Fuji X-Pro1 Review

I’ve had my X-Pro1, along with the XF 35mm & 18mm lenses, for a little over a week now. I’ve taken it though the preliminary testing through a full day’s pro shoot (more on that later)… So let’s just get this out of the way: THIS THING ROCKS.

In order to afford this puppy, I sold my bread ‘n butter 5DMKII rendering an entire kit of L-glass useless. I also got rid of my Fuji X100, which left me without an axe. Needless to say, I was quite anxious for the 2+ months between the CES announcement and US release of the X-Pro1.

During this time I read LOTS of foreign reviews, pre-production tests, and bogus reactions from bloggers and forum trolls. Of these reviews the results were generally positive noting the fantastic image quality, amazing high ISO performance, and build quality. Trending negatives were often focused on price, auto/manual focus, and aperture chatter.

When I finally got the cam and lenses (the 60mm is still backordered) I had a list of things I wanted to confirm, debunk, or return the camera. First I had to charge the battery, OK, I cheated here and stuck in the spare I bought to begin testing! But hell, they’re LI-ion not the old Ni ones that actually have a “memory” anyways. But I digress, back to da bidness…

Aperture Chatter: NON-ISSUE
People have been making a lot of noise over a very subtle, insignificant clicking sound in changing lighting conditions. It is impossible to hear outside, and only audible for the shooter in the quietest situations.

Auto-Focus: Fine / Manual Focus: Bad
Like I said earlier, my two previous cameras were the 5DMKII and the X100, so obviously I’m not shooting sports.  I guess I’m just not very demanding of my AF performance, because a lot of folks are nuts about this. I tend to shoot slowly and deliberately. That said, I’m a pro and require professional results, reliability and speed.

The X-Pro1 & 18mm is much faster than the X100, but the 35mm is only slightly faster. The X-Pro1 tends to be about even with my 5DMKII, which was prone to hunt in low light, but is definitely NOT as fast as the 7D.

The X-Pro1 really looses respect when it comes to manual focus. That said, fly-by-wire isn’t the whole problem. The Canon 85mm f/1.2L is fly-by-wire, and that’s one of the best lenses ever made. The X-Pro1 fails because there is no turning speed/focus throw relationship (let alone adjustment). It’s a crap shoot every time you try to use it. Sometimes it takes 5-7 turns, but others a slight turn will make it jump.

I find MF useful only for macro (of stationary subjects) and for minute zone-focus tweaks (major adjustments made with at AF/AE button).

Price: Whatever
People may scoff at this, but it’s true. Who cares what it costs if it: Does the job? Helps make better photos? Gets out of the way while you concentrate? Everyone answers these differently, but for me the X-Pro1 does it all.

ISO Performance: Best Ever!
Much better at 6400 than the 5DMKII… Hands down. Low light? Bring it on, even without a flash!

AUTO ISO has two major flaws: The user needs to be able to set the Minimum Shutter Speed, and it should go up to 6400 instead of just 3200… Listen up Fuji!

Image Quality: Awesome
I am blown away buy the power of this sensor. The files take whatever I throw at them in post. I am no pixel peeping scientist, but I think the AA filter is a thing of the past. I haven’t seen a trace a moiré. I haven’t gotten much of chance to edit RAW files yet. Adobe doesn’t support the X-Pro1 RAW format yet and SilkyPix is garbage…

Ok, enough of the spec nonsense. This camera is great. Its snappy and discrete. Great for shooting events of any kind. People just don’t react to this cam like a DSLR. Most don’t even know its there. A couple people have even thought I was shooting film. Film is cool, but dead, sorry hipsters…

X-Pro1 as A-Camera: Standing up to the Pressure
Last week I shot PAX East for a big-time game developer. I intended to use the 7D and maybe play with the X-Pro1 a bit after I got the shots I really needed. No way, after an hour of using the Canon, I switched to the Fuji and the 7D hung out in the bag (killing my shoulder) for the rest of the day. The X-Pro1 was perfect in the crowds and no one even batted an eye when I stuck it right in there face. I never realized how intimidating the DSLR w/ zoom lens is until I saw people’s [non] reaction to this camera.

I accidentally shot half the day on RAW only (instead of RAW+JPEG) so I was forced to use the Silkypix RAW converter that comes bundled. This could have been horrible, but I just exported the files as uncompressed TIFFs and finished them off in Lightroom, which actually worked well.

When it came time to work with the JPEGs I noticed the red had gone to an overexposed pinkish, fuchsia hue. This must be due to the in-camera JPEG conversion because the reds were red in the RAW converted TIFFs. Anyways, this seems like an easy firmware fix. I have provided an example, but not a great one (sorry). It is very apparent sometimes, but I’m at work and dont have access to my stuff… *SEE UPDATE BELOW*

 

 

Conclusion
I love it, but its not going to cut it on all shoots. I will still be getting a 5DMKIII (when the issues get worked out and when my funds recover). The DSLR is just too fast, too reliable, to versatile to die this easily. Also, the X-Pro1 won’t play nice with zooms and doesn’t have a great flash equivalent to the 580EX, making it hard to use in a photojournalistic way. For weddings I can see it being more appropriate, but again these gigs are usually too important to fool around and the Fuji can slow you down.

But that is EXACTLY what the X-Pro1 is great at: slowing you down to rethink things, and plan it all out instead of just smashing frames at the situation. It’s definitely a niche camera and that’s a good thing. If you are completely happy lugging the DSLR kit around, then great. But it’s nice to just grab a small bag and be done with it without sacrificing quality. My next step is to get a EF-20 flash unit and see what it can do. Maybe then the big boy kit will get even more dusty between big boy gigs.

*UPDATE*

I mentioned originally that I thought the reds were being terrorized in JPEG conversion and that this might be a firmware bug.

Adam, a faithful reader, brought up the fact that I was using ProNegS and suggested trying Standard/Provia. I did a test for all Film Simulation Modes and compared them together and against a RAW file converted (without editing) in SilkyPix…

What I found is that ProNegS does tend to turn your reds a bit pink, BUT Standard/Provia seems to as well (with a bit of additional saturation & contrast). So, I happily retract my claim that there may be a “bug”…

ProNegH seems to be the winner, with Astia in close second. But all-in-all I just hate shooting JPEG and can’t wait for Adobe to release RAW support!

Thanks, Adam for pointing this out.

4 Comments

  1. Marc Weisberg April 13, 2012 at 10:48 pm #

    Just found your site through a Google search. Great review. Really appreciate the time you put into it. Love to see more images, so I’m headed over to your First 24 Hours post.

  2. Adam April 15, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

    The ProNegStd film simulation mode is NOT the standard out-of-camera jpeg conversion mode – Provia is.

    ProNegStd is described (on page 51 of the manual) as “a soft-toned palette. The range of hues available for skin tones is enhanced, making this a good choice for studio portrait photography”. Obviously, the colors will not be accurately reproduced when you use this mode.

    Provia, however, is described as “Standard color reproduction. Suited to a wide range of subjects, from portraits to landscapes”.

    Please check if this red-shift also occurs in Provia mode, not just in the skin-tone-enhancing ProNegStd mode, where it is to be expected… otherwise your readers may be misled into thinking the in-camera JPG processing is wrong.

  3. Adam April 16, 2012 at 8:29 am #

    Thanks for the update Zander, and thanks for the great review, too.

  4. Kris Phan May 4, 2012 at 2:43 am #

    Very nice review, sensei White.Very detailing test shots, too. DPreview should have hired you to shoot their test photos. =P

    The ProNegH reminds me of the old Agfa chrome while the Pro NegS reminds me of the Agfa Color Optima. That teal color on the rim really stands out.

    Love your review, Two thumbs up.

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