Picture: Dan Bracaglia

I feel we will all agree that 2020 has been an unpredictable 12 months, so it appears applicable that my gear of the 12 months is a digital camera I wouldn’t have predicted a couple of months in the past: the Fujifilm X-Pro3.

However first, a little bit of context.

A few of my earliest pictures was achieved with a hand-me-down rangefinder digital camera, a Kodak Retina IIc. I liked the expertise of taking pictures it and nonetheless keep in mind precisely the way it felt in my fingers. I even keep in mind the way it smelled, little question the results of the grease used to lubricate gears, one thing you don’t get from digital cameras in the present day.

Nevertheless, as a lot as I really like rangefinders, I’ve by no means had a pure knack for focusing them. I can do it, but it surely’s not my superpower. To at the present time, I’ve large respect for photographers who can shortly and precisely focus a rangefinder.

Mt. Jefferson in Oregon’s Cascade Mountains. Velvia movie profile, processed in-camera.

ISO 160 | 1/250 sec | F2.0 | XF 18mm F2 R

That is a roundabout manner of explaining why I largely shot with SLRs for thus a few years and by no means lusted after a Leica.

That is the place Fujifilm comes into the story, however perhaps not in the way in which you’d count on. You see, I used to be by no means a lot a fan of the X-Professional sequence, which at all times appeared large and chunky, however somewhat of the fixed-lens X100. I didn’t want one, however from the day I first used an X100 in individual, I needed one. Badly. It was horny, compact, and supplied a taking pictures expertise much like a rangefinder, however with autofocus. Finally, I broke down and acquired the X100T, and it stays my most-used digital camera to at the present time.

With that in thoughts, I suppose it appears odd that I picked the X-Pro3 as my gear of the 12 months as an alternative of the X100V, so I ought to in all probability get round to explaining that.

Pre-pandemic household gatherings. Acros movie profile, processed in-camera.

ISO 5000 | 1/80 sec | F2.8 | XF 23mm F2 R WR

It seems the factor that made me benefit from the X-Pro3 most was the precise factor I anticipated to dislike about it: the inverted rear display, which is undoubtedly essentially the most polarizing characteristic of the digital camera. Not like most cameras, the X-Pro3’s display folds inward and stays hidden till intentionally folded out. There’s an additional step required to entry menus or, extra importantly, to chimp pictures.

I skilled myself years in the past to not ‘chimp’ pictures on the again of a digital camera when doing work for purchasers; I didn’t suppose it conveyed professionalism or confidence. When taking pictures for enjoyable, nevertheless, I’m like most individuals. I prefer to see my photographs immediately. As a result of immediate gratification.

With the X-Pro3, I shoot in another way. Nothing truly prevents me from flipping open the display to take a look at my pictures, however a look in the back of the digital camera jogs my memory that that’s not what this digital camera is about. The considered flipping open that display appears like dishonest, so I don’t.

Cowboy nation. Astia movie profile, processed in-camera.

ISO 320 | 1/170 sec | F6.4 | XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.Eight R LM OIS

It’s a delicate shift in mindset, however one which I’m actually having fun with. I discover myself having extra of these zen moments the place it’s simply me, the digital camera and my topic. By eradicating the temptation even to look, I’m spending extra time taking in what’s round me, trying by the viewfinder, and simply having fun with the journey. I can have a look at the photographs later.

I’m beginning to absolutely understand how the presence of a display impacts the way in which I shoot a digital digital camera, and I’m starting to understand why somebody may spring for a mannequin just like the Leica M10-D, which has no display in any respect.

The one space the place I really feel let down by the X-Pro3 is its hybrid optical viewfinder, which is a core a part of the digital camera’s expertise. Viewfinders on earlier X-Professional fashions had a magnifier that might interact relying on the hooked up lens’s focal size, permitting the consumer to view body strains for a reasonably huge number of lenses.

Residence on the vary. Astia movie profile, processed in-camera.

ISO 640 | 1/3200 sec | F4.0 | XF 18mm F2 R

That’s lacking on the X-Pro3. You may’t see body strains for lenses wider than 23mm (equal to 35mm), which I discover when taking pictures Fujifilm’s 18mm F2, although thankfully, that lens’s area of view fairly intently matches the viewfinder itself. The EVF may be very usable, and I’ll swap over to it at occasions, but it surely takes away a few of the magic.

Many individuals pigeon-hole the X-Pro3 as a digital camera for road pictures solely, which is unlucky as a result of it’s actually fairly versatile. I’m undoubtedly not a road photographer, but to my delight, I discovered it to be an extremely satisfying digital camera.

Loads of surprising issues occurred this 12 months, and never all of them had been dangerous. I acquired to know my household higher, even over FaceTime, I spent extra time with my pets, and I caught up on initiatives which have languished for years. I additionally found a digital camera that brings me pleasure and jogs my memory of why I began taking photos within the first place. That appears like a reasonably good strategy to begin 2021.

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