Fujifilm’s latest rangefinder-style mirrorless model features an unusual hidden rear LCD. Andy Westlake takes a critical first look.
Fujifilm X-Pro3: At a glance
- £1699 body-only (Black)
- £1879 body-only (Dura Black and Dura Silver)
- 26.1MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS 4
- ISO 160-12800 (ISO 80-51200 extended)
- Hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder
- 3.69m-dot OLED EVF
- Unique ‘hidden’ rear LCD
- Titanium top and base plates
Fujifilm launched its mirrorless X system with the original X-Pro1 all the way back in 2012. But with the runaway success of its SLR-shaped X-T models, the X-Pro line has taken something of a back seat since. Following the updated X-Pro2 in early 2016, Fujifilm says that it now sees the rangefinder-style design as a more specialised alternative, that’s best paired with relatively small, short prime lenses for documentary or street shooting.
The X-Pro3 follows a year after the sensational X-T3, and as expected, essentially transposes that camera’s guts into the X-Pro2’s body. But Fujifilm has bowled us a googly, in the shape of a hinged rear screen that’s not visible during normal shooting. Apparently, this is designed to encourage users to shoot with the viewfinder and not get distracted by ‘chimping’ their images. It’s an eccentric idea that’s sure to polarise opinions.
Fujifilm X-Pro3: Features
Before examining this in more detail, let’s first take a look at the X-Pro3’s key features and updates. Like its predecessors, it uses a flat-bodied design with a unique hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder. In its direct-vision optical mode, the finder displays a frameline to match the lens in use, along with detailed overlaid exposure information. Fujifilm says it’s clearer than the X-Pro2’s finder with less distortion, while also offering a slightly longer eyepoint.
Flicking a switch on the front engages the fully electronic mode, which uses an updated 3.69-million-dot OLED panel. Along with providing higher resolution than the X-Pro2’s 2.36m-dot LCD version, the firm says it’s considerably brighter, has a faster refresh rate, and offers a wider colour gamut.
Internally you get the same 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 back-illuminated sensor and X-Processor 4 as the X-T3, promising excellent image quality and rapid autofocus thanks to on-sensor phase detection. Together they deliver a sensitivity range of ISO 160-12,800 (extendable to ISO 80-51,200), along with continuous shooting rates of 11 frames per second with the mechanical shutter, 20fps with the electronic shutter, or 30fps with a 1.25x crop. Fujifilm claims the camera can now focus in ridiculously low light levels of -6EV.
New features include a user-customisable software focus-limiter that works with any lens; in-camera high dynamic-range shooting that blends together three shots; and an advanced multiple exposure mode that combines up to nine frames. There’s also a clever-sounding automated focus-bracketing system that automatically calculates the required focus steps based on near and far distance limits specified by the user.
In addition to Fujifilm’s usual range of excellent Film Simulation modes, a new ‘Classic neg’ setting mimics the look of colour negative snapshot film.
Fujifilm X-Pro3: Build and design
From the top and front, the X-Pro3 is almost indistinguishable from its predecessor, with analogue dials for shutter speed, ISO and exposure compensation working in concert with aperture rings on the lenses. But the back is distinctly different, most obviously because there’s just a small square colour sub-monitor visible where the LCD should be.
Like other recent Fujifilm models, it also loses the d-pad, whose functions have been adopted by the AF-area joystick instead. The AF-L and AE-L functions have been recombined onto a single control, and the unlabelled button above the Q menu button is now assigned to film simulation by default, with the status displayed on the sub-monitor to emulate using the end of a film box as a reminder of what you’re shooting.
To access the main LCD screen, you tilt it downwards using the hinge at its base. This looks like it should work absolutely fine for waist-level shooting, but I suspect many users will find it infuriating to have to open the screen every time they want to review images or change secondary settings. I think Fujifilm would be wise to address the latter by enabling a version of the onscreen Q menu on the sub-monitor, which should surely be possible via a firmware update.
Fujifilm has switched build quality up a notch, with the top and base plates now made from titanium, and the rest of the body shell crafted from magnesium alloy. The result is a robust-feeling, weather-sealed camera with a traditional control layout that provides an extremely engaging shooting experience.
Fujifilm X-Pro3: Duratect finishes
Alongside a black paint finish that’s due on sale at the end of this month, Dura Black and Dura Silver versions will also be available from mid-December, using a special scratch-proof Duratect finish for the titanium top and base plates. This is claimed to provide an extremely hard, scratch-proof coating that ranks above quartz on the Vickers hardness scale.
While they’re called black and silver, the two Dura finishes are essentially dark and light matte greys. One quirk that may appeal to some buyers is that due to subtle variations in the process, each camera will have its own unique finish. However given the significant £180 price premium (they’ll cost £1879 body-only), and the fact that the Dura finishes appear to be very prone to showing off fingerprints, we’d probably just settle for the standard black which looks rather handsome anyway.
Fujifilm X-Pro3: First Impressions
If Fujifilm had just dropped the X-T3’s insides into an X-Pro body, we’d be approving its latest model wholeheartedly. But the X-Pro3’s hidden screen design brings real pause for thought. While some users will surely love it, the chances are that it will alienate at least as many others. This feels like an uncharacteristic mis-step from Fujifilm; surely building that sub-monitor onto a side-hinged, fully articulated screen would have provided the best of both worlds?
While Fujifilm very clearly says that it doesn’t expect the X-Pro3 to appeal to everyone – indeed the X-T3 is a far more mainstream design – it’s still a surprise to find a manufacturer deliberately restricting any model’s appeal. However we don’t want to pass final judgement until we’ve shot with the camera properly, so look out for our assessment of this unusual design in our upcoming full review.
Fujifilm X-Pro3: Specifications