Have we all made ourselves dependent on the features and tools of the modern digital camera? Can the lack of some of these things make us focus more on what’s important, which is photography? Let’s find out and have a look at the Fujifilm X-Pro3. 

I’ve been chatting here and on my YT-channel for over a year now about the fact that I love the Fujifilm system so much because it brings me the closest to my analogue beginnings in photography. And in doing so, I completely ignored the series that follows this principle most consistently: The X-Pro series.

Okay, I may not have ignored it, but rather forced myself not to think about it any further. Because when this camera came on the market at the end of 2019, my X-T3 was only one year old. And even if I immediately realized when watching the first promo videos that this would probably be exactly my camera, I never picked up one in order not to get infected immediately.

Now, around one year later, it happened. After a phone call with Thomas B. Jones, who is a huge fan of this model, I couldn’t resist and sold my X-T30 and some other stuff and got this beauty used from MPB.com in a really great condition with less than one thousand shots taken. And what can I say: As expected, it hit me in full. I’ve been using this camera for a couple of weeks now, so far only for street photography. And that is what this video will refer to. I will definitely shoot portraits with it and then report back to you as well.

Fun thing: I’ve been planning an article and a video since I got the camera a few weeks ago. And whoosh, videos about the X-Pro3 have been coming out the last few days from Youtubers whom I really appreciate: Gajan Balan with his long-term review and Omar Gonzalez, who unboxed the camera on New Year’s morning. By the way, it’s New Year’s evening while I’m writing this and it will be somewhere between the two above, because I’ve had the camera for three weeks now.

These thoughts are also available on my YouTube channel.

Specifications

But this is as usual not going to be a technical review. But l will talk a little what to expect of this camera for people who don’t know it: The interior is completely the same as with the other cameras having X-Trans CMOS 4 and X-Processor 4 on board. So you can expect the same image quality and fast processing in the camera as with the X-T3, X-T30, X100V and X-S10.

Now I’ll give you a very brief overview of everything else:
On the software side 

  • There is of course the Classic Neg. Film simulation which was introduced with this camera
  • New Focus range limiter
  • The tone curve
  • and so on. 

We have already discussed most of it here and on my channel with the X100V.

The X-Pro3 includes 

  • two fast UHS-II Card Slots, wich I love shooting Jpeg and RAW. 
  • a 2.5mm Microphone Jack and the USB-C port wich can be used for charging and for Headphones via adapter.
  • no HDMI-Port so it will be harder for me to show you my settings on the camera. But this is of course understandable, because this definitely is not meant to be a video camera.

The real uniqueness, however, lies in the concept of operation, and now we’re approaching the subject of this article:

  • It’s a rangefinder style camera with a hybrid viewfinder.
    So we have an optical viewfinder and an EVF available.
    And also a combination of both, the optical view with the EVF in a small additional frame.
  • We have the combined ShutterSpeed/ISO Dial, similar to the X100V. Unfortunately a little worse because as you probably know we have to lift and hold this to change the ISO and to press and hold the dial lock release to change the shutter speed to other than auto.

But now let’s get to the big bone of contention: the LCD screen. Not for tilting, not fully articulating but “hidden”. The hinge is down here, so the screen can only be opened and closed downwards. Like the flap of a cupboard or something.

It is of course a touchscreen that by the way works much better than the one of the X-T3 and provides additional functions with four swiping gestures. And even if there’s no camera body behind it, it is well to use because there is a resistance at 90 and also at 180 degrees. The touch functions are nice to have but I really don’t use them a lot, except for maybe sometimes focussing and shoot. 

Above all, I would like to emphasize the positive thing about this LCD screen, which I really like: It may take some getting used to, but actually it is perfect in my eyes. I use the standard tilting screen of the X-T3 and X100V 99% of the time to look from above and take my picture. But it is much more fiddly than with the X-Pro3 screen because because they move in two ways. But this one here only knows one direction. And so the whole process is much faster and also much less noticeable in certain street situations. And another huge advantage: I can completely switch off the eye sensor for shooting when I open the screen. This is an adjustment option that I now really miss on the X100V. Whenever I open the screen and hold the camera too close to my body, it switches to viewfinder. Really annoying. Since one can assume with the X-Pro3 that the screen is also used when it is folded out, Fujfilm has put a corresponding setting in the menu here.

When the screen is folded in, you can’t use it at all, but you’ll see another, unfortunately completely unlit, screen on the back, which Fujifilm calls the “Sub Monitor“. You can switch that one between “Classic” and „Standard” view. In „Classic” you will see the film simulation plus ISO and white balance in a very vintage style. Similar to the lids of film packaging that could be inserted into a small compartment on analog cameras. Or you configure it in „Standard“ so that the most important information for you can be seen there, like Shutter Speed, Aperture, ISO etc.

The back of the camera body has been reduced to the minimum: only the joystick and three buttons next to the screen, drive button and lock button above and Q menu and another button here on the handle. No more D-pad, but who would still get upset about it today? : )

Reduction is king

Now that we know the X-Pro3 a little better, let’s get back to the real topic. Why should this camera bring us back closer to the essence of photography again? Well, because Fujifilm has consistently removed everything that could keep us from concentrating on taking photos. First: compared to other cameras of the series, there are relatively few buttons that can be customized.

And adjusting the combined ISO / shutter speed dial is not as easy to do as on other cameras. 

And that makes me think more about my settings beforehand. I now take less photos in manual mode so I don’t have to change a lot. In street photography I shoot with the X-Pro3 more in aperture priority and with Auto ISO. So I can concentrate more on the picture that I want to take. Don’t get me wrong: The operation of all the dials and buttons is great, but somehow the whole operating concept brings me back to the picture. Maybe changing a lot was a beginner’s mistake the whole time, but because I work with images straight out of camera, it was important to me. Now I prefer to turn the exposure communication dial more.

Of course, Fujifilm took all the reduction to the extreme with the LCD screen. We don’t see it and we can’t use it, if we don’t quite consciously open it.

And what can I say, it works, at least for me and with street photography. At first it was a change not to constantly check the pictures on the LCD I had just taken. You first notice how often you do that when you can no longer do it. And that is the first new realization: Why do we always have to control everything immediately? Will that help us? The picture is taken and the situation is over. By checking, we may even miss the next exciting moment.

And by using the Viewfinder more and more I also focus differently on the picture i want to take. With the LCD screen there is a lot more distraction around me, my framing is much better with the Viewfinder. And sometimes I even use the optical viewfinder again. I’ve already mentioned it with the X100V: I really like to be completely “analog”, but I also admit that I would absolutely miss the advantages of the EVF. Since I only take what comes straight out of the camera in street photography, I want at least see what I’m doing.

I once said about the X100V that I consider the reduction to three focal lengths – if you include the converters – to be a good thing. I still agree.

But of course it’s a question of the mood and the ideas you have in your head. With the X-Pro3, for example, I adapted my old Minolta lenses again after a long time. 

And you can now even create your own presets with names and focal lengths for these adapted lenses, which then also appear in the EXIF data. Great opportunities are opening up!

Of course all that is great fun in connection with zone focussing and street photography. And it’s one more step towards my analogue beginnings, of course always connected with the huge advantages that digital photography offers us. But it’s all about going back to the original process and thinking about photography again. Personally, all of this makes me more creative and makes me snap more photos.

Design

We haven’t talked about one thing yet: In my opinion, the X-Pro series has the most beautiful design of all Fuji-X cameras. I think the shape when you look at it from the front is absolutely fantastic also from above. And the impression is absolutely continued in the feel. And that is also part of the essence of photography: you have to like to pick up the device and take photos. And that is absolutely the case for me with the X-Pro3.

Outlook

I am very curious to see how the journey with this camera will continue for me and also what kind of influence it will have on my work with the X100V. Don’t worry, I still love the little one, but maybe I could neglect her a little in terms of photography for the next few weeks. But I will still write and make videos about it.