I had an opportunity to work closely with the Fuji X-Pro1 and the new XF lenses for over a month in various environments and I have been intentionally delaying this review for one major reason – RAW support from Adobe for the Fuji X-Pro1 became available very late, at the end of May 2012. I installed Silkypix software that supports Fuji X-Pro1 RAW files, but I ended up removing it from my computer almost immediately. I certainly did not feel like learning to use another image editing tool just because of no support from Adobe. I don’t know what took Adobe and Fuji this long to provide RAW support, but it was certainly a very frustrating experience for many Fuji X-Pro1 users and owners.
I have a love and hate relationship with the Fuji X-Pro1, which is unfortunate, because this could be such a phenomenal camera. On one side, the camera is compact, lightweight and produces stunning images. On the other hand, its autofocus system is terrible, manual focus is a pain and there are plenty of bugs and other issues. Similar to my experience with the X100, except the X100 had many of its issues addressed via firmware updates later on. I have no idea if Fuji is planning to make the X-Pro1 better the same way with firmware updates or not. Time will tell.
1) Fujifilm X-Pro1 Specifications
Main Features and Specifications:
- Sensor: 16.3 MP (1.5x crop factor), 4.8µ pixel size
- Sensor Size: 23.6 x 15.6mm
- Resolution: 4896 x 3264
- Native ISO Sensitivity: 200-6,400
- Boost Low ISO Sensitivity: 100
- Boost High ISO Sensitivity: 12,800-25,600
- Sensor Cleaning System: Yes
- Lens mount: FUJIFILM X mount
- Weather Sealing/Protection: No
- Body Build: Full Magnesium Alloy
- Shutter: Up to 1/4000 and 30 sec exposure
- Shutter Control: Focal Plane Shutter
- Storage: 1x SD slot (SD/SDHC/SDXC compatible)
- Viewfinder Type: Hybrid Multi Viewfinder with 100% coverage in Electronic mode
- Speed: 6 FPS
- Exposure Meter: TTL 256-zones metering
- Built-in Flash: No
- Autofocus: Yes
- Manual Focus: Yes
- LCD Screen: 3 inch diagonal with 1,230,000 dots
- Movie Modes: Full 1080p HD @ 24 fps max
- Movie Exposure Control: Full
- Movie Recording Limit: 29 minutes
- Movie Output: MOV (H.264)
- GPS: No
- Battery Type: NP-W126
- Battery Life: 300 shots, 900 in power save mode
- USB Standard: 2.0
- Weight: 400g (excluding battery)
- Price: $1,699 MSRP body only
A detailed list of camera specifications is available at Fujifilm.com.
2) Camera construction and handling
Similar to high-end DSLRs, the Fuji X-Pro1 is built tough with a full magnesium-alloy frame. The difference though, is that the Fuji X-Pro1 has a thin layer of magnesium alloy, making the camera very lightweight when compared to a DSLR. As a comparison, the Nikon D800 weighs 890 grams, while the X-Pro1 weighs more than half less at just 400 grams. While the camera is not designed to be weather-proof, I used it in very rainy conditions during my visit to London and the camera handled humidity and light continuous rain without any problems.
Handling-wise, I find the Fuji X-Pro1 to be great. The camera feels just right in hands and the lightweight Fuji lenses make the system very suitable for taking the camera everywhere you go. In my trip to UK, I decided to take the Nikon D800 with the 14-24mm and 24-70mm lenses, along with the Fuji X-Pro1 with 18mm and 35mm lenses. I came back with a lot more pictures with the Fuji X-Pro1, because I just did not feel like lugging around with a heavy DSLR and two lenses in a camera bag. The Fujinon 35mm f/1.4 lens was pretty much glued to the X-Pro1 body, hanging off my neck, while the 18mm lens comfortably sat in my jacket pocket. When I needed to go wider than 35mm, I would swap lenses and shoot. Can’t quite do that with the heavy D800. Even the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G prime feels much bulkier and heavier in comparison…
The camera exposure controls are superb. If you have used a DSLR before and never touched a rangefinder, you might find yourself looking for a way to switch the camera mode from Auto/Program to Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority or Manual. Unlike a modern DSLR, there is no camera mode switch. And just to be clear, the Fuji X-Pro1 is NOT a rangerfinder – it only feels like one because of its hybrid viewfinder, retro design and rangerfinder-like controls. Here is how the camera looks from the top:
To change the camera to Shutter Priority, you simply rotate the top shutter speed dial located right next to the flash hotshoe (with a bunch of numbers going from “A” to 4000) to a desired shutter speed, while keeping the lens aperture ring at “A”. To change the camera to Aperture Priority, you leave the top shutter dial at “A”, while rotating the aperture ring to an aperture of your choice. To change the camera to Manual Mode, you pick whatever aperture you want on the lens and pick whatever shutter speed you want on the camera. Super simple and very intuitive, just like on older rangefinders. The only downside is that you cannot go in 1/3 increments when changing the shutter speed – there is simply not enough space to fit so many numbers on the rotary dial. In Aperture Priority mode, however, you can use the exposure compensation dial to fine-tune your exposure in 1/3 increments.
In general, the layout and design of the back of the camera is good, but I do have a couple of complaints. Here is how it looks:
The two main complaints for me are:
- AF focus point is changed by pressing the “AF” button that is inconveniently located to the left bottom of the LCD. I constantly move the AF focus point when shooting, so this button should be elsewhere, or should be eliminated (see the next point below).
- Why is the up arrow button (to the right of the LCD) dedicated to Macro feature? The arrow navigation buttons should be for changing the AF focus point, just like on Nikon DSLRs. I very much hope Fuji will make such choice available via a firmware update – it should not be that hard to implement this button change. And if buttons change the focus point, it would be great if the “AF” button could become a programmable function button.
Operating the camera and navigating the menu system is a breeze, except when dealing with some design issues and nasty bugs. Here is a list of issues I have found so far:
- The On/Off switch problem. In some cases, the on/off switch does not work. I have had a few cases when I would turn the camera on and it would do absolutely nothing. The only thing you can do is move the switch to “Off” position and try again and then it works. I don’t know why this happens, but it is certainly annoying.
- The battery insertion issue. Why does not Fuji learn from its prior mistakes? The battery on the X100 can be inserted in a wrong way and the Fuji X-Pro1 has exactly the same problem. All Fuji needs to do is shape the battery slightly differently on one side and the problem is solved.
- RAW shooting at boosted ISO levels. Another X100 problem that never got addressed – why doesn’t Fuji allow shooting RAW at boosted ISO levels such as ISO 100, 12,800 and 25,600?
- SD card writing problems. The Fuji X-Pro1 seems to have a problem working with some SD cards, just like the D800. I have two SanDisk Extreme Pro 8GB SDHC Class 10 (45 MB/sec) cards and both of them have severe writing issues when using the Fuji X-Pro1. Sometimes it takes forever for an image to finish writing from the memory buffer into the card. If I hit the play button the camera goes into a freeze mode with a rotating square and just sits like that for a few minutes. Turning the camera off does not do anything and the only two things you can do is either wait, or take the battery out and insert it back. Fuji seems to be using the same SD module as the D800, since both have the same problem with these cards.
- Tripod mount placement. This issue is rather annoying, because the tripod mount socket is located off the center of the camera close to the battery/card compartment, making it painful to remove the card or battery while the camera is mounted. I use the Arca-Swiss quick release system and using a generic plate would keep the camera way off center. Hopefully a good custom plate from folks at Really Right Stuff will take care of this issue.
- Auto ISO feature does not allow setting a minimum shutter speed. I understand this to be absent from point and shoot cameras, but for a camera worth more than $1500, ability to set minimum shutter speed should be there. Even the X100 can do this. Also, why doesn’t the camera allow to use Auto ISO at ISO 6400 and even ISO 12,800? High ISO noise performance is excellent, so the option should be there.
- Bad battery life indicator. The battery life indicator on the camera is practically useless. I was happily shooting in London early morning with the battery indicator showing a “full” charge. Just after 10 or so shots, the camera went from completely full to blinking red “empty”. Why should I have to keep track of when I charged the battery and count the number of images that I captured? This is a really bad bug that needs to be addressed ASAP.
- “Q” button issue. Pressing the “Q” button on the back of the camera while viewing through the OVF/EVF shows on the LCD screen instead of the EVF.
- No option for different magnification levels when zooming in. A simple fix would be to allow using the zoom in/out buttons on the back of the camera to switch between different zoom magnification levels.
- Firmware updates wipe out all camera settings. Whenever you apply a firmware update, whether that is to the camera body or a lens, it wipes out all camera settings.
- AF issues. The Fuji X-Pro1 has a list of AF issues – see the “Autofocus” part of this review (along with the pain of using manual focus).
On the positive note, thanks to the recent firmware (version 1.01), the “aperture chatter” issue has been addressed, which was very annoying when operating the camera.
Just one more rant. The Fuji X-Pro1 has some great features like movie recording and panorama capture. But why doesn’t it have a simple intervalometer? The much cheaper Nikon 1 V1 has one, so why can’t Fuji provide it? Again, this is something that can be done via a firmware update.
3) Camera Sensor
At the heart of the X-Pro1 sits a brand new X-Trans CMOS sensor technology from Fuji. While traditional sensors with a repeating bayer-pattern color filter array exhibit moire problems and hence need an anti-aliasing filter to reduce moire by essentially blurring the image, the X-Trans CMOS sensor has a new color filter array that has a more random pattern that does not cause moire to occur in first place. Hence, an anti-aliasing filter is not necessary, which in turn translates to sharper, more detailed images.
Here is an illustration of a traditional bayer pattern color filter array compared to the new Fuji color filter array:
Top image: 1) Lens, 2) Sensor, 3) Optical low-pass filter.
Bottom image: 1) Lens, 2) Sensor, 3) Natural random arrangement of the fine grains of silver halide in film.
As you can see, the difference between the two is quite big.
Fuji says that their sensor not only delivers sharper images due to the lack of an anti-aliasing filter, but also has better color reproduction. Does the new X-Trans CMOS sensor work as advertised? It certainly does, in my opinion. The amount of detail from the camera when using the Fujinon 35mm and 60mm lenses (more on lenses below) is impressive when looking at images at 100%. And as I have already written before, the colors from the Fuji are simply outstanding. As a long time digital Nikon shooter, I am very impressed by what the X-Pro1 does with the colors. Not only does the camera produce beautiful colors, but Fuji clearly knows how to process skin tones – something Nikon is historically not very good at. This is quite evident even when looking at JPEG images straight out of the camera.
The X-Trans CMOS sensor with a new color filter is a great innovation. Sadly, most digital camera manufacturers today, including Nikon and Canon, still rely on the bayer pattern that was invented back in 1976 in Kodak labs. With all the new ultra high resolution sensors coming out, I believe manufacturers need to start adopting such innovations to get rid of the outdated anti-aliasing/blur filter.
4) Autofocus Performance and Accuracy
Here comes trouble. Fuji fans, get your rotten tomatoes ready, because you will probably want to use them after reading the next sentence. The autofocus system on the Fuji X-Pro1 sucks. Those who think otherwise, please give Nikon 1 V1 a try and you will see what I mean. Seriously, after all that trouble with the X100, I really hoped that Fuji engineers would do something special with the AF system on the X-Pro1. From what I can tell, looks like the Fuji X-Pro1 was developed around the same time as the X100. So many issues from the X100 migrated over to the X-Pro1…even the ones that were fixed via firmware updates!
Here is a list of compiled AF issues I have so far:
- AF is slow and accuracy is terrible in low-light.
- In many cases, the camera takes too long to acquire focus in AF-S (single) mode.
- When re-acquiring focus, the camera will force the lens to start over and hunt for focus, even if the subject/object did not move at all.
- After focus is successfully acquired, firing the shutter while continuing to half-press the shutter causes the camera to reacquire focus again.
- LCD and EVF lock up / freeze between focus lock and exposure. The lag makes it difficult to photograph anything that moves. Surprisingly, this even happens when shooting in manual focus.
- The AF-C (continuous tracking) mode is pretty much useless, since only the center focus point can be used for tracking subjects. AF-C should be no different than AF-S in terms of focus points.
And a couple of rants on manual focus:
- Focus ring is terribly slow – so many rotations are needed to get from far to close and vice versa. Since manual focus happens through the camera, there should be an option to speed up manual focus for each ring rotation. Perhaps some camera setting that allows doubling or tripling the speed of focus change.
- I am spoiled by the focus peaking feature on the Sony NEX cameras. Fuji should incorporate focus peaking to manual focus mode.
I tried photographing moving people and I was very disappointed with both AF-S and AF-C modes. AF-S obviously does not keep track of movement and by the time it acquires focus, the subject is already out of the focus zone. AF-C tracking with only one center focus point is too slow and unreliable. Take a look at this image that I captured in AF-C mode:
I tracked that guy with the center focus point for a while before firing the shutter (using the 35mm f/1.4 lens at f/2.8). As you can see, he is completely out of focus.
In short, forget about using this camera for anything that moves. While there is a known technique for manual focus lenses to pre-focus and then shoot from the same distance every time, I will to leave that with the Leica/Zeiss guys. This is a Fuji, and it has autofocus for a reason!
5) Fujinon Lenses
Let’s talk about the 3 Fujinon lenses that were released with the X-Pro1 – Fujinon 18mm f/2.0 XF R, Fujinon 35mm f/1.4 XF R and Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 XF Macro. It is interesting that Fuji only released prime lenses with the X-Pro1. This is certainly a welcome move for most pros out there and something I wish Nikon and Sony did with their mirrorless camera releases as well. Having plenty of zoom choices is good, but give us useful primes like 35mm f/1.4 first please! While I will be posting separate reviews of each of these lenses, here is a summary of what I think about them, individually.
- The Fujinon 18mm f/2 is my least favorite out of the three due to its focal length and distortion, but it has its uses when a wide angle perspective is needed. When Adobe releases support for the Fuji X-Pro1 and its lenses, you will be able to fix distortion with a single click within the Lens Correction module. As for optics, its center performance is great, but the corners are rather weak, which is quite normal for a wide-angle lens.
- The Fujinon 35mm f/1.4 is a must-have for any X-Pro1 owner. I personally did not want to take it off the camera, because the focal point is just right, optics are phenomenal and the lens produces very colorful images with beautiful, creamy bokeh. It is insanely sharp from center to edge, even at f/1.4. As I have already said before, the 35mm focal length on a 1.5x crop factor sensor is just right.
- The Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 Macro is an insanely sharp lens from center to corner. It is excellent for macro and portraiture work, because it also renders beautiful bokeh when shooting at large apertures. With a lens hood attached it is the longest of the three and the heftiest.
In summary, all three lenses are superb, but if I wanted to pick one lens for the X-Pro1, it would certainly be the 35mm f/1.4.
What about lens handling and ergonomics? All three are very lightweight and compact for what they do, however, I do have a couple of notes/complaints:
- All lenses are fully electronic and there are no manual controls (except for the aperture ring). You cannot even force the lens to extend/collapse its barrel when the camera is off.
- Lens caps are designed badly, especially the rubber ones that attach to metal hoods. I lost mine within a week, because it does not stay on.
- None of the lenses, including the 60mm f/2.4 Macro are image-stabilized.
These are not major issues, but still worth noting. I believe the manual focus ring issue that I mentioned in this review can be addressed by a firmware fix, unless it is physically impossible due to the way the motor works within each lens…
6) Hybrid Viewfinder
The Fuji X-Pro1 has a similar hybrid optical (OVF) / electronic (EVF) viewfinder as the Fuji X100 with one difference – it is designed for two different magnification levels (“wide” and “standard”) depending on what lens is mounted on the camera. Switching between the OVF and EVF is done through the switch on the front of the camera, as illustrated in the below image:
In OVF mode (which is basically you looking through the viewfinder glass), the viewfinder has a bright white overlay that shows the approximate boundaries of the lens, along with some other useful exposure information. I loved this in the X100 and I also like it on the X-Pro1, although the shown boundaries are far from accurate and they sometimes jump from one place to another when half-pressing the shutter. Switching to EVF mode shows what the sensor sees through the lens, so the framing is fully accurate and more information is available to be displayed, including the histogram. The EVF is good, but not as good as the super high-resolution EVF on the Sony NEX-7 camera.
When a short focal length lens is attached to the camera, such as the Fujinon 18mm f/2, the OVF operates in its “wide” mode (0.37x magnification). When longer focal length lenses are attached, the camera automatically switches to “standard” (0.60x magnification), which shows the subject closer, making it much easier to compose your shot. Here is how the magnification levels work:
As with other mirrorless cameras with viewfinders, the camera switches from LCD to EVF when you look through the viewfinder. I really like this clever design of the hybrid viewfinder.
7) Metering and Exposure
While the Fuji X-Pro1 does not have a sophisticated meter as the latest generation Nikon and Canon cameras, it actually works surprisingly well in most situations. The camera does have a tendency to overexpose and underexpose in unusual lighting situations, but that happens even with advanced DSLRs, so it is not anything unusual. Gladly, the exposure compensation dial is right there on the top of the camera, so altering the exposure is a very straightforward process.
If you are a Nikon shooter, you will notice an odd behavior on the Fuji, similar to what Sony cameras do as well – when the shutter is half-pressed, metering gets locked by the camera. Trying to rotate the aperture on the lens or moving the exposure compensation dial will do nothing and the exposure will remain locked. The only thing you can do is release the shutter, then adjust your exposure, then half-press again to get a different meter reading. On Nikon DSLRs, once you half-press the shutter, you can still continue to adjust the exposure and the meter will continue to adjust automatically. This is not a big problem for me, since I do not mind releasing the shutter and half-pressing it again, but it might annoy others that are used to the Nikon way of things.
8) Shooting Speed (FPS) and Battery Life
The Fuji X-Pro1 is a pretty fast camera that can shoot at 6 frames per second. The good news is that when the camera is shot in burst mode, the memory card write process does not freeze the camera like it does with the X100. If you want fast writes, make sure to get a really fast SD card. I used some 45 MB/sec class 10 SD cards and there was definitely noticeable difference between them and SanDisk Extreme Pro 95 MB/sec cards. Also, as I have noted already, some cards like the older SanDisk Extreme Pro SDHC (45 MB/sec) have compatibility problems with the X-Pro1, where the writing speeds can be extremely slow and frustrating and the camera becomes inoperable when trying to play an image or turn it off. When shooting in bursts, Fine JPEG images will shoot approximately 16-18 images before the buffer gets full. It then takes approximately 10 seconds for buffer to clear out and memory writes complete. If you shoot in RAW, the buffer will fill up at about 12-14 images and takes good 20+ seconds to clear out. These numbers are based on approximate calculations using the fastest SanDisk Extreme Pro SDHC 95 MB/sec cards. Slower cards will take even longer to empty the camera buffer.
In terms of battery life, the X-Pro1 specs state 300 shots before the battery runs out, which is in line with other mirrorless cameras. However, there is one major problem as I have also noted above in this review – the battery life indicator in the camera is basically useless. It can go from solid full to empty in no time, so until a firmware fix comes out, get in the habit of charging your battery often and do not rely on this indicator.
9) Video / Movie Recording
It seems like all modern digital cameras are coming out with movie recording options and the Fuji X-Pro1 is not an exception. It can record either 720p or 1080p high-definition video at 24 fps with stereo sound and offers some control of exposure before recording (not during). Unlike DSLRs that have to have their mirrors flipped up, which limits viewing of video recording only on the camera LCD, the Fuji X-Pro1 can display recorded video both on its rear LCD and inside the hybrid viewfinder. You can choose a desired aperture, adjust exposure compensation and a few other camera settings, but you cannot adjust the shutter speed and ISO – those are chosen automatically by the camera based on the camera meter reading. There is also no external mic connectivity, so using an external audio recorder is not an option (unless it is done separately and then manually mixed later). Because there is no dedicated button or switch for recording videos, you have to go into the camera menu and change the drive mode from stills to movie and vice versa. In addition, there is no support for capturing images while recording a video. The really slow manual focus adjustment through lenses is frustrating when recording anything that moves relatively fast. I do not understand why the camera stops recording video when the shutter button is half-pressed. Half-pressing the shutter button should force the camera to reacquire focus, not to stop recording a video. Hopefully Fuji will also address this issue in future firmware updates, since I find it rather annoying. Lastly, subject tracking in AF-C (continuous) mode is also a source of frustration, not only because of a single center focus point, but also because tracking is very slow and inaccurate.
In summary, the video features of this camera are rather limited and buggy, designed for occasional capture of video, not anything serious.
Like most top-of-the-line professional DSLRs, the Fuji X-Pro1 does not come with a built-in flash. However, similar to the X100, the X-Pro1 comes with a standard size hotshoe that can be used with Fuji’s flashes such as EF-20, EF-X20, EF-42 and third party flashes and radio triggers such as PocketWizard Plus III. In addition, there is a sync port on the left side of the camera, which allows you to hook up any strobe with a sync cable directly. This all means that the Fuji X-Pro1 is friendly with pretty much any professional studio strobe. Bear in mind that when using flashes, flash sync speed is limited to 1/180 of a second.
For me, having a standard hotshoe is a big plus, since I work in studio environments quite a bit. Here are some sample images taken in a studio with the X-Pro1:
11) Dynamic Range
When it comes to dynamic range, from what I can tell from the JPEG images, the new X-Trans CMOS sensor seems to deliver great dynamic range in photographs at even high ISO levels. It is no Nikon D800, but from what I can tell, it looks pretty close to what the D7000 can do. I have not performed any scientific tests yet and it seems like folks at DxOMark have not performed their tests either, because RAW support was not available for Adobe products for a long time.
See the next page for Fuji X-Pro1 ISO performance, along with comparisons to Nikon D800 and Canon 5D Mark III.
12) ISO Performance at low ISOs (ISO 100-800) – JPEG
Some technical junk:
- White Balance: As Shot
- EXIF information is preserved in the images
- Focusing was performed through Live-View Contrast Detect
- Long exposure NR: Off
- High ISO NR: Off
- Image Format: JPEG
- Imported images into Lightroom 4 and normalized to 16.3 MP resolution
- All images shot in JPEG
- Lightroom export: sRGB JPEG Quality 80
Here is the full image, showing which area of the image I cropped below:
Both are very clean, but the boosted ISO 100 looks much more overexposed when compared to ISO 200 for some reason. I would avoid using ISO 100 on the X-Pro1 for this reason.
JPEG output on ISO levels 400 and 800 looks as clean as ISO 200.
13) High ISO Performance (ISO 1600-6400) – JPEG
High ISO performance is a very important measure of sensor quality for low-light photography. Here is how the Fuji X-Pro1 performs at high ISO levels between ISO 1600 and 6400:
Again, going from ISO 800 to ISO 1600 practically does not add any noise to the image, even in the shadows. ISO 3200, on the other hand, adds a little bit of noise and here we can see the effect of noise reduction applied by the camera on JPEG images – clarity is slightly reduced as a result.
At ISO 6400 some details get washed away and we are starting to see some artifacts here and there. Still, the performance at ISO 6400 is excellent. Whatever Fuji does with its JPEG processing is very impressive.
14) High ISO Performance “Boost” (ISO 12800-25600) – JPEG
Fuji X-Pro1 has two extra ISO “boost” levels – ISO 12800 and ISO 25600 for extreme situations. Take a look at these:
Boosting ISO to 12800 results in more noise and much more aggressive noise reduction by the camera. Noise is apparent in the shadows (although noise reduction makes it look a little “muddy”) and more artifacts are visible throughout the image. Still ISO 12800 is very usable in my opinion, especially when down-sampled. ISO 25600, on the other hand, looks too muddy and washed for my taste.
15) ISO Performance at low ISOs (ISO 100-800) – RAW
Some technical junk:
- White Balance: As Shot
- EXIF information is preserved in the images
- Focusing was performed through Live-View Contrast Detect
- Long exposure NR: Off
- High ISO NR: Off
- Image Format: RAW
- Imported images into Lightroom 4 and normalized to 16.3 MP resolution
- All images shot in JPEG
- Lightroom export: sRGB JPEG Quality 80
There is a slight difference in noise between ISO 200 and 400 in the shadows, but both look very clean overall.
ISO 800 clearly adds more noise to the image (especially in the shadows), as can be seen from the sample crop above.
16) High ISO Performance (ISO 1600-6400) – RAW
Here is how the Fuji X-Pro1 performs at high ISO levels between ISO 1600 and 6400 in RAW:
As we increase ISO, the amount of noise also increases – ISO 1600 only marginally increases noise over ISO 800. ISO 3200, on the other hand, adds more noticeable noise that looks significantly worse in comparison to ISO 1600 – shadow details are getting lost as a result.
At ISO 6400 the amount of noise doubles throughout the image and much more shadow details are lost. Interestingly, the JPEG version of ISO 3200 and 6400 shots looks much cleaner in comparison. Also, ISO 12800 in JPEG looks better than ISO 6400 in RAW (due to noise reduction applied on JPEGs), except there is a significant amount of detail loss in the shadows.
17) ISO Performance Summary
The Fuji X-Pro1 is capable of excellent image quality at ISO levels all the way to ISO 12800. To date, I have not seen a camera that can render such beautiful, noise-free JPEG images – I am simply amazed by how good the JPEG output of the Fuji X-Pro1 is. Fuji definitely knows how to apply noise reduction on JPEG images. However, the same cannot be said about its RAW files – as you can see from the above crops, the RAW output looks quite disappointing in comparison, with plenty of visible noise at higher ISO levels.
Now let’s take a look at how the Fuji X-Pro1 compares to the Nikon D800 and Canon 5D Mark III. Click the next page of this review.
Compared to Canon 5D Mark III
Let’s see how the Fuji X-Pro1 compares to the new Canon 5D Mark III. Below you will find image samples normalized to 12 MP by down-sampling.
18) Fuji X-Pro1 vs Canon 5D Mark III ISO Comparison at low ISOs
Take a look at the below crops at 200, 400 and 800 (Left: Fuji X-Pro1, Right: Canon 5D Mark III):
As expected, ISO 200 on both cameras looks very clean. However, if you look close enough you will see that the Fuji X-Pro1 RAW image looks cleaner in comparison – and that’s with a down-sampled Canon 5D Mark III image. Considering that the Fuji X-Pro1 is an APS-C sensor (more than twice smaller in size than full-frame), normally there should be a similar amount of noise at low ISOs, especially in the shadows. This difference we are seeing either has to do with Fuji’s new color filter array, or Fuji is “cooking” the RAW files (meaning it is applying some noise reduction on RAW level). Note that both RAW files had exactly the same Lightroom settings – no additional sharpening or noise reduction was applied to the image (all default settings).
A similar thing happens at ISO 400 – the Fuji RAW looks a tad cleaner overall.
And we see it again at ISO 800. The Canon 5D Mark III crop has very fine grain in the shadows, while the Fuji X-Pro1 crop has a smoother feel to it.
19) Fuji X-Pro1 vs Canon 5D Mark III High ISO Comparison
ISO 1600 still looks better on the Fuji X-Pro1.
At ISO 3200 both look somewhat comparable, but the look of the grain is very different. The Fuji X-Pro1 has bigger and smoother grain, while the Canon 5D Mark III has finer and more detailed grain.
Some strange things are starting to happen to the Fuji X-Pro1 at ISO 6400 – the grain pattern looks rather erratic, which at this point I am pretty sure is happening due to noise reduction. Noise levels on both cameras are very comparable…
20) Fuji X-Pro1 vs Canon 5D Mark III Summary
It is hard to understand whether Fuji is applying some kind of noise reduction to its RAW files at all ISO levels, or perhaps the new color filter array is the reason why the RAW files look less grainy. Despite the fact that I down-sampled the Canon 5D Mark III images from 22.3 MP to 16.3 MP and there is a significant difference in sensor size between the two cameras, the Fuji X-Pro1 seems to be producing very impressive images at both JPEG and RAW level. Overall, I find the Fuji X-Pro1 to be superior at low ISOs and about the same above ISO 3200.
Compared to Nikon D800
21) Fuji X-Pro1 vs Nikon D800 ISO Comparison at low ISOs
The Nikon D800 has a much higher resolution 36.3 MP sensor, so heavy down-sampling was applied to the Nikon D800 image. As a result, the Nikon D800 image looks very crisp and practically noise-free compared to the Fuji X-Pro1 at ISO 200. Still, the RAW image from the Fuji X-Pro1 looks a tad cleaner.
ISO 400 looks very similar to ISO 200.
At ISO 800 we see a little finer grain on the D800, but both are still very comparable in terms of noise, even in the shadows.
22) Fuji X-Pro1 vs Nikon D800 High ISO Comparison
At ISO 1600 we see a similar thing as with the 5D Mark III – the Fuji X-Pro1 crops looks a little more “washed”, with very little noise throughout the image.
At ISO 3200 the Fuji X-Pro1 starts to lose plenty of data as can be seen from the shadows. The Nikon D800 retains a lot more detail overall and the grain looks more natural.
And finally, increasing ISO to 6400 again results in larger and smoother grain on the Fuji X-Pro1, while the Nikon D800 is still retaining a lot of shadow details with finer grain. The down-sampling process is clearly advantageous for the D800 in this case.
23) Fuji X-Pro1 vs Nikon D800 Summary
Comparing RAW files between the Fuji X-Pro1 and the Nikon D800 yields very similar results as with the Canon 5D Mark III. Despite having a sensor more than twice smaller in size, the RAW output from the Fuji X-Pro1 looks very clean in comparison to the D800. I prefer the look of the images from the Fuji X-Pro1 at lower ISO levels below ISO 1600, but not above. At higher ISO levels, I find the Nikon D800 images to be better, because they have finer and more natural-looking grain. I am not sure if this kind of output is the result of noise reduction applied to RAW files by Fuji, or if it is the magic of the new color filter array. Whatever it is, it looks great for a small sensor! It is no secret that many RAW files from cameras are “cooked” nowadays – take a look at the Nikon 1 V1, for example. Nikon clearly applies noise reduction at higher ISO levels. As long as manufacturers can do this without losing image detail, who cares if RAW files are treated? The Fuji X-Pro1 engineers clearly developed a great algorithm that can do magic to the RAW files and we can see it from the above comparison. If Fuji released a full-frame sensor with the same noise characteristics as the sensor on the Fuji X-Pro1, it would be a serious challenge for both Nikon and Canon DSLRs in my opinion.
Summary and Image Samples
I got very excited when I read Fuji’s press release about the X-Pro1, because it was clear from the announcement that the camera was specifically targeted at pros and photo enthusiasts that need a high-quality camera that rivals DSLRs in image quality, minus the bulk and weight. With excellent specifications, a beautiful and stylish black retro design, the camera looked like it had a great potential to be my full-time travel companion. Lugging around a heavy DSLR in a backpack is not always practical and I find myself leaving the heavy gear at home more often than I would like. I have been waiting for a great mirrorless camera for a while now and the X-Pro1 looked very promising.
I received the X-Pro1 around the same time when I received the Nikon D800 and the Canon 5D Mark III. To be honest, my interest on the X-Pro1 was so big, that it was the first camera that I unboxed and I initially spent more time with it than the D800 and 5D MK III combined. After a few days of active use, I started to realize that it had a few problems that I would have to get used to… Don’t get me wrong, the Fuji X-Pro1 makes phenomenal pictures. But it has a number of annoying bugs and issues that should have been addressed before the camera was released to the public. Writing this review, I knew that it would look very conflicting. In parts of the review I highly praise the X-Pro1 and in other parts I complain about its annoyances and problems.
I can live with most of its issues, but the slow and unreliable AF are hard to get by. If I only used the X-Pro1 for stationary subjects, landscapes, macro or architecture, I would probably be happy with it. However, I shoot all kinds of stuff, including plenty of indoors photography, so the autofocus part is rather critical for my work. So one either has to live with the X-Pro1 problems, wait and pray that Fuji fixes them sometime in the future with firmware updates (like they did with the Fuji X100), or wait for the Fuji X-Pro2 to come out.
Given how many problems the Fuji X100 had when it was released, it just feels like Fuji released the camera prematurely. Surprisingly, many of the issues from the X100 that have been already addressed via firmware updates, made their way into the X-Pro1. Was Fuji working on the X-Pro1 and the X100 simultaneously?
I had such high hopes for the X-Pro1 – it has such a great potential to be a killer camera. If only it had a more robust AF system similar to the Nikon 1 V1, it would have been “the travel” camera for me…
25) Where to buy and availability
B&H is currently selling the Fuji X-Pro1 body only for $1,699.
26) More image samples
All Images Copyright © Nasim Mansurov, All Rights Reserved. Copying or reproduction is not permitted without written permission from the author.