9.22.2019

Fuji announced the new X-Pro3. The fans go wild. The haters go insane.

I really like cameras set up in a rangefinder style. Keeps my nose off the LCD...

It looks like the X-Pro3 from Fujifilm will be arriving just in time for my birthday. As the very happy owner of several of it's predecessor model (the Fuji X-Pro2) I can only say, "lucky me." I will order one of the new cameras right off the bat because of all the tweaks the new camera is said to have included. To wit: A much better optical finder (more room and less distortion). A much improved EVF (with more space, much higher resolution than the finder in the current, X-Pro2, and better, more accurate color). And a new body structure that is made of titanium (boy metal) and will be stronger and lighter than the structure of the camera it replaces. In addition to all this wonderful stuff there will also be several different coatings, or final finishes, to the "sheet metal." You'll be able to order the basic black or you'll have the option of two different colors of a "Dura" coating (silver and black) which is reported by Fuji to be more scratch resistant than stainless steel and almost as hard as sapphire. Come on! That's just so cool.

To my way of looking at cameras this will continue on the tradition of being a special use camera coveted by fine artists and street shooters. The rangefinder-styling and construction includes everything that's nice about a rangefinder camera (direct viewing, seeing beyond the edges of the frame, no shot black out) but adds the option to switch into EVF mode to pre-chimp or review images already taken. The one thing it removes, when compared to a "real" rangefinder like a Leica M6 is the actual coincident rangefinder mechanism. Some might miss that but a real rangefinder depends on careful, manual calibration to work well. It is also costlier to build than what Fuji has designed for us here, and, in all honesty, works less and less well with longer and longer lenses because the actual image size in the viewfinder gets smaller and smaller the longer the focal length of the lens. In my experience with actual rangefinder Leicas it's already a big bit of a compromise at 90mm and by the time you hit 135mm with an actual, optical rangefinder you'll be begging to use an SLR instead. Heading north from a 135mm? That becomes very, very challenging in actual use. 

I think it's very important to understand that this is a specialist's camera body and not at all intended to compete as a jack of all trades. Fuji says that it is designed for users who want a "pure" photographic experience and in making it for a smaller market one of their design goals was to reduce the intrusion of the camera in the picture taking process. To this end they've designed a rear LCD panel that is so strikingly against the popular notions of what a camera LCD is "supposed" to be used for that one suspects it was designed this way by Fuji just to enrage the general community at amateur photography sites such as DP Review (where a battle is currently raging between Fuji purists and the great unwashed audience, for which every camera MUST check every box).

The new screen is a flip-DOWN screen which is intended to have its active, screen side folded in toward the camera body when the camera is in use, taking photographs. There is no position in which the screen is flat against the camera's back and facing the user. None. The design goal was to reduce the temptation to mindlessly chimp when one should be taking photographs. I, for one, feel vindicated as this screen design strikes at the heart of the "Dirty Baby Diaper Hold" wherein a photograph holds the camera out at arm's length and does all of his photo business with the camera swaying and bouncing in front of him/her in the least stable hold possible (well, I guess they could do the D.B.D.H. with one hand, just to make it even less stable).  The screen, when in use,  is available in only two configurations: setting one is to fold the screen out away from the camera body and use it as a waist level finder. It faces up and is at 90 degrees from the camera body (it is hinged at the bottom to the camera). You can continue to fold the screen past 90 degrees to 180 degrees at which point it will be below the camera (top of the screen at the bottom of the camera) and the screen will be facing the user.

There is no provision to use the screen in any "selfie" mode and it won't twist out to the side or face toward the front of the camera in any way. Your choices are: waist level viewing, parallel to but below camera viewing, and having the screen tucked against the back of the camera in the off position. 

I love it. I love it because it will save battery power, not distract me, and it's a complete repudiation of composing and shooting on what should (on all cameras) be just a screen for menu setting and leisurely image review. I love it when a major camera maker's design initiatives coincide with my use profile prejudices. It shows me that there are still sane and logical camera users out in the world.

But this same screen configuration means that this camera will be very unpopular with casual video makers who need the back screen to be active and viewable during the video taking process. If you buy this camera with the primary objective of making video content I am sure it will have the electronic bells and whistles you'll probably want but I'd advise you to get an external monitor/digital recorder, like an Atomos, for convenient monitoring! I couldn't really use this camera for video without that addition. And that's okay because not every camera is made to be a complete "Swiss Army Knife Tool" ready to do anything and everything photographic and video-wise. 

Finally, the photographic "unwashed" are on fire with rancor and disgust over something that's merely a whimsical and fun design element; something that has no real effect, positive or negative, over the use of the X-Pro3. Here is the thing that has so many people twisted up and screaming, "deal killer! DEAL KILLER!!!" Fuji has added a small, square frame in the middle of the backside of the main LCD screen. When the main screen is folded in this little screen faces out from the back of the camera. It looks very much like the sub-monitor screen on the right hand of a Fuji X-H1 and it shows various bits of useful information such as the shutter speed, f-stop and ISO settings of the camera. All the information is even visible when the camera is turned off. A clever step is that the window can be set to mimic the look of the end label of a film box. Remember how film cameras had a little frame on the back and you could rip the end off a box of Tri-X and stick it into the frame to remind you about which kind of film you currently had in the camera? It's just like that but it's an electronic display, and the film box emulations are (of course) of Fuji films. It's clever and fun and the kinder-digi over at DP Review loathe the very idea of it. This means that it must be both good and useful to real photographers. 

In summary, sight unseen, I like the newest addition to the Fuji X-Pro collection and plan to buy one. Your ideas about cameras may be different from mine and perhaps you'll have reasons not to buy one. That's okay too. 


21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Say...aren't you the guy who was just celebrating the coming victory of the cell phone camera, which **requires** the D.B.D.H., with what one famous photographer recently said was "the camera swaying and bouncing in front of him/her in the least stable hold possible?"

JC

ODL Designs said...

Great looking camera. Fuji should be applauded for providing more choice, not beaten back in line.

DPR is a swamp, stopped going months ago and I am much happier for it!

Gato said...

Not a camera for me, but pretty interesting anyhow. I sort of like the LCD idea but wish it went past 180 degrees for overhead use.

And the faux film box indicator sounds cool. But the color theme should be switchable -- green or yellow. lol

Gato

Eric Rose said...

If I had money to burn I would pick one up. Plus a set of the holy primes. Looks like a very interesting camera and more importantly looks fun to use.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

JC, what's your point?

WookieeGunner said...

The XT100 was the first Fujifilm camera I had and other than it's slow focus I loved it. I've been shooting with an X-T2 and was just about to upgrade to an X-T3 so this is coming at a perfect time for me. Can't wait to pre-order one myself.

kodachromeguy@bellsouth.net said...

Love the fold-down LCD screen. Set your format to square and you can simulate a Rolleiflex or Hasselblad.

As for the photo frauds on Dpreview, the more they hate something, the more you can be sure it is a clever or imaginative idea. Something a real photographer might use to actually do his work. It's sad what a cesspool the comments section there has become.

Homo_erectus said...

The X-Pro 2 has been my primary camera since June of 2016. I've taken it everywhere and shot everything with it. I like it a lot and it's a great camera. But there's certainly a lot of room for improvement.

You know that you can chimp with the EVF, right? The X-Pro 2 is just slow to switch between the OVF and image review (actually its slow to switch even if you are using the EVF).

I hate the term 'chimp'. The simple truth is that autofocus is imperfect. Sometimes we are taking pictures of things that *must* be focused in a certain way. Being able to review images in real time is the best way to reconcile those two things.

Also, chimps are awesome and it's rude to use them as an insult :-)

The meltdown on the various photography forums over the changes to the camera is amusing, or is that feeling disappointment? Misanthropy? Let's call it schadenfreude.

It's surprising how many people are totally, 100% positive, having read a single press release or even just a summary of a press release, that the camera will be an abject failure, will bring about the destruction of Fuji, will render all previously excellent Fuji camera equipment into laughably worthless toys, and will somehow give everyone in the world seven different kinds of incurable cancer in the process.

Did you see that they seem to have added a tone curve control to the custom settings for jpgs? Holy crap! That's a feature that I really, really, wanted to see in the new models!

Steve Renwick said...

Oh dear. I was just saying to myself the other day, "I'm done. No need to even think about buying another camera."

Larry to be King said...

Just cannot get on Fuji bandwagon but that is the reason we are so lucky to have a choice. Makes it fun and interesting.

Anonymous said...

I am quite impressed with the design choices Fuji made with this camera. Definitely a “form follows function “ thing. I can see adding one to my Fuji kit in the near future.

Ray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jiannazzone said...

I set my Fuji cameras to EVF only. If I want to chimp I have to do so intentionally. At my age muscle memory does not compel me to do so. However, there are times when I need to confirm accurate expo and focus. I'm looking forward to the blowout pricing on the X-Pro 2.

Anonymous said...

Will it support Focus Stacking? To date Fuji refuses to put it in the X-Pro2 while admitting they can do so. "users of those cameras won't use it" - is what what they say. They want us to buy a second body - the X-T2 or 3 instead of having one body we can use without the damnable electronic viewing.

Some of us would use it - and want it. Not having it available as a firmware update is why I dumped the cameras. I do NOT want an electronic finder, but do want the option of focus stacking. So - Nikon it is.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

I'm sorry, I don't think focusing stacking is at all important in a camera like the X-Pro2. Nor do I find "electronic viewing" damnable. I think most of us probably read reviews or, at least the brochure, before buying an X-Pro2 and if the feature you wanted wasn't present it was pretty knuckle-headed to buy the camera in the first place. Kinda silly to demand that a maker add something later in firmware. Like buying a four cylinder car and expecting to get a V8 down the road for free. Or something like that.

The people at Nikon will be so glad to have you back.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Anonymous, you know that I don't sell Fuji cameras, right?

Phil Stiles said...

Gato said...
"Not a camera for me, but pretty interesting anyhow. I sort of like the LCD idea but wish it went past 180 degrees for overhead use."

You can use a waist level finder overhead. The camera may be upside down, but it's all good.

You can also focus stack in the computer, although it is more cumbersome.

I don't find "Chimping" derogatory, either of photographers or Chimps. The EVF certainly makes a lot of it unnecessary, and adds features that make manual lenses much more useful (focus magnification, focus peaking), although I don't know how developed those features are with Fuji. Regards, Phil

Ken Bennett said...

I have two X Pro 2 bodies and use them for candid people, street, travel, and general personal work. They are perfect for that sort of photography. When I need a flip screen, or focus stacking, or super high resolution, or whatever, I have other cameras from which to choose. And in fact I do most of my assignment work with either X-H1 bodies or the GFX medium format system. Yay for choices!

The X Pro 3 is interesting to me as an update to the system. Not sure I will get one, as the XP2 bodies are still working just fine.

stanleyk said...

This is a really nice article. I just found this through the Online Photographer. I have my original X Pro, the 2, and a 50R (heck I still have my original X100 and an F). I am beyond excited about this camera. In fact I might have held off on the 50R if I had know this was coming. I love the concept on the new screen. I bought a Pen F off a friend who needed so to sell it. I like the camera. Not as much as my Fuji cameras but it's a really nice camera. I have kept the screen folded against the camera since purchasing it. The one thing I look at the screen for is the info that will be on the small screen on the back of the new X Pro. Brilliant for me. Hats off to Fuji for making cameras that "don't check all the boxes" like say a large consumer electronics firm would do. I am also excited about the improvements to the OVF which I use quite a lot and the new build. I was a dedicated Nikon user (D700). Once I got the original X Pro, the Nikon gear slowly went away. You are definitely right about the actual rangefinder. Send your Leica off to have the rangefinder calibrated and see how much that costs. I recently sent an M5 in for servicing. I am a contrarian and I like the M5..... Anyway, I think the photography world is a better place with companies like Fuji who make cameras that aren't for everyone. The Fuji lenses are exceptional, even the 18mm F2 that I can never recreate all the flaws people claim it has. I've had mine for 8 years and it still is one of my favorites. BTW- I live in Taylor so maybe I will see you in Austin sometime with your new X Pro when it arrives. I will guarantee you I will have one.

Rick said...

While not closely resembling the Contax system, it looks a little like what a digital G3 might have and they share a titanium skin so kudos, you crazy Fuji designers! Looks like a fun, quirky camera to enjoy for a certain type of photography and while chunkier than I'd prefer, self-assuredly declares it's not a DSLR and not a mirrorless DLSR-mimic.

Raist3d said...

"It's clever and fun and the kinder-digi over at DP Review loathe the very idea of it. This means that it must be both good and useful to real photographers. "

Kirk, this has to be one of the best things I have read you write, ever :-)