This is an in-depth review of the Fuji X-Pro1, a highly anticipated mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera. 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.
3) Image Sensor
At the heart of the X-Pro1 sits an 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
I have to praise Fuji engineers for going back and reworking the autofocus system of the Fuji X-Pro1 and fixing most of the issues via firmware updates. And I am happy to report that as of firmware 3.01, the Fuji X-Pro1 is a whole different camera compared to what it used to be. I was so frustrated with the autofocus system, that I practically disliked the camera just because of those issues.
Autofocus speed has improved dramatically and AF accuracy has gotten a world better, even in low light situations. Lola and I shot a wedding a couple of weeks ago and I had a chance to use the X-Pro1 in a low-light, indoors environment. Surprisingly, where my Nikon D800E with the Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G suffered in AF accuracy, the X-Pro1 did not! Now I am not here to say that the AF system on the X-Pro1 is better, because it is clearly not. Autofocus speed is still pretty slow in comparison. However, seems like contrast detect has its own advantages in some situations, as in the example below.
Initially, the camera had a very annoying autofocus problem, where it would hunt for focus each time the shutter button was half-pressed, even if the subject did not move. Fuji worked on this issue quite a bit and I am happy to say that this particular issue is mostly taken care of. If the subject is in perfect focus, the camera might occasionally do a quick readjustment, but it is not anywhere as bad as it used to be. Also, the utterly annoying problem of reacquiring focus after focus was already acquired right after the shutter button was released is also fully taken care of.
The LCD and EVF used to lock up / freeze between focus lock and exposure. Again, that issue is taken care of for the most part. There is still a very slight lag in between, but you will barely notice it.
The AF-C mode is not a chatter madness anymore, but it is still extremely slow and practically unusable for serious subject tracking. Needless to say, I would not want to shoot action sports with this camera and it is really not designed to be a camera for those types of needs anyway.
5) Manual Focus
The initial implementation of manual focus was simply terrible. It is much better now with firmware 3.01, but I am still not very happy with the number of turns I have to make to go from close distance to far and vice versa. I really hoped that Fuji would take care of this issue by increasing the speed of rotations, but the speed issue still remains. Not a big problem for most people out there and might actually be useful for those that need to have the highest amount of focus precision. Fuji could address this particular issue by adding an option to speed up focus rotation by 2x, 3x, etc.
Focus peaking during manual focus operation was added in firmware 2.05, which is certainly a welcome addition. I used it quite a bit while testing lenses and I loved being able to see focus precision while zooming in. Many of us really wanted to see this feature on the X-Pro1 and I am glad that Fuji listened.
6) Fujinon Lenses
As of September, 2013, the Fuji lens line has expanded from the three initially launched lenses to ten. Fuji has done a great job with the lens line in my opinion, first introducing prime lenses and then following up with some zooms later. This basically showed that Fuji’s target market was professionals and enthusiasts that were looking for a serious mirrorless system. I had a pleasure of shooting with all three initially launched lenses and I have recently received every Fuji lens for proper testing. In addition, I have also been shooting with the new Zeiss Touit lenses (a number of newly uploaded images in this review are from the Zeiss lenses). All these lenses will be reviewed individually very soon and I cannot wait to test them all in my Imatest lab. So far, my experience has been very positive on the entire line of Fuji and Zeiss lenses.
7) 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.
8) 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.
9) 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. 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.
10) 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. From that standpoint, the new Fuji X-M1 is better, since it has a dedicated video record button. 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. 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.
In summary, the video features of this camera are rather limited, 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:
12) 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 it looks pretty close to what the D7000 can do. I have been waiting for test results from DxOMark, but they have not released any information on any of the new Fuji mirrorless cameras, probably because of RAW support issues.
13) ISO Performance at low ISOs (ISO 100-800) – JPEG
Some technical information:
- 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.
14) 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.
15) 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.
16) ISO Performance at low ISOs (ISO 100-800) – RAW
Some technical information:
- 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.
17) 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.
18) 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.
Please note that the camera comparisons are only based on image quality, based on RAW files. Also note that all images are down-sampled to the size of the Fuji X-Pro1 sensor.
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.
19) 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.
20) 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…
21) 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
22) 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.
23) 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.
24) 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.
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. But after a few days of active use, I started to realize that it had a few serious problems that should have been addressed before the camera was released to the public. Hence, while I praised the image quality capabilities of the X-Pro1, I pointed out a number of annoying problems that made the X-Pro1 look like an unfinished product.
Unlike Nikon, which unfortunately rarely ever goes back to add features to its existing DSLR cameras via firmware updates, Fuji has taken a very serious approach with the X-Pro1 firmware releases. Since the launch of the camera, we have seen a number of different firmware updates that not only fixed existing issues, but also added new features to the camera. Kudos to Fuji engineers for making this happen, because it made a lot of existing X-Pro1 customers happy and it sent a clear message that Fuji takes care of its customers and is not simply going to leave all the problems on the table, or force its customers to upgrade to the latest model. In a period of 1.5 years, I have watched Fuji put a lot of effort in enhancing the X-Pro1 and making it a much better camera. I am happy to say that Fuji has succeeded for the most part. Yes, there are still some missing bits and pieces (like the ability to customize Auto ISO), but I am still hoping that those features will soon be added to the X-Pro1.
26) Where to buy and availability
B&H is currently selling the Fuji X-Pro1 body only for $1,199.
27) More image samples
All Images Copyright © Nasim Mansurov, All Rights Reserved. Copying or reproduction is not permitted without written permission from the author.
- Build Quality
- Focus Speed and Accuracy
- Image Quality
- High ISO Performance
- Size and Weight
- Metering and Exposure
- Movie Recording Features
- Dynamic Range
Photography Life Overall Rating