Review: Fujifilm X Pro 3 (The GOAT of Fujifilm Cameras)

The Fujifilm X Pro 3 will be the best camera for a certain type of photographer while others will gawk at it.

You should think about the Fujifilm X Pro 3 as a tool for a photographer who wants to be present in the moment and doesn’t want to miss a thing that’s happening. I’ve been waiting for the Fujifilm X Pro 3 for a long time; I felt that the X Pro 2 was great but not ideal. When the X Pro 3 was announced, I joined others in reveling at how much of a slap in the face to the industry this camera really is. The hidden LCD screen means the photographer needs to look through the viewfinder or unfurl the LCD screen to shoot. When I walked around NYC with Fujifilm reps, they stated I was the only photographer to not use the LCD screen to shoot at all. And that’s what this is about. The desired effect of this keeping you in the zone while shooting is something the Fujifilm X Pro 3 does very well.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Superia is beautiful (Classic neg)
  • We love the lack of a major screen
  • Autofocus can be fine-tuned for different situations
  • Everyone loves the look of Classic neg
  • You can push the shadows for forever and get details – the highlights not as much, but they’re still there
  • The screen helps you stay focused and aware
  • USB C charging ensures that you can keep using the camera
  • Video features deliver pretty video
  • Arguably, you don’t need to edit the RAW files because the JPEGs let you do so much
  • For street and documentary shooting, the hidden screen will keep you in the zone when shooting
  • Face detection is fantastic when not trying to track erratic movements
  • Acros and clarity enhancements are going to make you fall in love with Fujifilm all over again
  • The Chrome effect for skies is subtle and very nice
  • Autofocus is fantastic for events and most professional work
  • Fujifilm’s collection of small primes pair wonderfully with this camera
  • The best camera to embrace high ISO noise on the market
  • Using the OVF will prolong battery life at the expense of slower autofocus
  • This is less of a street camera than a documentary and event shooter’s camera
  • The wider lenses make zone focusing easy. This is imperative for street photography
  • Multiple exposure mode is a very welcome addition
  • Very good battery life

Cons

  • Has problems keeping subjects in focus when they’re continuously moving
  • When you need the screen, it’s a bit of an annoyance; like when photographing a portrait subject in motion
  • This camera desperately needed Blackout Free EVF shooting
  • Touchscreen menu navigation should be on this camera
  • Autofocus needs improvements
  • Rated images in-camera aren’t brought into Capture One Pro. This is critical for the photojournalist.
  • Enhancing the clarity makes the camera take extra time to render the image
  • The battery life in long term use is about on par with the new Sony Z batteries. We wish it were longer, but it’s also a much smaller battery.
  • For street shooting, the wide and tracking AF area still lets you select a zone, but it shouldn’t. This can throw off shooting in real-life street situations
  • Shooting from the hip? You may accidentally hit the function button and not the shutter release
  • Exposure dial needs a locking mechanism
  • Multiple Exposure mode saves the final images only as JPEGs
  • The addition of image stabilization could have meant that this camera has a better chance at becoming the perfect camera for street photography

Gear Used

We tested the Fujifilm X Pro 3 with:


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

Taken from our first impressions

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

Created with RNI Films app. Preset ‘Agfa RSX II v.2’

We took the Fujifilm X Pro 3 in the rain on a number of occasions, which it withstood with ease. Photographers shouldn’t be afraid of going out and shooting in the rain. More importantly, if you’re the type of street photographer who wants to shoot in the rain, pair it with the 16mm f1.4 R WR. This lens is weather-sealed and it’s also got the zone focusing mechanism on the focusing ring. It’s pretty perfect for this type of shooting experience. There wasn’t a single time where I lacked confidence in the Fujifilm X Pro 3’s ability to handle what we threw at it.

In the hand, the Fujifilm X Pro 3 feels a lot more sturdy than its predecessor, with a bit more of a grip to hold onto. It’s very nice. To be honest, it’s somewhere between holding a Leica and a Fujifilm XT3. Photographers are bound to really like it.

Ease of Use

 

 

 

We’re going to drop a few major truth bombs here when it comes to the ease of use. If you’re an experienced photographer, then you’re going to love this camera. If you don’t need to chimp every photo you take, then you’re going to adore it. If you don’t use the LCD screen often or even at all, the Fujifilm X Pro 3 is the camera for you. If you’re the newer type of photographer I see on photowalks that needs your screen, then you’re going to gawk at this camera. The screen is only a mild difficulty when it comes to working with portrait subjects, but it’s not too awful. For event shooting and when shooting on the streets, the hidden LCD screen is a godsend. It will keep you focused and in the zone. (That’s where you should be anyway.)

Where you’ll probably get annoyed is with the new Fujifilm Multiple Exposure features. Fujifilm had this in their cameras for a long time, but not to the degree of layering nine images. Unfortunately, the stacked images are only available as JPEGs. Canon lets you keep your RAW originals and makes the multi-exposure photo a RAW. So, this is a bit of a let down. On the other hand, I condition myself to create better JPEGs anyway.

Autofocus

Though the Fujifilm X Pro 3 isn’t necessarily meant for fashion shoots, the autofocusing algorithms straight out of the box spoke volumes to me. When we shared these images on Facebook, many were quick to point out that the autofocus wasn’t keeping Casey’s face locked. In theory, that will mean street photographers will have a tough time if they’re trying to use the autofocus. This problem occurs in both low light and good light. Here are more image samples.

Editor’s Note: This series was edited for modesty.

As you can see it’s a very mixed bag. But when it comes to working in the studio with a dancer mostly staying in place, the Fujifilm X Pro 3 was able to keep up. To explain this further, we tweaked the AF-C settings in the menu to cater to the subject. While this helped a lot, it means that every time you start working with a different subject type, you’ll need to tweak it. With that being the case, you may want to set this to a specific custom button. I didn’t in the end, but you may have different needs than I do.

The best results come from shooting with wider angles. Of course, this is because of the laws of physics and how much of a scene is in focus at a given aperture. Here are those studio results.

Truthfully speaking, we had a lot of difficulty with the autofocus of the Fujifilm X Pro 3 on the streets. When it came to keeping moving subjects in focus moving across different planes, it proved very difficult when shooting with a lens wide open. If subjects stayed on the same plane, then things were easier. Here’s a series where not a single photo was in focus.

The thing that I found which really trips up the Fujifilm X Pro 3 is face detection with sunglasses on. In the photo below, I genuinely feel like the X Pro 3 should have nailed it. But it didn’t.

When it comes to street photography, photographers using the Fujifilm X Pro 3 will need to rely on the ability of the wider lenses to zone focus. Ideally, you should spring for the 16mm f1.4 R WR, however, the 23mm f1.4 can also do a great job. Either way, it’s important to zone focus. Of course, you can do this in camera and setting it using the scale and focus peaking. But to me that’s a bit distracting.

Image Quality

The Fujifilm X Pro 3 is all about embracing flaws in some ways while playing around with the idea that you don’t need to edit your photos. The Fujifilm X Pro 3 has a lot of great enhancements to it like the addition of the clarity setting to your images. Beyond that, the Classic Chrome effect is enhanced by a few menu slot additions. Further, Fujifilm’s addition of the Classic Negative look will make everyone really overjoyed. Looks that were only possible with Mastin Presets and those from RNI or VSCO are now accessible right out of the camera.

About the Clarity Addition

One of the coolest things about the Fujifilm X Pro 3 is the addition of clarity adjustments to the photos. Even cooler, the clarity adjustment is done to both the RAW file and the JPEG file. And what better way to make the look of Acros pop even more? When working with the Fujifilm X Pro 3 in the streets, I created images that I seriously fell for when using the various Acros settings and enhanced clarity. Be warned though, using the enhanced clarity will make your images take longer to process.

RAW File Versatility

Original
Edited

The Fujifilm X Pro 3 is fantastic when it comes to the camera’s RAW file versatility. You can see we were able to recover a ton of details from the shadows. By modern camera standards, that’s pretty expected. What’s even better is that if you need to keep pushing a file, you can simply embrace Fujifilm’s Film simulations and make the image just look like grainy film. This is an advantage that only Fujifilm and arguably Olympus has.

 

 

 

When it comes to recovering highlights in a photo though, it becomes only slightly more problematic. You’re not going to get all the details you will from the GF lineup. And this becomes even tougher when you’re trying to embrace that signature pastel look Fujifilm Classic Negative is trying to emulate. To explain this further, it’s the look of overexposed Fujifilm PRO 400H film. The highlights are retained in the film scans, but they won’t be from the X Pro 3. With this in mind, it’s better to get it right in the camera to start. And if you’re a film shooter, then it means wrapping your head around this whole process in a different way.

Original

Edited

Original

Edited

High ISO Output

One of the best things about the Fujifilm X Pro 3 is the fact that at ISO levels 3200 and above, you’ll get the look of grain. And to be honest, this is the single best camera on the market right now to embrace it. Ever seen the look of film scans? This is what it looks like. With Fujifilm’s organic looking film simulations, you’re not going to complain about the film grain. When it comes to looking at the images digitally, you’ve got no serious reason to buy any sort of presets that are film rendering. Of course, the options from Capture One and a few others are still very worth it. To that end, I think any photographer making images at ISO 3200 and above should simply embrace the look of film grain. Again, this is why I love this camera. Instead of going with the trend of needing to have clinically clean images, the Fujifilm X Pro 3 slaps that idea in the face. 

When it comes to prints, we made an image at ISO 6400 on the Canon Prograf 1000 with Pro Luster paper. The image was from the same shoot we did with the Sony a6600. In comparison, the Fujifilm X Pro 3 makes an ever so slightly cleaner print when making 17×22 images. I’m very impressed. It’s still not going to hold its own with some full frame sensors, but in terms of the look you’ll get, I think that’s very worth the tradeoff.

How Does the New Film Simulation Compare?

We decided to go into our index and bring up some scanned Superia film to compare to the new Classic Negative film simulation in the X Pro 3. 

Below are images from the Classic Negative Look

Below is real Fujifilm Superia

Fujifilm Superia 200 actual film

We’re going to let you make the decision for yourself. But I think that it’s very close.

Extra Image Samples

 

 

 

Conclusions

Likes

  • With the Fujifilm X Pro 3, Fujifilm is truly embracing them for themselves
  • Classic Negative
  • Weather Sealing
  • Autofocus is great where it counts and where you can make money
  • Clarity addition means you do less work
  • Multiple Exposure Mode is wonderful for the most part
  • I love that Fujifilm delivered their own take on the chimping the screen debate.

Dislikes

  • The autofocus for street photography and tracking really needs a tweak.

The Fujifilm X Pro 3 is truthfully one of the most innovative cameras to come out this year. Though Sony has been pushing the boundaries when it comes to innovation, Fujifilm has been doing things that no one else is. The hidden LCD screen is a brilliant innovation that keeps photographers focused on what’s important. Classic Negative and the addition of the Clarity setting will mean that you’re doing less work in post. The multiple exposure setting is one Sony refuses to return to its cameras. Though Olympus put a smaller battery in a newer camera and promised similar battery performance, Fujifilm is actually able to hold themselves to their claims. Though the Fujifilm X Pro 3 uses the same battery as its predecessors, it’s still very efficient when it comes to using the battery. Event and portrait photographers will appreciate the looks they can get in addition to the gorgeous image quality overall. Couple this with the quiet mechanical shutter or the silent electronic shutter and you’ve got a great camera. Then when photojournalists need to bring it out into the rain or rough environments, they’ll be able to trust that the gear works. In the prints, the Fujifilm X Pro 3 really wins for high ISO noise over the Sony a6600. But Sony still takes the lead when it comes to RAW file editing by just a hair. Perhaps the biggest problem with the Fujifilm X Pro 3 is with the autofocus in the streets. If Fujifilm can fix this via firmware updates, it will be one of the most perfect cameras on the market. But to be fair, they have the lenses that can compensate.

The Fujifilm X Pro 3 wins our Editor’s Choice award with five out of five stars. I’m most likely going to buy one. You can pick one up at Amazon.