Is Fujifilm Planning More Craziness for the X-Pro3?

Is Fujifilm Planning More Craziness for the X-Pro3?

Fujifilm is due to roll out a new version of its slightly odd rangefinder hybrid later this year. How is it going to improve on the X-Pro2, which sensor will it boast, and will it really feature 5-axis in-body stabilization?

The X-Pro1 and the X-Pro2 struck me as innovative but always something of an enthusiasts’ indulgence rather than cameras that were functional enough for serious use. The hybrid viewfinders brought the traditions of the rangefinders loved by the likes of Cartier-Bresson and Garry Winogrand into the 21st century, offering a style of working that blended past and present. Ultimately, they seem great for portraiture and street work and perhaps not so good for everything else. 

Slated for October this year is the Fujifilm X-Pro3, and I’m fascinated to see what other features the Japanese manufacturer is planning to bring. For those not familiar with Fuji, if you pick up an X-Pro2, you’ll find that it does away with the near-ubiquitous mode dial (i.e., a knob that switches you between P, Av, Tv, etc) found on many other cameras; instead, the automation for the three exposure variables lies at the end of dedicated dials. If you want the camera to choose your aperture, you turn your aperture ring to A. If you want Auto ISO, you turn the ISO ring to A. It’s a different way of working, and, in keeping with Fuji traditions, it brings a greater level of tactility as you make your changes through big, satisfying dials rather than menus and digital displays.

Fujifilm X-Pro2

A top-down view of the Fujifilm X-Pro2. See the ISO merged in with the shutter speed dial? Not ideal, according to many users.

In addition to this Fuji (and Leica) idiosyncrasy, you’ll also find a very different viewfinder, blending the joys of the rangefinder's unique manual focusing and the frame lines that can allow you to see what’s about to appear in your shot. Instead of seeing through the lens, you see through an optical viewfinder that then has various overlays. Being still a mirrorless camera, you can switch this to a full EVF should you wish. Whatever you prefer, assuming you’re a right-eye shooter, your face won’t be hidden behind the the camera as the viewfinder sits at the top-left of the body.

This blend of old and new is appealing to many, and it’s great to see Fujifilm persevering with something so playful and experimental that, I’m assuming, can’t sell in any serious numbers. The X-Pro2 is not a cheap camera (just shy of $2,000 when shipped with the 23mm f/2 lens), nor is it particularly small. It’s pretty much bigger than the Leica M10-D despite rocking an APS-C sensor compared to the M10’s full frame. This is not quite as discreet as you might wish for street photography, but it does mean that there’s plenty of space for a second card slot, a feature that could be deemed a little out of place given that this is a camera more suited for fun rather than professional work.

A few of the improvements should be fairly predictable. The X-Pro2’s addition of phase detect gave a significant improvement in autofocus and will only get better with the X-Pro3. The frame rate will also see a boost, especially if the insane burst rate of the X-T3 is anything to go by. A flippy screen would not be unexpected.

Something that Fuji will almost certainly address is the ISO dial. In the X-Pro2, this was merged awkwardly with the shutter speed dial, requiring users to lift and turn in a manner that is fiddly and seemed almost destined to break or gather dirt.

Is IBIS BS?

Among the stats being mooted over on The New Camera (26 megapixels, 4K 60 video), one feature stands out: 5-axis in-body stablization. There’s certainly the physical space for it, but is Fujifilm going to bring this technology to this curate’s egg of a camera when it’s lacking from the X-T3? I’m sure some are keen to hand-hold at slow shutter speeds, but to me this is a feature that is a much bigger factor in terms of a camera’s video capabilities, and I’m confused as to which buyers will be picking up an X-Pro for anything other than stills. And 4K 60 would be great, but why?

Don’t get me wrong: if they’re present, that’s great. We need manufacturers who give the answer "why not?" to that question. This is not a series of cameras that seems subject to much logic, and I love that they exist. If you’ve some thoughts on what Fuji is going to announce and whether you’ll be upgrading, I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

The lead image is a composite using a photo by Johannes Plenio.

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17 Comments

Studio 403's picture

I left Nikon this year and went with Fujifilm X-H1. Nikon a great company and the finest quality. But at my age of 73, Fujifilm offers me a true value of build and quality and for consideration less money. Nikon priced me out of the market. I was using the Nikon D10, great gear. I wanted to upgrade after several years of use. When I shopped around I found the high quality lens I purchased from Nikon severed me well.

I am not a propeller head, The menu in Fuji is daunting for me. It’s like going into a cave spelunking, but have to deep dive into the cave to see the rich’s Of Fuji. I don’t blame Fujifilm. It’s me. I ready the manual, watch vids, go support groups....still get lost. Lol. All fun as I deep dive. Plus, Capture one has a free software geared to fuji gear. Learning this software, but as an adobe PS addict for 10 years, I don’ know if I have a relearn brain left, Yikes. But thank you Nikon for your lovely gear. But Hooray for Fujifilm my new sidekick

Age and or disability can make stabilization important for stills.

Andy Day's picture

That's a great point and one that I naively did not consider. Thank you.

Ken Savage's picture

Fuji IBIS fan here, was just shooting a 135mm, wide open at MFD and the viewfinder with IBIS presented a rock steady image making manual focus a snap. Once you have Fuji IBIS, it's doubtful you want to go back.

I have been using the Xpro-2 for a little over two years now and I find it a most non BS camera I have used in many years.
When I started photography I was using the M2 and M3 and found the simple operation of aperture/shutter removing all forms of clutter was a relief from the later adding programs and automatic functions that was supposed the make my life easier.
And it did not stop me from going the way over the Nikon F3/F4 and later Canon F1/T90 over the EOS1 before all the digicams came around.
I am not a total throwback and I am using all these features that I can find in my dslr´s but it was a welcome change from the one camera for all uses that has been the object of Canon/Nikon/Sony etc etc
I very much appreciated the simple and "stupid" interface of the Xpro2 that brought the straight use of a stripped down camera back to me and also reminded me more of older cameras such as the Voigtlander Bessa R cameras and Contax G2 and of course Leica but at a lesser price point.
Lastly it is funny that I don't know any enthusiast that I have meet that is using the Xpro2 but only pros who likes the cleaned up interface, the enthusiasts usually goes for something packed with fancy super functions and has all the latest bells and whistles.
Right now my thoughts are going to the GFX100 but that would more be a step (up) to the 5Dm4 that is my current workhorse then a substitute for a Xpro2 which is much more of a camera for certain uses rather then a camera for all occasions. And I am talking about what works for my work not for everyone else but it is funny that a camera can be an enthusiast camera for someone and hard no nonsense tool for someone else.

That would be interesting to watch unfold. But as of now, since I have an X-T2 and after using long lenses in unplanned video shoots, with no tripods, I'm seriously considering getting an X-H1. Only thing holding me back is my 80D and M5 as I look forward to what Canon is going to bring in the form of upgrades to those cameras. Obviously they won't have IBIS but I'd rather wait and see first.

I agree with Karl totally. This is a no nonsense camera, well built and a great camera to have as part of our artillery along with Canon 5d mk4's. The dynamic range is superb and can be extended further if required. The RAW images can be changed up to 5 stops (if you really cock up!). Love the flesh tones this camera produces. We often use this for corporate team individual photos and PR shoots. A camera loved by pros who can relate to dials as opposed to menus and who work in manual mode most of the time.

The Acros black and white film simulation is great when combining with altering the highlight and shadow tones, giving a richness other camera cannot produce without post work. Love the lenses, very sharp. The only drawback I've found is the 60mm macro lens is slow to focus.

Could easily see wedding photographers using this for Black and White shots over other cameras.

Andy Day's picture

Thank you Peter and Karl Petersson. It's a camera I know little about so it's fascinating to find out how this fits into a pro's gear. Great comments. :)

marc gabor's picture

Not all pros spend their time in the studio, shooting weddings or sporting events. There are plenty of serious photographers who spend most of their time shooting travel, street, fine art, etc... for whom a rangefinder style body makes more sense. That's why we have choices. Kind of reminds me of the old Fujifilm GA645 cameras. Medium format point and shoot. just because the camera was a point and shoot doesn't mean it wasn't geared towards professionals. Fuji understands that different photographers have different styles of shooting and they make different kinds of cameras to accommodate that. That's what makes them a great camera company imo.

John Pyle's picture

The xpro2 IS a working pros camera. It is in my bag and this entire shoot was done with it a 56mm and a 23mm when I got them. http://www.johnpylephotography.com/blog/2017/2/19/annie-prom

Andy Day's picture

Duly noted. Stunning shots. Thanks for sharing. :)

Andy, lets not sugar coat this. If this is a camera that you 'know so little about' then perhaps writing an article about its successor is not a great idea. I am not a pro photograper but have been shooting for more than 40 years, and this has been by far my favourite and most functional camera, ever, period. The idea that it is not 'functional enough for serious use' is absurd.

Yeah, I have to echo a sentiment stated by others, if your not familiar with the XPro system, I don't think you can objectively speak to it's successor. Not trying to bash on you, but it's true. (Withhold judgement, unless you have knowledge to successfully see from all sides)

Different strokes for different folks. I work on a lot of documentary and human interest stories, which the rangefinder system offers great advantage. Low frills simplicity so I can focus on shooting, not a bunch of "modes" that can muddy up the experience. An OVF that allows me to see outside my frame and anticipate (priceless for fast action, upclose work)... Not to mention the EVF and hybrid HUD for exposure checks, low light framing assessment and ease of use with long zooms..

I also shoot a Leica M4 and Fuji XT2, and together these tools cover all my needs, and all get use. It's a marvel of engineering, but admittedly not for everyone. Though, saying it's not a pro camera is a disservice, ignoring the fact that not everyone depends on a gaggle of features for studio work, weddings, or the like. There are many of us "Pros" doing work in other segments of the industry, highly benefited by a camera such as this.

Just my two cents.

calaveras grande's picture

They have to change that ISO dial. It is simply not intuitive or smooth to use. Read an interview of the designer a while ago and he had some interesting logic for how to use it. Apparently it derives from some classic camera or something that he loves.
But honestly just ditch the exp comp dial. If you know exposure triangle, and are in M mode it's useless anyway. Replace that with shutter, then ISO is just ISO, and your other hand is free to handle the other corner of the triangle. Much easier to keep your eye on the subject and not have to fiddle.
That said. I rented an Xpro2 once and fell in love with it, even with that damn dual purpose dial.

Sold my xpro2 after buying an X-T3 and 50R, and have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to preorder an xpro3 ever since! It's just such a fun system to use and a relatively affordable/easy way to access the digital rangefinder experience. The xt3 is great and all but lacks the personality of the xpros. In regards to the ISO dial, I didn't mind it at all. High ISO performance is so good these days you may as well just set the thing to auto ISO with a defined minimum shutter speed and get shooting.

Why do people say the XPro 2 (or 3) is not a pro camera, that’s funny cause it’s the only camera I use to pay the rent in Hollywood California. I’m actually kind of tired of people saying that. On set and at red carpets all I get is compliments on XPro2 and the literal billionaires and royalty (does a Countess count as royalty?). I work for in LA seem to like the results. So please stop with that nonsense.

Fraser King's picture

If Fuji really wanted to be radical and buck the trend, it should be true to this cameras heritage. Drop the video completely (nobody buys this camera to make films, if that's what you want get an XT3 or XH1 for similar or less money), don't bother with a flipping out screen, in body stabilisation is fine (I'm not a luddite), keep the hybrid view finder, but max out the EVF for lenses longer than 35mm, make the AF, tracking AF, and eye AF, at least on a par with the XT3. Finally, get rid of that horrid slope on the dial side of the body and deal with all the irksome ergonomic issues that are well documented. I might then buy it instead of a FF Sony Alpha, Nikon Z or bankrupting myself with Leica ... I might just add that I think Fuji make the most attractive looking cameras on the market, but with a few tweaks to this one...
Just my two penn'orth
Fraser.