Best Mirrorless Cameras of 2018 – FUJIFILM X-T3 Overall Winner

December 6th, 2018
Best Mirrorless Cameras of 2018 – FUJIFILM X-T3 Overall Winner

Edit: Adding the Panasonic GH5s to our list. Simply left it out by mistake as I was already testing it during 2017….

Here at cinema5D we feel lucky enough to test, review and share our unbiased honest professional opinion with our filmmaking community. The reward is the trust we get from our audience. This leads me to our “Best Mirrorless Camera for 2018” list. EVERY camera in this list was tested by us inside-out and in regards to the winner, we welcome you to comment below. Rest assured that 2019 will be EVEN MORE exciting, but for now, let’s say goodbye to 2018…. 

2018 is slowly but surely fading out and I hope you will agree that this year was one of the best for the aspiring (independent) filmmaker when it comes to the choice of production equipment and especially high quality mirrorless cameras. During this year, almost every major camera manufacturer released shiny new toys, but for the sake of this article, we will only concentrate on large sensor mirrorless cameras ranging from micro 4/3 inch to full frame sensor sizes. We are also fully aware that at times we will be comparing “apples to oranges” as some of our final candidates were simply designed to win the hearts of different users, yet as independent (and at times “on the budget”) filmmakers we at cinema5D tend to believe that one will be investing his/her hard earned cash on only a single camera that might serve him/her best.

Full Frame Category Winner – Sony a7 III

It’s funny to think how February 2018 looks so far away, but that was the time when I first saw the camera and had a chance to play with it a bit. Already then it was clear that Sony had created something unique when it comes to sensor size, performance and price point. My assumption was reassured after reviewing the camera a month later. The new Sony a7 III turned out to be a camera that redefines the word “basic model” (This is how Sony referred to it), and if this is what Sony puts in a basic camera (features and quality/performance wise), then there is certainly something to look for during 2019. (cough cough, Sony a7S III)…

Here is how I concluded my opinion about the camera after reviewing it:

Sony a7 III Conclusion:

The key element for me is the right balance between its price and specifications. Sony did a really good job in packing a lot of technology into a well-priced full frame mirrorless camera body. In my opinion, this is a great all-round shooting device with a good level of video performance and a nice stills functionality (at least this is what I heard from colleagues who have tried the camera and are shooting photos professionally). Our desires for 4K higher frame rates like 50/60p, higher bit rate,  colour depth and maybe even a built-in ND filter will have to wait for the next round of announcements.

Full Frame Running Candidate – Canon EOS R:

recently reviewed the new Canon mirrorless camera and while technically it is being regarded as a full frame camera, when it comes to shooting video, the image is heavily cropped but for the sake of order let’s leave it here, in the full frame category…. All in all it performed well but I’d be curious to see what Canon has under its sleeve for 2019. The people from Canon we talked to emphasized the fact that this is a “first generation” mirrorless camera so hopefully, some of its shortcomings can be fixed on the next model to come.

Missing from our list – Nikon Z6 and Z7:

We simply haven’t had a chance to test those cameras yet but as good as they might be for shooting video, when looking at recent mirrorless cameras sales figures coming out of Japan and the declining shares of Nikon, I have to have my doubts if any of those new cameras will really be a turnaround for Nikon in the ever-evolving mirrorless video shooting market.

APS-C Category Winner – FUJIFILM X-T3

FUJIFILM was very busy bringing nice well-budgeted filming tools for the independent filmmaker during 2018. In February they introduced the X-H1 which combined high-quality video performance and in-body stabilization system. Later in September, the X-T3 was released. While the X-H1 is a good camera, the X-T3 has managed to become one of my favorite working tools for the following reasons: Ease of handling, picture quality and autofocus performance (just to name a few). In general, this camera feels like a “Swiss Army Knife” when it comes to flexibility and choice of resolution/frame rates and such. Last but not least: the price. This camera gives competitors a run for the money when it comes to video and photo performance. FUJIFILM really managed to create and deliver an affordable high-quality working tool. What is really missing in order to make this little camera even more capable is an internal body stabilization system but even without it, with the right choice of lenses, (Especially for run&gun situations), this camera really shines!

Here is how I concluded my opinion about the camera after reviewing it:

FUJIFILM X-T3 Conclusion 

It is no secret that FUJIFILM is heavily invested in making affordable cinema lenses for E (Sony) and X (FUJIFILM) mounts (MK and MKX series of lenses). In my opinion, this is guaranteeing us that FUJIFILM will not stop here. Furthermore, by introducing the first ever APS-C sensor size camera that can shoot 10-Bit video internally, FUJIFILM is positioning itself at the forefront and becoming a serious candidate to consider when thinking of shooting video on a mirrorless camera. It is one of those companies that have no higher video market share to protect and as such, they are free to move forward as fast as their R&D capabilities and budget allows. This particular camera should get some love and attention from the filmmaking community. For users who are heavily invested in lenses from other brands, I can only hope that some sort of a program can be established by FUJIFILM or alternatively, some other solution can be found in order to make people actually try it. We hear a lot about the love for a particular  “colour science”. This camera can easily produce “analogue looking” images and furthermore, if you take photos with it, in my opinion, it is the one that looks the least digital.

APS- C Running Candidate – Fujifilm X-H1

As I wrote above, this is a very nice camera with the advantage of having an internal body stabilisation system but other than that,  it can not compete in terms of picture quality and autofocus performance with the newer X-T3.

Micro 4/3 Category Winner – Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4k

Announced during April this year, this much anticipated new Pocket Cinema Camera has already been shipping since October and with no doubt, it managed to capture the attention of many, mostly because of its capabilities in shooting RAW and ProRes in a small package, exceptionally nice images, and a very attractive price.  When I mentioned “comparing apples to oranges”, I was referring to this camera. Some of its shortcomings like the absence of an in-body stabilization system and the absence of a continuous autofocus function are regarded by some as “not needed” as the word “Cinema” should already indicate to what target users Blackmagic design aimed when designing the camera. This might be true, but when looking at a saturated competitive market, I think it will be wise to look beyond the “Cinema” badge and evaluate the camera and what it can do opposed the other alternatives out there. I’m fully aware that the last sentence alone might cause some people to respond and question if the BMPCC 4K and the FUJIFILM X-T3 (for example) can be even compared. Again, as I see most of the people spending their money and buying ONE production tool, my clear answer is YES!

Here is how Nino concluded his opinion about the camera after reviewing it:

BMPCC 4K Conclusion
There are many more things to say about the  Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, but please do watch the video if you haven’t seen it yet, as many things are covered there in more detail. Blackmagic really did their homework with this one and listened to as many customers as possible when designing the successor to their original Pocket Camera. The image out of it is beautiful and “cinematic”, the dynamic range is better than the one of similar cameras in the market right now, and it’s just very enjoyable shooting with it. It’s not a perfect camera of course, but it has a lot to offer.

Micro 4/3 Running Candidate – Panasonic GH5s
Amazing how time is flying. I tested the GH5s at the end of 2017 and published our review at the beginning of January 2018….All in all, it is a very solid camera with a much enhanced lowlight performance over the original GH5. The questionable autofocus system was greatly improved later this year when the latest firmware was introduced. Another thing that bothered some users was the absence of IBIS. As the GH5 has it, many were hoping to see this feature being implemented in this camera also but for different reasons that never happened.

Here is how I concluded my opinion about the camera after reviewing it:

In my opinion, the new Panasonic GH5S is a very capable camera and a more versatile shooting tool than the original GH5 – unless you are a photographer. The lacking IBIS is a let-down.

FUJIFILM X-T3 is our winner for best large sensor mirrorless camera for 2018

Best Mirrorless Camera for 2018 – FUJIFILM X-T3 is the Overall Winner!

All the mentioned cameras above are extremely capable filming devices so coming to a final conclusion was not an easy thing to do, BUT, when combining our actual shooting experience, general performance and price point, then the FUJIFILM X-T3 comes up as the best large sensor mirrorless camera for 2018.

On a personal note: Since its introduction, I’ve shot several projects with it around the world and was not let down even once. I LOVE its small size, I love having an EVF and I love its versatility. It allows me, as an independent freelance filmmaker, to fulfill (almost) any request coming from a producer/director, be it concerning a resolution/frame rate/color depth and such. Sure it is not perfect but for the cost it is doing a great job for what it is.

Last but not least: This article is all about different shooting tools. One should not forget that at the end of the day it is the storytelling that will win over an audience.

Happy shooting and a happy new year (almost!) from the cinema5D team

What is your favorite large sensor mirrorless camera for 2018? Please share with us your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Simon
Simon
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December 16th, 2018

“VERY camera in this list was tested by us inside-out and in regards to the winner” … “Missing from our list – Nikon Z6 and Z7: We simply haven’t had a chance to test those cameras yet ”

…!?

 SMP Saint Marks Pictures LLC
SMP Saint Marks Pictures LLC
Member
December 12th, 2018

I just finished my first project on an XT3 – half doc and half narrative. I used the Fuji 16-55 and 50-140 for the doc portion and Leica cinevised R set for the narrative part. A few observations. The AF is quick and accurate. Manual with the F lenses isn’t fun – too much rotation. Shot to Atomos Ninja V. While I love much about the NV, it cannot monitor the entire DCI 4k image (crops left / right – making critical framing difficult) so we opted for UHD. Used Small Rig cage with their rosewood side handles. Fun way to shoot doc instead of usual shoulder mount. For the narrative part, we had issues. Atomos NV would not output to Vaxis 500+ transmitter. We needed wireless HD for focus and client monitor. Apparently other people have issues outputting to Teradek TX as well. Atomos needs to fix this as these are the two most popular wireless systems and needed when you want to pull focus or monitor on steadicam, gimbal, cranes, vehicle work, etc. Atomos suggested using an HDMI splitter – an inane idea considering lossless splitters require 5V power supply and will not split 4k60422.

So I swapped out the NV for a Small HD 502, looped out to Vaxis TX and recorded to internal cards instead. I really couldn’t see much of a difference. I’m sure it’ll be more apparent with 60p 4k. What most impressed me about the Xt3 over my Gh5s is the highlight roll off. It’s noticeably less “clippy” than my GH. And when it does blow out, it’s not so abrupt. We also used a Kipon .71 focal reducer (speedbooster) with the Leica R’s. It’s very well built, clean optics, and the full frame image it produces on Leicas is gorgeous. However rigging the Kipon is a POA. Small Rig’s cage does not have a lens adaptor brace yet. So we had to use a 15mm lens support. That made the adaptor to camera support rock solid but the lens to adaptor support still has micro jiggles that magnify with longer focal lengths. If you’re gentle with your direction changes on the follow focus it’s acceptable. In short, Metabones needs to make a XF to EF Speedbooster with their PL Cinelock mount. I used that with my GH5 and nothing moved except the focus ring.

So if you have the XT3, pressure Atomos to get its output compatibility together, Small Rig to make an adaptor mount for their cage and Metabones to make a Cine Lock XF to EF Speedbooster. They will respond.

 SMP Saint Marks Pictures LLC
SMP Saint Marks Pictures LLC
Member
December 10th, 2018

Could you elaborate on lens choices for the XT3? I just did my first shoot with mine, using the Fuji 16-35 2.8 and 50-140 2.8. While the AF is for the most part excellent, I do wish it had touch screen AF prompting. At times, especially in ECU’s, it would default to hair instead of eyes. Also, it’s noteworthy the manual focus is impossible for doc situations since the focus by wire requires way too much turning for quick focus (almost 360 degrees). It’s a shame as these lenses are the best built and optically clean lenses still lenses I’ve worked with. It would’ve been genius is they incorporated real manual focus like Olympus. I do hope Sigma gets into the X mount game. I really need true manual override.

 SMP Saint Marks Pictures LLC
SMP Saint Marks Pictures LLC
Member
December 12th, 2018
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

Sorry, I meant the 16-55 2.8. Good to know about the touch focus. It seems when I touch it has no effect on the focus square on the VF. I’m sure I must’ve disabled it somehow. Still learning the ins/outs of this camera. Also, after going nuts for about 20 minutes, I discovered if you use manual lenses, you have to go three deep in the menu and disable a function or you cannot record.

 SMP Saint Marks Pictures LLC
SMP Saint Marks Pictures LLC
Member
December 10th, 2018

I love your reviews and when I can’t get my hands on something, they are a great resource for purchases. That said, you may want to revisit your XT3 review. Your rolling shutter rating may be in error. While the rolling shutter is minimal in FHD, more in line with your numbers, I find the 4k DCI and UHD rolling shutter at least double C5D’s rating. It’s not AS7II bad but it’s considerably worse than my GH5s. I’d peg it at 18-20ms. While not disastrous, it’s far from good, and in some cases unacceptable. Maybe I have something in my settings that makes it bad. If not, I strongly suggest you verify your tests again on this. Let me know if your real world results confirm my suspicions. Thanks.

 SMP Saint Marks Pictures LLC
SMP Saint Marks Pictures LLC
Member
December 8th, 2018

Johnnie, I just picked up the Xt3 (after my GH5s got stolen via KitSplits – another story). Coming from Panasonic, I find the simpler menu system and AF more than welcome. I’d like to get your opinions on ideal settings. Also, maybe I’m missing it, but is there any way aside from an external monitor to impose 1:85 or 2:40 frame guides? I plan to attach a Ninja V as well. Thoughts? Last, I bought the Small Rig cage for it. Absolutely perfect. Must have.

 SMP Saint Marks Pictures LLC
SMP Saint Marks Pictures LLC
Member
December 10th, 2018
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

Yeah, I got the 2228. The bottom is swiss Arca, the left side NATO. The fit is unbelievable. Not a hassle to take on/off like Movcam.

 antoine amanieux
antoine amanieux
Member
December 7th, 2018

great choice xt3 is as good if not better than a7III in all aspects but low light https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pRvhxTw72c. bmpcc4k has a weird positioning offering RAW at $1300, at 810TB per hour it will cost you $30/hour to backup so the price of the body is rapidly dwarfed by the price of storage. xt3 like the samsung nx1 4 years ago is really making things move because they don’t have a higher video market share to protect.

Joe S
Joe S
Guest
December 7th, 2018

The main issue is lens choices and increasingly “dumb” lenses are a total pain in the ass. Those news/doc shooters who have worked with Canon Dual-Pixel, particularly in tough environments have come to really rely and love it. The XT3 does a great job with AF, but sadly there simply aren’t enough lenses available for it or serious enough ones for a pro.

Edward Andrews
Edward Andrews
Member
December 7th, 2018
Reply to  Joe S

How many lenses do you need to shoot as a pro? I’ve shot a few films with one focal length, and many projects with just a long and wide. All depends on the shooting conditions and what you need to get. I’ve got an XT3 and a couple of fuji lens for the AF, then EF adaptor for a set of vintage primes and also a PL mount adaptor for when budget allows cine glass. The APSC sized sensor makes it very adaptable.

Jim Nance
Jim Nance
Guest
December 15th, 2018
Reply to  Joe S

What lenses are missing from the Fujifilm line-up in order for a “pro” to shoot video?

Clemens
Clemens
Guest
December 25th, 2018
Reply to  Joe S

Joe is talking about news/doc here and I totally get what he’s saying. I am using my Fujifilm x cameras for a couple of years now and used most of their lenses (for photo only). Let’s say you are shooting an event in bad light condition. For photo it’s not a big deal, as I don’t need OS or IBIS – I’d just take a fast prime. But for video?
Maybe 18-55 but no constant f-stop, so you have to shoot it f4. Not really fast, especially for apsc. I know, there are gimbals out there, but the compact form factor is the main advantage about those hybrid cams for me.

Diogene
Diogene
Guest
December 7th, 2018

Absolutely deserved.
This camera is great and put on ‘ashame mode’ the other Japanese brands.
10bit video internal recording must be a basic functionality on an any +500$ camera in 2019.
Brand start BS with 8k but no body want 8k at 8bit color depth.
Camera between 1500$ and 9999$ must offer as a basic functionality raw recording with at least 12 bit colors depth. Over 10000$ must be 14bit color depth.
Look like that anyone forget the basic rule that you learn at school: 1 stop = 3db = 1bit and please avoid to look silly talking about internal gamma curve and lut’s.
We are in 2019 and we want a raw image with 1 bit for each stop of the sensor dynamic range.
All other BS is just for V-blogger and hollydays movie contest.
Keep Calm and let the pro talk pro.

Timmy Philip
Guest
December 7th, 2018

THIS IS NOT A CINEMA CAMERA FOLKKS

 SMP Saint Marks Pictures LLC
SMP Saint Marks Pictures LLC
Member
December 10th, 2018
Reply to  Timmy Philip

And your point?

Frank
Frank
Guest
December 7th, 2018

Where is sony’s flagship APSc? Sony must have planned the launch and saw XT3 launched, and went back to the drawing board.

Member
December 6th, 2018

I’ve been shooting the Sony mirrorless since the A7R introduction, coming from the Canon 5D2. Enjoying the ease of shooting video too with this new mirrorless tech. Not tried the X-T3 yet, but it’s on my list now Capture One Pro supports the FUJI film styles for us stills guys *this interests me* as I’m not a fan of the digital look.

Nice job FUJIFILM, you’re hitting both stills and video markets squarely on target, and more importantly, your kit is actually affordable in this world of declining budgets!

Esteban Marenco
Guest
December 6th, 2018

I knew it.

Kevin Luiz
Guest
December 6th, 2018

meanwhile… not even a mention of the GH5S launched in January 2018 (which dominates a number of listed cameras in feature sets). Redheaded step child of cinema5D?

Member
December 6th, 2018
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

Hey Johnnie,

Thanks for the response and nice edit! Just thought it was worth mentioning. Keep up the good work. – Kevin

Sören Lindhoff
Guest
December 6th, 2018

Camera of the year : A7 III. X-T3 got it in the lower price bracket. So this is kind of misleading ;)

 John Parr
John Parr
Member
December 6th, 2018

He said in the article that it was based on shooting experience, performance and price point. So no, it’s not really misleading at all. With that said, we all have our own personal opinion and preference and that is perfectly fine.

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