Fujifilm X Pro 1 Complete Review

In Photonika 2010, FujiFilm launched FinePix X100, one really retro styled large sensor device. X100 has lots of glitches, but photographer community praised it and it won many praises from critics and photographers. It offered a great photo quality and traditional dial based handling which was truly retro. And with X100 FujiFilm started to get attention from photographers’ elite community.

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While X100 employs some great technology like; hybrid optical and electronic view finder and large sensor, overlay of electronic data over OVF which won it acclaim. After X100 a better upgraded model was eagerly awaited and Fujifilm released X Pro -1

Fujifilm announced it with a price tag of $1800 which is really expensive as you can get a full frame dSLR in just $2000 now a days. It offers 16Mp sensor which is claimed to be at par with full frame sensor dSLRs. Optics is also class leading 35mm f/2.8 Fujinon EF lens and it really is sharpest combinations, may be better than some dSLRs. Other main features are EVF over OVF and a 3” LCD which is bright enough, so that you can view the result in good sunlight as well.

Specifications

  • All New Fujifilm-designed 16 Mega Pixels APS – CX-Trans CMOS sensor (At par with full frame sensor)
  • Innovative color filter array to suppress color moiré, does not need optical  low-pass filter
  • EXR Processor Pro image processor
  • Hybrid optical / electronic viewfinder with Dual-magnification
  • Analogue dials for shutter speed and exposure compensation on top of camera
  • All-new, fully electronic X lens mount
  • 17.7mm flange-to-sensor distance
  • Prime lenses have traditional-style aperture rings (1/3 stop increments) and large manual focus rings
  • Revised rear-panel control layout
  • On-screen ‘Q’ control panel and redesigned tabbed menu system
  • Focal-plane shutter, 1/4000 sec max speed
  • 3.0″ RGBW 1.23M dot LCD

Lens and the Sensor:

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Fuji has developed a new sensor for X series.  The 16MP APS-C ‘X-Trans CMOS’ chip uses a more complex color filter array which results in practical immunity to color moiré. This reduces the requirement of a low pass filter (anti-aliasing filter). It has virtually same pixel size and pixel density as a full frame sensor has. Even though sensor is APS-C; it can outrun Canon EOS 5D Mark II (21Mp full frame sensor), as claimed by Fujifilm on the basis of pixel count.

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X-Pro is equipped with new all-electronic bayonet mount specifically created for it. User can mount lenses with different focal lengths such as 18 mm and 35 mm , which is unique feature in X Pro 1. There are three main lenses as 18mm F2 wide angle, 35mm F1.4 normal, and 60mm F2.4 Macro telephoto (offering 28mm, 50mm and 90mm equivalents respectively). But focus ring and aperture dial is driven by wire when you user automatic mode.

Physical and design:

It is bulky camera with dimensions 139.5 (W) x 81.8 (H) x  42.6 (D) mm  and weight 415 grams. It is certainly not the heaviest camera in the market, but it is really heave when compared to the other CSCs from Nikon and Panasonic and even Sony. You can’t slip it in your pocket. You have to purchase a decent cover in case you want to carry it with you on your vacations.

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X-Pro is basically FinePix X100, but with some refinements. X-Pro 1 comes with interchangeable lens mount, a good and premium body and a relatively nice body design along with a lot of external controls. There is a top plate shutter speed and exposure compensation dial, a back panel rotary focus type setter. Though aperture dial is missing (X100 has an aperture dial as well), but it can be controlled by the aperture ring on the lens. All these settings through dials make it amazingly retro in style, when SLRs has lots of dials. But all the setting can be automatic as well, if you select the PASM mode.  A minimal hand grip is there just enough so that your hand does not slip form the camera. There is a additional grip, which can be purchased from market, which can be attached to camera only with tripod. But that disable the opening of the battery chamber.

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The back of the camera had some solid feel buttons and high quality finish. It has a good LCD, which is clear and render the perfect colors of the picture taken. A four way controller is large, with separated directional keys, a Q button brings the rear screen control panel for variety of photographic functions.

Flash:

There is no inbuilt flash(which should be here) but, External flash which can be mounted on the hot shoe called as EP-X20 is specifically designed for the camera and has a dial on the top for selecting the manual  power output of the flash.

Battery:

The X-Pro1 uses the NP-W126 battery, with a capacity of 8.7Wh. According to Fujifilm the battery’s power depend upon viewfinder use and settings, from 150 to 350 shots with mixed OVF/LCD use. This is more-or-less par for the course for a mirror less camera, but a long way off the stamina of a sem0069-pro SLR. In principle, if you use only OVF you can get as many as 1000 shots.

Performance:

It really start up well, from power off to ready to shoot takes less the 2 seconds which is quite impressive for a CSC camera.

In terms of continuous shooting it goes as high as 6 fps but buffer fills in 19 Jpegs and camera begins to slow down to 2.2 fps, but at RAW format (Fujifilm has its own RAW format) it worked till 10 JPEGs. The leading write time can go as far as 55 seconds which is quite high as a new processor is employed which is supposed to be class leading.

A 49 point Auto focus coves major area of the view finder. AF covers most of the area except edges are not covered under autofocus. Auto Focus is not as fast as you can find in other CSC camera. Specially in front of Nikon V2; it looks like primitive camera when comes to continuous shooting or high speed shooting. This camera is not made for speed photography, but for the portraits and wedding which require creativity. Camera lacks the Tracking AF which is a disappointment.

It dons a Hybrid viewfinder which is taken from the X100, which makes is really helpful to compile picture as EVF with OVF provide 100% frame coverage.

Shutter is not particularly very quiet but it is quieter than dSLRs and Some CSCs as well. It uses a conventional focal plane shutter which is fully able to combine its highest shutter speed with largest aperture.

Photos really stand out as it was expected with its innovative sensor and stellar performance by the optics. Images are really best of class till ISO 1600, and beyond that photos are really good but a bit of noise creeps in. Camera does not have any in house image stabilization.

 The various ‘Film Simulation’ modes allow you to tune the camera’s color output to suit different subjects, and there’s plenty of further fine-tuning on offer. Skin tones have always been a particular strength for Fujifilm, and the two ‘ProNeg’ modes, N and H, offer further, more neutral options for portrait work.

But it has some flaws as well; firstly the user interface is clearly based out of X100 which has flaws and it has inherited those flaws as camera does not open the full aperture in manual mode. And when you press AE-L button (which is AF lock) there is no use of changing the value on dial after that. Camera tend to use lower ISO setting and slower Shutter speed which can cause lots of blurring and this behavior is inherited from its predecessor. Camera does not have any face detection algorithm which helps in determining the correct exposure in difficult lighting condition. It is in fact can be a bit of turn off to many people.

Video:

Video can be captured at Full HD at 24fps which is not class leading. The idea is that video is kind of bonus mode, and it does not have a dedicated movie recording button which is now a days a convention in CSCs. Video are good but clearly needs more innovation. At its best it can compare with Nikon V1 but since camera is targeted to a unique customers a lot more was expected from Fuji in this department.

Conclusion:

X-Pro1 Fujifilm has been built on the platform provided by the X100, and is beginning to look like a very serious contender at the high end of the camera market. In a Serious way, Fujifilm has tried to carve a niche market for it. Its control and focus system make it stand out of the crowd and even from the most recent releases from Sony NEX-7. Though it resembles Leica M9-P($3500) but it costs considerably less than it. Still it is an expensive camera to buy. Though it has class leading image quality and certain operational aspect but, it has its flaws.

All said and done, Still X-Pro 1 is one of the biggest CSC camera and expensive as well. But then the users get a truly stellar performance in terms of still imaging and creative still photography.