Third Time (un)Lucky?

Fujifilm has announced their third X-Pro X Series Fuji X camera, completely unaccountably called the X-Pro3. Aside from consecutive numbering, the camera boasts a couple of extra megapixels compared to its numerical predecessor, a numerically superior processor, higher resolution viewfinder and — most notably — a tiny LCD screen (on the back of the LCD screen proper) intended to harken back to the days you’d stick the tab of your film box on the film door to remind you what was in the camera. 

Sounds like a cool idea, doesn’t it?

Until you realise that if you want to use the LCD to take a photo, you have to switch on the camera, then use your other hand to pull down the screen.

Oh, then that screen only moves 180º, meaning it’s now virtually useless for anything except waist-level composition. I find myself asking why they put the full-sized LCD on there at all? If you’re going to make it that difficult to use, why not go the Leica M10-D route and remove the screen altogether?

While it’s clearly intended to force the photographer to use the EVF/OVF, rather than the LCD, the way photographers shoot these days has changed quite a bit since the days Fujifilm are trying to harken back to.

It’s no longer a crime to prefer an LCD over an EVF/OVF. In fact, many LCDs are so good these days, I find myself using them more and more in my daily photography. Plus, the addition of high quality HD and 4K video on these cameras has made the LCD an even more important tool.

Yes, yes, I know…Fujifilm aren’t taking away the X-T3 or X-H1 — two cameras which excel in the video department. And the X-Pro3 is clearly designed with the priorities of still/wannabe street photographers in mind. But it really doesn’t have to be this way. Or maybe I’m just projecting my own personal changes in photographic style.

If you’d asked me 10 years ago what sort of LCD I’d want on my digital camera, I would have laughed in your face and shooed you away until you came back with a high quality viewfinder. But times change. Photography changes. And how I — and many others — make photographs changes. 

As a “street photographer” wannabe, all I wanted was a viewfinder that worked, electronic or optical. But as a father of two kids, I need a quick, rough compositional tool that’s ready in an instant to capture *that* moment. And that tool, more often than not, is the camera LCD. There literally isn’t time to turn on the camera, put the finder to my eye, compose and take the picture. 

The X-Pro3’s flip down LCD is an event worse proposition for quick compositions as it doesn’t work as an eye-level LCD, but is intended as a waist-level finder.

With kids, I often don’t have two hands free to take photos. To get the camera out, flick it on, then flip down a screen is no small feat when dealing with those with small feet. Otherwise, I just won’t be stuffed getting the camera out.

This is one of the reasons I’ve shot so much film with my popularly-maligned Olympus µ[mju:]-II of late. It’s a small, pocketable camera that can be operated with one hand and takes a nice photo.

Aside from the silly LCD, there is a lot to love above the X-Pro3. In fact, there are potentially revolutionary improvements under the hood, including HDR shooting, which may sound like a gimmick, but is notable as it is computational photography inside a proper camera. The auto-focus also gets a substantial boost and is apparently able to focus in almost complete darkness.

It’s a shame, because I love my X-Pro2 and it’s well suited to my needs. Now Fuji have gone done changes for little reason other than to do something ‘different’. I like the idea of a status LCD and I love the film-inspired aesthetic, but would it be so hard to have an LCD that could be placed with either the normal LCD or status LCD facing out? There are plenty of screen designs out there that accommodate something like this. 

Like I said, I realise Fujifilm still make a camera that better suits my needs now — the X-T3 — but I’m kinda sad the style of camera that I’ve always loved no longer loves my shooting. 

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