Sunday, 13 January 2019

Fujifilm XT3 Sharing My Views On Fuji's Latest and Greatest APS-C Camera (In H2 2018)


To folks who don't know much about cameras: 
The Fuji XT3 is one of the best hybrid cameras (i.e. ideal for camera for still pictures and video, for parties keen on taking good quality 4k video) out there right now. If you want to have both good quality stills and video and are fine with (i) APSC sensor [smaller than full frame and the benefits that come with that for iso, dynamic range with higher resolution options and potential disadvantage of being bigger and heavier] (ii) buying into the Fuji X system (price of body and lenses you want to use and accessories), than it's definitely a very good option out there right now. 

From a Pole Shoot [3 shots below with 16mm f1.4]

Kinda looks like a big pole too :) 
[experienced a Lightroom issue which causes worm, wormy artifacts to happen in pics that are sharpened. but easy way to deal with it noted below]

For readers who have done some level of research already:
You are probably taking a hard look at the cameras that are getting more focus as cameras of the year from many of the usual suspects i.e. youtube reviewers . 

The Sony A7iii and the Fuji XT3. Now I have different cameras from both brands and used a number of bodies in both brands line-ups. I recently had hands on with the XT3 but I have not had hands on with the A7iii. It doesn't matter though as the A7iii looks to be a great camera at a great price with excellent features and considerations of buying that would be similar as what was noted above eg. do i want to buy into this system or do they have the lenses I want at prices that I am fine with etc. but let's set that aside for now :) we are talking about another camera.

Fuji XT3 shot with the GFX50s

The mirrorless APSC camera of the 2018 has gone to the Fujifilm XT3 for good reason noting it's specs for video and photo. I am not going into a long article or review on it and it's specs but will just point out a few things from my use of it: 

(1) It's eye AF and overall AF is very good 

(2) It's got a high fps and decent buffer so you can get many shots in a second and choose the ones you want

(3) If you're a video person you already know it has 4k 10bit 4:2:0 internal (up to 30p and 4:2:2 external) which is an amazing feat. for me not being a huge video guy I don't have fast enough PCs to deal with the highest quality video that it can take. I can probably do 1080p well and maybe lower end 4k 24p 100mbps files. 

(4) Very good image quality jpgs and excellent colors science and film emulations. 

(5) Possibly the best lens offerings / range for an APS-C system 

White Tiger at the Singapore Zoo doing some camouflaged maneuvers
[both shots below with 90mm f2.8]

Cheetah in motion [experienced a Lightroom issue which causes worm, wormy artifacts to happen in pics that are sharpened. easy way to deal with it noted below]

Some of the things that hold me back from the XT3 for it's price:  

(i) IBIS: It would have been great if it had IBIS. As it is, if there is no rush and one has other bodies, you could consider waiting for the next gen of APS-C bodies and select the one with IBIS. Eg. XT30 maybe? Xpro3? and if those don't have it the XT4 possibly with IBIS and maybe a flip out screen or XH2 with all the improvements from the XT3? Choice then is which body type, EVF and LCD, dials and features, form factor you prefer. 

(ii) Lens system comprises mostly Fujinon lenses and some Zeiss lenses. These lenses are excellent but the fast ones are pricey and there does not look to be more 3rd party lens manufacturer options coming for the X mount. Also the Fuji lens design means the irises step in video which may matter to video shooters (this is not a consideration for me but just noting it so folks know what they are getting). 

(iii) Personally I would really like to see faster FF equivalent glass. Eg. if I want a 35mm f1.4 equivalent on APSC, it needs to say f0.9 or f0.95 on the APSC lens. f1.2 on the apsc is more equivalent to f1.8 on the 35mm and the f1.2 glass can be pricey compared to other full frame system's f1.8 lenses. [Note: For the GFX I would also like faster glass or more f2 lenses as noted in the post where I share on my use of the GFX but the price may be prohibitive]

(iv) X-trans raw processing issue with Lightroom (Lr) - So from playing with Lr and sharpening files across multiple brands and formats in a very quick manner, my finding is that the wormy artifact just happens in Lr for all raw files from all brands BUT it seems the issue is more pronounced for the Fuji APSC file (cheetah pic above) vs other brands and formats to my eyes. 

Possible options/workarounds:

(1) Only sharpen RAWs in PS and not LR. Press alt down and tweak each sharpening slider to get the right level of sharpness you want. This is something I can work with noting what I have now. [I could stop here but let's have a look at some other options :) ]

(2) Well if you want to go tethered and get better raw conversions for Fuji - based on what a lot of folks say, purchasing Capture One Pro 12 (C1) for SGD438.70 (Incl. Tax) is the way to go. Price is for the full version supporting multiple brands which makes more sense to me. [Negative impact - I will also have to change from my current LR and PS workflow to C1 and PS. I will also need to spend US$47 for a Lr preset to C1 style converter as I need my Lr presets. so outlay will be about S$500ish for me to go this route]

(3) convert RAF files to TIFF with X-Transformer [cost of 145.20 SGD] and do sharpening in PS. This because x-transformer supposedly converts fuji raws better. but you still gotta do sharpening in PS. [Not required for me as i can sharpen the fuji raws in PS direct which should be ok]

(4) edit from Fuji JPGs [Negative impact - reduces ability to maximise dynamic range and overall work you can do on the file. of course if the file is beautiful as it is then not much more work may be needed :) ]. 

So Option 1 for me for the Fuji APSC camera I pickup in future :) 

A stroll in the gardens by the bay [first with 16mm and second with 90mm]


My Conclusion... for now

I will look to 2019's Fuji APSC offerings noting the above considerations or may go back to holding a smaller fixed lens Fuji. As I already have my portrait camera with the GFX50s, I would look to the APSC offering I pickup to cover wildlife, sports, street photography and the XT3 is a strong contender but I will wait a little more to see what comes (with all the other goodies* one might look for). 

That's it for now and thanks for reading :) cheers, raph

*Goodies - (1) Eye-AF (2) Speedy AF and good in backlit focusing cases (3) IBIS (4) Side flippy screen to allow for mic (5) high FPS with a good buffer (6) ISO [needs to be good to 6400] and dynamic range (7) User interface - dials, buttons, user friendly menus (8) EVF (no blackout is nice) and LCD quality in sunlight (9) strong lens lineup [native / 3rd party / ease of use with adapted lenses for AF and MF] 

Well till I make a decision... coffee daily [shot with 16mm]


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