Built on the success of the Fuji X100 and aimed at pros and photo enthusiasts that need a lightweight camera alternative to a DSLR with amazing image quality, the Fuji X-Pro1 is the first mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera from Fuji. Along with the X-Pro1, Fuji simultaneously introduced three prime lenses – Fujinon 18mm f/2.0 XF R, Fujinon 35mm f/1.4 XF R and Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 XF Macro, all specifically designed to be used for the new Fuji X mount. In this Fuji X-Pro1 review, I will not only provide detailed information about the camera, but will also try to answer the many questions that we have gotten so far on the camera from our readers, along with comparisons to Nikon and Canon DSLRs.
I had an opportunity to work closely with the Fuji X-Pro1 on two separate occasions – once when the camera initially came out back in 2012 and again in the summer of 2013, after the latest 3.01 firmware update was released. I had a number of complaints about the X-Pro1 in my original review, because the camera was full of bugs and autofocus problems. The latest firmware 3.01 addressed many of those concerns, so I am simply revisiting the same review and re-evaluating the camera based on my latest findings.
I originally stated that I had “a love and hate” relationship with the Fuji X-Pro1, because there were a lot of things I both loved and hated about it. I loved the compactness of the camera, the feel, the looks and the stunning images the camera is capable of taking. What I hated was the unreliable autofocus system, painful manual focus and plenty of other bugs and issues I encountered while evaluating the camera. Since its launch, Fuji has been working hard on addressing most of the concerns via firmware updates and as of today, it is a completely different tool compared to what it was before. Let’s take a look at the camera in more detail.
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 at launch (currently sells for around $1,199)
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 rangefinder – it only feels like one because of its hybrid viewfinder, retro design and rangefinder-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. 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. Lastly, Program mode can be set by setting both the top dial on the camera and the dial on the lens to “A”. 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. However, you can still set the shutter speed to smaller increments by pressing the Left and Right buttons on the back of the camera. In addition, you can use the exposure compensation dial to fine-tune your exposure in 1/3 increments in any of the automated camera modes.
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 the back 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). With the new firmware, it is now possible to move the focus point by pressing the down arrow, so this is no longer too big of an issue.
- 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 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. This is not possible even with firmware 3.01.
Operating the camera and navigating the menu system is a breeze, except when dealing with some design issues. Here is a list of issues I have found so far:
- 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. Although Fuji X-E1 has the same type of battery, it addressed this particular issue on the X-E1 – the battery can no longer be improperly positioned. This should have been done before the camera is released.
- 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?
- 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 and the new X-M1 comes with it by default! This is a simple firmware change and it should have been there long before the X-M1 came out. 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.
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.