First thoughts on a controversial concept – the Fujifilm X-Pro3

Prologue

I have thought long and hard about how to begin this text about the brand new Fujifilm X-Pro3. I didn’t want to blow the same horn as so many “critics” of the camera on the Internet. By “critics”, I mean all the crazy people out there who spark a shitstorm because of an unpublished camera and post hate comments about it. Yes, hate comments. Because of a camera! Sometimes I have the feeling that we really live in strange times…

Of course, I don’t own this camera since it is not yet on the market. But I was able to hold it in my hands for an intensive hour today during the Fujifest Glocal Tour. In any case, it was long enough to give me a first picture of the controversially discussed changes. That and these crazy shitstorms have caused me to hack a few words into the keyboard. And I couldn’t quite deny myself one critical thought either.

Revolution or niche?

Let’s start with the hardest part: So, what does this camera stand for? Yes, I know… different breed, pure photography, back to the… but wait a minute! So what does my beloved X-Pro2 stand for?

The last four years I actually had the impression that it stands for exactly that. A camera not for everyone, which I would never recommend to any friend who is just looking for a good camera. But which I recommended to every photographer who was looking for an outstanding camera for street and documentary work. And for people who live and breathe photography…

I really don’t see how the X-Pro3 – just because the display is hidden – is really changing that. At first glance I see an improved X-T3 in the format of an X-Pro. It will remain a wonderful niche camera, except that the niche might become even smaller. Fujifilm has to know for itself whether this will work. I have some doubts about that… but who am I? 😉

To flip or not to flip

Unbelievable! A company decides to go a slightly different way with a product, and the community is already upside down. The downfall of the Occident… oh no, Japan is so much Orient, more is hardly possible. In any case, Fujifilm’s downfall was immediately predicted and the company was denied any further potential for innovation. Guess what, they don’t even have FF cameras. Yawn…

Fujifilm was massively insulted as to how they could bring such an inferior product onto the market for so much money. As if that wasn’t enough already, they are still so bold to call this product ‘pro’. Yehovah!

To be honest, the concept with this display is not my favourite either. I would have much rather left it as it was. Maybe just a better resolution and the touch function added. I can’t see any real advantage in the hidden display. But I definitely see some smaller disadvantages regarding the overall operation. Let’s see how I will judge that later after a few weeks of use… maybe I’ll fall in love with the idea. And it’s kind of a ‘first world problem’ anyway.

The folding display as such is great, by the way. If you fold it down, it is way better to use than the usual ones. Just my humble opinion…

The bad of the good…

… is the title of a very smart book by the wonderful psychologist and communication theorist Paul Watzlawick. That’s exactly what I immediately thought when I saw the live broadcast of the X Summit in September and heard the explanation why the display had been designed this way.

Fujifilm wants to change the way we photograph. Even though I think it’s well-intentioned, I have my difficulties with this statement. What do they mean? Don’t they trust me to decide for myself how often I look at the display? Do they think I go through the world more concentrated now just because a display is hidden?

I find it somewhat presumptuous to say something like that and I don’t want people to sell me this as an “increase in creativity”, “pure photography” or whatever. It is not! It’s just a hidden display!

The good of the good

To end positively, here are two more remarks: Away from all differences of opinion about the concept, it remains a beautifully crafted camera and the autofocus is not of this world. Wow, that’s a huge and for me very important improvement!

Postscriptum

By the way, if you want to read some good writings from photographers who have already got their hands on this gem, go to Jonas Rask or Patrick Laroque.

Oh… and did I actually mention that I ordered one today immediately? 🙂

Stay tuned… to be continued after November 28, hopefully.

14 Comments

  • Hi Trish,

    I ordered the (classic) black one. Apart from the fact that I don’t like the Dura Black I played around with, this finish has another problem: it’s insanely prone to fingerprints and – what should I call it? – smudges. I can send you some pictures that I took today…

    Peter

  • I would love that! Thank you! I’m ordering one, and I’m torn between the black and the silver. (PS So glad to see a new post from you in my inbox.)

  • OK… is the email adress the one I see in my dashboard? Then I can send you some images. I cannot say anything to the Dura Silver since I have not seen it in real. I guess it’ll be less bad there because the color’s lighter. It’s probably also very frizzy, but too conspicuous for me. So I stay with the black one.

  • Yes. That’s the email.

    The black is beautiful. I’ve been trying to be less precious with my X100F—not treating it like a fragile egg—and the truth is it’s getting a bit scratched up. Which is why I’m even considering the silver.

    Thank you!

  • may be the hidden display, when open, will help street photographers to hide their intentions better….. when taking pictures with an open LCD display on my X-H1 nobody seems to care… the moment I lift it to my eyes, my objects will immediately freeze…..

  • Hi Christian,

    yes, this will be the case. But apart from the fact that I have at least some difficulties with this kind of secret photography, it is a question of the folding display, not the hidden display. That’s OK and was what the majority of X-Pro2 photographers wanted, I think. Whether the majority wanted a hidden display I dare to doubt at the moment.

    Peter

  • From the first announcement I didn’t mind the hidden screen. I take my glasses off to shoot, so most of the time I can’t see a back screen with any acuity. I live in the EVF instead unless I’m on a tripod or shooting low. The hidden screen mechanics seemed like a good fit, and the sub-monitor square did tug at the nostalgia heart-strings, so I did put in a pre-order.

    But since then I have looked more closely at the button layout, and did some handling tests of an X-Pro2 at the camera store, and I have changed my mind. First and foremost is the “handicap” of being left-eye dominant. My nose will always be mashed into the back of the camera so I can see the edges of the EVF (which is even more important now because checking settings with the screen means both, flipping the screen down, and pulling my glasses out of my pocket). Beyond that, I shoot manual almost all of the time, and now that I have made the transition to Fujifilm, I have come to rely on the front command dial switch to shift between ISO of aperture. I could certainly work the aperture ring, not that big a deal. But then there’s the button layout on the back. There’s no back button focus option except for reassigning the rear command dial switch, and I want to keep my cameras consistent, so not an option for me. Fujifilm hasn’t made up their minds where the “Play” button belongs (It’s below Disp/Back on the GFX 100, above on the X-Pro3.) and from what I understand those buttons cannot be reassigned. And I’m getting to an age where playing mental gymnastics every time I pick up a camera is no longer appealing. So I will do without Classic Negative for the time being, and hope they bring out an X-H2 relatively soon.

  • I will see how it works for me when I have the camera… which unfortunately will take at least another four weeks.

  • I am continuously surprised 🙂 not so much by Fujifilm and their X-Pro3, after all it is a camera that many developers, product managers and, so I read, even photographers worked on. Not more.
    Surprised I am about the reaction of „the net“ and even more about the reviews I read,
    It just seems as if I used my P1 and P2 the wrong way all these years…. let me explain
    I really don‘t care so much about this display, yeah, it‘s a bit unusual and a big yes – here Funifilm is trying something I don‘t like: be different for the sake of bei g different. In any case, no big problem. The other thing, they got rid of the D – Pad….so….what? We habe the wonderful jouystick and all is great, who needs a D-Pad…
    The thing that really bothers me and what surprises me in reviews: yes, we have a better EVF, phantastic news! If it would be 5m even better, but I am sure this new EVF is a great thing. But…oh my…. they crippled the OVF, did you realize? My beloved OVF becomes of even more limited use! If I use 18mm I can only do so kn a stretch and at 56 or 60mm the frame showing the image becomes really, really small. This magnification slider was so great – gosh, I even dreamed about a 3rd magnification to make better OVF usage with 60mm and 90mm possible… quite the opposite now.
    Unless I used my X-Pros wrong in the past, this is a massive draw back of this new camera. It seems that the times of a lag-free optical view on the world are co7nted and even Fujifilm is preparing to drop this technique… too bad….and noone in reviews seems to be bothered, surprising, isn‘t it? After all the X-Pros are the cameras with a usable OVF….

  • Hi Andreas,

    some of the first reviewers mentioned that. But the reason for the restraint is very simple: hardly anyone really uses the OVF. That’s why it’s not so important for most people. I also noticed that and I think it’s a pity, but that was probably the compromise to the overall improvement of the viewfinder. It’s more difficult for me to be able to use the OVF even more because of my slight ametropia – for whatever reason. Either I see the image sharp or the viewfinder scree. It’s technically clear, but it wasn’t so dramatic with the Pro-2. But I only tried that for a short time… Let’s see.

    Peter

  • I recently sold my XPro-2 having ordered the XPro-3. I rarely used the OVF unless it was with my 23mm, 35mm, 50mm lenses. I found larger lenses too intrusive in the OVF. So, if I understand the new OVF in the XPro-3 this should not be a problem, as I’ll switch to the EVF for other lenses. Maybe, I don’t get the new limitation. Please illuminate me further. Thanks!

  • Hi, it’s hard to enlighten you because I don’t have the camera yet. But what became clear from the specifications and my hour of playing around is that the OVF may have less distortion now, but it’s not as flexible. This is especially true for wide-angle lenses. These are no longer so well supported due to the lack of the smaller magnification (0.36x). The 18mm, for example, has no frame lines anymore, but is still quite usable. I can’t confirm another point yet, because I only noticed it very briefly: In the OVF with the X-Pro3 and with my personal diopter correction, I could see either the image or the displays sharply; neither together. That’s not illogical with the OVF, but it’s less pronounced with the X-Pro2. But I still have to look at that if I have a camera. In a nutshell: There are probably compromises with the OVF to strengthen the EVF in particular. But that’s certainly wanted and desired…

    Peter

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