That is about all I can say. Finally the cat is out of the bag. I know that the general public got a good preview of the X-Pro3 at the development announcement in Shibuya back in September. But now I can finally share my story about the magnificent X-Pro3 with you all.
Truth is that I was introduced to this camera more than a year ago. Or, at least, the very early ideas of what would eventually become the X-Pro3.
This will NEVER be a review. I am simply way too biased and involved with the whole project to be able to give a balanced review. Much more so than with the regular Fujifilm releases. That doesn’t mean that this run through won’t be as extensive as usual, cause it will be. In the following article I will show you all the little new tricks that this camera has up its sleeve, as well as tell you a little bit about the unique story of a Dane who got invited to come to Japan multiple times to give input and discuss ideas with the engineers and designers responsible for creating this beautiful camera.
This camera is not just the camera of my dreams, it’s a camera that I actually had a small voice in creating. It’s beyond my describing ability to iterate how blessed I feel to have been a part of this project.
More so than ever before, Fujifilm has taken a stance with the X-Pro line. This is a camera for a different kind of photographer. A photographer who doesn’t require all the ultimate flexibility that you can get from the X-T series. A type of photographer that doesn’t need to engage in a raging specs-war. The X-Pro3 is a camera for those who want to hold a tool in their hands that they can connect with. A tool that will enable an almost invisible link between their mind/eye and the scene in front of them. An invisible enabler of creativity.
Some people will always argue that you can do the same thing with lesser/different gear – and then by all means, these people should use whatever they feel like using. And that’s the thing. Fujifilm is giving people a choice.
Before we get going for real, I need to do a couple of disclaimers like I usually do just to set everything straight. Feel free to skip everything but number 3 😉
Disclaimer 1: I’m an X-photographer. That’s spelled brand ambassador for Fujifilm. I don’t get paid for doing these write ups (and I have been doing them even before getting involved with Fujifilm). This means that I’m just about as biased as I can get, and whether you choose to believe my views or not is entirely up to you. I expect you to be adults, capable of forming your own opinions based on presented information.
Disclaimer 2: All the images in this article has been shot using 6 different prototypes of the X-Pro3 camera. Image quality might therefore not be final, although I have been told that it is.
Disclaimer 3: All shots with- and of the product has been shot by me, and is not to be used without my explicit permission.
The great divide
Never in my entire photographic career have I seen people online get so worked up over a camera and its features (or lack of). One could argue whether this is a bad thing or a good thing. One thing is certain, FUJIFILM sure as hell have gotten a lot of publicity out of the X-Pro3 by simply revealing a little bit to the public.
Internet dynamics are always funny to observe. Especially since the loudest voices always tend to be those of big emotional attachment and less those of experience.
Somehow the sense of entitlement with some of these people seem to push all reason and rational thinking aside.
The big issue this time around seem to be about the screen. The fact that it doesn’t swivel, the fact that it doesn’t tilt right, the fact that it isn’t what people are used to. I’m not here to defend it, I’m merely saying that people should try it out before making the assumption that it will suck.
It’s quite simple really. Some people will love the X-Pro3 and some people will hate it. Fujifilm took a stance and decided to try to avoid the “try to please everyone, ending up pleasing no-one”. Instead they went ahead a made a unique product, with unique solutions, that I don’t see any other manufacturers in todays cameraindustry trying to achieve. Fujifilm wanted to push some innovation on a user-experience level instead of on a technical level. Imagine a camera world without that bravery, and we’d all be left with DSLR humps, spec races and smartphone computational photography.
Fujifilm dare to be different, and I will forever applaud that.
I have posted many images on this blog the past year from my trips to Tokyo. My first visit ever was in October 2018. I was told before I flew out that there would be meetings, and that I was to prepare some thoughts about the future X-Pro camera!
So I did. I did some sketches on my iPad on the plane, and tried to incorporate some thoughts that I had been having for a long time.
At the meeting, I was presented with a somewhat clear vision of what Fujifilm wanted to do. I mixed in my suggestions, and we had some very productive sessions.
It’s quite funny now to look at the sketches and ideas and seeing points like “Touch screen with flip (maybe hidden)” and “new film new – Natura/Superia”. Fujifilm already had the idea of the reversed flipscreen, so I mainly made some points about curve control, interface cleanup etc.
Then we talked about materials, and when they dropped the T word (Titanium) I was quite blown away! As luck would have it I found my Titanium TX-1 on this very trip, further advocating that they indeed continued with Titanium as a material for the X-Pro3.
Over the course of 2019, many mockups were made, and I was finally able to hold Prototype 0001 in my hands in May at Fujikina 2019 in Tokyo. Since July this year I have shot nothing else than the X-Pro3, giving it probably my most thorough test-run to date. So let’s get into all the nitty gritty details of this amazing camera.
The design and build
With the X-Pro3, Fujifilm is stepping up big time in the build and feel, as well as user experience, department. Not since the late 90’s have we seen cameras being crafted from Titanium. An insanely durable material, but also a material that is a pain in the behind to work with while making the camera.
Fujifilm did it because they wanted to make the X-Pro3 even more durable and sturdy than its predecessors, but as a side-effect they end up making a camera that is visually stunning as well as very unique.
The X-Pro3 is presented in three different color variants at launch.
- A raw titanium color version called “DuraSilver”
- A grey titanium coating version called “DuraBlack”
- A painted black version called “Black”
While the two first versions feature coating that are sapphire class scratch resistant, the black paint will wear, just like other black painted models.
The DuraBlack version also really is more of a dark grey/matté graphite finish. It is truly stunning to behold. It doesn’t have the same sheen to it as the old X-Pro2 Graphite coated edition, but it is a very unique Titanium grey/graphite color. I really can’t describe it. It has to be seen in the flesh I guess.
The DuraSilver is the same color as the raw titanium. That means a silver color with a slight golden/yellow colorcast. Just like you can see on the Leica M6 Titanium, Nikon 28/35Ti, Leica Minilux, Contax G1/G2 and last but not least, like the Fujifilm TX-1.
The DuraSilver is by far my favourite color, but to be honest, the DuraBlack has really gotten under my skin during the past 3 months. I think I’m just going to get all three, cause I simply can’t decide!
(There have been some online concerns about poor heat dissipation when using titanium as a material for enclosures. This has absolutely no effect on the camera performance. None! The X-Pro3 delivers 4K DCI at 200mbps like a boss without overheating.)
The Titanium is actually pressed, milled and polished in a process at a factory that Fujifilm isn’t enclosing where is. This process of production makes the camera curves a bit more rounded, but at the same time the Front of the top plate has seen a distinct shortening of the accent line that we have been used to on the X-Pro1 and X-Pro2.
This makes the X-Pro3 appear very clean and minimalistic in its design.
The top plate is still slanted a bit where the dials are seated, retaining the design that sets it apart from the X100 series and the Leica M cameras.
On the left side of the camera front Fujifilm added a new accent line going vertical by giving it an angled slant. This looks really cool, even though its not immediately noticeable.
Apart from the Titanium material on the Top- and bottom plates the all dominating change/feature of the X-Pro3 design is obviously the backside of the camera. This is where you will find a newly redesigned eyepiece, a simplified button layout, the lack of D-Pad, and last but not least the new LCD screen design.
As I wrote further up in this article, I have never witnessed such hate over something like a tilting mechanism of an LCD screen. It just goes to show, that the X-Pro camera series is definitely a thing that a lot of photographers feel very passionate about!
But we’ll get to the screen a little further down. Let’s talk a little bit about all the other design features/decisions first.
Fujifilm seriously decided to clean up the interface on the back of the camera. I remember in the initial meetings that my suggestions were even more reductive and minimal, but I really like how they decided to place the physical buttons on the camera.
Fujifilm removed the D-Pad (Oh no the horror! Apply sarcasm as needed) People seem to be loosing their sh*t over this, when in fact the removal of the D-Pad isn’t at all surprising. The first time we saw this removal of the D-Pad was with the X-E3, then with the GFX50R, and now also the X-Pro3. Fujifilm seem to take a very deliberate route with its “rangefinder’esque” designed cameras. I personally have not missed it since the X-E3, and after using the GFX50R for over a year, I wouldn’t even have it any other way. It gives my thumb an extra space to rest without having to fiddle around with weird button-lock features.
There’s no longer a “view mode” button, since with the new hidden screen, it’s a useless feature anyway. I actually hated that it had become function bloated beyond belief in the X-Pro2, so kudos for removing it.
Other than that Fujifilm re-arranged the remaining buttons a little bit, actually mimicking the layout of the GFX50R and making the drive button function as delete when in playbackmode and drive when in shooting mode. Good call.
The very cool thing this time around is that you have complete customisable control over the remaining buttons. The Q-menu isn’t even locked to the dedicated Q button anymore, and can be assigned to whatever you wish. This flexibility is awesome – So thank you Fujifilm for that! Finally!
Ports, connections and battery
The main connection to the camera is now a USB-C type connection. You can also charge through this cable, even when just hooking it into your laptop. There are now two full speed UHSII SD card slots and a mic/remote jack.
There’s Wifi and bluetooth onboard, just like on the XT3. Battery is the same NP-W126s type that you can find in all of the newer X-series cameras. Fujifilm promises 370 shots per battery, which I found to be quite accurate.
The new eyepiece and OVF
The new eyepiece features a much larger entrance-pupil than that of the X-Pro2. It also features a much harder plastic/rubber ring, that won’t detach with use like was the case on the X-Pro2 eyepiece. It was a very weak point of the X-Pro2. Fujifilm also decided to redo the diopter regulation mechanism. It’s now recessed into the eyepiece, making it hard if not impossible to turn by accident in your bag etc.
The entrance pupil has a small yet noticeable oval shape being a couple of millimeter higher than it is wide. I don’t know the reason for this, but I do know that it is very comfortable even for an eyeglass user such as myself.
Fujifilm needed to improve the EVF while maintaining the OVF. This meant having to remove the dual magnification function of the X-Pro1 and 2 and reducing the OVF magnification to 0.52x (0.60x in the X-Pro2).
The OVF is big and bright, and to be honest I don’t notice the 0.08x difference in magnification. I do notice the impressive improvements to the EVF portion, though. But more on that later.
The top and front
The top plate and front of the camera are largely unchanged. The top plate features the same combo shutter/ISO dial, but now with an added “C” ISO position, where you can then use the front command dial to change ISO.
THANK YOU FUJIFILM FOR FINALLY MAKING THAT HAPPEN!
The exposure compensation dial is now harder to turn by accident because of added resistance to the spring mechanism, which I guess is a welcome feature for those of you who use that dial. I don’t use it, since I shoot full manual and adjust exposure using ISO.
The shutter button has a longer travel distance when depressing it halfway compared to the X-Pro2. This is good for avoiding accidental fire I guess. It’s one of those tactile things that is so subjective to the feel of the product, so some people will like it, and some people won’t. But everyone will get used to it after 100 shots anyways.
The front features the same functions as the X-Pro2 except that the front command dial no longer depresses as a button. It’s a sole function scroll wheel now. Then there’s the aforementioned changed to accentlines to the front top plate and the left side of the camera.
The hidden tiltscreen & submonitor
Again I have to say that I have never seen such strong feelings expressed regarding something as simple as an LCD screen. But none the less that has indeed been the case with the new X-Pro3 LCD screen design.
A lot of people have wanted a tilt screen on the back of the next X-Pro camera for various reasons. I’m one of those people who would love to have tilt screens on my cameras. I don’t buy into the whole thinking of purism within the rangefinder segment, that they can only be fitted with fixed screens etc etc.
If Fujifilm had gotten rid of the screen altogether like Leica did some years ago, that would at least warrant all the hateful comments about Fujifilm spitting in the faces of their core customers yada yada yada. But the fact is that Fujifilm didn’t do that.
Fujifilm found a way to incorporate a tilt screen that the vast majority of the X-Pro users longed for while trying to maintain their philosophy of being unique and trying different approaches.
What Fujifilm wants us to do is start thinking about how we use our digital cameras. Are we focused when we shoot? Do we use the eyepiece to shut out the world, compose and concentrate on our art? Or do we hold out our cameras and shoot randomly into the wild? Do we constantly miss an opportune shot while we are busy chimping away at what we just captured?
Now a little word for those people who have been very busy complaining in a very entitled fashion online this past month. Fujifilm wants us to enjoy a modern photography tool with an oldschool charm. If that doesn’t work for you, go buy an X-T3, stick to your X-Pro2 or switch to another camera brand. No one cares what you do, except you. Make that count! Choose your tool, and know that Fujifilm isn’t trying to harm you in particular, they’re simply trying to make a camera that they believe fit the bill.
The hidden tilt screen is out of the way when you need it to be, and it’s there for you when you need it. Shooting from the hip has never been easier. Even from a neurophysiological point of view the bottom hinge pull-down motion makes sense, cause that is actually what you already set your mind to doing. Kneeling, looking down etc. The downward flip is much more natural in that line of motorneuron activation instead of the “pull-out-flip-a-little-then-push-down” action required when using e.g. the XT3 tiltscreen.
After using this camera for 3 months I can with absolute certainty say that it is the best, most functional tilt screen I have ever used. I have gotten so many shots because of it, that I would not have gotten on the X-Pro2. And that in itself warrants the presence of it for me!
After Fujifilm decided on the hidden screen option, we toyed around with different ideas of sub monitors. I suggested going forward with a small top plate display akin the one on the TX-1 that shows you the remaining shots on the film. This could be used to show ISO or chosen filmsimulation. However the small design of the X-Pro3 didn’t allow for this option, so other options were explored.
The resulting sub monitor is genius. It has a design function, in that it breaks the otherwise very bare and plain looking back of the LCD. The idea is to have it display the “film box art” of whatever film simulation you’re using, but while giving you live info on ISO and WB.
The graphics that Fujifilm designed for this screen are downright gorgeous and they look just like when I mount some “film flaps” on the back of my film cameras.
The sub monitor does have two modes, the above mentioned mode is the classic mode, and the other mode is the same as you have on the GFX50S/100 and X-H1. It will show you all the info that you could possibly want.
Technical specifications and features
Let’s start off with the inevitable. The X-Pro3 tech spec chart. This is the complete chart directly from Fujifilm, so there are A LOT of numbers! So if you’re into that sort of thing – press the link to get a full spec .pdf file! (I hope I’ll see you back here for the rest of the article though 😛 )
In the following paragraphs I’ll go through the new additions/functions as compared to the X-Pro2, as well as a basic run through.
Sensor & Processor
The sensor inside the X-Pro3 is the same 26.1MP X-Trans4 APSC BSI sensor found inside the X-T3. And the processor is also the same X as in the X-T3. So if you want to know what the X-Pro3 can deliver in terms of raw image bursts, autofocus speeds etc. You can check out my X-T3 review right here, with burst mode examples etc.
In addition to all the fast autofocus capabilities, fast 11 fps continuous modes, 100% PDAF sensor coverage etc etc the X-Pro3 actually improves a bit in the low light auto focus department.
The X-Pro3 now have an impressive -6EV PDAF AF tolerance. That is a nudge up from the -5EV tolerance that you can find in the XT3. Those are of course just numbers, but in real life the X-Pro3 is very very precise and fast in almost pitch-black conditions. It’s quite impressive actually.
Since the tech inside the X-Pro3 is exactly the same as the tech inside the X-T3 it makes no sense for me to re-list all the different modes and different bechmark numbers. You can read those in the spec sheet above, or by going to my X-T3 review linked above as well.
Fujifilm instead added a lot of small features to the camera, that really support the feeling that this camera is a tool where you finish your images in camera and save time in post-processing.
The new Hybrid EVF/OVF
This is probably where the improvements of the camera is most noticeable, since this is where you interact with the scene every time you raise your eye to the camera to take a picture.
As I wrote a little further up Fujifilm had to make some compromises in regards to the OVF in order for them to fit the much requested update to the EVF.
The OVF now has a set magnification of 0.52, with no dual magnification lens mechanism inside (X-Pro2 had dual magnification 0.35 and 0.60).
The EVF has been thoroughly improved. We now have a 0.5 inch approx. 3.69 millions dots OLED Color Viewfinder (4:3) with a coverage of viewing area vs. capturing area of approximately 100%.
The EVF Magnification is 0.66X, and the diagonal angle of view is approximately 32° (Horizontal angle of view: approx. 27° )
The above numbers are all indicators of one hell of a fluent panel running at 100fps. In the boost menu under power settings you now have an option of directing power towards an even more fluent experience by choosing the “SMOOTHNESS” function. The camera then insert black frames every other frame, giving the appearance of a very fluent display with fast subject motion. If you prefer to use the ultra brightness of the OLED display, you can instead choose to direct power with the “BRIGHTNESS” function.
I have been using the smoothness option mostly, since I find it very comfortable to my eyes.
Refined Grain, Clarity, Color Chrome Fx Blue & Curve
Let me start by going through the new nifty enhancements to the jpegs in the X-Pro3. Fujifilm added a lot of refinements to what you can do to your color images, and also black and white images.
Please note that all of these enhancement only affect your jpegs, and not your RAW files.
The grain function can be set to “OFF”, “WEAK” or “STRONG” as can already be done on many of the other cameras in Fujifilms lineup . But in addition to that you now have the option to control the grain size as either “LARGE” or “SMALL”. So now you can further tweak the appearance of the grain. The grain still looks a bit artificial to me, but it’s a definite improvement with the size control!
Fujifilm decided to include a NEW curve function. When I had the initial meeting with Fujifilm back in October 2018, I made a HUGE case of them putting curves into the camera. They actually did it, but I had hoped that it could be manipulated with 5 points, instead of what they introduced which is a 2 point curve. Basically it’s a graphical representation of the highlights/shadows function that is already in place in other Fujifilm cameras. I’ll keep pushing for proper 5 point curve functions though. But it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
For the first time in any Fujifilm camera you can now set Clarity. It’s exactly the same feature as you’re probably used to in your post-processing software of choice. It’s a midtone contrast booster that will give your images some extra sharpness and punch without oversharpening them. The function works rather well and can be set from +5 to -5. This also mean that you can do “soft contrast portraits” – you know, like the look of the old Danielle Steel films 😛
In addition to the already well known Color Chrome effect that enrich and process the difficult red colours of the image, the X-Pro3 has a new additional effect.
Color Chrome Fx Blue saturates and enahances the blue tones of the image. It even color shifts it a little bit towards the teal color. Combined with either Classic Chrome or the new Classic Neg. film simulation it looks AMAZING. Especially since your shadows will often be in a cooler color, it will sometimes look as if you added a slight amount of cross processing to your images. It looks really really good.
The effect can be set to “OFF”, “WEAK” or “STRONG”. See the examples below of the effect in use. I mainly use it at the “WEAK” setting together with “Classic Neg.”
I have prepared a folder with full resolution jpegs using the various effects and filmsimulations of the X-Pro3.
Adapted lens shooting
Shooting vintage lenses on the X-Pro3 is really nice. The new improved EVF makes it even easier to achieve critical focus with the old manual lenses. Like on the XT3 and later cameras we also get the YELLOW FOCUSPEAKING! – This is by far the best peaking color if you ask me. It’s very clear where focus is no matter the circumstances, motives or exposure levels within the frame.
The Classic Neg. film simulation (which I will praise in obscene amounts in just a second) gives you the possibility of achieving a perfect vintage-looking frame. Especially when combined with old vintage lenses that has those oldschool imperfect characteristics.
Using the X-Pro3 for vintage lens shooting is one of the best experiences I’ve ever tried on any camera.
Enhanced HDR and NEW multiple exposure function
In addition to the DR100, DR200 and DR400 functions on the older Fujifilm cameras, Fujifilm has made a new HDR function available through the “drive” menu. The HDR options are HDR100, HDR200, HDR400 and HDRPlus. What this function does, is take a rapid series of images and merge them into an HDR image. The resulting images are very well balanced and free from exaggerated artefacts and tonality that you can usually find in HDR tonal mapped images. A really subtle feature, that I can see many people using for shooting midday landscapes on vacations etc. It is a really handy feature. Mind you that THIS FUNCTION ALSO CREATES A RAW FILE in conjunction to the jpeg image! Isn’t that neat! 😀
The dual exposure feature has been seriously upgraded. You can now shoot up to 9 images in a multiple exposure. You can even choose between blending modes of “ADDITIVE”, “AVERAGE”, “BRIGHT” or “DARK”. In between shots you’re free to change film simulations and shooting parameters as much as you like before “locking in” the next exposure. If you don’t want to use all 9 possible exposures, then just opt out at any number by pressing the “dish/back” key.
AND AGAIN. ALL YOUR INDIVIDUAL IMAGES ARE SAVED AS RAW!! So damn cool!
The NEW Classic Neg. (Superia) film simulation.
This. THIS! …. I really don’t know where to start with this. If you only read/see one portion of this article I hope that this is it! I will try my very best to explain to you what Fujifilm has achieved with this. It is by a very very wide margin their best film-simulation to date. It will in most circumstances have you fooled that you’re actually shooting a digital camera, and not an old film camera loaded with Superia 100/400
Again, I remember my sketches from back in October 2018. I remember specifically suggesting either Natura or Superia as the next filmsimulation. We discussed back and forth during the following months. And here we are. They didn’t end up calling it Superia, but it is 100% Superia 100 based. All the color science and all the resulting curves point to one thing. Superia.
Fujifilm decided to use a broader naming calling it CLASSIC NEG. referring back to a classic negative filmstock.
I have a thing to confess. Usually when I get testsamples of Fujifilm cameras prior to release, I always end up renaming the camera models to something that my post processing software recognises, so I can edit the RAW files. This time around I renamed 5 files! FIVE! The rest of the 2000+ images shot during the past 3 months have all been shot and processed as jpegs. And all but maybe 30 images have been shot using Classic Neg.
To say that I’m impressed with the Classic Neg. filmsimulation is an understatement. I have also fallen completely in love with the way I can just use jpegs straight off the bat without having to spend even 1 second at my laptop! Fujifilms philosophy of a true “finished picture out of the box” is implemented to perfection in the X-Pro3.
Classic Neg. has a harsher tonality than the Classic Chrome filmsimulation. It alters the main RGB parameters of the image, so the green is more yellow, the red is more orange and the blue is more teal. The whites have a slight magenta cast (just like superia)
Skintones are handled in such a beautiful way. Especially caucasian skintones is deprived of the often so destructive magenta colorcast. It looks so so good!
But what is most impressive is the way that the simulation actually changes character completely if you either over-/underexpose you image. Just like with old film stock, choosing a 2 stop exposure push or a 1 stop pull will get a totally different output in regards to color and tonality. This is a feature I have never even seen in a digital camera before!!! Just look at how the image and colours change in this image below of a spanish man in Madrid.
The images below are all straight from camera unedited Classic Neg. jpegs. I chose a wide variety of colorsetups for these examples, for you guys to get a true sense of what the Classic Neg. filmsimulation can do for your images.
Conclusion and sample images galore
As I wrote in the beginning, I cannot possibly review this camera since I have been too involved in the project. The X-Pro3 is an amazing camera for the creative photographer who want amazing build quality, gorgeous looks, oldschool charm and modern day technology.
The X-Pro3 has some very distinctive features that will divide the users into two camps. Those who love it or hate it!
Is that a bad thing? In a market where it seems to be only Fujifilm who has the courage to think outside the box and release something that differs from the norm, I think that it is JUST what we need. If Fujifilm didn’t do this, the world would sooner rather than later be reduced to smartphone computational photography.
At least they’re trying to justify the continued existence of the camera for what it is….
A real camera
Oh. And by the way I did a nice little video tribute to Copenhagen architecture and graphic street photography. The full video will be out next week, but until then, here’s the teaser. Shot together with my good friend Palle Shultz in Copenhagen.
Usually I can keep my sample image amount below 100 images. This time around is a little different. I have shot and shot and shot and…. yeah, you get the idea. The X-Pro3 is such an enabler of my creative vision. It’s the perfect tool for me.
I have shot mostly street, reportage and lifestyle images with this camera. This doesn’t mean that it won’t perform in other fields of photography, but this type of photography is what the camera is destined for.
All shots without exceptions are jpegs. Most of them are Classic Neg. images that I have processed to various extent. But as you can clearly see – we don’t always need the damn RAW files. They’re nice to have for critical tasks, but for everyday imagery the image quality and possibilities that comes out of the X-Pro3 are amazing.
As I said, there are A LOT of sample images. View them in the gallery, download them at will and look at the EXIF. Everything is there. Knock yourselves out.