Book Launch and Exhibition - Abbeydale Picture House

In December I held a book launch to coincide with a solo exhibition of prints from the book project “Sharrow Vale and the Antiques Quarter”. 

The exhibition was held at the amazing Fly Tower building in Abbeydale Picture House. The picture house features heavily in the book so it was special to hold the show there. 

Thanks to everyone who came and made the launch so special. 



Fujifilm X-Pro3 - The perfect street photography tool?

Fuji’s X-Pro range has always been a favourite among Street photographers. The classic rangefinder design and discreet operation makes it perfect for capturing candid moments. The X-Pro3 continues this tradition and adds features that allows the photographer to stay in the moment.

Street photography is about the moment, being in it and capturing it. Fuji have taken on board feedback and produced a camera that has been built to keep you shooting. With the X-Pro3 it is about the experience. The upgrades and new features are not much of an advancement over the X-Pro2 and when it comes to Street Photography anything you can do with the X-Pro3 you can pretty much do with the older camera.

Where the X-Pro3 excels is in the shooting experience and that is primarily to do with the hidden LCD. I have seen some very heated responses to the screen, some of it is a bit over the top, but the design of the screen is restrictive. The design makes it pretty redundant as a framing device with it only useful for low down shots and changing settings. I am probably the exact target for this camera, I very rarely use the LCD and on my X-Pro2 and often have the screen turned off. I found the small LCD useful, allowing me to glance at my settings quickly without drawing too much power from the battery. This also meant that the battery seemed to last longer. A whole day shooting with an X-Pro2 would eat up at least 2-3 batteries, where as the X-Pro3 used 1 and a bit each day I was shooting.

The Fuji X-Pro3 is designed for street photography, it’s discreet design and quiet operation is perfect for that style of shooting. The optical viewfinder has been updated making it slightly larger and brighter. Overall it makes slightly more comfortable for longer periods. It also allows more room to frame shots and keep an eye on what is entering the frame.

The new Classic Negative film simulation works quite nicely on the streets and produces some nice tones. I am not sure about the colours myself, but I have seen a few people producing some nice results from it. 


Getting to Know the Fujifilm X-Pro3


I was fortunate to have early access to the Fuji X-Pro3, the latest offering from Fuji and spent roughly 4 days getting to know this new camera and exploring some of its new features.

I began using Fuji cameras in 2012 with the original X100 and X-Pro1 and have always owned at least one Fuji camera since. I now use an X-Pro2 and X100F for most of my work, so I was excited to see what the X-Pro3 had to offer. 

This is not a technical review, mainly because there are definitely better places to read about specs and scientific tests, but also because the unit I have is a pre-production model, so things may change slightly on the full production model. What I am going to do is give my first impressions on the Fuji X-Pro3 . As the RAW files are not supported by any software at the moment I will be working with Jpegs or with RAW files converted in camera. 

The X-Pro3 has the same 26 megapixel X-Trans 4 sensor that is in the X-T3. It produces excellent images and is so far the best sensor that Fuji produces.  For me, as with my X-Pro2, this produces high enough resolution files and if you need bigger then it is probably worth considering a Full-Frame or medium format camera.  Personally I don’t get too hung up on megapixels and sensor sizes, I have produced nice A3 prints from an old 8mp Canon 30D so it stands to reason that this camera will produce quality files. The RAW files from the X-T3 are fantastic so we will see similar results from the X-Pro3.


The autofocus system is again on par with the X-T3 and even though this was a pre-production model, it was fast and accurate. Bringing the specs in line with the X-T3 may not seem like a revolutionary step, but it builds on the X-Pro2 and improves on what is an already excellent camera. The range finder styling and quirky handling has always been a draw for Street and Documentary photographers. The X-Pro range has always been the photography purists’ camera compared to the X-T workhorse. 

In a bid to drive this point home Fujifilm took a number of X-photographers and other professional users to Japan to have an input into the X-Pro3’s development. This resulted in a number of interesting features that really begin to set it apart from the rest of the range. 

New Paint Job

One of the issues with the first two iterations of the X-Pro range is the paint. The body itself was quite durable but the paint was very easy to cheap and scuff, meaning that the camera could begin to look well worn even with a normal amount of use. Well the X-Pro3 still comes in that original black paint, but alongside two new colours, Dura Silver and Dura Black. On the chart that Fuji showed me Dura sits just below Diamond and Sapphire as the toughest material on earth. In practice what this means is that it is incredibly hard to scratch the paint on these models. This was demonstrated with a video of somebody going at one with a stanley knife, and yes it didn’t scratch it. In practice this should mean the camera will get less scuffed up during everyday and professional use. One of the things that Fuji mentioned was they had a lot of feedback from photojournalists who wanted to use an X-Pro, but that build quality maybe wasn’t there for the really tough environments, which leads us on to……

Titanium!

All X-Pro3 models are now made out of Titanium, well the top and bottom plates are. Titanium weighs less than stainless steel, but is at least twice as tough. It weighs roughly the same as the X-Pro2 but it does feel a little tougher (especially with the Dura coating) and it really does feel like a substantial camera (my test one was in the classic black). 

The Elephant in the room…. That Screen!

Now this is going to be the marmite feature and the one that will cause the most debates, questions and bemused looks. It’s worth remembering at this point who the camera is aimed at, and if you are the type of person who gets angry at this type of thing then this camera probably isn’t for you. If you have been in a cave or on a beach somewhere without internet (lucky you!) and you don’t know what this is about, well look at the image below. 

The X-Pro3 has a hidden LCD screen. This was apparently a very popular idea amongst the group of photographers in Japan and you know what, I like it! Is it the best decision they could have made, maybe not, but you have to respect that Fuji have gone out and done something a bit different (Leica did do it first in a way, but that’s Leica).  

By default the camera has a memory LCD panel that gives you basic information with two settings “Classic” which displays the film profile and ISO information and “Standard” which gives more detailed settings information. The “Standard” setting can be customised to show the information that the user needs. 

The panel is not backlit so sometimes it can be a little difficult to see, but I did find it quite useful to have.  The hidden screen is designed to force the photographer to use the viewfinder and “be in the moment” and to stop the act of “Chimping”. I admit I did instinctively look down to check an image a couple of times, so it works in that regard.

The main downside with the new screen set up is that it makes using the camera with live view on the screen a little cumbersome. The panel flips down to reveal the screen, meaning that the only way to use the screen is in this position. For me it’s not much of an issue but if you are somebody who uses liveview on the screen it is not a great experience. There are a few occasions when it might be useful to flip the screen down but they will probably be rare.  It does force you to use the viewfinder. The technology in the back panel means that the display is always on, but does not drain the battery. (I did have an instance when the camera was left overnight and most of the day unused and the battery was flat, this may be an issue with it being a pre production model).  

Improved Hybrid Viewfinder

Oh that optical hybrid viewfinder! It’s been one of the main attractions to both the X100 and X-pro ranges and the X-Pro3 seems to have taken it to another level. Again the changes are incremental but it does seem to make a difference.

The optical viewfinder seems brighter than the X-Pro2 and has a slightly wider angle of view which makes it feel quite big when looking through. It was designed to provide a better experience for photographers wearing glasses which I have found to be the case. Although I have to admit to not finding the X-Pro2 that bad either. 

There have also been improvements to the electronic viewfinder. I usually stick to the optical VF on my X-Pro2 but I found the new EVF a pleasure to use. Fuji claim to have made it easier on the eyes making it useable for longer periods without fatigue. I would still use the optical by default but sometimes it can be useful to use the EVF particularly when using manual focus. 

Classic Negative Film Simulation

New camera, New film simulation. Classic Negative gives a classic, almost vintage look to the images. It has nice colours but for me it’s almost bordering on gimmicky.  Dare I say it looks a little like an in-camera Instagram filter. I like the look it produces but I don’t think I can use it all the time. It may work in some situations but it doesn’t quite have the same subtlety as say Classic Chrome, which I used almost exclusively for a year.  I will be interested to see other people’s examples using Classic Negative. Fujifilm have stated that it resembles their popular Fuji Superia film stock.


Auto Focus range limiter

This was something that interested me during the introduction and something that might come in handy when using the X-Pro3 for Street Photography. Using the AF range limiter is similar to using zone focusing in many ways. 

The way it works is that you set a range, for example 1.5 meters to 3 meters, and the camera will only attempt to focus between that range. In theory it should make the AF quicker and technically more accurate. You are basically telling the lens that you are only interested in things between that set distance. When I tried the setting, it worked as it should but during my test I got frustrated as I wasn’t used to restricting my photography to within set Auto focus distance. However, with a bit of practise on my part, I think this could be a useful feature. 

Overall First Impressions

The X-Pro3 is a joy to use and builds on the heritage of the X-Pro range. I think the idea of the hidden screen will irritate some people but I do not think that it will be an issue in reality and I personally like it. There are a few occasions when I went to look into the menus and found it mildly inconvenient that I had to flip down the screen to do it. The layout on the back has been stripped back with the control pad being removed which makes it look a little less cluttered than the X-Pro2. It’s probably a little unfortunate that Fuji started with the X-Pro naming convention because a few people I have spoken to criticise the cameras for not being ideal for professional sports and commercial photography (missing the point a little). The X-Pro range has always been a little niche and it was Fujifilm’s insistence on producing a camera that appealed to photography purists that started them on their current trajectory. 

The X-Pro3 will shoot 11 frames a second, has 4k video and focus stacking, but the real joy of this camera is that it makes you want to get out there and make photographs and that’s the real selling point. The X-Pro3 is really unlike any other camera out there.  Is it worth the upgrade from the X-Pro2? I would probably say on specs alone maybe not but the overall shooting experience is on a totally different level.   

The black version will be available for £1,699 and Dura coated ones will be £180 more at £1,879.   

Sample Images

All images were made during the 4-day test with a pre-production model of the X-Pro3


Using Format