I started this blog to share travel images, but the ratio of visitors who come here to read gear reviews vs. travel insight averages 10:1, so I’m going to provide more gear related content over time.
Today, I want to talk about the beloved Fujifilm X-Pro series of cameras. My introduction to the X-series was with an X-T10. Soon after, B&H Photo had a clearance sale on the X-Pro1 for an incredible US$499. I snatched one and had it shipped to Hong Kong.
Upon opening the box, I immediately fell in love with the camera. The way it felt in the hand, the way it looked, and the superior build quality just found its way deep into my soul. Even though it was a generation behind the X-T10, I found myself consistently grabbing for it rather than the X-T10.
When the X-Pro2 was announced, I hesitated in getting it because the images coming from the X-Pro1 had this beautiful organic look to them. However, once the positive reviews started coming in, I couldn’t resist and was fortunate enough to get an X-Pro2 as a birthday present.
I’ve now had the camera since 2016 and have loved every minute of using it. It is a truly unique camera that embeds itself into your soul. It’s not a tool, it’s a camera that becomes one with you. There is an emotional connection with this camera that rarely occurs between man and machine.
With the X-Pro3 just over the horizon, what can Fujifilm do to improve this masterpiece? Most machines that really grab at your soul tend to have flaws. A machine without flaws means that the machine does all the work for you; a machine with flaws requires the human to learn, grow, and put effort in to maximize the outcomes.
Fujifilm knows this and has been very good at keeping to the basics that made their cameras so popular in such a short period of time. They have a rich history and they draw upon it for their designs. The GFX50R is a good example of a camera where the design clearly came from the past, but with modern capabilities.
For the upcoming X-Pro3, I only have ten wishes:
1. No tilt-screen
Unless Fujifilm has found a way to make a seamless integrated tilt-screen, I’d much rather the X-Pro3 stay true to its roots and have a fixed screen. The 50R has a tilt screen in a rangefinder style body, so anything is possible, but the implementation of it is rather crude with large bezels and the screen protruding from the camera. I hope Fujifilm has the confidence to keep the X-Pro3 a niche model and not try to make it into a rangefinder style X-T3.
2. Higher MP sensor
While the X-T3 has a great backside illuminated sensor with fast readout, I’d like to see the X-Pro3 take on the new Canon APSC sensors. Since the X-Pro3 should be priced as a premium product, it should have the best possible sensor given current technology. This was the case four years ago when the X-Pro2 was launched, and I hope Fujifilm delivers the same again in the new X-Pro3. A 32MP BSI sensor with full sensor phase-detect autofocus coverage would be ideal. The Sony sensors that Fujifilm uses in its X-series cameras are already pretty good with noise, so I hope they’re able to keep the noise at the same levels with the added pixels.
3. Larger body size
I know this will be controversial with many, but I feel the X-Pro2 is too short of a camera. With a case on, it feels ideal, but without it, the body is too small for most lenses with the exception of the F2 Fujicrons. Perhaps Fujifilm designed it that way so that the camera fits perfectly with a case, but I’d rather see the camera become larger in order to add three very important items which I’ll cover next.
4. Larger battery from the GFX series
The existing battery in the X series is far too restrictive for modern image taking. Sony and others have all moved to higher capacity batteries. Unless Fujifilm has some technology up their sleeve to double the capacity of the current battery size, I hope they move the X-series to the larger GFX battery.
5. Larger OVF and EVF
Once you’ve used a Leica M10, the OVF in the X-Pro2 looks small and dark. Once you’ve used the EVF on the GFX50R, the EVF looks small and like looking into a tunnel. The X-Pro3 will no doubt have a higher resolution EVF, but I hope they increase the magnification to at least the X-T3 levels, along with a larger OVF to bring the experience closer to using a modern Leica.
6. In-body Image Stabilization (IBIS)
I never thought I’d want this, but after having used it extensively on the Sony A7R3, the current technology makes the IBIS system seamless and hidden from the user; it just works. Fujinon lenses have some of the best optical image stabilization in the business. I demonstrated this by hand holding the GF100-200 at 200MM and taking tack sharp images in near darkness at F5.6 at 1/30s.
Take that and add on an IBIS system, and the X-Pro3 may be able to rival full-frame competitors that don’t have IBIS; bring down the shutter speed and ISO, along with the fast lens in the Fujinon arsenal and you have some meaningful full-frame noise and sharpness competition.
7. Slight re-design of the ISO/Shutter dial
I’m one of the few that really likes this design, mostly because I know how much engineering has gone into making it. However, the one thing that would make it better would be to have the lift-up mechanism be like a switch, where you can lift the ISO ring up and it stays up so you can rotate it easier; when the ISO is where you want it, you press down on the ring and it locks into place. That’s the only change I’d like for that dial.
8. Deeper detents for the exposure compensation dial
I think this is a given because the X-T2. X-T3 and 50R all have much stronger detents on the exposure compensation wheel. This will prevent the accidental changes when taking the camera out of the bag.
9. Lockable diopter
Just like the exposure compensation detents, I think this is a given since Fujifilm has implemented excellent locking diopter adjustments dials in the X-T3, 50S and 50R.
10. More metal
I don’t think this one will come to fruition but I’d love to see more metal used on all Fujifilm bodies, especially in areas like the on/off switch and the various doors. Anything that is frequently touched by the hand should have some metal component to add durability and an improved tactile feel. Nothing screams cheap like a plastic on/off switch or that terribly cheap S/C/M focus switch on the front of the X-Pro2 or back of the 50R.
I think it’s fair to say that we will see at least five of the above, and even with that, I’m a buyer of the X-Pro3, but if they could add all ten, I think we’d have a phenomenally successful and unique camera, even beyond the success the X-Pro2 enjoyed.
Regardless of what the X-Pro3 brings to the table, my X-Pro2 is not going anywhere; I have so many fond memories with that camera, especially in Myanmar, I just can’t see myself parting with it. It will become art on my shelf at home, with some occasional nostalgic use.
Since I wrote this article, Fujirumors has obtained some sketches of what the X-Pro3 is going to look like. I can’t say that it’s love at first sight, but I’ll hold off on my opinion until I’ve had the opportunity to extensively use one. The new screen seems a bit too fussy for me, but let’s wait and see.
Let me know what you think of the X-Pro3. What would you like to see in this special camera?