Almost there – How does the Fujifilm X Pro 3 stack up to a Leica user?

When this was initially unveiled, I have to admit that I didn’t really pay much attention to the hype as I feel like I have a general understanding of Fujifilm cameras and none of the stand out features of their cameras never really interested me. I’ve been down that green road before with the X100F and the X70. Both excellent cameras in their own right, but not enough for me to actually settle on one as I had both a Leica M camera (either a M (Typ 240) or M10) and a Leica Q at the time.

That was two years ago.

Any photographer can tell you that two years is a long time in the photography world and needs can change. Since then I’ve sold both my Leica M10, Q and my beloved Olympus PEN-F as I’ve been downsizing my gear to reduce most of my gear anxiety that photographers all have. You know the proverbial questions that go through your head when you plan out your next event, photowalk, or trip: what camera and lenses should I take with me?

My path to simplifying my gear

After clearing out most of my equipment over the summer, I’ve picked up a minty silver Leica M-P (Typ 240) from the fine people at Leica Store Miami and paired it with just two lenses as my primary kit: the Summicron-M 35mm F2 ASPH II (11673) and an old Summicron-M 50mm F2 (11819 – Made in Canada) that I’ve “borrowed” from my loving sister.

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I was finally happy with my minimalist setup: one body and two lenses.

…or so I thought.

The problem with just owning the Leica M-P 240 (or any manual/analog camera for that matter) is that you’ll start to miss the conveniences of a fast auto-focus camera for those times when you prefer to take a backseat and just let the camera do the work for you. Sort of like a daily driver while your Porsche 911 sits in the garage for those days you want to scratch that analog itch. That was the gaping hole that was left in my toolbox after I sold the Leica Q and the Olympus PEN-F.

I felt like I was back where I started, but it also gave me some justification on picking up a new camera with auto-focus. The timing couldn’t have been better.

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The X-Pro3

When I was shopping for a replacement to fill the gap that was left by both the Q and the PEN-F, the X-Pro3 was starting to hit dealer shelves in early December after their initial unveiling in September. I was able to play with one during a customer appreciation event at my local camera store the weekend before Thanksgiving and unlike most people on the internet, I loved the lack of the chimping screen on the back. I knew that Fuji’s design choice drew criticism from the hardcore Fuji crowd, but the opposite was true among the Leica fans as they seem to embrace it more-so than their counterparts.

I may have a theory about this.

People that buy into the Leica M system, do not buy them for the same reason as to people that buy into a Sony mirrorless. They’re more about the inspiring shooting experience, the simplicity of its controls, German industrial design, and the beautiful rendering that Leica glass paired with Leica sensor offer. It’s beautiful simplicity make it easy to use, but hard to master. The camera demands more from you and you can’t help but try to deliver on those expectations. Leica even released two generations worth of “screenless” cameras such as the M-D (Typ 262) and the current M10-D. Both of which were best-selling cameras as there was a market out there that wanted the purist experience. Most Leica photographers love this experience.

Fuji’s Risk with the X-Pro3

What Fujifilm did was take a page out of Leica’s playbook for purist cameras and took a big risk with the X-Pro3’s design. What they built was a more approachable (and affordable) version of the Leica M10-D that offer almost the same experience. People like me that want a more purist experience would love it, but I can see how the rest of the internet might hate it. I’ve never seen such a polarizing split, but like the current Trump impeachment votes this past month, it was clear as day on who this camera was made for. People that don’t understand the point of cameras like the M10-D will shun the X-Pro3, and that is understandable. It’s just not for them.

I’m going to end this here but I personally love my X-Pro3 and I’m happy that Fujifilm took risks with their X-Pro line as they have some wiggle room to do things like this since most professional shooters will go for the X-T3 anyways for “conventional” photographers.

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