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X-Pro3 camera has touch of nostalgia

The rangefinder camera is synonymous with street photography due to its use by photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa.

The Leica rangefinders used by these legends are uber expensive. However, the new Fujifilm X-Pro3 is one rangefinder-like mirrorless camera that might be within most photographers' means.

Targeted at street and wedding photographers, the X-Pro3 has the styling of a typical rangefinder.

Like its predecessors, it uses Fujifilm's unique hybrid viewfinder - located on the top left of the camera, similar to rangefinders - that is able to toggle between being an optical viewfinder and an electronic viewfinder (EVF) with a push of the front lever.

The controls, despite taking inspiration from old rangefinders, are intuitive. There is a dedicated shutter speed dial and an exposure value compensation dial on the camera's top. Changing the aperture is done through the aperture ring on the attached lens.

The ISO dial is embedded in the shutter dial. You lift the shutter speed dial and turn to change the ISO settings. A small rear joystick lets you change the AF point quickly - great when you need to compose pictures.

This is especially apt for a camera designed for you to concentrate on shooting. Its rear display is "hidden". A small square screen showing the ISO setting and film simulation mode is found at the back instead - a nice throwback to how a film camera's back looks like.

You have to flip down the panel that houses this screen to find the main 3-inch touchscreen display. This design is to prevent chimping, a colloquial term used to describe photographers' bad habit of checking every photo on the camera's display after capture.

But this hiding of the display makes it a chore when you need to navigate the menu interface to change settings, such as the video-recording mode.

That aside, the handling of the camera is superb, especially so with its sturdy and rugged body. The X-Pro3 has a titanium top and bottom for increased durability and corrosion resistance, while its main body frame is made of magnesium.

Besides the standard black model, it is also available in a model with silver and black Duratect (DR) coating that is said to be more durable and scratch-resistant. The review unit is a DR silver model, which looks absolutely gorgeous - a term you rarely associate with a camera.

The camera features Fujifilm's latest 26.1-megapixel X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor and X-Processor 4 image processor - same as its more recent DSLR camera-like cousins X-T3 and X-T30. Start-up time is 0.7 seconds, while shutting down takes 0.9 seconds. Typical mirrorless cameras take two seconds each for power-up and shut-down operations. Shutter lag is negligible.

  • FOR

    • Retro rangefinder-like looks

    • Superb handling

    • Excellent image quality

  • AGAINST

    • Flip-down "hidden" display a chore for changing settings

    • Average battery life

  • SPECS

    PRICE: From $2,699

    IMAGE SENSOR: 26.1-megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS 4

    DISPLAY: 3-inch with 1.62 million dots; built-in hybrid viewfinder - optical viewfinder/electronic viewfinder with 3.69 million dots

    SENSITIVITY: ISO 80 to 51,200

    SHOOTING SPEED: Up to 11 frames per second

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, USB-C

    WEIGHT: 497g (body with battery and memory card)

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4.5/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4.5/5

Using an SD card with a writing speed rated at 90MB per second, the X-Pro3 captured 34 RAW images in 3.2 seconds before the buffer ran out - quite close to the advertised speed.

With a Fujifilm XF 16-55mm f/2.8 lens attached, the X-Pro3's autofocusing (AF) is pretty speedy. Getting a focus lock in bright sunlight is almost instantaneous. Under dim lighting, it takes around one second to secure a focus lock with the help of the AF assist light.

The still image quality is excellent with great dynamic range and sharp details. Colours are accurate and vivid, even in the standard film simulation mode. You can try the different film simulation modes, such as the new Classic Negative, which offers a nostalgic look with colours reminiscent of old colour negatives.

The ISO performance is equally impressive. There is no image noise up to ISO 3,200. Images are usable up to IS0 12,800, but after that, there are too much chromatic noise artefacts for my liking.

Battery life is rated at 370 still images shot on a full charge. In my test, the battery went flat after I took about 350 images, which is average for mirrorless cameras.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2020, with the headline 'X-Pro3 camera has touch of nostalgia'. Print Edition | Subscribe