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For the first time, Fujifilm is offering a digital camera without a screen in default position. This is a significant choice that challenges our contemporary shooting habits. Leica had already played this card with its M10-D in 2018, to be met by a reserved audience.

New features on stage

One year later, Fuji released the X-Pro 3, a 26 MP APS-C, successor of the worthy X-Pro 2, an emblem of photojournalism. The newcomer features an X-Trans 4 sensor, the X-Processor 4, the legendary hybrid viewfinder, a more sensitive autofocus and 4K video recording (limited to 30 fps).

back of camera

The square screen displays film type, WB and ISO.

We paid a visit to our friends from Images PHOTO in Paris Bastille to discuss the matter who kindly lent us the camera along with the XF 23 mm f1.4 to put those specs and this ergonomic innovation to the test: in its default position, the screen is closed on itself but the back has a small square screen displaying… the type of film simulated! (Fujifilm can boast about being a reference in silver film). An X-Pro that is firmly destined for reportage, combining lightness, robustness, ideal size, essential manual controls and clarity of sight.

It seemed inevitable to test this camera in true conditions, on the field of street photography. The experiment was entrusted to Manol Valtchanov, a photographer from the OCUS community, who chose the business district of La Défense to play the old-time game when the cardboard specs of the film were slipped on the back of the camera. Time comes to trust your eye more than your screen, to see life in 36 shots and to discover your images only long after the action. Of course, when you’re both digital and analog, things don’t always go as planned, but the images brought back from this urban late afternoon make you want… to go back for a ride. (The images are raw unedited JPGs).

What we definitely loved!

technical photo adjustments
  • Handling is always pleasant with Fuji: one literally finds the pleasure of taking pictures. Lightweight, ergonomic and stylish, the X-Pro 3’s rangefinder design is attractive and reassuring.
  • The high quality workmanship is still a signature! The camera gives a real impression of solidity once it’s in your hands.
  • The Fuji X lenses family is growing every year with new focal lengths, specs and sizes. The lenses are not the cheapest on the market, but they are undeniably a great deal. Superb construction, excellent sharpness, an aperture ring (plus the hyperfocal graduation on the XF 23mm f1.4) and a smart and beautiful look that fits the cameras.
  • Fujifilm colorimetry is by far the best on the market; decades of silver film manufacturing are unmistakable. The film simulations are extremely well done and it is even possible to create your own settings or develop new formulas found on the internet toemulate a multitude of other films such asKodak, Agfa, etc.
  • Autofocus has been significantly improved compared to the X-Pro 2 with almost complete viewfinder coverage.
  • The minimalism of the back of the camera streamlines its design, though a tiny doubt remains about the joystick’s lifespan.
  • The return to pure photography, a bold choice for which Fujifilm is to be congratulated.
  • Film simulation goes further with the possibility to increase the grain effect. And this grain is as beautiful as that of a silver film! (almost)

>>  More images on OCUS’ Instagram

What was a little bit disappointing…

  • Herewe go: the retractable screen. Even if this is the heart of this cam
2 pictures side to side
  • era’s revolution, we regret the lack of clear choice between screen or film type display. (Or the radical choice of not offering a screen at all.) On the X-Pro 3, the user can only deploy the screen under the camera without being able to position it on the front. Understandably, Fuji wants to restrict the use of the screen to return to eye-based photography, at the cost of reduced versatility of the camera, probably to better differentiate the X-Pro range fromthe XT range. But this complicates the settings: we often found ourselves unfolding and folding the screen, which is not very practical!
  • The new titanium finish is nice, except that fingerprints will easily remain on it, very visible. The only cosmetic drawback of the X-Pro 3.
  • The small rear screen could have benefited from an optional backlight.
  • The incompatibility of the X-Pro 2 grip on the X-Pro 3. Obvious: different design, different accessories. Except that the construction of the X-Pro 3 is very close to that of the X-Pro 2, and those who had chosen to buy the expensive but useful metal grip (>100 €) for the X-Pro 2, will have to equip themselves with the new model. The X-Pro 3 is a very good camera like Fujifilm excels at making them. It won’t disappoint X-Pro range lovers and has been improved where needed (autofocus, new sensor). Nevertheless, the heart of the novelty on this camera, its hidden screen, is undoubtedly a risky bet. Indeed, it restricts the use of the X-Pro 3 to a practice of photography that many users have never experienced or have abandoned.

Fujifilm is clearly aiming at an informed or nostalgic community that may still use film sometimes, as well as at those who are looking for a purer and more absolute way to photograph. One thing is certain, Fujifilm seeks to make cameras to please photographers. Film simulations, body design, lenses, the shooting experience: everything is a hymn to photography. To get your camera, likewise, think about returning to analog and take a look at shops like Images PHOTO. It allows, among other pleasures, to talk about photography among insiders as we just did here!

Photo credits: ©Manol Valtchanov