This weekend I had what you would call a significant birthday, and for that birthday my wonderful wife bought me the Fuji 100-400mm lens to pair with my X-T3. Until now, if I wanted to shoot birds effectively I’ve been using my Nikon D500 and the Nikkor 200-500mm lens. That is a powerful combination and, had I been carrying fewer years, it’s one that I’d be very happy to continue using for years to come. But, I – and my back – have come to the point where I’d like to be carrying less weight in my backpack and where I can’t handhold that combo for as long as I used to.
The 100-400 isn’t light and is one of the biggest Fuji lenses, but the whole combination is noticeably lighter than the Nikon kit. The lens itself weighs 50.7 oz with the tripod foot and the camera weighs 1.2 lbs, for a total of just under 70 ounces or 4.4 lbs. While no featherweight, this does compare favourably with the D500/200-500 combo, which comes in at a shade under 7lb. My back and shoulders are going to notice the difference after a morning’s shooting.
So, what about the critical aspects of usability and image quality? As I’ve mentioned in other posts, the X-T3 is a dream to shoot with. Because of the placement of the three dials on the top of the camera I can change my ISO, speed, and exposure compensation all without having to dive into the menu system and without having to select a function and turn another dial. It’s easy, it’s intuitive and it’s old-fashioned photography. Once I need to go to the function buttons I have all of my most-used commands assigned to the various camera buttons, so the operation is quick and smooth.
The image quality is remarkable. These pictures which I snapped in the backyard while getting the feel for the lens are all JPGs, at 400mm, pretty much straight out of the camera. No RAW post-processing needed other than to crop. And you can compare the image quality on the shots of the Goldfinch pre-crop and cropped. The X-T3 was set to shoot with the electronic shutter at a burst rate of 30 fps, which gives an additional crop factor of 1.25 on top of the 1.5 factor for the APS-C sensor, so the 400mm becomes an effective 750mm lens, or at least it gives that field of view. Shooting at 1/1000s and wide-open at f5.6 on a sunny day provides a sharp, noise-free image which I can use almost immediately. Less time in front of the computer, more time shooting. Yep, I think I’m going to enjoy this.