Without a doubt, Fuji has done a great job with the X lens line, 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 the 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.
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.
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 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.
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 as 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 the 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.
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 the 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, the 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:
When it comes to dynamic range, from what I can tell from the JPEG images, the new X-Trans CMOS sensor seems to deliver good 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.
See the next page for Fuji X-Pro1 ISO performance, along with comparisons to Nikon D800 and Canon 5D Mark III.
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