Why X-Trans III Is Better (And Why It Doesn’t Matter)

I recently purchased a used Fujifilm X-A3 to supplement my X100F. For some photographs an interchangeable-lens camera is a nice option to have. Occasionally the X100F isn’t versatile enough to get the shot. Most of the time the X100F is the right tool for the job, so it remains my main camera. Still, for those once-in-a-while moments, another camera is needed, or at least preferred.

The X-A3 isn’t an X-Trans camera, but it’s set up a lot like an X-Trans II camera. In fact, it’s kind of like having an X-Trans II camera with the resolution of an X-Trans III camera. I’ve had it for a few weeks now, and I’ve come to realize that X-Trans III is better. Not that the X-A3 is bad, because it’s actually surprisingly good, but there are some situations where X-Trans III is superior. None of this should shock anyone.

The JPEG options in particular are better on X-Trans III cameras. Sometimes with the X-A3 I just can’t achieve in-camera the desired results, while X-Trans III cameras would have no problems at all with the situation. I don’t always encounter this issue, only occasionally. Specifically, it’s low-contrast scenes, and the camera just can’t produce JPEGs with enough contrast and/or color saturation. It needs Acros or the improved Velvia, which are found on X-Trans III cameras, or the ability to go to +4, which the X-A3 cannot, as it is limited to +2.

I want to bring this down a notch, because it’s not a huge deal. Most of the time the X-A3 is perfectly capable of producing the desired results. And those instances that it cannot, it doesn’t take a whole lot of post-processing to fix the issue. It’s far from the end of the world. And as much as I would love to have purchased an X-T20 or X-E3 instead of the X-A3, there is no way that I could have justified the additional cost. I’m not dissatisfied with my decision.

Let me give you a few examples of what I’m talking about in this post. All of the photographs below were captured on a snowy, overcast day with very little contrast. The images are of a mountain that I was near, but much too far from to effectively capture with the X100F. I also captured some peaks way across the lake. No problem, I had my X-A3 with a 200mm lens plus a x2 teleconverter, making the focal-length 400mm, or 600mm when the APS-C crop factor is accounted for. I set the highlights, shadows and color (for the color images) to +2 and the dynamic range to DR100.

Straight-out-of-camera results:


Frary Peak From Willard Bay – Willard, UT – Fujifilm X-A3


Hidden Peak – Willard, UT – Fujifilm X-A3


Reeds In Willard Bay – Willard, UT – Fujifilm X-A3


Red & White Cliffs – Willard, UT – Fujifilm X-A3


Cold Cliffs – Willard, UT – Fujifilm X-A3

Same photos, with a quick edit in Nik Silver Efex or Nik Color Efex:


Frary Peak From Willard Bay – Willard, UT – Fujifilm X-A3


Hidden Peak – Willard, UT – Fujifilm X-A3


Reeds In Willard Bay – Willard, UT – Fujifilm X-A3


Red & White Cliffs – Willard, UT – Fujifilm X-A3


Cold Cliffs – Willard, UT – Fujifilm X-A3

It wasn’t difficult to get the results that I wanted with a little work on my computer, but the point is that I would have been able to achieve it without any post-processing had I had an X-Trans III camera instead of the X-A3. It’s not a big deal, but something worthwhile to note.

Not all of the photographs captured on that trip with the X-A3 needed editing. For instance, the picture below is a straight-out-of-camera JPEG:


Snow On The Docks – Willard, UT – Fujifilm X-A3

The takeaway is that X-Trans III is better than X-Trans II or the X-A3 or the new X-A5, but it’s not anything to get worked up over. If you own an X100T, don’t feel like you have to upgrade to the X100F, even though the X100F is a little better. Your X100T is still a perfectly capable camera that can deliver excellent results. If you can’t afford the new Fujifilm cameras that have been trickling out over the last couple years, don’t feel like you are missing out if you have an older model. Yes, the newer ones will be better (that’s always the case), but it’s nothing you can’t work around.

Besides that, limitations improve art. It forces you to be more creative with whatever you have. Less is more, and that’s true in so many different ways. Don’t get bogged down thinking about what you don’t have and wishing that you had better things. Just use what you have to the best of your abilities, do the best you can with what you’ve got.


  1. Matt Byrne · July 31, 2018

    “Besides that, limitations improve art. It forces you to be more creative with whatever you have.”

    So true, which is why my own X100F is due to arrive today and the 5Dii and D3300 probably won’t get a look in for a long while. The whole RAW workflow has become tiresome.

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