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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Mouse over to see f/2.8, and mouse out to see f/1.4 - both at ISO 800
f/5.6 @ ISO 400 for 1/350 sec (Aperture Priority +1 EV)
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.
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.
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.
You may also enjoy these articles:
- Fujifilm FinePix X100
- Fujifilm X10 (2011 P&S of the Year)
- BlackRapid SnapR Camera Bag + Sling Strap
- COMPARISON: Nikon 1 V1, Fuji x10, & Canon s100 (plus Fuji x100 and Canon G12 & s95)
- Discount Coupon Code page
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