Home Cameras/Lenses Fujifilm Fuji X-Pro 3: The Review that is not a review

Fuji X-Pro 3: The Review that is not a review

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Image Jonas Rask

Fuji’s new X-Pro 3 is something different. It is a camera that is focused on the purist, much like the Leica M-D and M10-D. In common with these two cameras, it can present a satisfyingly blank rear end. The only difference is that there is a screen on the Fuji, but only if you tip it down.

After a long trudge through the byways of Sony, Nikon and Canon cameras, I came at the very end of 2015 to my Fujifilm destination. Initially, it was an X-T10, then my current X-T2 plus X-T20. I am therefore an established Fuji user as some readers may have spotted from my articles on Macfilos.

Image Fujifilm

I have been intrigued by the long-teased announcement of the X-Pro 3 which of course has just launched. Right from the original X-Pro 1, this has been an individualist camera model, admired for its classic and retro lines.

Some might say it has some Leica characteristics: no hump, left-hand viewfinder and even a hybrid viewfinder with a simulated rangefinder. I see this as a reciprocal compliment between Leica and Fujifilm. Great companies arrive at similarly great but not identical destinations!

Now let's see, have I got a screen on my back or not? X-Pro 1 with 35mm Fujinon, snapped by Mike Evans back in 2012, shortly after the camera was announced. This was taken in Mykonos and features the one of the famous pelicans which roam the streets. Legend has it that Jacqueline Onassis, formerly Kennedy, presented the first pelicans to the island in the 1960s. They have been strutting around town ever since.
Now let’s see, last time I looked, I had a screen on my rear. This picture was taken with the X-Pro 1 and 35mm Fujinon, by Mike Evans back in 2012, shortly after the camera was announced. It was shot in Mykonos and features one of the famous pelicans which roam the narrow streets of the Chora. Legend has it that Jacqueline Onassis, formerly Kennedy, presented the first pelicans to the island in the 1960s. They have been strutting around town ever since.

Beautiful

I must first say that I think the X-Pro 3 is a beautiful camera, classy and highly desirable. There is much to admire in the clean lines, the button layout, the retro controls and of course the stunning titanium/magnesium alloy construction which can be further enhanced by an (extra cost) Dura coating which protects against scratches. Weather-proofing protects against the wet. So far, so very good.

The X-Pro 3 shares some of the fine attributes of the award-winning X-T3, for example, the 26.1mp X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor and the latest X-Processor 4. This is indeed very good news for image quality. The X-Pro 3 can also match the X-T3 in its autofocus speeds and RAW-image burst capabilities and even improve on the X-T3 in its low-light autofocus ability.

The controls on the top plate are what you’d expect from Fuji, namely, exposure compensation, ISO and shutter speed and, of course, shutter release. In my view, the exposure compensation dial is just what the doctor ordered.

However, unlike my X-T2, there is on the X-Pro3 a combined dial for ISO and shutter speed with the need to move a sliding collar to change between the two. I’m sure I could learn to live with this but would forever, I fear, be just a little bit niggled.

I much prefer one dial for each exposure variable which is why I prefer my X-T2 to my X-T20 which has a mode dial in place of ISO. Grrrr! I am a simple bear.

Image Fujifilm
Image Fujifilm

Hybrid viewfiner

The hybrid OVF+EVF on the X-Pro 3 is much improved over the X Pro2 and indeed the X-T3 but I haven’t yet been able to see for myself. As I keep on saying, the positioning of the viewfinder on the left side of the X-Pro series, is a deal breaker for me since I have a weak right eye. Using my good left eye on this viewfinder would place my nose smack in the wrong position!

We now come to the LCD screen which merits some discussion. It is “hidden” in that the screen, which is a touch enabled incidentally, normally resides facing into the camera back. When needed, it can be flipped down through up to 180 degrees. At 90 degrees this is ideal for waist-level shooting and at full flip can be used normally. It is not, however, a multidimension tilting screen which some may find restrictive.

It could be the case that using the screen only in restricted situations is exactly what an unobtrusive retro photographer really wants. Cut down on chimping! I would find this screen no problem since I only use the screen on my X-T2 infrequently but others might not agree.

Image Fujifilm
Image Fujifilm

With the LCD face hidden, Fuji has provided a sub-panel on the rear of the LCD which is therefore visible when the LCD screen is stowed away. This small panel is equivalent to the top panel on some other cameras, displaying critical exposure information.

Now that’s a feature I like very much. But there’s more, this small panel has another mode in which it can display graphics illustrating whichever Fuji film simulation you are currently using. I like this feature very much as well.

New with the launch of the X-Pro 3 is the new “Classic Neg Superia” film simulation which looks delightful in the example I have seen. Fuji film simulations are something very special and generally show other manufacturers efforts a clean pair of heels.

New jpegs

Fuji has also significantly enhanced in-camera control of jpegs. As well as controlling the strength of grain effect, you can now control the size of the grain. You can now also apply a Curve in camera and also now set Clarity. Fuji has also added another colour chrome effect.

Chris Nicholls gives the X-Pro 3 a run for its money

I am excited by another new feature of the X-Pro 3 which is an enhanced HDR and multiple exposure capability. The first of these combines a series of images into one HDR image, the second allows the use of up to nine images in a multiple exposure. Note that crucially individual original RAW images are retained in both capabilities.

What conclusions do I draw from this review which isn’t a review?

  1. Fuji has massively improved the X-Pro offering with the arrival of the X Pro3
  2. For those who like this style of classic, retro rangefinder style of shooting it must be on their very short list.

Fuji is quite consciously offering varying ranges of cameras which do not have to appeal to everyone. When the designers get it right, as I think they have in this camera, they create a product which the intended user wants to own and keenly enjoys using.

Close to customers

It seems to me that Fuji is closer to its customers than most other manufacturers are to theirs. They listen to customer input and try to act upon it, whether this is respect of complaints or on camera design, button placing or software improvements.

Many Japanese manufacturers practise kaizen but this can often be kaizen on features or changes which their technical or finance departments consider important. The customer is rarely properly consulted. This does not apply to Fuji which sees satisfying real customer need as the underpinning for everything it does. The company has a good record of adding some, but obviously not all, the features and improvements which their customers have requested

I would end by suggesting you just read Jonas Rask’s article on the X Pro3 on this link.

Image Jonas Rask
Image Jonas Rask

Jonas is a professional photographer and a Fujifilm Ambassador who has assisted Fuji in the design of the X-Pro 3 over the last year or so.

While I acknowledge that the X-Pro 3 is a wonderful camera, I think it will be the X-T4 which I will be adding to my stable in 2020.


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9 COMMENTS

  1. I used a X-Pro 2 for just over a year and although I am a dedicated Leica man I eventually loved the Fuji more, and not least so because of it’s wondeful hybrid viewfinder, but I just cannot see the point of the X-Pro 3 with it’s swing down rear screen as apart from it looking very vulnerable when down, I also WANT a rear screen, and I want it where I can always see it so as to be able to rapidly alter my cameras settings, whereas I see this latest depatable device as nothing more than a rather silly and time wasting sop to fashion.

    • The rear screen is not for everybody, I agree Don but there are two sides to this as Jonas Rask observes. On the plus side, X Pro 3 users now have a screen which can be hidden or used. This will be the bees knees to some but not enough for others. In your case, it is clearly not enough and that’s fine. When returning to the Fuji fold, (!)why not go for an X T4 like me?
      The judgement on the wisdom of Fuji’s decision to offer something different will be in how the X Pro3 sells and they have in the past proved rather adept at providing what sectors of the market require, as their strong growth in a weak market demonstrates.

  2. I looked at the XPro 2 before I bought my Df, and was drawn to it by it near likeness to as Leica’s M range. I also liked the smaller lens than the full frame mob – however I wasn’t sure about how painful the images would be to post process, whereas I always find Leicas dng files, and Nikons nef files easy to work with in any post processing software – whereas Fuji users often have to use a two phase process to get from raw to processed output.

    However I preferred the button layout of the Df, and I like the Image Quality that Df produces as it covers such a wide spectrum and can produce the goods in serious lowlight conditions – see my latest image on flickr by means of an example. Shot at night, well after dark in a dimly lit harbour – no problem for the Df. I don’t know any other camera that makes it seem that effortless.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/daveseargeant/48970543427/

    I will be interested in seeing images from the XPro 3 when they appear in the wild, and not in the hands of the chosen Pro’s.

    Dave

    • I really like your low-light shot of Whitby Harbour, Dave, which makes your point about the merits of the Df very effectively.

      I think your reservations about post processing of Fuji RAF files are now outdated. Historic problems were real in Lightroom largely because Adobe were so slow to address what they needed to do to handle them.(This necessitated two stage solutions like Iridient Transformer) Lightroom is now very much improved I hear, although I gave up all Adobe products when they changed to a subscription model.

      There is no current need to adopt a two stage process to handle Fuji RAF files. Both Affinity Photo and Capture One Pro which I use are perfectly capable of RAW conversion, processing and finishing all in one. I also know very good results on RAF files can be achieved in Luminar and On1 both of which I have used in recent weeks.

      Images from the X Pro3 will be every bit as good as from the X T3 which has won very wide acclaim because they share exactly the same sensor and processor and of course excellent Fuji lenses. X T3’s have of course been “in the wild” for a year or more.

      • Thank you – the image was one of a few test shots hand held in low light – probably one of the ultimate tests of the kit we use. I find the Df holds up well in these circumstances, regardless of age, sensor etc etc.

        My reservations on Fuji’s ecosystem may have been that up until a few weeks back I primarily used Lightroom 5 – notoriously this may be where my research took me last year prior to the Df purchase.

        I am now attempting to work via Luminar, as my Lightroom has been switched off by upgrades to Mac OSX recently. So I am now getting behind with my workflow while I rewire my processing and thinking. I dont, and wont buy in to Adobe’s ecosystem, however good I found Lightroom 5. I only hope they one day realise this and create stand alone products to the same degree as the old Lightroom stuff.

        As for ever switching to a Fuji, or other camera – I see myself only buying at least one more in the future, and that would be an M series camera and lens – and only if my eyesight holds up. If it doesnt, then I will stick to the Df/X combination until either or both die – and then worry about what I do next.

        At that point any brand could turn up in a future search. After all I hadn’t owned a Leica until I bought the X, and I love its output. I also love the Df, and had never owned a full frame Nikon when I bought it. So both where shots in the dark.

  3. Having worked my way through a lot of Fuji cameras (XT1, XT2, XH1, all sold and now own just an X-T30 and just picked up an old X100s the other day) I’m in the Fuji ecosystem but have always found something missing. Something not quite right and something lacking from allowing me to fully love their cameras. Maybe I’ve been spoilt as I’ve also owned a Leica M9, still have an M240 and M10 which I love. Maybe because I have been spoilt by Leica’s incredible lenses and simplicity, I always expect Fuji to give me the same UX. But no. They offer so much more in terms of technology. But ultimately that doesn’t really matter to me. It just complicates my shooting experience. But ultimately, the thing that stops me from finding the use case for the XPro3 is full frame. Fuji cameras just never offer me the perceived creativity I look for in a camera that comes with a FF. Sure you can use the 56 1.2 for bokeh kicks but that lens left me cold (bought and sold twice now.) It never felt like a walk around lens due to size and the focal length is too specific. I would be more interested if Fuji were to go FF but it’ll probably never happen (the lenses wouldn’t work on full frame anyway) so I look at the Xpro 3 and admire their choices on the hidden screen etc, but I don’t want this camera. Happy with the X100s as a chuck it in the bag camera and the M10 for everything else. And yes, I do look at the screen from time to time 😆

    • Dannybuoy, its very good for me to hear from another actual Fuji user! I envy you both your X T30 and your recently acquired X100S. Good that you are hanging on in there with Fuji cameras and lenses and long may that continue!

      As you know, Fuji have consciously decided to focus on apsc and Medium Format which seems very wise to me since the FF sector is sizzling with big gun competition. In Fuji’s apsc range of cameras, there are choices of very competent styles and capabilities. You can also add in what is arguably a full range of apsc lenses as good or better than any in the market, barring some gaps in the long primes above 200mm which are likely to be filled shortly.

      I have owned and used the 56mm f1.2 which is a delightful lens but slow focussing. I don’t take many portraits so I sold it to help finance another lens.

      I can appreciate your happiness with your Leicas. Although I have never owned one myself, I can see the quality of images produced by those who do and the satisfaction they find in using them It is only fair to observe however that the cost of Leica cameras and lenses makes the cost and quality of cameras and lenses produced by Fuji seem too good to be true. The X Pro3 is astonishingly good value by comparison. of course, I appreciate it isn’t your choice.

      Many professional photographers use Fuji apsc cameras for their work: Jonas Rask, Dan Bailey (No relation), Damien Lovegrove, Kevin Mullins to name the first four that come to mind.

      Fuji are doing something, indeed a lot, right!

  4. I love the idea/look of this camera. It’s a niche product, and if you accept that from the outset, then it simply comes down to can it do what you want from it, not whether it can do everything.

    I’m an X100F owner (and an X20) and the dual role iso dial doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I’m strongly considering selling the X100F to find an Xpro3. Add the three small F/2 primes and you have a very solid, weathersealed kit. I shoot all my cameras with the LCD closed (if possible) so the Leica M-D type idea of the Xpro 3 will be fine. The one negative that comes to mind is access to custom setups. If you could set this camera up for several different scenarios on mechanical dials and virtually never need to dive into menus then the screen issue becomes irrelevant for me. I guess you can make changes through the EVF but how annoying that proves to be remains to be seen.

    On the raw processing, imo the biggest strength of Fuji is their jpeg outputs. Getting closer and closer to not having to use raws, and if you pick the right film simulation for the moment the results can be beautiful. But that brings us back to making fast changes without having to flip the screen down.

    I think I’d go the standard black one.

    • Good to hear from you,Jason, with your enthusiastic Fuji experience.

      I agree entirely that the touchstone is whether the X Pro3 does what you want. Fuji offer creative choices of models and do not expect to satisfy everyone with one solution.

      I shoot in Raw plus jpeg and like you try to match film simulation to the moment. However, if I want to use different simulations after the event then I can do this easily in Capture Pro 12 from the RAW.

      In camera I assign film simulations to a Function button so its easy to change.

      I agree the black one is best.

      Happy Fuji shooting!

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