Fujifilm X-Pro1

The Fujifilm X-Pro1 is a nice compromise if you can't afford a Leica but want to approximate the experience and get some stunning photo quality to boot.


7.4
CNET Rating


It seems strange that until as recently as a few years ago, we'd come to associate Fujifilm primarily with masses of middling point-and-shoot cameras. But the company has come quite far in a short time, thanks to its premium X series of cameras, which deliver strong image quality in striking vintage designs. Its X-Pro1 interchangeable-lens model now sits at the top of that line, packing a lot of innovative and promising technology into a really retro and mostly well-designed — if a bit large — body. While it doesn't win any points for its autofocus performance or bare-bones feature set, the stunning photo quality (for its class) does a lot to make up for that.

Design and features

Attractive to look at and sturdily built, the X-Pro1's design and operation are mostly very well executed, with only a couple of face-palm-level annoyances. While the camera isn't particularly compact, it's a nice size for people who like a little heft. I do wish the grip were a little deeper, though.

On top of the camera are a couple of dials, one for shutter speed and one for exposure compensation, and the shutter button has a cable-release connector. You dial in both shutter speed and aperture, with a really old-fashioned aperture ring on the XF lenses. Putting the ring in A enters shutter-priority mode; setting the shutter speed to A puts you in aperture priority. If you put both on A, you've got full auto. My one complaint with this scheme is that the slavish adherence to history means that you're stuck with full-stop shutter speeds in shutter-priority mode, when I'm used to shooting at speeds like 1/80 sec. On the other hand, the lens' aperture dial does support third stops, which is a nice feature.

There's also a Fn button next to the shutter button, which is the single user-assignable control. Given that there are multiple relatively unused controls — like three of the navigation buttons — this is a bit disappointing, and I suspect could be changed in a later firmware update. Not only does the camera lack a dedicated movie-record button, but you also have to be in movie mode to record (unlike the rest of the world, Fujifilm considers movies a drive mode), so I ended up wasting the Fn button by mapping it to movie mode. On the plus side, the X-Pro1 has seven custom settings slots that are easily accessed via the quick menu.

(Credit: Lori Grunin/CNET)

Overall, I found the control layout and button design comfortable, although the learning curve will be a little steeper if you're not used to Fujifilm's mindset. Down the left side of the LCD are the drive mode, metering and AF-area selection buttons. On the right, the AE/AF lock button and quick-menu button sit on a plastic protrusion that provides a little extra stability when you're gripping the camera. Of the four navigation buttons, only one is hardwired — to macro, which I used a lot, because of the odd minimum focus distances of the lenses (7 inches for the 18mm lens and 11 inches for the 35mm lens). It's kind of annoying that when you hit the macro button, you then have to arrow over to macro mode; it should just toggle.

Like the X100, the X-Pro1 uses a hybrid viewfinder that can swap between a reverse-Galilean type with an electronic overlay, and a straightforward EVF. To accommodate the different angle of view of the various lenses, a magnifying element with lens-specific framing and parallax compensation shifts in. Getting the right viewfinder display can be a little confusing. The View Mode button on the back rotates among the optical and electronic viewfinders and auto eye sensor, and this switch on the front toggles between the optical and electronic viewfinders. Ultimately, I found the EVF a lot more useful than the OVF, even with the adjusted framing. But, overall, the viewfinder is very nice — big, bright and comfortable.

(Credit: Lori Grunin/CNET)

My biggest problem with the design is the placement of the SD card slot in the battery compartment. While this is a standard location on consumer cameras, it just doesn't work well for advanced and pro photographers who frequently take the card out. But, even worse, the X-Pro1's battery compartment is right next to the tripod mount (and some users may take issue with the mount being so far to the right, rather than in the middle), which not only makes it a huge pain to pull the card when the camera is mounted on a tripod, it means you can't even open the battery compartment when using a tiny tripod-mount attachment for a sling strap (which looks like this). I know — this seems trivial. Until you're in the middle of shooting, and you realise that you have to disconnect your strap to change cards. Also, the battery isn't keyed to a particular direction, so it's easy to put it in backward and then wonder why the camera won't power on.

As for features, the X-Pro1 provides the basics and nothing more; perhaps even a little less, given the price. There's no on-camera flash, and it's got a fixed LCD. Compare that with the cheaper Sony Alpha NEX-7. Do a lot of people at this level use features like in-camera HDR or special-effects filters? Probably not. But the feature set still seems pretty stripped-down.

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Start-up to first shot
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • RAW shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag
  • 0.20.60.50.3
    Canon EOS 60D
  • 0.50.60.60.3
    Sony Alpha SLT-A77V
  • 0.60.80.70.3
    Olympus PEN E-P3
  • 0.90.90.60.2
    Sony Alpha NEX-7
  • 11.51.40.5
    Fujifilm X-Pro1
  • 1.21.110.3
    Sony Alpha NEX-5N

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Continuous shooting speed (in FPS)

  • 8.5
    Sony Alpha SLT-A77V
  • 5.2
    Fujifilm X-Pro1
  • 5
    Canon EOS 60D
  • 3.5
    Sony Alpha NEX-7
  • 3.3
    Sony Alpha NEX-5N
  • 2.9
    Olympus PEN E-P3

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

There's no way around it: the X-Pro1 is disappointingly slow, thanks to sluggish image processing and a finicky autofocus system. The most frustrating aspect is that the better lens, the 35mm, is much slower to focus than the 18mm lens, which simply isn't as sharp. We did our lab tests with the 35mm, since I think it's the more desirable lens, so our performance numbers reflect its slower AF.

Image quality

The X-Pro1 uses a new sensor, the X-Trans, which, in combination with mostly intelligent JPEG processing, delivers excellent photo quality across low- and mid-range ISO sensitivities, and, in combination with the sharp XF lenses, very good detail resolution, colour and tonal range.

In a typical sensor colour filter array, each pixel is responsible for capturing a single colour intensity (red, green or blue), while most of the detail falls to the periodically spaced, more sensitive green pixels. Then the camera (or software) performs what's called demosaicing to build the image out of the pattern of RGB values. The demosaicing process can also result in image artefacts, which is inevitable, given that the software essentially has to "guess" at the image detail and colour for intermediate pixels. In addition, the more regular the pattern of the array, the more likely it is to combine unattractively with any regular patterns in the scene, an artefact known as moiré. Most sensors apply a low-pass filter to the image in order to remove any potential moiré, which can reduce perceived sharpness. The X-Trans sensor uses a different pattern for its CFA, one that has a few more green pixels as well as more irregularly spaced red and blue ones. Fujifilm claims that this arrangement obviates the need for a low-pass filter to prevent moiré and results in fewer false-colour artefacts and a sharper image.

This shows the huge difference in accuracy and quality of shooting JPEG vs. RAW with the new Fujifilm sensor. The bottom RAW is corrected to allow for the greater dynamic range necessary to accurately render the extreme reds and recover detail in this shot (the inset is the JPEG).
(Credit: )

In practice, the X-Pro1's JPEG photos showed exceptional detail at low ISO sensitivities, and the sensor itself had a large latitude, in that I was able to shoot a couple of ISO stops down from where I might normally be in low light, and get clean images. While you can see some mushiness in the flat areas from the noise and consequent noise-reduction algorithms starting at about ISO 1600 in low light, there's very little loss of sharpness, and I ran into many instances where the ISO 6400 shots looked very good for a camera under AU$2000. In night shots, the high-ISO-sensitivity images did look more traditional, soft and grainy with hot pixels, but the fact is that with the X-Pro1, you don't need to shoot at those settings as often as usual.

The X-Pro1 has an excellent mid-range noise profile and intelligent JPEG processing, which means that under the right circumstances, you can shoot as high as ISO 1600 with relatively little loss of image detail, and without having to process the RAW files.
(Credit: Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET)

The camera produces consistent and appropriate exposures, and with one exception the colours are both accurate and vibrant. As with the Fujifilm FinePix X100, I saw hue shifts to orange and blown-out highlights in extremely bright, saturated, natural reds; but, unlike the X100, the X-Pro1 seems to only have problems in the JPEG versions. Reds in the RAW files are completely different, and I was able to recover some of the blown-out detail, as well. Unfortunately, that means you have to use RAW if you shoot flowers, landscapes and the like. Also, as far as I can tell, there isn't a lot of recoverable detail in light-coloured, blown-out areas; what makes the sensor so good in low light overwhelms it in bright. However, I'm not confident enough with my Silkypix skills to state that with 100 per cent certainty; it's possible that there's some technique I don't know about to maximise highlight detail. I do know that saving as a 16-bit TIFF and processing using Adobe Camera Raw didn't work.

A combination of a light touch on the processing, an extremely sharp lens and the new sensor results in exceptionally fine detail rendering for an APS-C-sized sensor.
(Credit: Lori Grunin/CNET)

Which brings me to the downside of the X-Trans sensor. Because it uses a nonstandard CFA, the RAW-processing algorithms need to be redesigned for optimal results. Adobe's seemingly in no rush to support the X-Pro1 in Lightroom/Adobe Camera Raw, and Apple tends to be even slower on the uptake. Other RAW software developers tend to devote their resources to the more popular models. This means that for RAW, you're stuck with the bundled Silkypix software, which is slow, with a clunky, almost impenetrable user interface. More importantly for some people, having to use yet another program breaks your work flow, or at least slows you down as you use the converter to save as a 16-bit TIFF for editing elsewhere.

Fujifilm pushes the saturation a little, but for the most part the camera renders accurate colours without shifting the hues.
(Credit: Lori Grunin/CNET)

The video is a mixed bag. It's very sharp, with bright colours, and in low light the noise looks pretty good. But otherwise, it displays a cornucopia of aliasing, moiré and rolling shutter artefacts. While the autofocus has trouble staying locked, the lenses are nicely designed for manually focusing.

See more photo samples from the XPro-1 in our gallery.

Conclusion

All of this raises the question: who is this camera for? Though the X-Pro1 delivers pro-level photo quality that should appeal to wedding and portrait photographers, if you have to process large volumes of images on a regular basis, the lack of widespread RAW support may really impede your workflow. Not to mention the fact that its battery would need frequent changing over the course of a wedding.

Ultimately, I keep coming back to it as a poor man's Leica. That's not necessarily a bad thing to be — and when Fujifilm ultimately comes out with its Leica mount adapter, it should be even better — but there's also a lot of competition for that deep-pocketed enthusiast.

The XPro-1 is available for AU$1799 (body only) or AU$2499 with the 35mm f/1.4. The 18mm f/2.0 lens and 35m f/1.4 will retail for AU$699 each, while the 60mm f/2.4 will cost AU$749.

Via CNET



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RyanA3 posted a comment   

Sick of so many people saying the words 'Leica' and 'fuji' in the same sentience.
The cameras are nothing alike!!!

You can not compare a full frame camera with a non fick frame.

Also are we forgetting the importance of good quallity glass??

Let the Fuji stand on its own two legs if it's a good camera.

 

RyanA3 posted a reply   

Woops. Ment to be 'non full frame' not 'non flick frame' %uD83D%uDE03

 

Rolloxan posted a comment   
Australia

It is definitely not an every man's camera. I have the X100 and have come to realise why I love it, but also sometimes why I hate it... But truly, the love wins through. There's a certain aspect to photography that only comes with owning a beautiful piece of machinery, and that's where the Fujifilm X series shine through. You WANT to shoot, you WANT to perservere, and it's reflected in the images you take.

As for the X-Pro 1, I have two main comments to add.
1. One of the bigger RAW image processing software suits already supports the X-Pro 1 - Capture One Pro. Their recent update also included the 5D MIII, and the D800.
2. Secondly, and more importantly, the autofocus is the greatest problem with this camera. Unfortunately I'm not sure whether it could be improved by firmware. If it could be - buy this camera. Because the alternative is manual focus. And Fuji's X series manual focus system is terrible, you cannot rely on it. Usually manual isnt a problem - normally I only shoot manual (street shooting). But the Fuji lenses implement a focus-by-wire focus ring for manual, and its terrible. I wish to god that they used a mechanical focus ring on their lenses, and not an electronic pass through. You lose a lot with no distance scale, and the focus-by-wire sysemn is inconsistent in its focus adjustment, as well as less accurate... As a work around, I have the camera set to M focus and use the AE-L button which will automatically focus on the crosshair, accurately and more quickly.

So should you get this camera? Yes. Probably. If the love of photography is enough to drive you to use it. Because that what it does best. Clarity, sharpness, and image quality surpass all other cameras in its class.

Just get used to the focus system.

 

CatherineM posted a reply   

There is no support for this camera from Capture One Pro. I am using version 6.4.3 the latest, no support




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User Reviews / Comments  Fujifilm X-Pro1

  • RyanA3

    RyanA3

    "Sick of so many people saying the words 'Leica' and 'fuji' in the same sentience.
    The cameras are nothing alike!!!

    You can not compare a full frame camera with a non fick frame...."

  • Rolloxan

    Rolloxan

    "It is definitely not an every man's camera. I have the X100 and have come to realise why I love it, but also sometimes why I hate it... But truly, the love wins through. There's a certain aspect to..."

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