My ever so gentle migration from Nikon to Fujifilm for wildlife photography.
Fuji X-T3 + Fuji 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Lens & Fuji 1.4X XF WR TC.
Here I”ll talk about my experiences with the Fuji X-T3 for wildlife photography. For all other genres such as Landscapes, Street etc. the camera pretty much speaks for itself. As I upgraded from the X-T2, I can honestly say this is a worthy upgrade whatever your genre of photography.
Folks have starting asking why I’ve switched and why Fuji X exclusively instead of Nikon for my wildlife work? So please bear with me as I explain my reasoning before I move on to why the Fuji X-T3 combined with the (1.4X TC) is NOW my weapon of choice for wildlife!
I’ve been a keen wildlife photographer for around nine years having owned Nikon FX (D700, 800 and 800E) and DX (D300, 7000, 7100) cameras. My lenses included the Nikon 80-400mm VRII, 300mm f4 PF VR, 300mm f4 PF ED VR and the Sigma 150-600mm f5.6-6.3 C. In 2016 I bought the Nikon D500 for wildlife, the X-T2 was launched later that year also a Fuji 100-400mm lens to fit it arrived. I tried the combination, however in my view the EVF refresh was too slow. The EVF (Electronic View Finder lacked clarity when compared to Nikon’s optical viewfinder. The EVF relatively slow refresh time annoyed me and as I owned the Nikon 100-400mm and Sigma 150-600mm lenses the Fuji’s ability to switch from long to short focus drove me around the bend! I swapped back it in favour of the Nikon 80-400mm VRII and abandoned Fuji for wildlife. Basically until in the latter part of the X-T2 life the AF system, especially for tracking birds, just couldn’t compete with the Nikon D500 and my long Nikon and Sigma long lenses in terms of AF acquisition.
Another major factor which persuaded me towards buying the X-T3 with the 100-400mm lens, was that I have recently developed osteoarthritis in my shoulders. This has made lifting the Nikon and lenses to the eye extremely difficult and at times very painful. I’ve tried monopods and tripods and I find that they just get in the way, especially when trying to photograph birds in flight, although sometimes I have no choice but to use these devices. Anything which saved weight had to be a bonus, but could Fuji eventually claim the wildlife crown?
In September of this year the Fuji X-T3 was launched and this marked the end of my long term affair with Nikon. So, onto the X-T3 itself. This short review looks at why the Fuji X-T3 combined with the Fuji 100-400mm works so well for me.
The Fujifilm X-T3.
Initially, I didn’t think that the X-T3 would give me much over the X-T2, so I ignored it. A week later I was reading about the capabilities of it in terms of both speed of AF and frames per second, I had considered the Fuji H1, but the X-T3 spec seemed to exceed it. Ok it claims Approx. 14fps [but Only electronic shutter] and it is more dSLR..esq with extra weight too boot! In so many ways the X-T3 claimed to exceed the capabilities of my D500 too! If it could then perhaps all my prayers had been answered!
First let us look at some key specifications. I’m only quoting those which are relevant to fast photography for sports and wildlife.
Some key specification comparisons:
Fuji X-T3 Nikon D500.
Sensor: 26.1mp 20.9mp
Frames per second (RAW)
Mechanical shutter: 11 fps 10fps
Electronic shutter: 20 fps N/A
Focus points: 425 point AF 153 total dynamic.
Sensor crop: x1.25 x1.5
Viewfinder magnification: 0.75x equiv. 0.67x equiv.
Battery life: 395 shots estimated. 1240 shots estimated
Fuji X-T3 = Optional grip x 2 batteries extends total to 1185 shots.
Nikon D500 =Optional grip x 1 battery extends to 1480 shots
Weight – Body Only: 539g 860g
Weight inc. VPB – T3 grip: 373g 408g inc 1 x battery.
(inc 2 x batteries)
Comments regarding the specifications and performance compared to the Nikon D500.
It is clear to see that in every aspect, except that of battery life, the Fuji X-T3 on paper at least exceeds everything the Nikon D500 has to offer.
First comparison – Bench Test:
I should clarify that the manufacturers frames per second claims lived up in real life use and in fact the buffering speed of the RAW files was equal to the Nikon D500. Using a Lexar x2000 SDHC II 3 10, the shutter fired 30 frames in under 3 seconds and buffered all uncompressed RAW images in under 10 seconds. Wow! That’s was a good starting point to build confidence in the X-T3 and I hadn’t even left the house.
Real world shooting:
OK – This is where the real work starts. Time to test the X-T3 coupled with the Fuji 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR lens. This would enable me to test the system pitched against my experience with my Nikon D500 coupled with my Nikon 80-400mm f4.5-5.6 G ED VRII lens.
Without the grip the X-T3 felt totally out of balance, but so does to a lesser extent the Nikon D500 and 80-400mm lens. However, with the VPB – XT3 grip the combination felt well balanced, likewise the Nikon with the MB-D17 grip, although this combination was over 600g heavier.
The first excursion was to RSPB Bempton Cliffs Reserve, East Yorkshire.
All images taken with Fuji X-T3 + Grip – Fuji 100mm – 400mm F4.5-5.6 OIS
Please click on image title to gain the full size image in smugmug.
All images are copyright – ©www.pixels4u.co.uk
1/1600@f11 – ISO800 – EV = -1 – Focal length 400mm.
email@example.com – ISO320 – EV = -0.67 – Focal length 400mm.
firstname.lastname@example.org – ISO320 – EV = -1 – Focal length 400mm.
email@example.com – ISO320 – EV = -1 – Focal length 400mm.
firstname.lastname@example.org – ISO320 – EV = -1 – Focal length 230mm.
email@example.com – ISO320 – EV = -1 – Focal length 400mm.
1/1000@f10 – ISO320 – EV = -1 – Focal length 400mm.
1/1000@f8 – ISO320 – EV = -0.33 – Focal length 560mm. (+ 1.4 TC)
Two images with the Fuji x1.4TC coupled to the Fuji 100-400mm lens.
1/1000@f8 – ISO320 – EV = -0.33 – Focal length 560mm. (+ 1.4 TC)
For wildlife – My thoughts so far.
There is no doubt that the Fuji X-T3 is capable of doing what I want and certainly the Fuji 100-400mm lens is right up there with the Nikon long zoom offerings. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the X-T3 is boxing above the weight of the mighty Nikon D500 in so many aspects! However, everything is subjective. I am an amateur photographer and I am only too aware that as such my images may not be as the work of the pro with the long prime lenses, but as an amateur who enjoys wildlife photography, it has exceeded my expectations so far. Amateur or not, I enjoy my interest and that’s all that matters to me.
On various forums I’ve been asked to share my Fuji X-T3 + 100-400mm camera settings, See below.
ISO = AUTO ISO 3 Max. Sensitivity 3200 – Default Sensitivity – 200
AF-C Settings = 2 Ignore obstacles and continue to track subject.
Shutter: AF + MF = On
Number of focus points = 117
FPS – CH (as good as my Nikon D500 if not better)
AF Mode = Wide tracking.
Other settings used. I found “Sports Finder Mode” 1.2X crop very useful on the rare occasion I used it as it was with Nikon’s x1.5 crop.
I only used the Fuji x1.4TC for a few shots apart from static birds at home, however it looks very promising, more so than my Nikon 80-400mm VRII + TC which was very unforgiving.
Bang for buck the X-T3 coupled with the 100-400mm lens and also the 1.4 X TC when required accomplishes everything my D500 and 80-400mm VRII lens did. In fact if viewing the resulting image taken with the added 1.4X TC, effectively making the lens a 150-560mm, then it’s almost into the Nikon D500 + Sigma 150-600mm territory. Considering costs new, the X-T3 + the 100 – 400mm and 1.4XTC are so much less than the Nikon D500 + 80-400mm combination, although more expensive than with the D500/Sigma combination. However, in my case the weight differentials win by a country mile.
So, here I have a combination of camera and lens which thus far more than exceeded my initial expectations in every way.
I will try to update this blog from time to time as my journey progresses, so pop back sometime and take a look.
You may also be wondering what else can the X-T3 offer you. My friend Dave Whenham, who has also moved away from Nikon for reasons other than wildlife, has written an interesting blog entitled “Feeling “right” “. It’s well worth a read, so click here: “Feeling “right””.
Finally, I bought my Fuji X-T3 and Fuji 100-400mm + TC from Cambrian Photography. A bricks and mortar camera shop where one can always be assured the very best advise when both buying and owning camera equipment.
Thanks for looking and maybe visit my website: pixels4u.co.uk
10th October 2018.