Introduction of the Fuji X-Pro 1 Mirrorless Camera
Fujifilm Middle East let me use the X-Pro 1 for around four days and I had a great time shooting with it.
Like the X100, the X-Pro 1 is one of the most anticipated camera releases of 2012. As an X100 user myself, I am quite excited how it fairs up with X100 and the likes of NEX-7 and other mirrorless cameras. It promises better pictures than the X100 because of the new sensor design, which is pretty much the highlight of this camera.
This is Fujifilm’s follow up with the success of X100, with its stunning retro design and fantastic image quality straight out of the camera. But the X100 had a rough time with criticisms about its AF performance and other quirks like its menu and so on.
I didn’t have a lot of complaints with my X100; my main goal is to get quality pictures and that is what my X100 is giving me. But for those who criticized the X100, did Fuji finally get it right with the X-Pro 1? Let’s see and find out…
**Please note that I will be approaching this review in comparison with the X100, giving you an overview on which camera best suits your photographic needs.
Fuji X-Pro 1 Handling, Looks and Build Quality
The X-Pro1 carries the retro design from the X100, but this time they made the camera all black and bigger in size. The handling of the X100 is really good; I have no complaints shooting with it. That being said, I think the handling of the X-Pro1 is superior to the X100.
The weight is a little heavier compared to the X100 but it makes it a more balanced camera. The grip made a lot of difference in shooting as well.
Fuji X-Pro 1 Layout
I found that the button layout of the X-Pro1 is better designed and well thought of compared to the X100. I find it much easier to press the buttons and the layout makes a lot of sense. The Q menu makes a big difference, it gives you a quick access to the most important settings of the camera; I really wish they had put one on the X100.
The buttons are also well recessed and cannot be easily pressed while operating it. The shutter speed dial now has a locking mechanism, which prevents you from accidentally knocking it to other settings. The Exposure Compensation button is now well recessed and requires more pressure to turn; I myself accidentally turned the compensation dial on my X100 countless of times until I got used to it.
The X-Pro1 got that one right. Other features like the EVF/OVF lever are still there and very intuitive to use.
I heard other people saying the build quality of the X-Pro1 is not that great and it feels ‘plasticky’ and light. I personally feel that it is solidly built and I don’t think it’s too light; I think the weight-to-size ratio is quite great.
I wouldn’t lug around a camera every day if it’s heavier than the X-Pro1, I’ll rather have my DSLR then. For me, the X-Pro1’s build quality is superb. Although, this I would say, I like the looks of the Fuji X100 better.
It just looks sleeker and sexier compared to an all-black body of the X-Pro1, but that is just a matter of personal taste. But in terms of handling, there’s a big difference and the X-Pro1 handles rather well compared to its smaller sibling.
In summary, in the looks department, the X100 wins. For build quality, I think it’s a draw, they are just both solidly built cameras. In terms of handling, the X-Pro1 knocks it right out of the park, winning against the X100 with no contest.
Fuji X-Pro1 Features and Menu Structure
What makes the X100 and X-Pro1 stand out is the Hybrid Viewfinder. There are so many mirrorless cameras out there but nothing beats the hybrid viewfinder on these cameras.
As of this writing there are no cameras out there that offers this kind of advantage, pleasing both the OVF (Optical View Finder) fans and the EVF (Electronic View Finder) fans. And the best part is that you can switch it in a flick of a finger and it does it almost instantaneously; very nice!
One of the highlights of the X-Pro1 is the fact that you can change your lenses and Fuji created 3 fast prime lenses that go with it, 18mm f2.0, 35mm f1.4 and 60mm f2.4 macro. Those are good selections of focal length and they give wide-open aperture-loving goodness. It gives you a thin depth-of-field creating creamy and luscious bokehs on your images.
I won’t list all the features of the X-Pro1 here with all its geeky glory but I’ll tell you some of my favorites. The Automatic Panorama, should fit with my shooting needs since I am shooting a lot of landscapes and this provides a lot of customization about the size and the orientation of the sweep and all that.
I feel that the X-Pro1’s panorama algorithm is much better than the one of the X100. I also like the Film Simulation Bracketing, which gives you three choices in case you can’t decide which Film mode effect you want. I set mine on Velvia for colorful and ‘contrasty’ effect, Astia for a more soft effect, which I use for portraits.
Monochrome for black and white effect, and I’ll be honest, I am not a fan of black and white but this mode changed my mind, the way it processes black and white is just superb. The X100 also has this feature but you can’t customize it, it is already pre-determined, unlike the X-Pro1 you can manually choose the Film Simulation you want.
The Sensor of the Fuji X-Pro1
The X-Pro1 sports an all new APS-C 16MP X-Trans CMOS sensor. This is Fujifilm’s latest design which doesn’t use the conventional Bayer pattern color filter arrays; while it uses a conventional square-grid pixel layout, the color filter array over the pixels has been completely redesigned giving it a good resistance to color moiré which then allows Fuji to remove the anti-aliasing filter that’s been in almost all cameras which in turn resolves more details than any camera with the same sensor and pixel count.
According to Fuji, the performance of this newly developed sensor can match the performance of a full frame sensor. All geekiness aside, in plain English: This sensor is an all-new design which should give sharper details than any conventional Bayer-designed sensor found in most cameras including DSLRs.
The X-Pro1 Lenses
Fujifilm developed an all-new mount lens exclusively for the X-Pro1 and for the future XF mount body. The three prime lenses are: 18mm F2, 35mm F1.4 and 60mm F2.4 Macro (which offers 0.5x magnification).
The 18mm f2.0 is the smallest among the lot and it is the fastest focusing one in my experience. The 35mm is the fastest lens (in terms of Aperture) giving you a maximum of f1.4, while the biggest lens is a 60mm f2.4 macro lens.
I found the lenses well-built and not very heavy. Although, they are not the best construction I’ve seen compared to the likes of Zeiss and Canon L series lenses. They can look a little fiddly sometimes, especially the 18mm f2.0 which is very light but all of them are solid with metal mounts.
My only complaint about these lenses is that they are not the quietest ones, and every time I switch the X-Pro1 on, they give a buzzing and clicking sound for at least a second or two.
The Auto-Focus (AF) Speed
This is one of the most sought out questions about this camera, since the X100 didn’t impress a lot of people with its AF speed.
The AF speed depends on the lens mounted on the X-Pro1. But let me clarify this one, the AF speed in good light is not an issue, it focuses fast and accurate, the problem is when shooting in low light. And this is not something new with other cameras, even high-end DSLRs have problems focusing in low light.
A few days ago Fujifilm made a lot of X100 users very happy when they released a firmware upgrade version 1.21 that fixes bugs, has added new features and improves the Auto-Focus speed dramatically. My X100 feels like a new camera; it is a big leap of improvement from the initial firmware when it first came out.
That being said, comparing the AF speed, I feel that the X100 with firmware 1.21 is slightly faster than the X-Pro1. The fastest lens to use with the X-Pro1 is the 18mm f2.0, which is almost the same speed as the newly upgraded X100. The 35mm performs similarly like the X100 when it first came out, maybe just slightly faster.
The 35mm is my favorite lens among the three, it gives lovely bokeh effects and is very sharp wide open. If I’ll buy the X-Pro1, this is the first lens I’m going to get. The 60mm is the slowest to focus, I am not a macro-kind-of-guy but I have used macro lenses and this one is quite slow compared to industry standards. It may be slow but the 60mm f2.4 is quite sharp, especially on f4.0 onwards.