The upcoming X-Pro3 hasn’t been officially announced by Fujifilm, but aspects about the camera have been leaked, and it’s creating quite a stir. Word on the street is that sometime next month Fujifilm will make the official announcement and we’ll know all about the X-Pro3, but in the meantime we have only little glimpses of it, yet a picture of what this new iteration will be is becoming more clear, and more controversial.
Firstly, as has been widely reported across the web, the X-Pro3 will have an unusual rear screen. The X-Pro2 has a flat, non-flipping and non-touch LCD. The new version will have a flip screen, but mounted backwards. When up, you will see the black backside of the screen. To view the LCD, you will have to flip it down. When up, there will be some sort of mini screen that will display the film simulation and perhaps other information. The idea, I believe, is to literally hide the LCD from the user when in use, so that the photographer uses the viewfinder. You can flip the screen down 90° to shoot from the waist, or 180° to review your pictures. It’s highly unusual, and I imagine that most people won’t like it, but if you are looking for a film-camera-like experience, this could help replicate that a little more closely.
Another thing that will be different on the X-Pro3, according to FujiRumors, is it will not have a D-Pad. I’m a little surprised, as I think having both a focus-joystick and D-Pad is a premium feature, something that should absolutely be included on premium cameras. On the less-than-premium models, the D-Pad is removed in favor of touch-screen controls, which works well enough. My concern on the X-Pro3, when you make the touch screen less convenient by mounting it backwards, you should not make the use of it integral to the operating of the camera. The D-Pad solves that, so I’m curious how this is going to work on the new camera since Fujifilm removed it.
What I believe Fujifilm is attempting to do with the X-Pro3 is further separate it from the X-T3. The X-Pro2 and X-T2 are a lot alike, with the main difference being the body shape (SLR vs. rangefinder). Yes, the X-Pro2 has some things, such as the hybrid viewfinder, that the X-T2 doesn’t, and the X-T2 has some things, such as the rear tilt-screen, that the X-Pro2 doesn’t. But in reality they are 95% the same camera. The X-T2 is perhaps very slightly superior technically, while the X-Pro2 is, in my opinion, superior aesthetically, although some might disagree with both of those points. I think Fujifilm’s research shows that many of those who purchased an X-Pro1 or X-Pro2 did so because the camera reminds them of classic 35mm rangefinders, so Fujifilm is using that information to slightly alter the design to enhance that impression. While internally the X-Pro3 and X-T3 will be nearly identical, the shooting experience of the two cameras will be significantly different, and that’s what will separate the two models from each other. What camera you choose will depend on the experience that you desire. My guess is that most will choose the X-T3.
I can see a few possible scenarios regarding the X-Pro3. People might love the changes, find the backwards screen to be revolutionary, and the camera sells even better than previous models. Alternatively, it might be a total flop, as the design choices leave people confused and frustrated, and this might be the last of the X-Pro line, or perhaps an X-Pro3s is released next year with a normal flip screen. Most likely, a dedicated group loves the design while others don’t “get it” and buy a different camera instead, and the camera does about as well as previous versions have done. I suspect that the X-Pro3 will get plenty of attention, unfortunately much of it will be at least somewhat negative, and it won’t receive the high praise of the X-T3. But I also suspect that it will quietly have a cult following and do surprisingly well for itself. I know that I would gladly give it a chance, although budget constraints will likely prevent that from happening anytime soon. It will be interesting to see the final product and observe how well it does in the marketplace, and that time will come pretty quickly.