FujiFilm X-Pro1 review

Inside Fuji’s first compact system camera (CSC), the Fuji X-Pro1, is a 16.3 million pixel X-Trans CMOS that produces images of up to 15.89MP.

This means that when images are printed at 300ppi, they are just a small fraction short of full A3 size – ideal for most enthusiast photographers.

Although this sensor is APS-C sized, Fuji claims that its cunning design enables the XPro1 to produce images that are superior to a full-frame camera‘s.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 Price 

The secret is in the arrangement of the pixels. Unlike most cameras that use a Bayer pattern of red, green, green and blue receptors (usually referred to as RGGB) arranged in a 2 x 2 grid, the X-Trans CMOS device uses a 6 x 6 RGGB filter array pattern, with a random arrangement of colour filters within each block of 36 photoreceptors.

Fuji claims this avoids the issue of moiré patterning, which can occur as a result of the fine grid structure that makes up the average Bayer pattern sensor.

As a result, the Fuji XPro1 isn’t fitted with an anti-aliasing filter, which means it should be able to produce sharper images from the outset.

Features

The Fuji X-Pro1 is the brand’s first interchangeable lens camera since the Fuji FinePix S5 Pro, which dates from September 2006. While the S5 Pro is a DSLR that accepts Nikon F-mount lenses, the Fuji X-Pro1 is a compact system camera debuting Fuji’s X mount.

To coincide with the release of the X-Pro1, Fuji has introduced three compatible XF lenses; the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2 R, XF 35mm f/1.4 R and XF 60mm f/2.4 R Macro, these have a focal length equivalent to 27mm, 53mm and 91mm optics on a full-frame camera.

Traditionalists will love the fact that each of these lenses has an aperture ring for adjusting exposure.

Similarly, the top plate of the camera has a shutter speed dial to set the shutter speed in whole stops running from 1/4000 to 1 second.

There are also Time and Bulb options on the shutter speed dial, with the first enabling exposure to be set to 2-30sec in steps of 1/3EV and the latter enabling manually timed exposures up to 60 minutes.

Both the aperture lens rings and the shutter speed dial have an A (Automatic) setting. Setting both to A puts the digital camera in program mode while setting only one or the other to A selects aperture or shutter priority mode.

There are no scene modes, but the Fuji X-Pro1 isn’t designed to attract novice photographers who need to use them.

In manual publicity mode (when the photographer sets both dials to anything other than A), the correct exposure can be judged using the scale on the left side of the viewfinder and LCD. In other modes, this level indicates direct exposure compensation.

As a compact system camera, the Fuji X-Pro1 has no reflex mirror to bounce light into the viewfinder, but, like the Fuji FinePix X100, it includes a hybrid viewfinder that combines a direct optical viewfinder (OVF) with an electronic viewfinder (EVF).

A small lever on the front of the camera enables the user to switch between the two finders – more of these later.

Images may also be composed on the 3-inch 1,230,000-dot LCD screen on the back of the digital camera. This is one of the highest resolution camera screens around, but unlike the units on many recent CSCs, it’s not touch-sensitive.

Another consequence of there being no mirror in the Fuji X-Pro1 is that it has a contrast-detection autofocus system rather than a phase recognition system.

There are a total of 49 individually selectable AF points arranged in a 7 x 7 grid across the image frame. Helpfully, the size of these points could be quickly adjusted (there are five options) utilizing the command dial near the thumb rest, so if you need more precision it takes just a second or two to achieve it.

Fujifilm includes a history of making a film, so it’s hardly surprising that the company is underlining this inside its latest camera in the form of Film Simulation settings.

In total, you can find 10 of the modes, with names such as Provia (the standard JPEG establishing), Velvia, Astia, Pro Neg H and Professional Neg S ringing bells with photographers who started shooting on film.

No CSC would be complete without video technology, and the Fuji X-Pro1 can shoot Full HD (1920 x 1080pixels) movies around 29 minutes long at 24fps and with stereo sound.

While in many ways the Fuji X-Pro1 looks and feels like a traditional rangefinder digital camera with the addition of an LCD display, it has just about all the features you respect from a modern digital camera. These include a virtual horizon display to help keep shots level, plenty of control over white balance, a range of bracketing options, dynamic range optimisation settings and a motion panorama mode.

The only really noticeable absence is really a built-in flash, but there is a hotshoe to accept flashguns such as for example Fuji’s EF-20 TTL or the larger EF-42 TTL.

  • Fujifilm-designed 16MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor
  • Novel colour filter array to suppress colour moiré, no optical low-pass filter
  • EXR Processor Pro image processor
  • Dual-magnification hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder
  • Analogue dials for shutter speed and exposure compensation on top of the camera
  • All-new, fully electronic X lens mount; 17.7mm flange-to-sensor distance
  • Three ‘XF’ lenses at launch: XF 18mm F2 R, XF 35mm F1.4 R, and XF 60mm F2.4 R Macro
  • Prime lenses have traditional-style aperture rings (1/3 stop increments) and large manual focus rings
  • The revised rear-panel control layout
  • On-screen ‘Q’ control panel and redesigned the tabbed menu system
  • Focal-plane shutter, 1/4000 sec max speed
  • 3.0″ RGBW 1.23M dot LCD

Build and Handling

In comparison with other recent compact system cameras, the Fuji X-Pro1 is quite large, but then unlike the Micro Four Thirds offering from Olympus and Panasonic, it has an APS-C format sensor.

It is also a pretty solid feeling beast, though without a lens mounted it is a little lighter than we were expecting. With one of the three current lenses mounted it feels just about right and the body and controls have a high-quality feel.

Given its retro styling and traditional control arrangement, the Fuji X-Pro1 isn’t so much a CSC competitor as an advanced DSLR or rangefinder rival. And when the promised M mount adaptor comes to market, Leica users wanting a digital camera will have a more affordable alternative to the Leica M9.

Despite its overall rectangular shape, which is typical of traditional rangefinder cameras, the Fuji X-Pro1 feels reasonably comfortable in the hand, thanks to the textured rubberised grip on its front. It lacks the bulk of the average DSLR’s grip, but it provides purchase and makes the camera feel secure in your grasp.

Performance

Perhaps the best way to sum up the image quality from the Fuji X-Pro1 is to say that images have a film-like quality.

It’s a hard thing to define, but at normal viewing sizes images look natural and not overly digital. There’s smooth graduation of focus, and out of concentrate areas look naturally soft.

Meanwhile, in-focus areas of low sensitivity images have plenty of detail. There’s not quite the same level of fine detail that we’ve seen from full-frame DSLRs, but it really isn’t that far off, and moiré patterning doesn’t seem to be an issue, despite the lack of an anti-aliasing filter.

Zooming into JEPG pictures reveals that strong edges are over-sharpened and the best results (as usual) are achieved by processing raw images post-capture.

The native sensitivity ranges run from ISO 100 to ISO 6400, but ISO 12,800 and 25,600 are available as JPEG only options. These top values are best kept for emergency only as the results suffer from oversharpening, presumably in an attempt to correct the softening created by the noise reduction.

At ISO 3200 and 6400 the X-Pro 1 produces respectable results, JPEG images have little sign of colour noise and luminance sound isn’t obtrusive. However, some out of focus details can look a little smudgy at 100% on the computer screen, so if large prints or selective enlargements are required it’s best to stick to lower sensitivity settings if possible.

Low sensitivity images have lots of detail and the best results are achieved by processing raw files with reduced noise reduction and bespoke sharpening.

Fuji supplies SilkyPix software for processing natural files, and while this provides a comprehensive range of tools, it doesn’t feel especially tailored towards the camera.

We found that the standard Film Simulation mode, Provia, is a good option for many situations, and Velvia is good for boosting colours, although spring grass looks unnaturally vibrant.

As with most cameras, the basic Monochrome option makes fairly muddy-looking pictures that benefit from a contrast boost.

While it’s fun to use the Film Simulation bracketing option to record three shots with different looks, we were just a little disappointed to discover that only JPEGs are recorded and there isn’t an unprocessed raw file available, even if the camera was originally set to report raw files.

On the whole, the auto white balance system does a good job of getting colours as they should be, but it struggles a little in warm lighting indoors.

This can be addressed by setting a custom white balance value, but unfortunately, the option is located on the second page of the main menu. It would be nice if it could be accessed via the Quick menu.

Check Out: Best Fujifilm X-Pro1 Lenses

Verdict

If you are an experienced photographer who’s not concerned about having scene modes and ultra-fast autofocusing, there are lots to like about the Fuji X-Pro1. Setting the exposure via an aperture ring and a shutter speed dial seems to come naturally, and the combination of excellent noise control plus fast lenses mean that you can shoot with the sensitivity set to automatic without any serious concerns.

Fuji’s Quick menu system is one of the best and fastest to use that we have come across. If it could be made customisable, it would be just about perfect. The hybrid viewfinder is also excellent, although it doesn’t work as well as we might hope when focusing manually.
Most importantly, however, the images from the Fuji X-Pro1 are superb. They may not have quite the detail that some full-frame cameras are capable of capturing, but they can beat these bigger beasts for dynamic range and noise control.

Check Fujifilm X-Pro1 Price 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here