Fujifilm X-Pro3 Review

December 17, 2019 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

Three years after the well-received X-Pro2 comes the release of the brand new Fujifilm X-Pro3 APS-C sensor mirrorless camera.

Aimed at street, reportage and wedding photographers who prefer a rangefinder format, the X-Pro3 uses exactly the same 26.1 megapixel X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor and X-Processor 4 image processor as the more DSLR-like X-T3 and X-T30 cameras.

At the heart of the X Pro 3 is the Advanced Hybrid Viewfinder, which boasts a number of improvements over the previous version, and a tilting LCD touchscreen that is actually closed against the body during shooting to promote greater use of the viewfinder.

There's also an innovative new sub-LCD monitor embedded within the back of the LCD screen which lets you see certain key settings, including the currently selected Film Simulation mode.

The XPro3's camera body incorporates titanium top and bottom plates for greater durability, and Fujifilm are also offering the new camera in a special Duratec finish that is even more durable and scratch resistant than the standard painted black version.

The X Pro3 can now focus all the way down to -6EV in low-light, twice as good as the X-Pro2's -3EV rating, and there's a brand new Classic Color Neg film simulation and a 'Color Chrome FX Blue' option.

On the video side, the Fuji X-Pro3 now offers DCI 4K 30p/25p/24p recording and a range of 1080p modes.

The Fujifilm X-Pro3 is priced at £1699 in the UK and $1799 in the US, body-only, for the standard Black version. The Dura Black and Dura Silver versions are priced at £1879 / $1999. There are no kit lens options available at launch.

Ease of Use

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Front of the Fujifilm X-Pro3

At first glance, the new X-Pro3 looks very similar to both the three-year-old X-Pro2 and the original, 6-year-old X-Pro1, proving that Fujifilm got a lot of things right way back in 2012.

Peer a little more closely, though, and you'll see that there have been some subtle and not so subtle tweaks to the exterior of the new camera, most notably to the radical new rear LCD screen.

It's also all change internally, with the X-Pro3 adopting Fujifilm's latest 26.1 megapixel sensor, X Processor 4 image processing engine and auto-focus system.

As you'd expect, the Fujifilm X Pro 3 once again retains the same classically styled design that recalls film rangefinders from the past, with the viewfinder positioned on the far left, rather than in the centre as on the X-T3, and a flat, hump-less design on top.

Viewfinder

The Fuji X-Pro3 continues to use the same hybrid optical viewfinder / electronic viewfinder as its predecessor, with a few important differences.

As a reminder, the XPro3 has an electronic viewfinder and an optical viewfinder. At the flick of the Viewfinder switch on the front of the camera, you can easily switch from the OVF to the EVF and back again.

Fujifilm have also cleverly implemented an integrated prism for the electronic viewfinder onto the optical viewfinder, with the latter able to show the shooting frame and a variety of shooting data.

So you get a large, bright optical viewfinder which shows a bigger area than what the camera actually captures when you take a photo, useful for seeing when moving subjects are about to enter the frame, overlaid with useful information including exposure compensation, shutter speed, aperture, focusing distance scale, an electronic level and histogram (there are 14 options in total) - even the focusing point is highlighted!

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Rear of the Fujifilm X-Pro3

Additionally, it also now features the same Electronic Rangefinder (ERF) mode from the X100 series, where a small electronic viewfinder is overlaid on top of the optical viewfinder, which can be used to check focus, the angle-of-view, exposure and white balance in real-time.

In terms of changes to the X Pro 3, the EVF now employs an OLED display panel with an improved resolution of 3.69million dots, higher magnification of 0.66x, much higher contrast ratio of 1:5000 (up from 1:300), a wider color space (sRGB 97%), greater brightness and a higher frame rate (100fps).

It still provides the exact same 100% coverage as the rear LCD screen, plus a parallax corrected view, accurate preview of exposure and depth of field, and the ability to see all of the information that you can view on the rear LCD.

It also offers a similar Graphic User Interface to the X-Pro2. The default Full mode does what its name suggests and displays an uninterrupted view of the scene with all the settings information displayed outside the frame so that you can really concentrate on your subject.

Normal provides an optimum view, including the shooting settings. Finally, the displayed settings in the Full and Normal modes automatically rotate when the camera is held in a portrait orientation.

In the Boost mode, the new Smoothness Priority option inserts a black frame between each of the regular frames at 100fps, giving an equivalent refresh rate of approx. 200fps. This option is recommended when capturing fast moving, erratic subjects.

The X-Pro 3 has a built-in eye-sensor so that you only have to hold the camera up to eye-level to switch between the rear LCD screen and the hybrid optical viewfinder / electronic viewfinder.

The Fujifilm X-Pro3 has a new, clearer optical viewfinder with less distortion than the one on the X-Pro2. It also features a higher eyepoint of 17mm and a larger angle of view of 27 degrees that should please glasses wearers.

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Front of the Fujifilm X-Pro3

The OVF now has a fixed 0.52x magnification, instead of the 0.36x and 0.60x magnification modes offered by the X-Pro2 and its slot-in magnifier.

In practice, this makes it harder to use a wide-angle lens on the new X Pro 3 than on the X-Pro2 when using the optical viewfinder, especially when focusing at infinity, whilst longer focal lengths result in tiny framing lines that are too small to use reliably.

A parallax corrected framing rectangle shows roughly what the picture will include (about 95%), with the framing lines and focus point moving when the shutter button is half-pressed to show the correct framing for the current focusing distance.

The Bright Frame Simulation function allows you to simulate the angle of view of each focal length without having to replace the lens, so you can change lenses more accurately.

Hidden LCD Screen

Perhaps the defining feature of the X-Pro3 is its LCD screen, not a sentence that we've ever felt compelled to write before in over 15 years of reviewing cameras.

That's because Fujifilm have consciously made it more difficult to use, rather than easier, in a concerted bid to make you use the viewfinder more, and the LCD screen less, promoting the X-Pro3's appeal as a rangefinder camera for traditionalists.

The LCD screen is essentially hidden, as it's actually folded closed against the back of the camera for the majority of the time that you're using it - you can't actually rotate it to face outwards.

Instead, you have to flip it down via the hinges at the bottom, where the screen then sits below the bottom of the camera.

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The Fujifilm X-Pro3 In-hand

In practice, this makes the X-Pro3's screen only really suitable for waist-level shooting or when holding the camera at arms length above your head.

The design actively discourages you from chimping images, as you constantly have to flip the screen down to view them, then back up to carry on shooting.

It also doesn't rotate forwards, so definitely no selfies!

More seriously, using the X-Pro3 on a tripod is also something of a compromise, as the screen can only be flipped down by about 90 degrees before it hits the top of the tripod head.

The X-Pro3 now has a touchscreen LCD, something not offered by the X-Pro2, which is ironic given the lengths that Fujifilm have gone to to make the LCD screen less usable!

And despite the camera's improved viewfinder, being effectively forced to playback your images and change the camera's menu settings using the EVF rather than the much larger LCD screen feels like a design choice gone too far.

Sub-LCD Monitor

There is also a low-resolution sub-LCD monitor embedded within the back of the LCD screen, which acts as a rear status panel.

By default it shows a pictorial representation of the current film simulation mode in another nod to the traditional approach that Fujifilm have taken with the X-Pro3.

More practically it can also be configured to show the camera's current settings for stills and video. Rather unintuitively, you can't interact with it in the same way as you would with the Quick Menu to change those settings.

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The Fujifilm X-Pro3's Sub-LCD Monitor

The 3-inch 1.62M-dot LCD screen on the X-Pro3 is touch-sensitive, which means you can use it to set the AF point or even fire the shutter release if you want when shooting stills or pull focus when recording video, although doing so is more difficult than on the X-Pro2 thanks to the new hidden design.

On the right-hand side of the screen you’ll see a small icon, which if you press it allows you to choose between using the screen to choose the AF area, autofocus, or to have it both autofocus and then take the picture. If you prefer, you can choose to turn off this functionality altogether.

Furthermore, you can actually change the focus point whilst holding the camera up to your eye by dragging across the touchscreen with your right thumb, with the option to use the whole screen or one of six different areas.

Build Quality

The Fujifilm X-Pro3 is an even better built camera than its predecessors thanks to the incorporation of titanium top and bottom plates, which is 50% stronger than alloy and much more scratch resistant, resulting in zero flex or movement in the chassis.

At the same time, it's actually much lighter than a first glance might suggest, weighing in at 497g body only with the battery and memory card fitted, which is a mere 2g heavier than the X-Pro2.

Measuring 140.5mm (W) x 82.8mm (H) x 45.9mm (D), it's also virtually identical in size to the X-Pro2, making it taller, wider and deeper than most other current mirrorless cameras.

The X-Pro3 is a weather-proof camera, with an increased 70 points of weather sealing applied to the camera's magnesium alloy internal body offering dust-resistance, water-resistance and freeze-resistance down to -10°C, and it offers an impressive shutter durability of 150,000 shots.

Duratec Finish

For the first time, Fujifilm are also offering one of their cameras in a special Duratec finish. Duratec is a cold plasma technology that involves passing an electric current through hydrogen and carbon gases to diffuse an amorphous carbon coating onto the surface of the titanium.

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All Three Colours of the Fujifilm X-Pro3

They claim that this is more durable and scratch resistant than the standard painted black version, albeit incurring a substantial price premium.

In comparison to its predecessor, the X-Pro3 has a slightly smaller hand-grip at the front and a smaller space at the rear for your thumb, with a very similar textured faux-leather surface that runs around the full width of the camera to aid grip.

Two small metal eyelets on either side of the body are used for connecting the supplied shoulder strap.

On the bottom, a metal tripod mount is positioned in-line with the centre of the lens next to the battery compartment, so you can change the battery without having to remove the camera when it's mounted on a tripod.

Dual memory card slots are located on the right-hand flank of the camera when viewed from the rear. The Fujifilm X-Pro3 now supports SD UHS-II memory cards on both slots, rather than only on slot 1 like the X-Pro2, and just like on the more recent X-T3 and X-H1 cameras.

APS-C Sensor

At the heart of the X-Pro3 is the latest 26.1 megapixel APS-C sized “X-Trans 4” CMOS sensor with no optical low-pass filter , which is exactly the same as the one used in the X-T3 and X-H1.

This is the World’s first BSI APS-C sensor with copper wiring and promises to deliver better image quality in low light / long exposures than the X-Pro2 could achieve.

It has allowed Fujifilm to implement a new base ISO speed of 160 on the X-Pro3, with the ISO range being extendable down to ISO 80 and up to 51200.

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Dual Memory Card Slots

The extended ISO range makes the X-Pro3 well suited to low-light shooting, allowing you to hand-hold the camera in places where you'd usually be reaching for a tripod (if allowed) or other support.

Especially as it's now capable of auto-focusing down to an amazing -6EV in low-light, twice as good as the previous X-Pro2 which could only focus down to -3EV.

The clever ISO Auto Control setting allows you to set a default sensitivity, a maximum sensitivity (up to 12800) and a minimum shutter speed, with the camera over-riding your ISO choice if it thinks you're being too ambitious whilst maintaining a shutter speed that won't introduce camera shake.

The Fujifilm X-Pro3 doesn't have an in-body stabilisation system, just like every other X-series camera, with the exception of the X-H1 model. It instead relies on the attached lens to provide stabilisation, if the lens offers it.

Shutter

With its mechanical focal-plane shutter, the X-Pro3 offers a very adaptable top shutter-speed limit of 1/8000th second in all shooting modes.

This allows you to select a faster aperture even in bright conditions or when shooting with flash during the day, although as there's no built-in ND filter, if you want to use, for example, the 35mm lens at F/1.4 in very bright sunlight, then you'll need to fit an ND filter on front of the lens.

Alternatively you can switch to using the X-Pro3's electronic shutter, which provides a much faster top shutter speed of 1/32,000th second and allows you to continue shooting wide-open with fast aperture lenses in the brightest of conditions without having to resort to fitting a glass ND filter or using an external flash and lights.

There are some important caveats with the electronic shutter, though. The ISO range is restricted to 200-12800, you can't use a flashgun, and the slowest shutter speed is only 1 second.

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The Dura Black Fujifilm X-Pro3

Auto-focusing

The X-Pro3 can auto-focus in as little as 0.06 seconds and it's one of the few cameras on the market to offer 100% coverage of the phase detection AF area, allowing you literally focus anywhere that you want, with 425 AF points in total and 2.16M PDAF pixels.

The X-Pro3 also offers accurate and fast Eye Detect AF, which is available in the AF-C as well as AF-S focusing mode. Although it's not quite as tenacious as the system used in the latest Sony Alpha cameras, it did increase our hit rate with faster-moving or more erratic subjects.

There's also a new innovative software-based AF Range Limiter with various settings which lets you set the closest and farthest distances for the AF system to operate within, thereby speeding up the auto-focusing.

This works for any lens that you attach to the camera, rather than having to be built into the lens itself.

Burst Shooting

To help you with capturing the precise moment, the Fujifilm X-Pro3 has a clever Pre-shot burst shooting mode, a feature inherited from the X-T3.

Essentially the camera constantly fills the buffer while your half-press the shutter button, and then keeps the most recent ones taken 0.5-1 seconds before a full press of the shutter button, thereby eliminating any camera and human-added delay. Note that this feature only works with the electronic shutter.

The X-Pro3's burst shooting capabilities also help considerably - how does 30fps sound to you?! Even better, that headline-grabbing rate is with full AF/AE metering and is completely black-out free between frames, achieved by using the electronic shutter and maintaining the live view at 60fps, making it surprisingly well-suited to action photography.

The main caveat of the 30fps mode is that the camera automatically enters the Sports Viewfinder Mode and applies a 1.25x crop factor, dropping the resolution from 26 down to 16.6 megapixels, although there's also a benefit in that you can still see outside the cropped area, allowing you to predict where the subject is moving into the frame.

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The Dura Silver Fujifilm X-Pro3

If you do want the full 26 megapixel resolution, the X-Pro3 can shoot at a slower 20fps without any cropping using the electronic shutter or 11fps using its mechanical shutter, both again with full AF/AE metering.

Manual Focusing

Manual focusing is activated by setting the focusing switch on the front of the camera to Manual and using the ring that encircles the lens to focus.

In terms of focusing aids, the Standard option offers a distance scale along the bottom of the viewfinder (both the OVF and EVF) and on the LCD screen if you're using that for composition, with a white bar indicating the the focusing distance and a blue bar showing the depth of field, which actually changes in line with the current aperture - very handy.

The X-Pro3 has another trick up its manual focusing sleeve in the shape of the rear command control (the dial which sits under your right thumb). You can press this in to magnify the view in the electronic viewfinder or LCD screen.

Furthermore, if you hold down the rear command control dial, the manual focusing aid then switches to Digital Split Image, and then to Focus Peaking - a very neat way to quickly change between the three modes.

The second manual focusing method is the Digital Split Image feature. Harking back to film cameras of the past, this displays dual images on the left and right which then need to be lined up together for accurate manual focusing, enabling accurate focusing especially when shooting wide-open or for macro shooting. It's much easier to understand in practice than written down.

The third and final method is the Focus Peak Highlight function, which displays a white line (the colour and strength are customisable) around the subject when it's in focus.

Image Processor

Powering all of these new features is the latest quad core X-Processor 4 image processor, which also enables things like 14-bit RAW files, the colour chrome effect, and slightly longer battery life, now up to an official CIPA rating of 370 shots per charge (versus 350 on the X-Pro2) via the same NP-W126S Li-ion battery.

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The Fujifilm X-Pro3's Battery Compartment

In addition to the standard battery charger that's supplied in the box, you can also charge the camera on the go via the new USB 3.1 port.

Bluetooth and Wi-fi

The X-Pro3 is the latest X-series camera to benefit from the welcome addition of Bluetooth LE connectivity.

This allows you to transfer images from the camera to a smartphone, even when the X-Pro3 is turned off, allowing for much more convenient transfer and sharing of your images.

Note that you must install the free "FUJIFILM Camera Remote" app on your smart device to use this function.

The X-Pro3 also features built-in wi-fi connectivity, although there's no dedicated button to access it (you have to configure one of the Fn buttons or access it via the menu system).

Install the Fujifilm Camera Remote app and you can transfer your pictures immediately to a smartphone or tablet PC and then edit and share them as you wish, transfer stills and video onto the camera, and embed GPS information in your shots from your smartphone.

You can also control the camera remotely, with the list of available functions including Touch AF, shutter release for stills and movies, shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, ISO sensitivity, Film Simulation modes, White Balance, macro, timer and flash.

The built-in wi-fi also provides a simple means to backup your photos to your home PC.

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The Fujifilm X-Pro3 in Portrait Mode

Video

The Fujifilm X-Pro3 can record DCI 4K movies movies at 30p / 25p / 24p for up to 15 minutes with stereo sound. There's also 1080p high-speed recording available up to 60fps (59 mins) or 120fps (6 mins), as well as more regular 1080p modes.

It doesn't offer the 400Mbps capture rate or 10-bit recording capability offered by the X-T3, though, despite sharing the same sensor and processor.

You can set the aperture and shutter speed before recording begins, but not during, and you can also set the Film Simulation mode, so black and white footage is possible.

Continuous auto-focusing is possible, although it tends to hunt around a lot before locking onto the subject, and manual focusing is also available.

There is a HDMI port for connecting the X-Pro3 to a high-definition TV, although as usual there's no cable supplied in the box, and you can adjust the level of the internal microphone and attach an external mic for better sound quality via the combined Mic/Remote port.

Handling

The Fujifilm X-Pro3 has numerous external controls that make changing the key exposure settings a breeze, especially when holding the camera at eye-level.

Most of the Fujinon XF lenses have a circular aperture ring, with 7 or 8 markings from the maximum to minimum aperture and an Auto setting in case you want the camera to take control.

The X-Pro3 also has front and rear command dials, so if you don't want to use the aperture ring on the lens, or if the attached lens doesn't have an aperture ring, simply set it to A and use the front command dial instead to change the aperture.

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The Fujifilm X-Pro3 With the XF 23mm F2 Lens

On top of the X-Pro3 is a large, tactile and lockable control dial for setting the shutter speed, with settings ranging from 1 second to 1/8000th second, an Auto option, a T setting for longer exposures (2 to 30 seconds, set via the circular command wheel) and a Bulb mode for exposures up to a whopping 60 minutes in length.

Fujifilm have cleverly set the ISO control dial into the shutter speed dial, with the former accessed by lifting the shutter speed ring up and then turning it to change the ISO. The only drawback is that this is the only way to set the ISO speed - you can't do it via the Quick menu or Main menu, which may irk some users - and also the ISO dial isn't illuminated and therefore is difficult to use in the dark (exacerbated by the lack of menu access).

Alongside the shutter speed dial is another dial for changing the exposure compensation, running to +-3EV with a Custom mode which switches the exposure compensation operation to the front command dial and expands the range to ±5EV.

Together these three controls make it extremely easy to set the exposure, although it's a little too easy for the exposure compensation dial to be changed whilst storing the camera in a bag or hanging off a strap.

Three other controls complete the X-Pro3's top-plate. The small but responsive shutter release button is encircled by the On/Off switch, which in turn has a thread for a very traditional mechanical cable release - there's no need to buy an expensive dedicated accessory for this camera.

Alongside this is the now unmarked Fn button, which can be customised to suit your own needs by choosing from 59 different settings.

Further personal customisation is available via the 7 Custom Menu options, which let you create, save and recall up to 7 sets of user-defined settings.

Finally there's an external flash hotshoe for suitable dedicated external units - note that the X-Pro3 has no built-in flash.

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The Fujifilm X-Pro3 In the Field

The X-Pro3 has a more simplified, pared-back rear control layout than its predecessor, with fewer external controls.

There's the same vertical row of three buttons to the right of the LCD screen, with the Focus Lever joystick above them, the rear control dial above that, and a Function button and the Quick Menu button set into the rear thumb-grip, but the 4-way controller found on the X-Pro2 has completely disappeared, as have the dedicated View Mode and Photometry buttons.

Instead, there's a new Drive/Delete button positioned to the right of the viewfinder, with the AE-L/AF-L button to the right of that. Now there's no manual way of switching between the LCD screen and the OVF/EVF, and you have to use the Quick Menu to access the Multi, Centre Weighted, Spot and Average metering options.

The Focus Lever joystick has been retained, which is used mainly for setting the AF point. This is a real boon to anyone who changes the AF point a lot, making it simple to change even when holding the camera at eye-level.

The Quick menu button provides quick access to 16 frequently used shooting settings including the ISO speed, White Balance, File Size and File Quality. and you can customise which settings are included and the order in which they appear.

A maximum of 16 frequently used items can also be registered to the My Menu option in the main menu.

The Menu/OK button, which accesses the fairly logical menu system, is now directly underneath the Focus Lever joystick, with the Play button underneath that. The Disp/Back button is still in the same place as it was on the X-Pro2.

That concludes our detailed look at the Fujifilm X-Pro3's features and handling. Now let's turn to its image quality...