Fujifilm X-Pro3 First Look Touch & Try Event, Ted’s World of Imaging, Sydney, Wednesday November 6, 2019

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I attended Fujifilm Australia’s First Look Touch & Try event at Ted’s World of Imaging in Sydney on Wednesday, 6th November, 2019, and had a brief opportunity to handle a preproduction version of the Fujifilm X-Pro3 digital rangefinder camera that has already been well-covered in Fujifilm X-Photographer videos and articles, and first-look commentary by a range of online camera pundits. 

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Fujifilm X-Pro 3, partially denuded. Photograph courtesy of Fujifilm.

As the camera is in preproduction at time of writing, the usual request not to shoot or publish photographs made with it applies, so I will not comment on its stills and video capabilities but will attest that the X-Pro3 is an interesting evolution of Fujifilm’s professional rangefinder line.

Fujifilm is marketing the X-Pro3 as a camera for “street photographers” as Panasonic did for its latest rangefinder-style GX series camera, the Lumix DC-GX9, and I am hoping that with its X-Pro series Fujifilm will not be imitating Panasonic’s decision to make its GX series something less than a great camera for photojournalists and documentary photographers.

I dread the day my Lumix DMC-GX8 gives up the ghost given Panasonic so unexpectedly dropped the ball on pro-quality rangefinder-style cameras in favour of DSLR-style cameras like the admittedly otherwise excellent Lumix DC-G9.

The Fujifilm X-Pro3 digital rangefinder-style camera

Photographs courtesy of Fujifilm.

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First rangefinder camera I ever used, as an art student. Linhof Master Technika 4″x5″ view camera can be used with a range of roll film, sheet film and digital backs. Photograph courtesy of Linhof.

Throughout my career I have relied on a range of camera styles and formats – rangefinders, rangefinder-style cameras, hand and stand sheet film cameras,  SLRs aka Single Lens Reflexes in 120 and 135  film formats, and a DSLR upon Canon’s accidental revolution in the form of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II.

My first choice for immersive documentary photography has always been rangefinder cameras and I have been hoping the X-Pro3 would receive many of the advances found in the X-H1 and X-T3.

Until I have a proper hands-on with it, I will not know whether that is truly the case, but the X-Pro3’s loss of the ability to use its otherwise improved optical viewfinder aka OVF with the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R moderate wide-angle prime lens is a concern.

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Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 manual prime lens for Leica M-Series. This was my automatic go-to lens for documentary photography and photojournalism. Photograph courtesy of Japan Camera Hunter.

For many documentary photographers and photojournalists, as it has long been for me, the 28mm focal length (on 35mm sensor cameras) is our default and its 18mm APS-C equivalent works well on the X-Pro2 and especially in its OVF.

Since 2015 I have been daydreaming of a radically improved X-Pro3 being released alongside an even more radically upgraded Fujinon XF 18mm lens with both aimed at documentary photographers and photojournalists, but Fujifilm seems to have decided on setting its sights lower than that, upon street photographers whom I humbly suggest might be better served by the forthcoming X100V.

Time will tell where Fujifilm is heading with its cameras, but I hope that it will not forget its documentary and photojournalism customers as Panasonic appears to have done.

Both companies employed celebrated photojournalists to publicize previous versions of their rangefinder and rangefinder-style cameras but dropped them in favour of street photographers in their latest versions.

What the… ?

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Warrewyk Williams of Fujifilm Australia presenting the Fujifilm X-Pro3 digital rangefinder camera at Fujifilm X-Pro3 FIRST LOOK + Touch & Try event at Ted’s World of Imaging in Sydney on Wednesday November 6, 2019. Photographs by Karin Gottschalk.
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Warrewyk Williams of Fujifilm Australia presenting on the Fujifilm X-Pro3 digital rangefinder camera.
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Fujifilm X-Pro3 pre-production model with pre-production Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom lens.
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Fujifilm X-T30 dwarfed by the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR standard zoom lens.
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Fujifilm X-Pro3 pre-production model with limited edition silver grey Fujinon XF 23mm f/2.0 R WR prime lens.
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Handing over the Fujifilm X-Pro3 pre-production model with limited edition silver grey Fujinon XF 23mm f/2.0 R WR prime lens.
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Fujifilm’s smaller, more affordable “Fujicron” lenses are particularly suitable for the X-Pr03 and its processor the X-Pro2, given how the front elements of the larger, costlier “Fujilux” lenses protrude into the lower right of both cameras’ optical viewfinders.
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I have yet to have the pleasure of trying out the Fujifilm GFX-100 medium format camera but it appears particularly suited to the style of portrait photography I used to carry out with 120 roll film and sheet film cameras during the analog era.
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The X-Pro3 finds its way into some female hands.
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Ditto, though with the oversight of a gentleman’s innate expertise.