The Fujifilm X-Pro3 ($1,799.95 and up, body only) proudly stands out from a crowded pack of competitors. Its design, which incorporates a brilliant hybrid viewfinder, titanium construction, and a hidden rear display, sets it apart in a space filled with cameras that, for the most part, all look the same. Inside, it’s extremely capable, with a 26MP sensor, lightning-quick autofocus, and 4K recording. You’ll pay a bit more for the form factor versus the Fujifilm X-T3, and even more so if you opt for a model with a Duratect finish, but you may find it worth the premium.
Titanium, In Three Colors
The X-Pro3 measures 3.3 by 5.5 by 1.8 inches (HWD) and weighs 17.5 ounces without a lens. The body incorporates extensive dust and splash protection, so you can use it in inclement weather when paired with a sealed lens. Fujifilm offers several in its library, including a series of small primes that pair well with the rangefinder-style body.
Most modern cameras use magnesium alloy, along with some composite polycarbonate protection, to net rugged durability and relatively light weight. The X-Pro3 still uses some magnesium in its frame, and wraps it in a leatherette with a pebble finish. But it takes a different approach for the top and bottom plates—they’re titanium.
It’s in these metal plates where the finish differs. There are three versions of the X-Pro3 on sale. I received the standard $1,799.95 model for review, which is finished in matte black. You can also buy the camera with a Dura finish, in your choice of silver or black, for $1,999.95.
I tried the Dura Black edition at a press event this past October, walking away with mixed impressions on the premium finish. I love how it looks—the black has a bit of a shimmer to it, giving it a dark luster when the light catches it. The silver version, which applies the DR coat to unpainted titanium, is absolutely lovely to look at. It’s also tougher against scratches—it’s twenty times harder than the standard edition.
But, as much as I like the shimmer and the promise of better scratch resistance, I’m a little wary of how well the finish will age over time. It picks up oils pretty easily—the top plate was covered with my fingerprints after taking it out on a photo walk. I did my best to clean it off before taking shots of it for this review, but as you can see, a microfiber cloth still left smudges behind. Only extended use will tell us what kind of patina the X-Pro3 will pick up after years of use.
The X-Pro3 has plenty of retro chic appeal, and its dial-based control system certainly plays a part. The top plate includes prominent shutter speed and EV control dials, along with the shutter release and an unmarked, programmable function button.
The shutter dial turns freely, but only offers full-stop clicks from 1-second down through 1/8,000-second. There’s an A position available for automatic adjustment, as well as a T setting to move control to the camera’s rear dial—there, you can set the shutter with third-stop precision.
ISO control is nested in the shutter dial. Grip and lift the dial’s edge straight up and turn to set an ISO manually, or use the A position to let the camera take control. If you don’t like the mechanism—I’m not a big fan—but want to set ISO on your own, you can shift the dial to the C position and assign the function to a dial or menu.
Focusing attention to the front, you’ll find a forward command dial, basically in line with the position of the rear one, along with a lens release button, and a toggle switch to swap between the optical and electronic viewfinder. There’s also a switch to swap between Single, Continuous, or Manual focus.
Rear controls include Delete/Drive and AE-L/AF-L buttons, both running along the back face of the titanium top plate, along with a command dial. Other buttons include Menu/OK, Play, Disp/Back, Q, and an unmarked function button. Finally, you get a small eight-way joystick, used to adjust the active focus point in certain autofocus modes, and to navigate through menus.
The X-Pro series sets itself apart from a crowded field of mirrorless competitors by way of its viewfinder. The X-Pro1, introduced back in 2012, included a viewfinder with both an optical and electronic view, at a time when many mirrorless didn’t have an EVF at all.
The X-Pro3 uses a similar hybrid finder, albeit with significant changes. The optical portion in this iteration has a fixed angle of view, rather than the dual wide-angle and standard-angle views found in the X-Pro1 and X-Pro2, so it’s less useful for wide-angle lenses.
When you peer through the portal you’re greeted with a fixed view of the world, just a bit wider than what the XF 23mm F2 lens covers. A virtual frame line is projected in the glass, showing you the confines of your image. It automatically shifts position to correct for the parallax effect, but getting framing, as well as putting the autofocus box on the right subject, can be a little tricky when working at close distances.
The optical portion of the viewfinder is better suited for documentary-style street photography. It’s a genre where Leica’s M rangefinder cameras have thrived for decades. Fujifilm’s optical viewfinder gets you as close to that experience as possible, for a lot less money than you’ll spend on an M10.
There are some obvious similarities in the photographic experience. When using a moderate wide lens, like a 23mm or 35mm in the APS-C format, you’ll be able to see a little bit of action outside the frame, so you can better anticipate a moment. Likewise, there’s not a lot of distraction when using the optical finder—you see your frame line, and, if you want, some exposure data, but that’s it.
There are differences too. Where the Leica M system’s optical viewfinder gives you a similar experience when it comes to framing shots, it’s a purely manual focus system. With the X-Pro3 it’s cumbersome to focus manually using the optical viewfinder—you need to use a digital assist, projected in the bottom corner, to do so. It takes you out of the moment in a way that the centered manual focus patch of a true rangefinder camera doesn’t.
Despite its analog feel, the X-Pro3 works better with autofocus, at least with an optical view. There are a few patterns available, including two sizes of flexible spot, automatic selection, and a tracking option. For more advanced autofocus, including automatic eye detection, you need to use the EVF.
While it may seem contrarian on the surface, the newer tech, the EVF, is a better fit for manual focus. The electronic portion of the X-Pro3’s viewfinder has enjoyed a tremendous update. The X-Pro2 offered up plenty of resolution in its EVF, but LCD tech limited its refresh rate and could show a tearing effect when panning. The X-Pro3 swaps it out for OLED, matching the quality of competitors and, if you ask me, offering a better photographic experience than the optical viewfinder.
The X-Pro3’s EVF is so good that I found myself preferring it in almost every situation. It better shows you what your finished image will look like, complete with the vast array of in-camera processing options, and there’s never any question as to what you’re focusing on. With the optical finder, even with the aid of parallax correction, there’s still some guesswork involved there.
Technically, the X-Pro3 does have a rear display. A color E Ink square mimics the appearance of a film reminder slot from a 35mm camera, showing the current film simulation mode, ISO, and white balance settings, but in a playful manner that looks just like the cardboard flap from a box of Velvia.
It’s easy to see under light, but the E Ink isn’t backlit, so it’s tougher to see in dim light. It’s an ornamental feature, though, so we’re glad Fujifilm didn’t make the camera thicker and more expensive, which would be required to work a backlight in.
The more useful rear display is only revealed by folding the screen out. It’s hinged at the bottom, folding down along 180 degrees. I enjoy the design for nabbing shots from low to the ground—with a Leica rangefinder or similar camera I have to get down on my knees or chest to focus and frame low-angle images.
The quality of the screen itself is brilliant. It’s a 3-inch LCD with plenty of brightness and resolution (1.6 million dots), as well as full touch input support. The camera’s design means that you’ll likely use the eye-level finder more frequently, though. One minor gripe: When using the LCD, it’s still possible to trigger the X-Pro3’s eye sensor, moving the feed back to the viewfinder. We hope to see Fujifilm address this via a firmware update.
Fujifilm sells the X-T3, which offers almost identical imaging and performance, for photographers who prefer a more traditional form factor. If you do a lot of tripod work, video, or prefer zoom lenses, it’s a better fit.
Menus and Film Simulations
The LCD is the better way to navigate through the X-Pro3’s menu system. The camera includes a traditional text-based menu, which you’ll use for the basics, like setting the clock and capture format, to more advanced options, like autofocus and video settings.
You’ll more often press the Q button to make changes to settings. The Q screen has 16 configurable options, so you can put the functions you access most often in one place. It’s navigable via touch or using the focus joystick and rear control wheel.
Most cameras offer a few different JPG options beyond the default color profile—typically you get vivid, desaturated, and black-and-white looks. Fujifilm takes things a few step further with a heap of built-in film simulations. The X-Pro3 includes the favorites we’ve come to expect—Classic Chrome, Acros, Eterna, Velvia, and Provia to name a few—as well as a new option, Classic Negative.
I used Classic Negative, which promises to match the look of Fujifilm’s Superia film line, a staple of the 35mm era, almost exclusively for the sample images included in this story. I immediately took a liking to its colors, which remind me of the lower saturation of Eterna, coupled with harder contrast. I mixed in some grain as well—you can choose between a heavy or light touch, with two different sizes.
The lovely thing about the X-Pro3, and other Fujifilm cameras, is that, as long as you turn on Raw capture, you can reprocess images with any film look you’d like after the fact. This allows you to try out different looks, apply a color chrome effect to better preserve detail in saturated subjects, and more, all in camera. If you prefer to edit images on a computer or tablet, the film simulations are available as profiles in Adobe Lightroom.
Power and Connectivity
The X-Pro3 uses the standard Fujifilm battery, the NP-W126S. Here it’s good for about 440 shots using the eye-level viewfinder, or about 370 shots using the LCD. Its life will vary based on how often you review and edit images, use the Wi-Fi, or record video, of course. For any serious travel or event photography I’d carry a spare battery. You do have the option of topping off the X-Pro3 on the go via its USB-C port.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are included. The X-Pro3 pairs with the Fujifilm Cam Remote app, available for Android and iOS platforms. The app works as a remote control and supports wireless image transfer to your phone.
Aside from USB-C, the only other connection ports are a 2.5mm jack for a wired remote or microphone, and a hot shoe for an external flash. The X-Pro3 doesn’t have a built-in strobe, nor does it offer a PC sync socket, so you’ll need to use a wireless commander for any off-camera lights.
Also absent is any sort of HDMI output. You can’t use the X-Pro3 with a Ninja or similar recorder, as you can with the X-T3. You still get very high-quality internal recording, up to 200Mbps. The X-Pro3 has two UHS-II SDXC memory card slots, so you can take full advantage of high-speed memory cards.
Autofocus and Imaging
The X-Pro3’s autofocus system is rather basic when using the optical viewfinder—it does a good job, but doesn’t give you a deep level of control. The EVF offers the same autofocus system as the X-T3. It nets excellent subject tracking, as well as face and eye detection. It’s among the best in class, right up there with what’s offered by rival Sony.
So you can, if you want to, attach Fujifilm’s big XF 100-400mm, and track subjects at 11fps (using the mechanical shutter) or at 30fps, with the aid of the electronic shutter—in Raw format, for either.
See How We Test Digital Cameras
It wouldn’t be my first choice—the X-T3 is better suited for big glass; its centered EVF and deeper handgrip offer better balance and handling for telezooms. But it’s good to know that the X-Pro3 is just as capable as its more mainstream sibling.
Likewise, the two X-Pro3 shares its imaging prowess with the X-T3. It uses the same 26MP X-Trans BSI CMOS image sensor and processor. Image quality is among the best you’ll see in the APS-C sensor format.
When using JPG you’ll get photos with strong detail and little visible noise through ISO 3200. There’s a slight drop in contrast and detail when pushing to ISO 6400 and 12800, and results are a little blurry at ISO 25600. You can push the camera to ISO 51200, but image quality suffers noticeably.
Raw shots show a bit more detail, and a bit more noise, in general. You’ll see the biggest advantage at higher ISOs, from around 6400 through 25600, where edges are a bit crisper. Grain is a little stronger too, though. Output is very rough at ISO 51200, an extreme setting for an APS-C camera.
The X-Pro3 has strong video chops as well. It records at 4K quality at up to 30fps and 200Mbps, with 1080p available for standard recording at up to 60fps, or in a dedicated slow-motion mode at 120fps. There is a recording limit—15 minutes for 4K—but you can drop to 1080p and roll for up to an hour at a time.
There are pro features available, including a flat F-Log profile, zebras, and the on-screen silent control interface introduced with the X-H1. But, despite its capabilities, the X-Pro3 is not a camera that’s a great choice for video.
Ergonomics are one reason. There’s no in-body stabilization, so you’ll want to use a tripod or similar support. The flip-down LCD can block tripod mounting plates, and there’s no HDMI port to connect an external monitor. Think of the X-Pro3 as a stills camera with some excellent video features added in, rather than a true hybrid workhorse.
Head-Turning Design, For a Price
The Fujifilm X-Pro3 stands out in a crowded field, but not because of its imaging capabilities—when you’re spending this much on a camera, excellent imaging is a given. Instead, it bucks the traditional by including an optical viewfinder, similar to what you get in a Leica rangefinder, which can seamlessly swap to a modern electronic one.
The hidden LCD and analog dials give the X-Pro3 a vintage look. Photographers who cut their teeth on manual rangefinders and SLRs will appreciate the tactile feel offered by the dial-based controls. The faux film reminder window is a bit twee, but doesn’t detract.
It also includes premium materials in its constructions, along with strong protection from dust and splashes. Fujifilm offers a number of compact lenses with similar protection, all of which pair very well with the X-Pro3.
You’re certainly paying a premium for the camera’s construction and off-kilter design. At $1,800 or $2,000, depending on finish, it’s in the same ballpark as some compelling full-frame options, like the Sony a7 III and the Nikon Z 6. Likewise, if you want a high-speed APS-C model, the X-T3 sells for $1,500 and is mostly the same camera inside. But photographers more interested in haptics and who want to relive the experience of using a 35mm rangefinder may very well fall in love with the X-Pro3.
The Bottom Line
The Fujifilm X-Pro3 is a love letter to rangefinder aficionados, and does the best job (this side of Leica) of making the digital experience feel a bit more like film.