Introduction

I’m pretty late to the the X-T3 party. Both in terms of owning it, and getting around to reviewing it. The reasons for that are varied, but a couple of the reasons are I was still really happy with my X-Pro2 as my everyday shooter and both the X-T2 and X-H1 for serious shooting, and another was that Fuji’s body release schedule was just getting out of hand for a single-person review site. I was two thirds of the way through my X-H1 vs. X-T2 piece when the X-T3 was announced and pretty much immediately released. I didn’t think many X-T2 owners would be looking to upgrade to and X-H1, and clearly the purchasing decision became a choice between the X-H1 and X-T3 so I shelved that comparison.1

Here we are, ¾ of a year and two major firmware updates later, and I’m ready to post my review.

By most accounts, including Fuji’s own, the jump in photographic image quality isn’t terribly big. No, this update is alleged to be more geared at video and continuous shooting enthusiasts. I’m neither of those things, so I’ll be coming at this review with a still photography bias.

Of course I’ll also focus heavily on the nitty gritty handling details as I love to do, and pick whatever nits I can. To the casual observer, the X-T3 looks like a rebadged X-T2 with some new guts. The X-T3, however, has seen some nice refinements, and is very close to as good as it can get in the handling department for a camera of this size.

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Unboxing

Nothing of note to see here. Pretty standard Fuji box affair.

Supplied Accessories

The X-T3 ships with the usual NP-W126S battery, BC-W126S charger, body cap, strap clip attachment tool, metal strap clips, shoulder strap, and covers for the hot shoe and sync terminal.

Vertical Grip Kit

Fujifilm doesn’t offer the same sort of Vertical Grip kit as they

Fujifilm doesn’t offer the same sort of Vertical Grip kit as they did with the X-H1. I decided to pass on the grip with the X-T3 in no small part because I already have gripped cameras at my disposal. The X-T3 also isn’t performance-constrained like the X-T2 was without the grip, so there’s less incentive there. Finally, after more use, I’m not crazy about the sliver of grip that extends from the Vertical Grip. It packs poorly, and can actually creek in the hand a little. The X-H1’s Vertical Grip is nicer.

Set Up

Anyone who’s owned an electronic device in the last decade will be familiar with the initial set up process. The “Start Menu” requires language selection, date format, and time input, then you’re ready to shoot.

There’s also the opportunity to immediately pair the camera with a mobile device, which is nice. You can either pair, ask the camera to remind you on restart, or ignore and find the pairing in settings later.

Camera Remote App (iOS)

Fuji’s Camera Remote App has seen some big improvements in terms of UI in recent versions, pairing is solid, and Bluetooth connectivity removes some of the WiFi pairing dance we had to go through to enable any features, however there are still a few bugs with Bluetooth becoming unavailable upon disconnecting from WiFi-only features. Powering off and then on solves this, but it’s not as seamless as it should be. Reviews suggest other users’ experiences are even worse than mine. Too bad, seamless mobile device integration could be a big point of differentiation for Fuji.

Build Quality

Coming off of the X-H1—which had a bump in build and robustness—I expected to feel a bit of a step down in overall quality here. That hasn’t been the case, and in fact, every aspect of moving to the X-T3 has been positive. It might not technically be as tough as the X-H1, but of all the feature differences between the two cameras, that’s probably the last I’d consider, if at all. You’d have to really abuse your gear for it to become a problem.

Body Finish

The rubber feels the same as the X-H1 and X-T2. It seems Fuji has landed on their ideal compound for durability and tackiness. X-T1 owners might remember the rubber feeling softer, nicer even, but also wearing very quickly.

The metal top plate is the same as previous X-T bodies, and the “hammer tone finish” from the X-H1 hasn’t trickled down yet. This limits the body’s durability and imperviousness to scratches. Historically, I haven’t had issues with X-T bodies and durability (with the exception of the aforementioned rubber wear on the X-T1), but I do have some decent scratches on my X-Pro2.

Shutter

We’re back to the old reliable threaded shutter, and I couldn’t be happier. I don’t dislike the “Feather-touch” shutter on the X-H1, but I don’t get on with it terribly well either. It has resulted in enough unintentionally captures for me to miss the Fuji’s standard shutter. 2

Weather Sealing

Same weather sealing as X-T bodies before it. The X-T3 can withstand temperatures at least as cold as -10˚C, but as always, keep in mind that batteries don’t like the cold, so be sure to keep them in a warm pocket.

Magnesium

The X-T3 features an all magnesium chassis like X-T’s before it, but not the 125% thicker variant of the X-H1. This keeps the camera lighter and ensures the size remains the same. If they are already struggling with IBIS miniaturization, they’ll likely avoid making the body thicker for a little while yet.

Bottom Plate and Tripod Mount

Finally a solid bottom plate. This should be a nice step up in rigidity, and if not, at least aesthetically.

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Size and Weight

Size wise, it’s exactly in line with the X-T2. In my X-T2 review, I wrote that I had to sometimes check the badge to know if it was holding the X-T2 or X-T1. Now it’s all the time.

Weight wise, the X-T has put on just over 30 grams in its third iteration. That’s only ⅔ the weight of a NP-WP126S battery. Easily explained by new internals, IO, and maybe even a more solid bottom plate. It’s definitely not something you’ll notice coming from an X-T2. It is a full 100g more than the original X-T1, however, or about as much as two batteries. That’s something you’ll notice in the hand. In a bag or backpack, unlikely.

Memory Card and IO Covers

Same plastic door on the shutter side of the camera, but the door is removable if your workflow results in it getting in the way. Fuji has included labels above each port, which is nice, and a first for Fuji cameras to the best of my reference of past cameras still in my stable.

Another new addition is the dedicated remote release to go along with the RR-100. It connects much better than the old RR-90 that you had to insert into half the USB3 port, which was always a bit disconcerting.

UBB-C

Speaking of USB, the X-T3 features USB-C, up from USB3, and can charge from USB-C. For anyone who has a MacBook from 2016 and newer, or a Nintendo Switch, that’s one less charging cable to have at the ready. It also makes the lack of an SD card slot in a MacBook less of an issue.

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General Fit and Finish

About the same as Generation 3 Fuji cameras, with the exception of refinements to everyone’s favourite category, “Buttons, Dials, and Switches.”

Buttons, Dials, and Switches

Progress marches on in the buttons, dials, and switches department. This section will focus on operation quality, with handling notes thrown in for good measure where I can’t help myself. It’s pretty much all good news here.

Power Switch: Exactly the same excellent switch as found on the X-T2. I don’t find my X-T cameras on or off when I don’t expect them to be. Fuji hasn’t changed this in a while, and they shouldn’t.

Shutter Release: The shutter release on my X-T3 has a little bit more play than my X-T2, but this is only something I notice when immediately switching back and forth between the cameras. It functions the same. As ever, I immediately added a Match Technical Boop-O Soft Shutter Release→ to mine. This makes the shutter release perfect.

Exposure Compensation Dial: I still don’t love the way this dial turns. It’s so stiff it makes single notch or ⅓ stop adjustments tricky with the camera up to my eye. On the plus side, the dial is smaller, and inset further from the edges of the body for less unintended turns.

Shutter Speed Dial: We get the 5-knurl height of the X-T1 and the locking mechanism from the X-T2. Best of both worlds.

The “Dial Lock Release” is the same as the X-T2, a little bit spongy when depressed to prevent accidental presses, and releases with a satisfying click. Curiously, it’s not slightly more domed as the X-H1’s is. The dial features full rotation, and has “250X” marked for easy maximum flash sync speed selection.

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Metering (Photometry) Dial: Even more progress here. It was easier to get at on the X-H1 compared to the X-T2, and even easier still on the X-T3. Even when set to Spot, I can access the dial, and switch it by one notch without issue. Good job, Fuji. Now, if only I could set a Function button to switch my Metering mode on press like I could with my Nikons, I’d be a happy Photometry camper.

ISO (Sensitivity) Dial: Same commentary as the Shutter Speed Dial. Only change here is the addition of ISO 160, previously only available via extended range.

Drive Dial: Functionally identical to the Metering Dial, and equally accessible.

Top Function Fn Button: This button’s about as good as it’s going to get given its position. It has a bit more breathing room thanks to the slightly reduced diameter of the Exposure Compensation dial. As mentioned in my X-T2 review, if your hands are small enough, this button can be accessed pretty easily with your thumb, instead of your index finger.

Diopter Dial: Well now, in my X-T2 (and X-H1, essentially) review, I said:

Same as the X-T1, it’s a good dial, nice and clicky making it easy “dial in” your preferred setting. I wish the dials were lockable though. Pull out to adjust, then press in to lock, for instance.

Guess what? The X-T3’s is lockable, and you pull it out to adjust, then press in to lock it. Nice.

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Command Dials: I’m really pleased with these dials. They combine the clickiness of the X-H1, and they turn without sinking in like the X-T2. Plus, the noise from the front dial is somewhere between the two cameras, but much closer to the X-T2’s virtually silent dials, and nothing like the X-H1’s clickity clackity front dial.

Now I just need to be able to change my Q Menu items via the front dial like I could on the X-T1. If you, dear reader know of a setting I’ve missed that allows for this, please do write in or @me. Otherwise, Fuji, this is totally doable via firmware. I even have to use the front dial to make selections in the Custom AF-C settings.

Focus Stick (Focus Lever): Still listed as both in the manual, it feels the same as my X-T2, and not the ever-so-slightly clickier version on the X-H1. No biggie.

D-Pad (Selector): Same as the X-T2. Works great, accidental presses may be possible for the large-handed, but I’ve had no issues.

Rear Buttons: AE-L and AF-L are slightly larger, otherwise the buttons are all the same size, and click better. I really appreciate the button consistency.

Q Menu Button: Special shout out to the Q Menu button and it’s positioning. Fuji, if you change anything on the X-H2 as far as buttons go, please change the placement of the Q Menu button and Focus Stick to be the same as the X-T2/3.

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LCD Tilt Release: The X-T3 uses the better push button version from the X-H1, and not the slider from the X-T2. It works well.

Focus Mode Selector: Nothing to say here. Same switch as we’ve had before. It’s good, and it works.

Front Function Button: Really like this button. Perfectly positioned, great clickiness. That temporary metering mode change I mentioned in the Metering Dial section would sure work great here. I like to set this button to whatever setting I’m experimenting with, or, of none, to the histogram.

Lens Release Button: Same as always. Spongy, and I have yet to engage this one accidentally on any Fuji camera ever.

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Autofocus

Autofocus has always been an area where other brand loyalists could poke holes in Fuji’s offering. First it was an outright lack of Phase Detection. Then it was the number of Phase Detection points. Then, the amount of the sensor covered by Phase Detection. Or it was Continuous autofocus. Anyone who used an X-E1 knows Continuous AF was a bit of joke back then, and if you used it for more than a few minutes here and there, your battery would be toast. No, X Series wasn’t built for that in the early days. It was purpose-built for considered photographs.

That was a long time ago though, and Fuji’s engineers have probably been working hardest on two things, video, and autofocus. The X-T2 was a huge leap forward for autofocus, and the X-H1 for video. We’ll get to video a little later, but as far as autofocus is concerned, I think you’d have a really tough time poking holes in Fuji’s offering anymore.

Phase Detection Across the Whole Damn Frame

This was a long time coming, but it’s finally here and it’s great to have. Quick, snappy phase detect is no longer restricted to the central portion of the frame so if your subject tracks elsewhere in the viewfinder, you can be sure you have the fastest AF in the camera available to you.

Technically speaking, we’re not at 100% coverage, but it’s in the high 90th percentile in all AF modes.

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Wide Tracking Improvements

In my original X-T2 review, I griped about the AF point UI not keeping pace with the actual AF with Continuous Wide Tracking selected. The camera was in fact doing it right, but the UI was a bit misleading. This has been improved with firmware, and those improvements passed along to the X-T3. I wish the AF point size could be changed in this mode as it can in Single Point.

Continuous Tracking Speed

If you crack open the box of your new X-T3, set autofocus to C, AF Mode to Zone, and acquire focus on something, you might be disappointed in how quickly (or slowly) your camera shifts its focus from one thing to another. Fear not, you just have some settings to adjust. Dig into your AF-C Custom Settings and choose option 4 or crank your Tracking Speed down and your X-T3 will lock focus on whatever’s in front of your Zone almost as fast as you can put things in front of it.

AF-C Custom Settings

For a thorough breakdown of how these Settings work, I went into detail in my X-T2 review. The nuts and bolts haven’t really changed, they’ve just been tightened.

Face and Eye Detection Enhancements

The Face and Eye Detection on the X-T3 running Firmware Ver.3.00 is outstanding. The X-T2 was already a big leap forward, the X-T3 takes another giant step. It’s faster, more consistent, and accurate at further distances. What's even better is actually having Eye Detection work in Continuous AF.

Your Lens Choice Matters

Different lenses will have different continuous autofocus characteristics. Some will focus quicker and more robotic, which is great for sports and action, but probably less ideal for video where you want more gradual changes in focus. DC coreless motors found in lenses like the XF 56mm F/1.2 will be twitchier.

Likewise, lenses with maximum apertures small enough to employ Fuji’s “stepping motor” autofocus system will focus faster than those with bigger hunks if glass to lug around.

Handling

With this iteration, we might be getting pretty close the X-T3’s final form. For those who like DSLR style of camera, the handling in general is superb. Focus Stick, D-Pad, button arrangement, weighting options via grips, it’s all great, and hasn’t evolved a whole lot since the X-T2. That speaks to the quality of the X-T2 and whether or owners of that camera need to upgrade from a handling perspective.

So instead of an in-detail rundown for what’s not really all that new, here some general notes and a few things that perhaps could be refined.

In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS)

There is none, and coming off of using the X-H1 as my primary travel camera, it's a glaring omission. The X-T3 would be the perfect DSLR style X Series camera if Fuji were able to shrink their IBIS system in time for its release. X-T4 I guess.

Focus Stick (Focus Lever)

I still wish the position of the Focus Stick and Q-Menu buttons were swapped. For my shooting, it would be quicker to make adjustments to my focus point if it was higher up, and I use the Focus Stick more regularly than the Q-Menu.

I suspect those with larger hands will feel even stronger about this. Even when not using the camera, I thumb for it where the Q-Menu button is.

Ironically, the X-H1’s Focus Stick is about where I’d like it, but for the love of all that is good and pure, I do not want Fuji moving the Q-Menu button on the X-T where it is on the X-H.

Command Dials

Fuji’s menu access via the Command Dials would be perfect of they just made one small change; when navigated the menu, pressing the rear command dial behaves as pressing the “OK” button. But once you’re two levels deep in the UI, there is no way to get back without pressing the “DISP/BACK” button. The front Command Dial press—which currently does nothing in menus—should be the same as pressing “DISP/BACK.” That way one could fully control the menus without ever leaving the dials.

And of course as noted above, the front dial still can’t be used for Q Menu selection as it could on the X-T1, as far back Firmware Ver.1.31. Selecting items with the front dial is quicker as you aren’t moving your thumb from D-pad to dial. I’m ever hopeful Fuji will correct this in an upcoming update, but given the release and subsequent firmware updates of the X-T2 and X-H1, I’m starting to lose confidence.

Weighting

As I wrote in my X-T2 review, X-T bodies balance perfectly with lenses like the XF 23mm F/1.4 and XF 56mm F/1.2. Smaller lenses are fine too of course, but with lenses like any of Fuji’s Red Badge lenses including the new XF 8-16mm F/2.8 WR, I’ll likely stick to the X-H1, as much as I’d miss features of the X-T3.

Exposure Compensation

Personally, I like moving back to the dial. This comes as the cost of a Sub Monitor, which is a cool bit of hardware, but it wasn’t as “sticky” as I thought it would be.

Customizable Illuminated Buttons

I’d still love it if all the function menu buttons (exclusive of Playback, Trash, and Back, the latter I would label on button as simply “X”) were unlabeled with a tiny illuminated dot in the middle for easy nighttime access. Of course the other buttons would also be illuminated.

Viewfinding

Some refinement and some catching up here. All good stuff.

Higher Resolution EVF

The X-T3 shares the same 3.69 million pixels EVF found in the X-H1, which is over 1 million more than the X-T2. As I noted in my X-H1 review, I was looking forward to this feature, but even as I’ve been constantly switching between the X-T3 and X-T2 I don’t really notice the difference. That could be my eyesight talking I suppose, but I don’t think so.

Viewfinder Position

The viewfinder has been moved 3mm back for less nose smooshing against the LCD. Particularly helpful for corrective lens wearers.

100 Frames Per Second – Boost Mode Only

At the expense of battery life—although slightly less battery life thanks to the more efficient quad-core processor—your eyeball will be treated to the visual splendour of an even faster refresh rate with Boost Mode turned on, and fewer dropped frames, as noted below.

Less Black Out, Way Less

Like, none.

Dark Ambient

The nighttime street shooter must be praising Fuji for this setting. With it, the entire camera UI goes red, and will no longer blind dark-adjusted eyes. Imagine if those illuminated buttons I mentioned also went red in this mode. How awesome would that be?

LCD

Same LCD we’re used to, but one really nice addition is when the LCD is flipped out, the eye sensor is automatically disabled. If you’ve ever been composing landscapes and wondered why your screen keeps going black as you adjust settings, or even had an unfortunate drop of water rest on your eye sensor and black out your LCD, neither should be an issue any longer. Very happy about this feature.

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Frame Rate Drops

With Boost Mode off, the X-T3 will sometimes still drop its frame rate both in the EVF and on the LCD to a near unusable level. A quick half press of the shutter alleviates the problem, and I haven’t experienced it with Boost Mode on, but it’s been ongoing for two generations of sensor/processor now, and many firmware versions.

Image Quality

With a “new 4th Generation back-illuminated 26.1MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor,” you might be expecting a significant jump in photographic image quality. I know I was. My excitement was tempered by Fujifilm themselves suggesting the difference in quality between Generations 3 and 4 for the still photographer really aren’t that significant. Video and continuous shooting are where the real gains are to be had.

Image Size

Maximum image size has seen a very small bump from 24.3 MP (6000 × 4000) to 26.1 MP (6240 × 4160). It’s tough to even call this an upgrade, but one way of looking at it is we’ve gained back some pixels that might have been lost to distortion correction. Honestly though, that’s reaching. Do not buy this camera for a megapixel jump unless you’re coming from a 16 MP X-Trans camera.

Here’s how that pixel increase looks in reality.

3 Generations of X-T resolution. Click for actual size.

ISO Sensitivity

The new sensor offers a lower baseline sensitivity of 160. This should result in slightly cleaner files as compared to ISO 200 files. It’s a third of a stop in sensitivity, but you have to look awfully close to see the difference. I’m talking 400% zoom. Out of camera, you might get ever so slightly cleaner blue skies—a classic point of comparison for noise—but when it comes to RAFs, your software will have as much, if not more of an impact than which of Fuji’s most recent sensors is in your camera.

Detail

One area I am seeing some improvement is in the X-T3’s ability to hold detail, particularly in highly saturated reds. In my comparison of the X-Pro2 with its then new X-Trans 3 sensor to the X-Pro1, red detail in areas where the red channel was close to being blown out were challenging. The X-Pro2 actually performed worse than the much older X-Pro1. The X-T3 clings on to detail in its RAFs better than what I see from X-Trans 3 sensors.

Colour Chrome Effect

This effect seems to be squarely targeted at those who enjoy taking pictures of flowers, and want to shoot JPEG. It works as advertised, but I find the “Weak” setting to be too weak much of the time. ”Strong” works better, but results in a slightly under exposed image compared to having it off.

Illuminate the Backside

The combination of Fuji’s fourth generation sensor and processor touches on virtually every shooting aspect of the camera. From sensor readout to EVF blackout, there’s a good chance X-Trans 4 and X-Processor 4 will have an impact on your shooting. While it might not blow us away on the typical specification side of things, the back-illumination will allow continuous shooters get many more frames per second, and help videographers extract more quality out of the sensor.

Crazy High Speed Burst

That crazy fast readout afforded by backside illumination allows for some crazy high burst rates:

  • 8 fps (meh)
  • 11 fps (been there, done that)
  • 20 fps, Electronic Shutter only (Oh hey, that’s pretty nice)
  • 30 fps, 1.25× crop, Electronic Shutter only (Wait, what?)

Continuous shooting with the X-T3 is kind of insane. You can essentially shoot 2 seconds of 16 megapixel 30 frame per second video. And 20 frames per second at a full 26.1 megapixels is none too shabby either. Your viewfinder won’t refresh smoothly in the same was as capturing video, but it’s impressive. One obvious purchase consideration will be the speed of your SD cards.

No Grip Required

And all that performance is available without the need for a big, heavy, add-on grip.

Video

I’m still not big into video, but man, if any camera was going to get me into it, it’s the X-T3. The video improvements are legion. From 4K/60P internal recording to H.265/HEVC at 200Mbps, the X-T3 really makes me want to jump further into video.3

Conclusion

As I mentioned in the introduction, I put off buying an X-T3 for a while. In a way, I sort of wish I hadn’t. The X-T3 is now my go-to camera, succeeding the X-Pro2 I loved so much for so long. The key reason for that is the EVF. I’ve been using the optical viewfinder in cameras that have one less and less often. The reasons for that are EVFs have improved so much that I don’t miss the OVF as much. Plus, the EVF in cameras that also have an OVF are quite a bit smaller with less eye relief. I might as well use the camera that allows me to compose most comfortably. Finally, seeing what I’m going to get before releasing the shutter is something that’s really easy to get used to.

I may go scurrying back to my beloved X-Pro when the third iteration is released with 4th generation imaging, and (hopefully) a larger EVF, two-way tilt LCD, and IBIS, but as it stands now, the X-Pro line has become a bit of a shelf warmer.

Would I Buy One?

See above, but I’m a terrible gauge. With out this site, I’d have skipped it altogether and avoided reviews so as to avoid knowing what I may or may not be missing.

I also have the luxury of an X-H1 at my disposal that I will continue to use with lenses like the XF 16-55mm F/2.8 WR and XF 8-16mm F/2.8 WR when I want the stabilization, and also for better lens to camera balance.

Should You Buy One?

Maybe. New to Fuji? Want weather sealing, top-end video capabilities, and don’t really need in-body image stabilization? No one could blame you for choosing the X-T3, and you’ll be very happy. Are you in the sam e situation as above but don’t need weather sealing? If the X-T30 isn’t too small and the handling is right for you, consider that instead.

The two scenarios above assume money doesn’t matter. Even though the X-T3 launched at a lower MSRP than the X-T2 did, you can still get nearly as much still photo camera for a lot less money. The X-T2 in particular is barely over half the price as I write this. You have to really want/need the video capabilities, to jump up to the X-T3. But then, you could also get yourself an X-H1 with vertical grip kit→ for less than an X-T3. In-body image stabilization might be a worthwhile tradeoff over 4K/60P, for instance.

Fuji is in a weird place right now, straddling two generations of sensor. For the video-focused, the prudent choice is to wait and see what comes of the X-H2 if you can for a best-of-both-worlds camera.1 For stills, the price of the X-T2 is impossible to ignore, and the sacrifice in image quality is marginal at most.

If you already have an X-T2 or X-H1, you can easily hold off until the next generation, especially if you are primarily a stills shooter.

So in a way, the X-T3 is the best camera most people probably shouldn’t buy right now, but that almost everyone considering it will really want. The question is whether they need to pull the trigger today, or if they can hold out for discounts to close the price gap. That’s always the case—as it was with the X-T1 and X-T2—but this time around, depending on your needs, a $1,400 X-T3 might add up to nothing more than an extra 1.8 megapixels over an $800 X-T2.

Wait, No Bonus Vertical Power Booster Grip Review?

Nope. The vertical grips for my X-T2 and X-H1 simply haven’t seen enough use to justify the purchase of another one, but the fact that I have a gripped X-H1 really helps. The X-T3 is going to remain as compact as I can keep it.

  1. Fortunately the X-T2 and X-T3 share enough handling characteristics that some of the content can be salvaged. ↩︎
  2. Combine a “feather-touch” shutter release with a Q-Menu that has to be dismissed as a result of a poorly place button and you start to dislike the trigger-happy shutter release even more. ↩︎
  3. There are a ton of reasons why I don’t shoot more video, time is the biggest one, but storage and digital assets management is another, as well as the need for audio equipment. Maybe once I have every Fuji X Series camera and lens reviewed. So probably never. ↩︎
  4. Unless, like me, you have issues with the handling of the X-H1. ↩︎