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.
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.