Tuesday, April 10, 2012

REVIEW: Fujifilm X-Pro1

Fujifilm X10 (left) and X-Pro1 (right)
Fujifilm X10 (left) and X-Pro1 (right)

Despite all of the great new cameras coming from Canon and Nikon, the one that I’ve been most excited to see is the Fujifilm X-Pro1. The X100 had a brilliant sensor, outstanding build quality, and a revolutionary viewfinder – but little else. Despite its quirks, it was charming to use.

The X10 was quickly named my Point and Shoot of the Year, and my favorite every day camera. As a result, I was hopeful that the X-Pro 1 would be a marriage of the usability and foolproof performance of the X10 combined with the brilliant sensor and viewfinder of the X100, but now with a usable lens range. Sadly, it’s not that.

The Body is Huge

I don’t own a X100, so I could only compare it side to side against the X10.


Fujifilm X10 (left) and X-Pro1 (right)

I’ll admit that I was shocked by the physical size of the  X-Pro1. I expected it to be about the size of a X100 or Nikon 1 V1, but instead it was like a gigantic X10! The pictures don’t tell the real story until you hold it in your hands, but it’s much like the Canon G1X where you think – what the heck, if I wanted something this huge I’d carry my DSLR.


Fujifilm X10 (left) and X-Pro1 (right)

The build quality feels closer to that of a X10 than a X100, and oddly enough the camera feels a bit hollow so it makes you wonder why it is so huge!

The 35mm lens I tested is awesome and feels like pro quality glass. I was super impressed with it, but I was even more disappointed there wasn’t a nice zoom option. Sure, the 1.5x crop factor makes this effectively a 50mm lens, but that’s a tough range to live in all day.

 

Available Lenses

Here’s a photo of the Fujifilm 60mm f/2.4 XF Macro Lens:

Here’s a photo of the Fujifilm 35mm f/1.4 XF R Lens:

Here’s a photo of the Fujifilm 18mm f/2.0 XF R Lens:

Fujifilm 18mm f/2.0 XF R Lens

The Price


Fujifilm X10 (left) and X-Pro1 (right)

With a camera body that costs $1699 and a 35mm lens that cost $599 (at the time this article was written), the roughly $2300 price tag is huge for what you get. To have a decent range with this camera you’d need all three lenses which would set you back $1847, bringing the total to $3546 – the cost of a Canon 5D Mark III!

Before I go any farther, I’m going to say flat out that this camera doesn’t justify the price and that smart money would invest in a great DSLR like the 5D Mark II or D7000 with a decent lens. This product is so big and bulky that you don’t really get a compact camera and the quality isn’t in the same league with a DSLR so I don’t really get the pricing.

Now the X100 just felt like quality, so I could kinda understand the price, but this just feels like a rip-off to be quite honest.

Real World Images and Usage

All of the following images are 100% straight out of the camera JPEG’s that have not been modified in any way. No cropping or Lightroom processing. All are handheld and taken with camera default settings and auto white balance unless otherwise stated.

Click to see the full-size original
My first outdoor people shot at Sakura-Con 2012 in Seattle

When I first got the XPro1 and started shooting it indoors, my first words were effectively “what the f**k” as I couldn’t believe how this camera was just as screwed up as the X100 when trying to focus indoors. The X10 is brilliant, so I couldn’t fathom what the hell the people at Fujifilm were thinking by releasing another indoor AF nightmare. In fact, I was so annoyed that I almost threw in the towel and just wrote my review right then and there to declare that this camera was utter rubbish and not waste my time.


Fujifilm X10 (left) and X-Pro1 (right)

The next day was a gorgeous sunny day so I decided I’d give the XPro1 another try. With tons of light outdoors the AF system performed reasonably well and it seemed to be calibrated very well from the factory. With that said, I noticed an interesting phenomenon where I thought I was getting mediocre shots (some of which I almost deleted) because the quality of the rear LCD seemed to be no different than that of the X10. This lens and sensor combo is very good, so the quality out resolved the LCD giving the false impression that the images were soft and out of focus. As you can see when you click the portrait images above and below the eyes are fantastic sharp.


The contacts in the eyes on this shot are very sharp


Unedited In-Camera JPEG with Velvia Film Mode enabled at f/1.4

I experimented with a lot of settings, but for nice greens I couldn’t help but use the Velvia Film Mode (also available on the X10 and X100). Even though it’s intended for landscapes, you can get away with it for people sometimes and the results are excellent.


Handheld f/2 @ ISO 1000 for 1/52 sec

X100 shooters will be right at home with this camera as not much has changed. X10 users will struggle as the brilliant EXR mode is gone (but with Dynamic Range Auto you can get close to the same net result).


In typical Fujifilm fashion, shots like this just come out of the camera
in one shot and are bang on exposed perfectly

What does seem to be an improvement though is the gorgeous bokeh that is possible with the 35mm lens I tested. What’s also obvious is that the dynamic range is good and the in-camera metering is brilliant.


Handheld at f/2.8 @ ISO 3200 for 1/38 sec

Mouse over to see f/2.8, mouse out to see f/1.4
Mouse over to see f/2.8, and mouse out to see f/1.4 - both at ISO 800

Click to see an amazing original
Big In-Camera Pano’s are still possible, but unlike it’s predecessors
the XPro1 is very clunky and slow to get the shot


f/5.6 @ ISO 400 for 1/350 sec (Aperture Priority +1 EV)


The AF System can only keep up with kids in super bright light


Despite rattling off 18 frames (JPEG only),
the swing test resulted in zero in-focus shots
(despite the focus point being on the face)

XPro-1 vs Canon 5D Mark II and 5D Mark III

For fun I sandwiched a XPro-1 in-camera JPEG at its minimum native ISO (200) between results from a Canon 5D Mark II and 5D Mark III using the same lens (see Canon 5D Mark II vs Mark III–Image Quality Comparison for more info).


5D Mark II - ISO 100

X-Pro1 - ISO 200

5D Mark III - ISO 100

I felt that the X-Pro1 did remarkably well, especially given its one stop disadvantage in this test. At ISO 6400 the results are equally impressive when comparing in-camera JPEG’s:


5D Mark II - ISO 6400

XPro-1 - ISO 6400

5D Mark III - ISO 6400

Click here to see a full gallery of test images.

Conclusion

I was very unimpressed with the video quality on my limited testing, so I haven’t bothered to include anything here at this time.

Overall I found the XPro-1 to be built like a big X10, but behave like a big X100 which effectively means it’s the worst of both worlds – instead of the best that I had hoped it would be. If you are an X100 owner looking to upgrade, then the only advantage I can see is the interchangeable lenses and a much larger form factor. However, for the price it makes more sense to get a good DSLR for a lot more flexibility.

For the DSLR owner looking to have a smaller form factor, this isn’t it so the X10 is the better choice with albeit a lower image quality level (but still quite good).

Despite its quirks, I thought the net result of the images were very good – especially when compared to that of a Nikon 1 V1 which weren’t even in the same league as this in my opinion.

I’d say this camera is ideal for landscape photographers or outdoor work for those who like a real challenge getting the shot. Perseverance pays off with a nice image and there’s something charming about pulling it off with a camera that is as tricky to use as this quirky rangefinder.

Like the X100 and X10 the optical viewfinder is useless, but like the X100 the hybrid viewfinder is outstanding.

Ordering Info

If you enjoyed this article, then please support this blog by purchasing your X-Pro1 from B&H, Amazon or Adorama using the hyperlinks in this sentence.

For what it’s worth, I found the SnapR 35 to be a perfect case for carrying this camera around during my testing with the 35mm lens attached. 

More Info

You may also enjoy these articles:

You can learn more about the X-Pro1 at Fujifilm’s main site and the X-Pro1 mini-site.

Disclaimer

B&H provided me with a camera and lens loaner for this review which I will return to them next week. I may also get a commission

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by donating a dollar or saving several dollars by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

Click here to learn more about how this blog is funded.

18 comments:

Eric said...

"who like a real challenge getting the shot"

That's an interesting final thought on this camera. I feel just the opposite about it. The simplicity it offers is exactly what I want. That allows the camera to simply get out of my way. It's just me, the view finder, and the subject; just as it should be.

Every single DSLR I've owned (which is a rather long list at this point) has been so full of bells, whistles and junk features they have zapped the fun of photography for me. No, the X-Pro 1 isn't for someone that just wants to point, shoot, and let the camera do all the work; but if you love the craft of photography then I don't know of a DSLR on the planet that can offer what it does.

As far as size goes, it's still much much lighter than even a smaller prosumer DSLR such as a Pentax K5. Plus, once the 28mm pancake lens is available it will be a far slimmer package then any DSLR on the planet.

Peter said...

Ron, I find your reviews very helpful but this one I'm having difficulty with.

It's interesting how reviewers evaluate the Pro-1 - some compare it to Canon 5dmk3/Leica M9 - others compare it to point&shoot/compacts. It seems the Pro-1 is well respected by all for IQ but displeasing because it doesn't meet DSLR/compact/point&shoot expectations. Interestingly, I bought the Pro-1 because it meet expectations that DSLR/compact/point&shoot cameras did not.

What were my needs: a camera with DSLR IQ (APS-C sensor) to carry in a small messenger style bag (with the 3 lens) for my urban wanderings and when travelling with less gear. A rangefinder style feel - less camera between me and my surroundings. For my purpose, the Pro-1 was perfect, the DSLRs being too big and the compact/point&shoots too small.

Not meaning to disagree with your evaluation, just saying I have a different perspective.

Ron Martinsen said...

Peter,

Yes, this review is my opinion and it's okay if some disagree with me.

Given the price point of the X-Pro1 I think it is fair to compare it to DSLR's, and the ones I have on hand are the 5D Mark II (on loan from a friend) and the 5D Mark III.

It's also natural to compare and contrast it to the X100 and x10 as I think owners of those bodies will naturally consider buying this camera.

The X-Pro1 creates nice images and has a charm to it that is hard to quantify, but it is a quirky camera that would be destroyed by reviewers worldwide if it had a Nikon or Canon badge on it and was marketed as a DSLR. Somehow the term rangefinder allows people to put up with more bugs and quirks that are unacceptable on other bodies, and I don't buy into that.

The X10 is proof that Fuji can make a great camera. If Fujifilm were to take this sensor and put it into a camera with the feature set of the X10 (with or without interchangible lenses) then I think they'd have one I'd be happy to recommend. That's what I was hoping for, but that's not what we got. Instead we got a X100 with interchangible lenses with all the dreaded quirks that the X100 had when it first came out. That's unacceptable in my opinion - especially at this price point.

The 35mm lens is a brilliant lens and the sensor is very good, so I look forward to future offerings from Fujifilm. Unfortunately though this unit falls short in my expectations.

With respect to size this unit is much larger than the X100 so I don't really find it much of a size savings. If I want compact I'd go with the x10,a nd if I want quality I'd go for a proper DSLR like a 5D Mark III. However, people are welcome to disagree with me and do as they please, but for those who seek my opinion my advice is that your money is better spent elsewhere.

Of course I didn't have a glowing review of the Nikon 1 V1, yet some swore it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. I just didn't see the point with that camera either, but I can at least say that the X-Pro1 is 1000x better than that camera.

Ron

Peter said...

I'm not qualified to disagree - just putting my 2 cents in - I've pre-ordered a 1dx so that's why I didn't get the 5dmk3. Looking forward to you review of a production 1dx.

BH Tan said...

I just bought my X Pro 1 and 5D MKiii recently and my experience disagree with your review. In fact, I love my XPro 1 better than the 5D MKiii. Granted, the Canon focused much faster and better, full frame, etc, etc. However, the Fuji X Pro 1 is still much smaller and lighter. I was able to take it anywhere for the entire day and don't feel anything due ti it's light weight.

It is a photographer's camera. It's focusing speed is not fast so one will need to think and plan more for this shot. It's image quality is fantastic and the "Fuji" look is great. In travel or street shooting, this will not attract attention as any dSLR. There are a few things I don't like about the camera but I think it is worth every pennies I paid for based on the photographs that I was able to produce with it.

Ron Martinsen said...

Glad you like it BH! Sounds like you made the right choice for your needs.

It's true it draws less attention and if it were $600 with the lens I'd probably have one for it's stealth mode factor. However, I stick with my review comments.

I don't consider it a photographers camera, but rather a tinkerers camera. If you are the type that enjoys rebuilding your computer regularly, 5000 piece 3D puzzles or developing film then I'd say this is something you might enjoy. If you are the type who just wants stuff to work right and well, then the 5d mark iii is the better way to go.

Ron

Jeremy Harris said...

Hi. Thanks for the review. I've been using my XPro 1 for about a week now and still debating whether or not I want to return it. It IS quirky, but fun to shoot with and the images are fantastic. My biggest complaints: the "shutter chirp" with the 35mm lens, and THE FACT that Adobe DOES NOT support Fuji raw files so I cannot edit in PS, Lightroom, or Aperture. (Cannot convert to DNG either). I'm forced to use the crappy software that comes with the camera. That in itself is a reason I may sent it back.

Ron Martinsen said...

Lightroom 4 (probably 4.2) and an ACR update on Photoshop CS6 will likely support it's raw files. It's common of all new camera to have this limitation. In the meantime you can use its own raw processor on the included CD.

Jeremy - you have discovered what I call it's charm in my review. ;-)

Ron

Peter said...

Ron - "don't consider it a photographers camera, but rather a tinkerers camera" - so what else do you think is not a photographers camera, maybe Canon, Nikon, Leica, Sony. You lost me on this.

Peter said...

Ron - "don't consider it a photographers camera, but rather a tinkerers camera" - so what else do you think is not a photographers camera, maybe Canon, Nikon, Leica, Sony. You lost me on this.

Ron Martinsen said...

Hi Peter,

so what else do you think is not a photographers camera, maybe Canon, Nikon, Leica, Sony. You lost me on this.

Simply put, in 2012 a photographer shouldn't have to deal with as many quirks as the X-Pro1. Any camera manufactuer who creates something that is 1990's quirky in 2012 is building something that is more for the tinker than the modern-day photographer.

The X-Pro1 creates nice images, and the 35mm lens is great. As I mention, it has a charm about it and I understand the retro appeal of the Rangerfinder design. All that is goodness. What isn't goodness and what is unacceptable is an AF system that fails more than it works indoors, horrifically slow write times when shooting RAW (which is SO easy to fix - and is inexcusible of a camera at this price point), and a battery life that yeilded exactly 116 shots (mostly jpeg only) before going dead in my testing.

Any camera that does that in this day and age - and you can insert your favorite brand name here - needs to clean house in their engineering department as something is seriously amiss there.

Ron

moshiden said...

Again Peter you present yourself as a horrible and ignorant reviewer. Tell what cameras do not have faults? There is an old saying no camera is perfect.

Sure the XP1 is not as fast at AF compare to a DSLR or p&s. But to me and a lot of others, it is fast enough. But then again it was not meant to be for sports photography or pics of your kids running around, but rather for folks who take their time and appreciate the IQ. My 95mb/s SD card seems to write the files quite quickly. I'll even stretch the fact that the Leica M9 doesn't even have AF yet many consider it the greatest thing since slice bread. And to beat this AF "issue" to death is quite unoriginal. Its not that bad really. I know because I do a lot of indoor photography.

How about I complain that in this day and age, the Canon 5D III is still the size of a boulder which hinders me to take any pictures of street people discretely? You will think I am being ridiculous, right? Again, its different cameras for different purpose.

Peter said...

Moshiden - I'm equally frustrated with Ron's review - he disrespectfully suggested the Pro-1 is for tinkers, not a photographer's camera. I informed him of the recent firmware update - he continued his rant on instead of saying "thanks, I'll check it out".

There's many more favourable reviews of the Pro-1. Check out Zack Aris http://zackarias.com/for-photographers/gear-gadgets/ummm-maybe-ummm-yes-fuji-x-pro-1-review/ and Luminous Landscape http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/.shtml.

Bottom line, Ron's opinion didn't stop me from buying the complete Pro-1 kit.

Your post is addressed to Peter, not Ron - just want to point this out, I (Peter) agree with you.

Ron Martinsen said...

Peter,

I don't have the X-Pro1 anymore so I can't check it out.

Moshiden,

You have your opinion, and I have mine.

Much of what I say was mirrored by others, including the Luminous Landscape review.


What I am most puzzled by is why you feel the need to be rude because I have the courage to state my opinion.

When others like the afore mentioned Zack Arias were paid to test the camera so do you really think in this economy he's going to shoot it down?

More importantly, why do you feel the need to attack and be defensive when you could simply use the photos I've provided to support your desire to own this camera and speak with your wallet.

I don't think anything I've done has stopped you from purchasing and enjoying your X-Pro1.

I don't believe I called it a useless piece of junk that you should avoid at all costs, and I do acknowledge that the photos that came out after multiple failed AF attempts were quite good.

With that said, thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy your X-Pro1.

Steve said...

I think it's courageous to put out a blog, so kudos to you for that. On the other hand, while they are your opinion, and a blog should be taken as that, there's a few areas where from my personal experience with the XPro 1 think you've misapprehended a few areas.

It's not cheap, and it's not great value, but an entire system (body + 3 lenses) is just a little more than a Canon 5dMkIII body only. If you were to equip a Canon system with the equivalent lens kit (in L glass), you're probably looking at close to twice as much money. I don't think that represents particularly good value either.

In terms of focus speed in low light, I've found that you need to pick a contrasting area, and it locks on perfectly fine if the AF assist light is on. I had a Canon 1d -- and it wasn't really all that much faster.

This is not a DSLR, so it's a totally different use than what a DSLR is for, and offers a very different way of gathering images. I think it's difficult to judge the two on the same terms -- it's kind of like judging an Audi sedan against a Porsche. Different cars, different purposes. Same deal here.

The fixed prime lenses are fixed prime lenses with large apertures which have numerous benefits. Lower ISOs, shallower depth of field etc. There is a roadmap out there, that Fuji has said is reasonably accurate, and it includes zooms, which will mandate the use of the EVF. A rangefinder type experience is different than and EVF and different than that of a reflex viewfinder, and different than that of a view screen. For me, I wanted fast primes, and Fuji is about the only manufacturer who is making this remarkably unique offer. A rangefinderesque camera, with AF and fast primes, with an EVF. Nothing quite like it.

I think if you look at your own images that you've shot with the camera, you've laid it out really well. They're beautiful images -- and they're straight out of the camera. The blurry ones of the child coming down the slide -- well, that's what you have a DSLR for.

In terms of 'tricky' to use -- try using a Canon 1D series camera. More menus, settings and options than any other piece of technology that I use (save for debugging our Windows network and PCs).

In the end, I'm trying to give a more balanced perspective on what the XPro1 really is all about, and suggesting it's not quite as disappointing as your review sets it out to be. It does, reasonably well, what it set out to do. There will be the on-going firmware updates (and that's nothing new in the world of technology). Hopefully, you'll sell more XPro1s off your site through links.....

Ed. Dickau said...

I have worked with the X PRO for a month now and absolutely love it. I have used Nikon adapted glass as well as Voigtlander in addition to the three Fuji lenses. Equipped with a -3 Zeiss Diopter for these aging eyes all works well including the recent 4 foot by 6 foot file it has produced...yes that large and sharp.
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-sMzS4Y83qMA/T-bvu54JAUI/AAAAAAAAdjU/p_T5CEUbbR8/s1600/48+X+72+INCHES+FUJI+35MM+FULL+SCALE+TEST+72+DPI.jpg

Ron Martinsen said...

Ed,

Yes, outdoors in good light it can produce excellent shots. I was very pleased with the XPro 1 from that standpoint.

Ron

JOHN said...

Hi Ron,

Thanks for the review, interesting reading. I was sent the full kit by Fujifilm South Africa (not being paid by them!) to give them feedback, so I can relate to some of the issues you had with the camera, in particular the battery life, af and in particular the continuous af, which might as well not have been added to the cameras features.

I am a wedding photographing using top of the range Canon gear including the new 5d mk111 you mentioned as my second body.

Despite the issues, which I agree are obvious, especially after shooting with DSLR's everyday, I grew to love the camera. If you approach this system with an open mind and you are willing to figure out the best way to use it to suit the situation, you can overcome the obstacles and benefit from the awesome IQ. After shooting a 14 / 15 hour wedding, the last thing you want to do is pick up your bulky DSLR the next day when you head out somewhere interesting with your family and friends. With this camera I am not missing those potential shots you are constantly seeing throughout the day. The camera does not stand out or draw attention and in some way inspires one to work for a great photos. The out of camera jpegs are better then any camera I have ever used. I don't feel that the more shots I take will just end up in more work for myself with editing. I shot in RAW+fine and I always knew even if you do nothing with the shot in post, the in camera jpeg is awesome. I personally edit over 60 000 photos a year, just incase you are wondering if I was lazy or in the wrong profession.

Giving you an example of what I mean by figuring out the camera to suit your situation. On the camera there is a AE-L / AF-L button below the exposure compensation dial. In the menu you can change the button to be used as just AF-L / Lock, not AE-L (I never use Exposure lock). The shot of the young boy on the swing is perfect example where this feature works very well. Focus the camera on the boy at the point you want to take the photo or if you cannot do this, pull focus somewhere on the same focal plane, like the ground below the point where he swings past, then press the AF-L which automatically locks focus preventing you from refocusing every time you press the shutter button and as long as you remain the same distance and shoot with decent depth of field, you will get the shot every time. This is a quick procedure, and I agree not faster then a DSLR, but very affective.

Over the two weeks I had the camera I had it on my belt clip everyday which I would never have done with my DSLR. I fell in love with photography all over again and am now going to purchase my own, first with the 35mm 1.4, then when I can afford it, the 18mm. Not interested in the 60mm (don't do macro work and the AF is the worst out of the three).

I do not know what it takes to build a camera like this with features not yet seen on any other camera, so it is hard to knock Fuji totally on all issues. Canon blows my mind that in this day and age they cannot correct certain issues that Nikon sorted out a while back, so until there is a comparable system, hard to really judge this system fairly.

One cool advantage of the Hybrid view finder, try and cheek your exposure in full sunlight on the lcd of a DSLR, not easy. Very easy with the XPRO1 view finder, the image plays back in the view finder either straight away or when pressing the playback, awesome. I think thats a first!

First time reader, thanks for the review. apologies for the long comment
Happy shooting,
John