuji XT3: The Workhorse

If the Xpro3 is my everyday fun camera, then my XT3 is my "gotta get the job done" workhorse, both for stills and video. It's my digital go to for landscapes and anything else I'm shooting seriously, and my “A” roll video camera.

It has all the usual pro features: weather sealing, solid metal build, confidence inspiring buttons and wheels, locking dials that also unlock in a truly masterful way, dual UHS-II card slots, a high resolution rear LCD, an OLED EVF that is really big and easy to use, and a very fast processor that only gets bogged down when on the clarity setting. All the major specs are there for a 2020 camera with no crippling for market placement like some other camera companies do...

But more importantly, although the XT3 doesn't channel Alfred Eisenstadt or Henry Cartier Bresson in it's form or function like the Xpro3 does, it does manage to not suffer from “black plastic blob” camera syndrome. Make no mistake : it's a state of the art and class leading digital device for sure, but the dial's and wheels make the user interface experience pleasurable and not a 1980's VCR programming frustration nightmare.

I will mention that in all this perfection of performance and design, the missteps do jar like hitting a sore thumb with hammer. The lack of the ability to save your menu location and always having to start a menu dive from the top of the menu is VERY 1980's VCR. And from a build quality perspective, the battery door and SD card slot door seem sort of point and shoot level of sophistication. And why can't “Format” be added to “my menu?” And why does pushing the joystick during playback take you to the review image menu instead of zooming in on the image? (like the XT4 does now and why didn't firmware 4.0 for the Xt3 include that feature?)

OK, very nit picky, but only because the XT3 is so close to perfection, the imperfections seem bigger then they are.

And then there's the Jpegs and the color profiles based on film. I don't have any that I'm particularly fond of, but maybe it's because they are all really good. I find myself processing the raw to look like the jpegs, which is kinda backwards, and really just use the jpegs if I don't need to do anything major post processing wise which is 99% of the time. (I'm a photographer, not a digital graphic artist like Peter Lik who can somehow photograph clouds drifting behind the moon, and then claim the image is “real”...)

But the thing that makes the XT3 stand out for me is how it makes the job of creating images and content just easy. You take full frame levels of image quality and 4k60 video for granted until you try to shoot or record with anything else.

One other thing to mention is battery life. I have five 126S batteries and seven 126 non “S” batteries. That's an even dozen batteries. (The non “s” batteries would work fine in the XT3 if the camera didn't nag the living crap out of you every time you touch it that your NOT using an S battery, they do run down faster but they are usable.)

Having a dozen batteries for 3 cameras that use those batteries tells the story. Battery life is not great. It's not so bad that I ever felt I needed the battery grip though, which would triple the battery life and that is an option I'm glad is available should I need it. The XT4 has a better battery, but I would want more than one camera using that new battery before I switched over. I'm thinking the new Fuji thing is going to be IBIS – in body image stabilization – and so the Xpro4 with IBIS and the bigger battery and an XT4 will make for nice upgrades someday. (Like when the XT4 price comes down to $999 after the launch of the XT5.) We really are at the point where there's no need to upgrade anymore, the gear we got now is doing the job.

And let's not forget that even thought the Xt3 doesn't have IBIS it does have stabilization when using the OS – optical stabilized – lenses.

Speaking of lenses, one of the other main attractions of the Fuji system and the XT3 is the quality of the lenses. Even the “kit” lens is of pro levels of image quality. The quality is well know as well. When Thomas Heaton bought and XT3 and kit lens (18-55 f2.8-4) and made a video demonstrating how his 18-55 was soft on one side and chalked it up to “only being a kit lens” it was interesting to note how quickly and steadily the comments started coming in telling him he probably got a duff copy of the lens and to exchange it for a good one. (Which were my thoughts as well. I rely on my 18-55 to deliver professional level quality images and it doesn't disappoint.) I'm not sure if he got a new copy or not.

The 10-24 (old version, not wr) and the 55-200 round out my landscape and general purpose gear and I am very pleased with the results.

Roger Cicala from did a teardown of the 55-200 Fuji lens a few years back and the conclusion was it was an expensive pro level build. I know I was impressed reading about it.

So there it is. The XT3 is my workhorse for the foreseeable future, and it would be difficult to replace with anything else. The size/weight/performance equation with this camera and this system is basically unbeatable. Probably why Fuji has become in the rankings with Canon, Sony, and Nikon for best selling camera brands without even offering a full frame camera.

The system has something those other brands lack, and in my opinion is the secret to it's success: a clear vision of what they are trying to do and accomplish. Canon, Sony and Nikon seem to be merely copying each other and going around in circles. Fuji is filling a need for a small, light, high image quality system irregardless of what anyone else is doing. What a concept, make cameras that people actually want, instead of what the other company is trying to sell.

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