Fuji XPro3
Digital Cameras

Fujifilm X-Pro3: First thoughts from a film shooter – By David Hume

January 31, 2020

As soon as I read about the Fuji X-Pro3 I thought, “Yeah, shut up and take my money.” I bought the original X100 the day it hit my town, and I’ve been using an X-E2 for a couple of years. I like the Xtrans sensor and Fuji glass is great. I had no intention though, of getting an X-Pro3 straight away. I thought I’d wait for a year or so –  till prices and supply had settled. I had no need of it. The X-E2 was just fine as a travel digital, and was all I needed for the small amount of commercial work I still do. (I shoot a bit of editorial for a travel/conservation magazine.)

But I ordered one, never expecting to see it, because Ted’s Camera over here in Oz was taking pre-orders at $A400 under list price before any were even in the country. (why?)

Anyway – it turned up two weeks later.

Good looks on a budget, say I.

So – first quick thoughts on the X-Pro3 user experience:

If you’re at all interested in the X-Pro3 you’ve read all the reviews already. So what’s it like from the perspective of a film shooter?

1: It is very nice in the hand – it’s solid and has a good weight to it; just right.  But it also feels like what it is – a digital camera. There’s no escaping that and no way you can kid yourself any differently. It’s got buttons and control wheels coming out its arse. You don’t have to use them, but they’re there.

Nice? Yes. Digital FM? No.

2: It’s great that the rear screen folds against the body. Absolute winner.

You have 1000 shots left on the card and your battery is about to die. You’re welcome.

3: The sub menu on the back is hard to read and pretty useless. It actually looks much clearer in all the online photos than in real life. But who cares.

4: It is brilliant for legacy glass. Manual focus lenses (my Nikkors with an adapter) are totally usable on this camera with the EVF; the EVF is so good. Peaking just – works. The EVF blows the X-E2 out of the water to the extend I don’t know if I can go back to it. If I had a bunch of lenses I wanted to use maybe I’d get a speedbooster for it, but I can’t really see myself using this with adapted lenses that much as they’re kinda bulky. That could change for a specific project of course.

Unexpected surprises:

1: OVF with the 27mm and  35mm Fuji lenses I have is just really nice. I hardly ever used OVF on the x100 but now I think I prefer it. I don’t know if it’s the clarity, the speed of the AF, the extra info, or seeing outside the frame, or all that stuff together, but it’s a blast.

2: OVF with MF glass is genius. (OK – genius with my one MF X mount lens – the 7Artisans 35mm f1.2 that I just had to buy as soon as I got the X-Pro3.)  It works like a rangefinder.  You tell it what focal length you’ve put on it and it will adjust the framelines in the OVF to match that focal length. You can then bring up the little patch in the corner of the OVF and focus that with peaking or just by eye. So it does work like a digital rangefinder with an optical viewfinder. You lose the parallax correction you get with a Fuji lens, but hey, if you want correct everything, use the EVF.

What you see with the Fuji 27mm (40mm equiv.) lens. Use the patch for focussing. (But with the Fujis – just use AF. Seriously.)

3: Another nice thing is you can name six lenses in the lens profiles and they will show up in the exif with the focal length. It won’t record the aperture though, of course.

Not the sexiest lens, but a very handy combo.

SO – wrapping up, These are all first thoughts, but when it first turned up I was a bit underwhelmed by the X-Pro3. The X-E2 had been doing is just fine for the editorial work that I do, and for travel. I love the X-E2 sensor and Fuji glass, and in terms of IQ for my client, the  X-Pro3 does not deliver significantly more.

We’re not so different, you and I.

I shot the X-E2 like this for a week-long editorial assignment. Just had to peel back the tape for Wifi transfers.

Then I started looking more closely at the files, and playing a bit with the settings.

Three to four weeks in now, and I’m intrigued.  It really comes down to the sensor; there’s no point in a gorgeous camera that makes shit shots, but this thing has got me interested in digital again. There is something nice about the textures in the jpegs that I want to explore. I doubt you’ll get anything out of a 1500px file, but I’ll post a couple anyway.

The look says, “Piss off dad – I’m late for work.” This is what the 7Artisans 35mm f1.2 does wide open. I now want to see how this lens plays with landscape and big skies.

First shot of a little sequence of my elder daughter giving her young cousin a lesson in the vital life-skill of bubble blowing. Shot with the Fuji 35mm f2 WR wide open.

I was using the OVF here; it it so nice to use.

All three are with the 35mm f2 WR wide open.

At first the jpegs (I don’t shoot my Fujis raw if I can avoid it) just pushed me out of my comfort zone and I didn’t like them. Now I’ve got it set up way better. I’ve worked out how to get something nice and flat, but with colour I like. Then I just need to tweak curves in LR.  It’s a bit like what I want from a nice neg scan – all the info is there and most of the work is already done. Play with the curves for a few secs and you’re done.

So yeah – early days but can really see possibilities opening up. It might be just fun and nothing more, but even if that’s the case I’m pretty happy with this thing so far. I shall be back with more thoughts in due course!

 

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11 Comments

  • Reply
    Bruno Chalifour
    January 31, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    Simple down to earth and practical review, thanks. With all the Fuji glass I already have I guess I just needed this little push to encourage me to upgrade. ;o)

  • Reply
    Kodachromeguy
    January 31, 2020 at 4:32 pm

    Thank you, David. Is is nice to read a review of a new digital camera from a real photographer. Another hint about the qualities of the X-Pro3: the trolls and “photographers” on the infamous D reviewing site universally hate it. Ergo, it must be a fine photographic tool.

  • Reply
    Peter
    January 31, 2020 at 6:08 pm

    Thanks for this. I continue to be on the fence with this camera. I currently have the X100f set up as my digital “film” camera but would like the option of using my legacy lenses and different focal lengths. I just might trade up for this camera.

  • Reply
    Clive Williams
    January 31, 2020 at 10:42 pm

    Hmm, just as I’d decided to leave the X-Pro3 alone for a bit…

    See, I also have an X-E2 (and a 35/2) and I’d convinced myself that if I were to change anything, and as my camera kit has to compete for space on most trips with my corporate drone-issue Dell paving slab and other work kit, it would be to go to the X-E3 for the in-camera charging. Separate battery chargers are so 2010, and a waste of bag space.

    But… but… The X-Pro3 is really like nothing else, even the X100F (which came on this week’s trip.) I love what I’ve seen of the Classic Neg simulation, and I do like and use the screen articulation of my X70. What might swing it for me is the EVF; if it really is so much better than the E2”s, I could be very tempted.

    Anyway, I’ll be following carefully to see how David gets on.

    • Reply
      David Hume
      February 8, 2020 at 6:18 am

      Hey Clive. I think the 35 f2 works really nicely on the XE-2. The extra resolution EVF is not needed when you have an auto focus lens like that Fuji, but for me it makes manual focus a workable solution whereas it wasn’t really before. A follow up piece is in the pipeline! Cheers.

      • Reply
        Clive W
        March 1, 2020 at 8:45 pm

        Sorry David, missed your reply. The funny thing is that I only have the E2 because I wanted something to attach a 1960s Nikkor to. That ballooned sideways into three Nikon film SLRs, several more old lenses and— well, that’s for another day. The 35/2 and the 16/2.8 came along later, but I do use MF on the E2 — and hit focus about one shot in three or four. That first Nikkor is a 35/2.8 and I love the way it misbehaves when the sun is low. I’d use it more if it were easier to focus.

  • Reply
    Aung
    January 31, 2020 at 10:48 pm

    Great review! What do you feel about Fuji’s film simulations, do you have a favorite?

    • Reply
      David Hume
      February 8, 2020 at 6:21 am

      Hi Aung. There is a follow up piece on the way where I talk bit about my thoughts on the film simulations.

  • Reply
    Hank
    February 1, 2020 at 4:17 pm

    Well, thanks David. Seeing that X-Pro3 next to that lovely Nikon FM (one of my all time favorite cameras, and one I still own) pushed me over the edge.
    A used X-Pro3 and 35/2 on its way to me right now. And, a Speedbooster adaptor so I can use my Nikkor 50/1.2 on the Fuji.
    I’m excited…will be, hopefully, a great travel camera.

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