Any X-Pro3 Really Needs Magic

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Continuing the blog serialisation of my popular X-Pro Series lust/hate/love story:

Part 104: Any X-Pro3 Really Needs Magic

Last week (click here if you missed it) we spoke about the next generation of Fujifilm X-Pro camera, and what we might like or not like it to have.

As I’ve had some fun discussions about this subject on the various forums, we’re going to run with it a little more!

Last I shared the opinion (ok complained 🙂 ) that cookie cutter specs and over featured cameras were diluting our enjoyment of choice when choosing what cameras we’d like to own (YMMV)

Often though we seem to find that no matter the views held in niche circles (not everyone who buys a camera joins the Facebook group for it), there’s no changing progress.

One of my other hobbies (almost past hobby, not as into it as I was) is watches

And on the watch forums you often see posts that read something like

Hi everyone, just joined and looking forward to learning all about watches. I’ll say this though, I hate this modern obsession with big watches, I just wish that the manufacturers would make normal sized watches

And it seems the same with cameras, many of us want at least one camera that’s a simple rig with just what we need to take photos, and nothing else

Yet every year cameras get more complicated and feature rich (and watches get bigger :D)

I’ll put it like this.

Although I’ve written quite a few Leica/Fujifilm comparison pieces (they’re very different animals) and always scoffed at any notion that the X-Pro range is a substitute for an M (they’re very different animals) or that Fujifilm has made any sort of M clone (because Leica didn’t invent the OVF, the SS dial or the rectangle – which is basically all they have in common beyond being cameras that take pictures)

I actually now think it’s time for Fujifilm to take a bit of notice of HOW Leica are doing things (So that’s how, not what)

When the X-Pro1 arrived, Leica had the M9. The fuji had way more going for it, better ISO and an EVF with a moveable focus point, basically give or take video, everything on the fuji was to take pictures, across a broad range of light and conditions.

Now we have the X-Pro2. Leica has the M10. The M10 beats the fuji for ISO, its (admittedly accessory) EVF has the same resolution as the X-Pro2, you can move the focus point around and the Leica has all the same metering modes. Meanwhile the Fujifilm X-Pro2 has a LOT of menu fluff and new video features

How has Leica managed to ‘out Fuji’ Fujifilm?

It was Fujifilm who started with a pure modern product that delivered the basics of all that’s needed, the M9 was more basic (you can say ‘pure’ if you’re a Leica lover!) but also the performance envelope was narrower.

Now the M10 offers only what you need for the shot (give or take your personal acceptance of the manual focus of the Leica), the M10 has external dials for the important stuff, a choice of metering modes, strong IQ and ISO performance.

Yes I realise that Leica has always been known for simple digital cameras, but it used to be that this simplicity came at the cost of crap ISO or a low spec EVF or zero choice in metering modes.

But in short:

Leica have managed to update the M to be a modern performer, but without losing what made it special to begin with.

Also, I’m becoming slightly ambivalent to the IQ of the X-Pro2 too… (bear with me)

The X-Pro1 took the same 16mp chip that was in the Nikons, the Nex, the Leica X Vario (and maybe the Pentax) and Fujifilm owned that chip, they made it make images with a style that no one else was really getting from that chip

Nearly six years on, and still every time someone posts an X-Pro1 image to a Facebook page, there’s a group of people that state it’s their favourite Fujifilm camera for pleasing images.

Six. Years. On.

The new (from 2016) Fujifilm 24mp chip is technically better than the 16mp one in every measurable way, ISO? check. Acuity? Check. DR? Check. Colour depth? Check. 14bit lossless RAW? Check.

But unlike the very first variant of X-Trans, the output from the 24mp chip doesn’t look that far away from everyone else’s 24mp chip.

I don’t mean to sound down on Fujifilm, I’m not…. nor am I about to get an M10 (too much ££££££)

But you could make a list of the features found on the Sony A7ii, the XH1, the Olympus and they’re practically interchangeable… and I think we can ALMOST say the same for the base ISO IQ too….

Is this truly what we want? Cameras so ubiquitous that we chose them based on the brand name?

I’d like to think I get it… I’m sure if a Fujifilm shareholder was here, I’d be told; “but Adam, big tech-specs and industry standard IQ sells more cameras”

And I do get it – shareholders kids need shoes too.

But Fujifilm has the X-T (and now X-H) line to cover that off, I’m reliably informed that the X-T line outsells the X-Pro line by a considerable margin.

So surely the more popular, better selling X-T line should be the one with the more popular, more marketable industry standard features?

The X-Pro range has always been a bit niche, so why not cater for niche tastes?

My fear is that I’m not seeing any hint of a return to the original X-Pro1 we fell for…

….perhaps I’m being daft… maybe it’s just a case of when your favourite club band makes it big…. plays the Superbowl half time show…. all glitz and razzamatazz and you should be happy for them, but instead you find yourself thinking

You’ve changed man, it used to be about the music

For an X-Pro3 I’d nearly love to see something that has simple, external controls to control basic features.

SS / Drive Mode / a better ISO wheel concept / Metering

I think these should be implemented like the X-T dials

I’d like to see a hybrid VF solution that takes it to the next level. I PERSONALLY find it wrong that the X-Pro1 OVF is more legible than the X-Pro2 one, and slightly embarrassing that the Leica M10 has your spec of EVF matched. After all, Leica is renowned for its optical viewfinder, the EVF ‘on’ (sic) the M10 is an off the shelf clip-on item, yet matches yours on resolution, and can be flipped up 90 deg, which helps negate the lack of flip screen.

But most of all, I want to wowed again by the images, like I was with the X-Pro1. I won’t care if the other cameras have a bit more DR or ISO or whatever. Just as long as the images sing.

I’ll end with this… as an X-Pro 1 and 2 owner, any X-Pro3 needs to have an output that charms my pants off and whisks me up to the bedroom or I doubt I’ll be that bothered to own one, but maybe I’ll relent if the hybrid VF is otherworldly

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7 Replies to “Any X-Pro3 Really Needs Magic”

  1. Good morning Adam. It is morning in Virginia. It has been a while since I commented not because there was a lack of interest but other more personal reason. As always your post is spot on.
    I find that the shine and the rainbow came off of my Fuji experience a while back and that was after owning the X pro 1, Xe1 and 2, Xt2, X pro 2 and the trusty X100S.

    But the magic came off with my first 24mp Fuji which was the X pro 2. I kept feeling something was not the same, but still strangely familiar. What wasn’t the same was the the feel of the x pro 2 vs. the X pro 1, but more important was that the look of the images in the X pro 2 were not the same quality or appeal of the X pro 2. And you hit it right on the head of the nail. Fuji’s 24mp sensor look was not much different than everyone else’s. And I know that every X pro 2 owner out there is thinking that this is just BS. Well it is not. Image after image with the X pro 2 is missing the texture and the smoothness that the X pro 1 gave the shooter. That does not mean there is a lack of image “quality.” It means there is a lack of what made the X pro 1 so different and great.

    I remember that you and I via private email had very serious discussions about the constant loss of eyepeices from the X pro 2 and what a world of difference there was between how one part of the world, yours, handled that problem and how it was handled in the United States. In my part of the world Fuji was very responsive in providing replaacement pieces of rubber and silicon that continued to fall off the camera and eventually caused dirt to appear in the finder of the camera.

    I lived with this problem until today. I say today because Fuji USA finally admitted privately but not publicly that there is a fix. They will replace the finer in total, just like Fuji everywhere else was doing it. However they never announced it publicly. Shame on them.

    So my camera is now boxed up and on the way to Fuji in New Jersey where they promise to do a courtesy repair. Of course perhaps it won;t be a courtesy repair because I have a few scratches on the base plate. Sigh.

    I had felt early on that Fuji was a different kind of camera company but they are not. Even with their firmware upgrades, which was nice of them to do and continue to do, they were different. That was until I had the eyepiece problem and dirt in the finder problem. Your problem was fixed in Europe the right way, and I have suffered for two years with stick on eyepieces that continued to disappear.

    At any rate, because of some excellent software now in the market place I am close to achieving a more X pro 1 look with my X pro 2, but before I buy into another Fuji, at least for me, they have to go back to the Fuji that got my attention in the first place. They have to go back to a sensor, even if it is 24mp or better, and find away to give that sensor a X pro 1 image look.

    Like

    1. Just one more thought. I do love my X pro 2, just not as much as the X pro 1. However there is a silver lining. Without the X pro 2 around for a few weeks, I have dusted off my Ricoh GXR with several primes and will be shooting with that system. Yes I now it is mainly 12mp for the two primes I have, but I also have a 16mp 28-85 GXR zoom lens.

      So with all of that plus my x100s I shall remain a happy person. 🤨🤨

      Like

      1. 🙂

        It’s good to try different cameras every now and then, especially across brands

        It’s even better to hear that you’re happy, that’s always good news

        Thanks for commenting, it’s been a while and it’s great to hear from you

        Cheers
        Adam

        Like

    2. Hi Elliot,

      I hope you’re doing well?

      The eye cup thing needed a whole new VF assembly, I think they knew it all along…

      It’s very difficult to put into words the X-Pro1 look… I think it just tends to elicit a stronger emotional response from the viewer

      I think for me… Fuji will need to offer me something I really want in any X-Pro3.

      I realise I don’t speak for everyone, but personally I don’t need more FPS, more AF modes, more megapixels.

      Better viewfinder and more organic looking images. That’ll do.

      The X-Trans III sensors seem quite sensitive to which software we use, the X-Pro1 files looked pretty good straight off the card, but the X-Pro2 they’re more of a starting point I think…

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  2. Hi Adam,

    Catching up on your posts so late to the game. Re possible X-Pro3, from what I’ve seen in new releases, cannot say I’m optimistic about an X-Pro3 given required resources for probably a small increase in revenue in a niche market.

    Mostly, I’m disappointed by the momentum toward Fuji’s continuing evolution of the X-series using the DSLR model. That and fleshing out the Fuji ecosystem with, to me, quite expensive lenses. This removes me from the game for two reasons: I see no point in zooms on an X-Pro1, 2, or maybe 3 (I suspect this is a minority view) and I already own quite capable zooms for a recently purchased D500. Why should I sell off current glass to replace with Fuji glass to use on a DSLR-like camera that I also must purchase at no small expense?

    All that said, IF an X-Pro3 were to come along, a focus peaking over lay on an OVF would be great; icing on the cake, IBIS. Anymore I find myself using mainly adapted glass, pruning my Fuji glass inventory to 2 primes and thoroughly enjoying the experience. Longer battery life also a plus with existing batteries, no need to buy yet another battery/charger kit. And I don’t think smaller is necessarily better either.

    Anyway, I’ll stop my rambling, just some thoughts.

    Best,

    Bob

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    1. Hi Bob,

      They’re all good thoughts, and the rumour mill seems surprisingly quiet on any possible X-Pro3.

      This suggests that it’ll either be basically an X-T3 type camera or that (as per the X-Trans ii era cameras) they’ll skip a generation and the XP3 will come along with the X-T4

      I suspect that most X-Pro users would be happy with no video, a big battery and a nicer hybrid VF solution (can we have at least have the OLED panel please Fuji?)

      If it were me (and it really isn’t) I’d have the X-T type ‘bells and whistles’ camera, and a X-E type camera that’s the same spec as an X-T, for those that like the rangefinder shape, and the X-Pro range would be for those that wanted a more niche product.

      I personally think that by not offering a great deal of feature separation between their models, Fuji have truncated sales. A ‘DSLR’ type X-T for pro gigs and a simpler ‘rangefinder’ X-Pro for personal projects (that both take the same lenses) might lead to more people owning one of each…

      Good to hear from you Bob, cheers
      Adam

      Like

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