First Impressions: Fujifilm X Pro 3 (We Did Street Photography with It!)

The Fujifilm X Pro 3 is designed to slow you down and make you a more deliberate photographer, and that’s a good thing.

We first learned of the Fujifilm X Pro 3’s development last month. Yesterday afternoon, we got to spend some brief hands-on time shooting with the camera around New York City. The Fujifilm X Pro 3 incorporates the same 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 APS-C sensor and X-Processor 4 Quad-Core Imaging Engine found within the X-T3 into a rangefinder-style body. The most notable design change from the X Pro 2 is that the rear of the camera now features an always-on-but-not-backlit E-Ink display. This is designed to simulate the film box window found on many analog cameras. There’s still a touch screen LCD if you want it, accessible by flipping the back of the camera down.

This is designed to slow photographers down so they can focus on shooting by looking through the viewfinder rather than a screen. The X Pro 3 also includes a new Classic Negative emulsion simulation designed to emulate the look of Pro 400 film when overexposed by one stop. Photographers shooting with Fujifilm’s X-series cameras who cut their teeth on rangefinder-style cameras will find a lot to love about the X Pro 3, but whether or not this is the right camera for you depends highly on your shooting style.

 

Gear Used

We tested the Fujifilm X Pro 3 with the Fujifilm 23mm f2 R WR, Fujifilm 35mm f1.4 R, Fujifilm 56mm f1.2 R, and a variety of other first-party lenses.

 

Tech Specs

Tech specs for the Fujifilm X Pro 3 taken from official Fujifilm press release:

  • 26.1MP APS-C X Trans Sensor
  • Dual SD Card slots
  • Classic Negative Film simulation mode
  • New Multiple Exposure enhancements
  • Hidden Tilting LCD Screen. 3.0 inch, aspect ratio 3:2, approx. 180 degree tilting 1.62 millions dots touch screen color LCD monitor
  • Reverse Galilean viewfinder with electronic bright frame display
  • 0.5 inch approx. 3.69 millions dots OLED Color Viewfinder (4:3)
  • E-Ink display
  • Weather sealing
  • Titanium Top and bottom plates
  • ISO 160-12,800 standard
  • 4K video
  • USB-C
  • Approx. 497g / 17.5oz (including battery and SD memory card) Approx. 447g / 15.8oz (excluding battery and SD memory card)
  • (W) 140.5mm × (H) 82.8mm × (D) 46.1mm / (W) 5.5in × (H) 3.3in × (D) 1.8in (minimum depth 34.8mm/1.4in)
  • Three colors: Black, Dura Black and Dura Silver

Ergonomics

Aside from the model name etching, the top of the Fujifilm X-Pro 3 looks basically identical to its predecessor. The hot shoe, combination Shutter Speed & ISO Dial, On/Off Switch, Shutter Release, Exposure Compensation Dial, as well as a customizable button are all located up top.

Towards the front of the camera, you’ll the front dial, the toggle lever for the Hybrid OVF/EVF, lens release, as well as the Focusing Mode Dial.

The rear of the Fujifilm X Pro 3 is where you’ll find the most noticeable design change. Where you would normally find an LCD is replaced by a square E-Ink display that’s always on. This is designed to mimic the window on analog cameras of yesteryear where you would slip in the end tab of your film box to remind you of the film loaded within. Aside from the always-on display, a number of buttons are located on the back of the X Pro 3. These include the Drive Mode button (which doubles as the delete button), AE-L/AF-L button, rear scroll wheel, joystick, Menu/OK button, Playback button, as well as the Display/Back button. The other customizable button and the Quick Menu button can be found on the thumb rest.

In case you were afraid Fujifilm had removed the LCD altogether, rest assured that the X Pro 3 still has one. The touchscreen LCD is tucked away by default and can be accessed by folding down the rear panel.

The touchscreen can be folded down all the way but does not feature a tilting mechanism.

 

Build Quality

The Fujifilm X-Pro 3 feels solidly built, but the handgrip on the camera will leave photographers with larger hands wanting more. Of course, if you’re used to Leica M cameras and rangefinders, you won’t have a problem. Like its predecessor, the X Pro 3 features a Shutter Speed Dial with the ISO Dial integrated within. The Dura Black and Dura Silver versions of the X Pro 3 also features a highly scratch-resistant coating. There are programmable buttons on top of the camera as well as towards the top of the thumb rest which allow you to customize it to the way you shoot. It also sports the same joystick found on the X-T3 which makes navigating the menus and adjusting focus points a breeze.

The X Pro 3 is also weather-sealed, although we didn’t get the opportunity to put it to the test during our brief time with the camera. Be sure to stay tuned for our full review where we will surely be putting the weather sealing of the X Pro 3 to the test.

 

Ease of Use

Photographers accustomed to shooting with rangefinder-style cameras will be able to navigate the X Pro 3 with ease. While some people will lament Fujifilm’s decision to incorporate the always-on rear display in place of an LCD, we feel this will force photographers to become more deliberate when shooting. Besides, the touchscreen is still there when you really need it, it’s just tucked away so that you can focus on the act of photographing instead of chimping.

 

Autofocus

Periodically during our time shooting with the Fujifilm X Pro 3, the autofocus system felt inconsistent. The X Pro 3 was able to acquire focus quickly for the most part, and the Eye AF system was able to detect faces that were part of graffiti in the distance. We also experienced instances where the autofocus system missed focus altogether. It’s worth noting that the units we were shooting with were pre-production samples.

To clarify this statement, here’s what we did:

  • With single focus and manual focus point selection, the X Pro 3 worked perfectly fine in pretty much all the lighting situations we encountered. It also focused quickly.
  • With Wide and tracking focusing combined with continuous AF, the focusing was a bit more finicky. We were photographing people moving towards us in continuous burst mode as we were moving towards them. Basically, we walked passed one another. The focusing was hit or miss.
  • When we adjusted the autofocusing for the situation that we were in, the performance improved a bit.
  • Typically we’d get someone’s face in focus and the tracking wouldn’t always stay locked. We’d get some images that were in focus, but not all.

We will need to test this more extensively during our full review before we can render a final verdict on the X Pro 3’s AF performance. The test we did simulated typical street photography situations in NYC.

 

Image Quality

Since the Fujifilm X Pro 3 preview unit provided to us was a pre-production sample running beta firmware, camera profiles for it are not yet available for Capture One or Adobe Lightroom. All sample images seen within this First Impressions article are straight out of camera JPEGs. As a matter of ethics, none of the sample images seen within this First Impressions article have been edited or retouched so that you can judge the quality of the images produced by this camera for yourself.

All images are JPEGs from the camera.

First Impressions

It’s been almost four years since the world saw the release of the Fujifilm X Pro 2, so to say that the wait for the X Pro 3 has been a long one is quite the understatement. While we only got to spend about an hour in the wild with the brand new X Pro 3, our experiences so far have been positive. The inclusion of the X-Trans 4 sensor and X-Processor 4 Imaging Engine are long-overdue upgrades to the X Pro series, and the new multiple exposure functionality is certainly a welcome addition. Fujifilm made a conscious decision to put the E-Ink display on the back and tucked the LCD away as a way to create a camera designed to force photographers to focus on the act of photographing. This is a decision we wholeheartedly support. With digital cameras, many photographers tend to overshoot (“spray and pray” if you will) rather than shoot deliberately. The X Pro 3 is designed to make you slow down and become a more decisive, deliberate photographer.

We look forward to evaluating the final production version of the Fujifilm X Pro 3 comprehensively once final production review units are available. Please stay tuned for our upcoming full review.

Editor in Chief Chris Gampat contributed to this report.

Pauleth Ip

Paul is a New York City based photographer, creative, and writer. His body of work includes headshots and commercial editorials for professionals, in-demand actors/performers, high net worth individuals, and corporate clients, as well as intimate lifestyle/boudoir photography with an emphasis on body positivity and empowerment. Paul also has a background in technology and higher education, and regularly teaches private photography seminars. When not working on reviews and features for The Phoblographer or shooting client work, Paul can be seen photographing personal projects around NYC, or traveling the world with his cameras in tow. You can find Paul’s latest work on his Instagram over at @thepicreative.