The X-Pro1 has a new type of 16 million pixel APS-C size sensor. Most digital cameras use a Bayer filter array this type of filter pattern repeats every 2x2 block of pixels. The problem with having such a tightly repeating pattern is a susceptibility to interference patterns on images that contain subjects with finely repeating patterns such as textiles. These interference patterns are known as moire and to counteract it most cameras use an anti-aliasing filter which slightly softens the image. The X-Pro1 uses a new type of filter array which repeats on a 6x6 block of pixels. This less tightly repeating pattern allows Fuji to do away with the anti-aliasing filter which gives higher pixel level sharpness. The downside of this is it requires more processing power to de-mosaic the picture from raw to a standard format.
The X-Pro1 can shoot HD video but this type of camera is far from ideal for video shooting. Itʼs as if Fuji management said we want it to be able to shoot HD video so the design team, who actually understand the camera, put it on the camera but hid it in the drive modes where most people will never find it. One mode walkers will like the idea of is the auto panorama. In this mode you slowly pan the camera keeping it level and the camera takes a series of pictures and stitches them together. It works very well in clear conditions but can get confused in hazy or cloudy conditions, sometimes misaligning the pictures because of this I tend to stick to my old method of stitching in photoshop. The spirit level in the viewfinder is a great help for taking the shots for stitching.
The X-Pro-1 has a weak IR filter. Adding a R720 filter and using 6400 ISO lets you take hand held infra red pictures.
So we have a new camera system with some neat technological tricks but all the bells and whistles donʼt matter a damn if it handles like a dog or canʼt take sharp images. Luckily this is not the case. The camera has a solid feel though it is a little lighter than it looks probably because it looks like an older heavier film camera. The body with battery and card weighs 450g. While autofocus is not fast it is accurate. Continuous AF is too slow to be useful but as I said earlier this isnʼt a camera for action photography. When using the optical finder you need to take account of parallax on the focus point. The camera can display the position of the focus point at infinity and the closest non-macro focus distance and will display the point it has focused on. This sounds quite complicated but after shooting for a few hours it becomes instinctive.
There are a decent number of direct controls plus a quick menu which gives access to all the settings you are likely to want to change while shooting. The controls are well positioned leaving enough space to grip the camera with gloves on and not accidently pushing buttons. Accidental button pushes are one of my main gripes with most modern camera designs. The only thing I would change on the button layout is the position of the AF point select button. This is directly under the viewfinder in the ideal position to put your finger up your nose while trying to select it.
Fuji launched the camera with 3 lenses a wide 18mm f2 (27mm equiv.) 116g, a standard 35mm f1.4 (53mm equiv.) 187g and a tele 60mm f2.4 macro (90mm equiv.) 215g. They also released a road map for another 3 prime lenses and 3 zoom lenses to be released this year and next. This will give a system range from 12mm to 200mm. It is also possible to use adapters to attach lenses in other fittings but you lose any automatic functions of the camera. The 18mm is a good sharp lens but it is out shined by the 35 and 60mm which are stunningly sharp.
The JPEG engine is the best I have ever shot with, giving pleasing results even under mixed lighting. Iʼm normally a RAW shooter and this is the first camera that has me questioning if I need to shoot RAW. Itʼs just as well that the JPEGs are so good because at the moment RAW support is not all it could be. The camera comes with a version of SilkyPix which you can get good results with but it is such a clunky program I find myself losing the will to live after 5 minutes. Adobe have just introduced support for the X-Pro1 RAW files but there is something a bit odd with the results with fine detail having a mushy look. The only RAW program I can get satisfactory results from without slashing my wrists is a beta version of RPP, a mac only shareware RAW processor. Having said that Iʼve yet to take a picture that I can significantly improve on the JPEG image. Iʼm sure the RAW support will improve and the current problems are just because it is a new type of sensor.
As I mentioned earlier the AF is slow but this in keeping with the design of this type of camera. It is designed for a deliberate thoughtful style of photography not for taking quick snaps. Using prime lenses forces you to move to get the picture you want instead of standing still and zooming. Too often in the past Iʼve found myself looking at my pictures at home and realising that if Iʼd moved myself instead of zooming the composition would have been better. Of course this is due to unthinking laziness on my part but the X-Pro1 forces you to work that bit harder and think that bit more which I find rewards me with better compositions and a more pleasurable experience. I also find the optical viewfinder gives less of a feeling of isolation from the subject. You feel more engaged with your subject. Iʼm not sure whether this is because you are looking directly at your subject rather than at a screen or because you can see a larger area than just the picture but it just feels different. Coming from an SLR, if you have never used a rangefinder style camera before, there is quite a steep learning curve. You have to remember about parallax of the focus point, that whatʼs inside the framing lines is the picture not everything you can see and you have to remember to take the lens cap off because you can see through the viewfinder with it on, my first shot with an X-Pro1 was a 30 second exposure of the inside of the lens cap. However if you persevere you will be rewarded with great results and a pleasurable shooting experience. As I said earlier the X-Pro1 isnʼt a camera for everyone but for great quality landscapes, portraits and street photography in a lightweight package itʼs well worth considering.
In January when Fuji announced the X-Pro1 I had a feeling that it might be the camera for me. My favorite camera from the days of film was the Contax G2 and the X-Pro1 looked to be as near as anyone had got to a digital version of it.
Firstly itʼs worthwhile saying what the X-Pro1 isnʼt. Itʼs not an SLR. It doesnʼt handle like an SLR and is nowhere near as fast to use. If you want to take sports or action photos the X- Pro1 is not the camera for you. Technically it isnʼt a rangefinder camera either, it doesnʼt have a rangefinder, but it is a rangefinder style of camera. There are dials for shutter speed and aperture setting and it very much looks like a traditional rangefinder film camera but looks can be deceptive. Behind the traditional looks is a camera with some sophisticated modern technology.
The viewfinder is a hybrid optical/electronic finder which can overlay information on the optical view. The information displayed is customizable with 15 different options. As well as frame lines this can include exposure information, histogram and spirit level. One problem with non SLR cameras is parallax because you are not looking through the lens what you see through the viewfinder isnʼt exactly what you are taking. The framing lines in the X-Pro1 are parallax corrected, they move when you focus on your subject to compensate. The framing lines are a tad conservative showing a little less than the camera takes. This isnʼt a problem once you are used to it and is better than having it the other way round where you think you have something in your picture and itʼs not there. When you need more accurate framing or if doing macro shots the viewfinder can also be an electronic finder giving a 100% view direct from the sensor. Having the hybrid viewfinder also allows you to review pictures and set menu items without taking the camera from your eye. The other finder option is to use the 3 inch LCD screen on the back of the camera as you would with a compact.