I’ve always been a Fujifilm X-T kind of guy. I caught the Fuji X bug with the X100S, and after it held it’s own as a second camera back when I was shooting events and parties with one Nikon D700 and swapping lenses all the time, I decided to jump on the X-T series as soon as it launched. Here’s a blog I wrote about the Fujifilm X-T3 for event photography, and it’s fantastic for weddings too.

When the X-Pro3 was announced I figured “that’s cool” but I didn’t really think it would be joining my X-T3s in my bag, as I’ve always felt better about the hand-feel and layout of the X-T cameras. And while I don’t think hiding the screen inside is anywhere near as disastrous a decision as some fans think, it’s certainly not handy for getting overhead shots I like to get all the time with the X-T3.

And yet here I am with a Dura-Black X-Pro3 on my desk, and a second-hand 23mm f/2 from Wex Photographic. How’d that happen?

Okay, so, definitely a bit of G(ear)A(cqusition)S(yndrome), for sure. It’s a fair cop, guv. I mean, this is my job, so I can totally justify blowing the cash on a completely new camera I don’t necessarily need, right? Don’t answer that.

The story I’m sticking to is this: even better-than-the-X-T3 focusing in the dark (allegedly – not tried it yet); new additive, bright, and dark blending modes for multiple exposures, that are sorely lacking in the X-T3 and don’t appear to be in the upcoming firmware updates either; and a very different and less ‘professional’ looking appearance, that might lend itself to blending into the crowd even more on the job, which is key to the way I shoot events and parties.

I’m going to take it on it’s first professional outing tomorrow, at a Christmas party in London. It’ll be very much a third camera, probably using the 35mm 1.4, while I keep the 23 and 56 on my two X-T3s. I’ll have those on my Spiderlight holsters, and keep the X-Pro3 on a strap across my chest.

I’ll post more about using it for events and weddings in a few months once we’re into 2020 and I’ve got more experience with it, so for now here some first impressions.

First impressions of the X-Pro3 as an event photographer

In no particular order! These are just my first impressions as I play with it and start using it at events.

  • I’ve not held an X-Pro for a few years now, but the X-Pro3 looks bigger and feels heavier than I was expecting. In fact, it feels about the same weight as my X-T3, and it’s a tiny bit shorter and a tiny bit wider, but overall feels a bit bigger.
  • Already I’m finding myself taking a shot and looking at the blank back of the camera for the screen, and getting a bit frustrated at having to pull the screen down to look at a shot.
  • That said, I’m also well aware that the whole point is to stop you looking at shots all the time. I’m just wanting to look because I’m taking lots of test shots comparing the film simulations. I’ll get over it!
  • The mini screen seems to be all but useless. In anything other than very bright, almost overhead light it’s impossible to see it properly. I’m sitting in my office at 3pm on December 19th, it’s still pretty good daylight outside, I’ve got an Anglepoise lamp pointed up into the corner so there’s good light in the room, and I can’t even make out what film sim box it’s showing. I can only see it if I put the screen almost directly under the lamp’s light. Move it a few inches out of the light and you can’t see it. It’ll be fine outside in daylight, but pretty much useless in an indoors environment unless you under good even lighting.
  • If you use Spider holsters or Capture Clips the screen will work well enough with a Spiderlight plate, or a Capture Clip v3 (I’ve only got a v3 so I can’t speak for other versions). They can be adjusted so they’re almost, but not quite, flush with the back of the camera, so the screen folds down not quite all the way, a few degrees off the 180 it’s capable of. A regular Spider pin will work fine,
  • The DuraBlack finish is indeed very prone to ‘smears’ from your oily fingers, no matter how clean your hands are. Within just a few minutes of handling it and taking a few shots, it looked disappointingly ugly with dark smears in places I didn’t even realise I’d touched. Thing is, after a few more hours, they’ve all kind of blended together and you can’t really tell until you look closely around the edge of the shutter button and dials, where you can see the lighter, unsmeared colour it should be. I might be making this sound worse than it is. I’ve gotten over it already, one day after delivery. I hear the Silver version marks the same way but less obviously. As beautiful as the Silver is, I just wanted something a bit more low-key, and more durable than the black enamel.
  • The shutter makes a lovely solid sound! Quite different to the X-T3, I like it a lot.
  • The multiple exposure blending modes are a lot of fun! I’ve not delved into the manual much to see if there’s specifics about what they each do, but experimenting I’ve largely worked it out. I’m excited to give them a go! You need to shoot all the exposures there and then, I don’t think you can go back to a previously shot image to use as the basis for a multiple exposure later.
  • I use my D-pad a lot for shortcuts on the X-T3, and I don’t use the touch controls for anything – and anyway on the X-Pro3 they’re on the hidden screen so not really ‘shortcuts’. As there’s no D-pad on the X-Pro3 I needed to think about what to bring over to assign to the three blank function buttons on the top plate, thumb grip, and front lever. For now I’ve gone for white balance, film simulation, and face recognition on/off. These are obviously available in the Q menu too, but I’m going to want to access them a lot so they’re on shortcuts for now.
  • Speaking of white balance, there’s a new way of setting manual Kelvin, that I’m not sure I like yet. Instead of scrolling through a list of temperatures, you have to set each digit of the temperature value individually. It runs from 2500 to 10000, with control up to 10 kelvin steps. So if you want to jump from 2850 to 5600, say, you’ve got to click up three times to change the 2 to a 5, click right, then click up twice to change the 8 to a 6, click right, and click down five times to change the 50 to 00. On an X-T3 there’s 16 steps up from 2850 to 5600, but you don’t have to think about it, just push up and wait till you get there. The new way feels much slower and I wonder if I’ve missed a menu setting to switch back to a scrollable list.
  • The shutter release button is way more solid than the X-T3, which is quite wobbly.
  • The AEL/AFL button is infuriatingly far along the top of the back panel, almost in the middle, making back-button-focussing pretty awkward, thanks Fuji. Yes, you could use the blank function button on the thumb grip for AF-ON, but then you lose a valuable function button.
  • Coming from the three-dial X-T3 to the two-dial X-Pro3 I’m really liking the combined shutter/ISO dial. But I don’t like how easy it is to change the compensation dial compared to the X-T3, which has is recessed away from the edge of the camera much more than the X-Pro3. I like to sit in C mode and use the command dials to change exposure compensation, and already I’ve knocked it out of C mode more times than I ever have on the X-T3.
  • I’m just not an OVF user, I’m afraid. I’ve been spoiled by the EVF on the X-T, and I like to see what I’m getting. I’ve read some people think it’s easier to see what’s going on in dark settings through the OVF, but I don’t agree. I find it reduced the brightness of the ambient light a fair bit, and makes things seem a little warmer than they are, plus you just know for sure what you’re getting and for my work at least I prefer to know.
  • The OVF framing guide is impressively accurate, although you’re always going to have the bottom right corner obscured by a lens. It looks like the OVF suits the 23 and 35mm lenses best, and it doesn’t even display an outline for the 16mm (even though you can actually see everything that’s going to be in the frame).