I’m starting to fall in love with the Fuji XT3 mirrorless camera. Granted, I’ve never shot with it, or even held one in my hands, but I have a feeling I’m going to be acquiring one in the not so distant future.
I’ve never been much of a “gear-head” but in doing research on different cameras for some articles I’ve written, I’ve been coming across more and more photographers who are making the switch from their Nikon or Canon DSLRs over to Fuji and their XT3 mirrorless.
And I’ve seen video after YouTube video of these photographers explaining the virtues of the XT3 and they’ve captured my attention and interest. So much so, that I was originally just going to recommend it, along with some other choices, as part of a “Recommended Cameras” section on the Lounge Boudoir website.
But I feel so strongly about this camera that I thought it deserved an article that was dedicated to it all its own.
What Works, What Doesn’t
I’ve been shooting long enough now to know what works for me and what doesn’t work for me with a camera body — and what features I like and don’t like. The more I researched the XT3, I discovered it had solutions to a lot of what I didn’t like with my current Nikon D800.
That’s why I started to fall in love with this camera because I could see that it held the answers to the problems I was encountering with my current DSLR.
Let’s take a closer look at how Fuji’s XT3 solves problems I have with my D800.
Fuji XT3 vs. My Nikon D800
By all standards Nikon’s full-frame D800 is an excellent camera that produces excellent images… but is that the only standard by which we judge something? That “something” being the end result?
There’s also the user experience and how the type of camera you use can have an affect on your enjoyment shooting. This has become more important to me lately because the technology with all these cameras has gotten so good that it’s narrowed the gap significantly between all of them as far as producing quality images goes.
They’re all pretty darn good.
Problems I Have With My Nikon D800
Problem #1 — Unintended Settings
One user problem I have is that my thumb naturally rests over the dial on the back of the camera that changes the shutter speed. In fact, it’s almost unavoidable once you position your forefinger on the shutter release button.
I’ve had shoots where that very thumb has (unbeknownst to me) turned the dial and changed the shutter speed to a faster setting darkening an entire sequence of shots. Fortunately, I check the images on the back of my camera frequently, so I’m able to catch it when it happens.
At first, I couldn’t figure out why my images were turning out so dark. So, I had to stop… and re-check everything… only to discover that my shutter setting had gone way up. And it took me a few times to discover that I was changing it accidentally.
Now when I shoot, I’m so paranoid that I’ve hit that dial with my thumb that I’m almost constantly checking to make sure the images look the way I want them to. That’s something that is always looming in the back of my head now when I should be focusing on the subject I’m shooting.
And “yes”, I know about the shutter speed and aperture lock feature you can set, but after setting it up (going through five menus!) you have to be actively pressing the Function button on the front of the camera with your ring finger in order to activate the feature… and that’s with every click of the shutter.
Can you say… “awkward”?
Having simply made the dial more rigid to turn in the first place would have prevented the problem from happening altogether.
Fuji XT3’s Solution
On the XT3, since the camera has a retro-vintage design to it, the dials are located on top of the camera and not on the back. This solves problem number 1 for me. No more random shutter speed fluctuations and no more nagging voice in my head going, “Did I accidentally hit the shutter speed dial on that sequence? I don’t know? Let’s waste more time and check!”
Problem #2 — Re-view Instead of Pre-view
OVF (optical viewfinder)
My D800 has an optical viewfinder which means the image that the lens is capturing is the image that you’re seeing in the viewfinder. When you adjust your settings, that image doesn’t change.
Now, you don’t know what the image is going to look like until after you’ve taken the picture and checked it on the back of your camera.
Is it right? … No?
Okay, make an adjustment and take another picture… and check it again… and again… until you get it the way you want it. (I’m not a fan of light meters, by the way, because I’m not looking for the “perfect” exposure… I’m looking for mood, which has more darkness usually.)
Now, I know we’re all spoiled by getting to instantly look at the images we shoot instead of waiting to get our film developed after the shoot and not being able to do anything about it.
But… we have digital now and with it come some advantages.
Fuji XT3’s Solution
With Fuji’s EVF (electronic viewfinder) what you see is what you get. That means any adjustments you make with your settings will show up on the back of your camera or in your viewfinder before you take the shot.
Are we saving ourselves some time here?
I think so.
With the EVF, which all mirrorless cameras have, the image you’re seeing is the image that the sensor is seeing. It’s a digital interpretation of what your sensor is capturing through its lens.
Problem #3 — Heavyweight vs. Middleweight
As a photographer, you don’t really start to notice the weight of your setup until after the honeymoon of being a photographer ends. At first, you’re all giddy taking pictures and learning cool new stuff about lenses and cameras and shooting. It’s not until all that settles down and you’ve been on some long shoots that the weight of your gear starts to rear its ugly head… roaring like a unicorn with its tail on fire.
Now, full-frame cameras (like the D800) come with bigger heavier lenses. Your whole setup is going to weigh more and that is going to tire you out faster, not to mention if you have to lug a bunch of gear around or take it on a trip somewhere.
That weight gets old real fast, and it can start to ruin the experience of shooting.
Fuji XT3’s solution
Now, the XT3 is a crop sensor camera (and we’ll get more into that comparison later) and mirrorless which means it doesn’t have to accommodate a mirror and mechanical shutter so its body is smaller and thus, weighs less.
Oh, and because it’s a crop sensor, its lenses are also smaller and weigh less.
Shooting with a lighter camera is much more enjoyable, in my opinion. I’ve experienced it when I shot with a Canon 60D with the 40mm pancake lens, which is a lens that is so thin and flat that it’s barely even there. And that setup was light.
Having a lighter setup is probably the number one factor when it comes to having an enjoyable user experience, at least for me it is.
Problem #4 — Pre-Shot Adjustment vs. Post-Shot Adjustment
This isn’t so much a problem as it’s just a convenience.
Like the above example of only being able to see your images after you’ve shot them, the same holds true with your histogram. Only after you’ve taken your picture are you able to take a look at its histogram with the D800.
Fuji X-T3’s Solution
With an EVF (electronic viewfinder), you get to see the histogram right in the viewfinder while you’re sizing up your shot before you take the picture. Pretty cool, right? I think so. A feature that saves you more time because you’re able to make adjustments before you even click the shutter.
Crop Sensor vs. Full-Frame
Okay, let’s get into it.
The Fuji XT3 has a crop sensor while my Nikon D800 is full-frame, so hands down the D800 wins, right? Plus, it has more megapixels, 36 compared to 26 on the Fuji.
The big question is “just how big a difference is the image quality between the two?”
Is it a huge difference? Is the Nikon waaaaay better than the Fuji?
Or is it a tiny difference? So, tiny that’s it’s barely even noticeable?
In full disclosure, even though I’ve done no testing of my own between these two, from all the reviews I’ve seen on YouTube from photographers that have way more experience than myself, there doesn’t seem to be that big of a difference. Maybe 5%… 6%? One can’t really put an exact number on it.
Granted, the full-frame Nikon will have slightly more detail in some areas of the photo, but that depends on your viewing distance.
If you get up close to your printed image and examine it, sure, you’ll probably see slightly more detail with the D800 in some areas… but are your boudoir clients going to do that? Do normal people looking at art work do that? The answer is no, they don’t. They’re not pixel peeping like photographers do. They take the image in as a whole and it’s more about how the picture affects them emotionally.
You have to remember that it wasn’t that many years ago when everyone was shooting with 12 megapixel cameras… or even before that, with just cropped sensors and people were still enlarging photos, still creating artwork, and still hanging it on their walls.
And if you’re not shooting for billboards or very large enlargements, do you really need all that camera that your top line DSLRs provide for an extra $500 to $2000?
If you’re just making boudoir albums and prints for your clients in normal sizes, is it worth it to pay the extra money for a full-frame camera when all that money could go to buying lenses?
That’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself, but if you’re on a budget it’s a no-brainer. I’d go with the Fuji because it provides the greatest value for its price.
Cost — Mid-Price vs. High Price
And speaking of price, the Fuji comes in at $999 (now that the X-T4 is out) compared to the Nikon D850 at $3000 and the Canon 5D Mark IV at $2500, Sony’s a7III at $2000 and Sony a7rIV at $3200.
I’m using these cameras to compare to the Fuji because these are the cameras most professionals use but there’s quite a bit of difference in price between them.
Problem #5 — Focus Points — Some vs. Many
Focus points are those tiny little squares you see in the view finder that you move and place over what you’re shooting to tell the camera what to focus on. When shooting boudoir I usually place a single focus point over the eye closest to camera.
With my Nikon (51 focus points), those focus points are mainly clustered together in the center of the screen so if I want to focus on something outside that field, I have to focus and re-compose.
For those of you who don’t know what focus and re-composing is, it’s a technique whereby you move the camera so your focus point is over the point you want focus on, then you re-compose the framing back to the framing you want.
This is needed when your focus points do not cover the part of the screen where you want focus, thus you have to focus and re-compose your shot.
I hate doing this… and I do this a lot because many times when I’m shooting boudoir my subject is lying down and her face falls beyond the field of focus points. Oh how I wish there were more focus points to make my life just a little easier.
“Dear Fairy Godmother, please make camera manufacturers include more focus points that cover more of the screen in my viewfinder.”
Fuji’s XT3 Solution
Well, my wish came true because that’s exactly what the XT3 has. Its field of focus-points covers the entire screen enabling you to focus on any point within its viewfinder. This would allow me to shoot using the rule of thirds with more ease and save me time because I wouldn’t have to focus and re-compose.
Okay, Now For the Bad News
To be fair and to give an honest evaluation of Fuji’s XT3, it’s only right to mention what you may not like about this crop sensor mirrorless camera.
The Crop Sensor
Probably the most glaring and obvious would be its cropped sensor.
If you’re one that insists on shooting with a full-frame camera then anything I say will probably not change your opinion on this… and I get it. And I’m not trying to change your mind. I simple want to point out how great this crop sensor camera is for the price.
You’ll have to determine for yourself if the difference in image quality is worth all its other benefits and if those benefits will provide you with a better user experience. It’s something I’m still pondering myself until I get my hands on one and do some actual shooting with it.
The selection of lenses is not as extensive as ones for DSLRs… but this is changing as more people go mirrorless. If a particular lens is vital to your photography, I’d make sure you check to see if there’s an equivalent lens available for the XT3 before you buy one.
Another option is to buy an adaptor that will make the lenses you currently have work. Do your research though if you already have a camera system with an assortment of lenses to see if that is an option.
There’s been a lot of talk in recent years on how mirrorless cameras use up battery life much faster than on DSLRs. This is because the EVF (electronic viewfinder) that creates the image on the screen uses a lot of juice.
This has become less of an issue recently as the batteries for these mirrorless cameras have been getting better. With that said, it’s probably wise to purchase a few more extra batteries than normal if you decide to purchase the XT3… or any mirrorless camera for that matter.
No Front-Facing Screen
This pertains more to those who vlog and need to see themselves when recording. The XT3’s screen does not articulate to accommodate that.
On the plus side, it does swing open to allow for low, close to the floor shots without you having to lay down on the ground… so there’s that.
In the end, the value of a finished image does not and should not rely solely on the quality of the camera that captured it. There are a lot of other factors that make an image amazing besides megapixels and the size of the sensor that captured it.
That being said, you should strike a balance with the quality of image you expect to get, your user experience with your choice of camera, and your budget… and in my opinion, you get all three at a great price with the Fuji XT3.
And if you’re considering using it for boudoir, I don’t think you’d be disappointed.
If you found this article helpful, please forward it to someone it may also benefit.
Thanks for your time,
Founder / Lounge Boudoir
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