Review: Fuji X Pro 1 for the Architectural Photographer (Part 1)

Started Apr 8, 2012 | Discussions
endus
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Review: Fuji X Pro 1 for the Architectural Photographer (Part 1)
Apr 8, 2012

I took my Fuji X Pro 1 out today for it's first real test run. When I got home and took a look at the files, I was compelled to write a review. Why? First, because I don't really have anything better to do right now. Second, however, I have been waiting for a camera like the Fuji X Pro 1 for a long time. Read that closely...a camera like the Fuji X Pro 1. I have been enthusiastic about this camera since it was announced, but for years before that I was looking for this type of camera. The question was, did the Fuji live up to expectations? Could it succeed where my Panasonic LX3 failed? Could it truly be a 5dMKII substitute when I don't want to lug my (literally) 28 pound 5dmkii rig around?

About me: I am primarily an architectural photographer. I shoot off a tripod almost all the time. I shoot RAW 100% of the time. I have worked with models, done some fashion stuff, I do landscapes on a regular basis...but Architecture is my thing. I have lugged my gigantic 5dMKII rig through many crazy adventures, but I have been looking for a rig I can take when I want to lighten the load a bit. I have shot FD mount stuff on some of my trips to that end, and those shots turned out well. I do prefer digital for color, though, unless I'm shooting Velvia, which doesn't have enough dynamic range for some of what I do. I also like the flexibility of digital (can go B+W or color, can process heavily if I feel like it), so I really wanted a good portable digital that could take extremely high quality pics.

I've also wanted to expand my horizons a bit, maybe do some street shooting, who knows. Being able to sneak the camera into concerts wouldn't hurt either.

Anyway, so I took the camera out for it's first real shoot today. These are my initial impressions.

A few notes on methodology, I forgot my spirit level at home, so I was reliant on the cameras electronic level today. None of the shots here are cropped or leveled or have perspective correction applied. I work hard to frame shots in the camera so I wanted to give this review a sense of what I was able to do with the electronic level and framing shots in the camera. Otherwise, as far as processing goes, after 7 years I recently converted from Capture One + Photoshop to Lightroom + Photoshop. So, these shots are an experiment in what I can do with Lightroom. They're all tweaked in lightroom, some a bit in Photoshop. They're processed til I thought they were done...some more than others.

Oh yea, remember how I said I shoot RAW 100% of the time? These are all JPEGs. I am not installing Fuji's crap software so I shot RAW+JPEG. This means the camera had some SERIOUS hurdles to overcome to impress me.

It was hard for me to get used to this camera physically. Compared to a 5dii with grip, l plate, etc. it feels like a toy. It hardly weighs anything. The construction is amazing , but it was hard for me to take it seriously. It will help when I get a plate and can use my regular tripod, but on the plus side my old cheapo Bogen was able to easily hold the camera.

At no point during today did I feel confident that the camera was really killing it. I mean everything looked OK when I checked the LCD, but I never trust that. The truth would be told when I looked at the files at home. I was nervous because the test shots I took Friday on the way to the coffee shop were kinda "meh" as well. I needed to get out and see how it would do with my bread and butter.

Nonetheless, killing it the camera was.

Most of the criticisms about the camera are true. The aperture blades chatter while you're walking around with the camera, annoying. It's a little quirky overall and the AF works very well, but isn't 100% in every situation. However, manual focus when shooting off a tripod is amazing. I, reluctantly, started using live view on my 5dii for precision focusing and that technique works excellently with this camera. It's very easy to get things tack sharp and the focus point where you want it for shallow DOF shots.

The files from the camera are unbelievable. Unbelievable. I was almost worrying about the Canon Mirrorless and would I want something that natively took my EF glass and.....nope. I don't care. At all. This glass is better.

There's some kickin Cyan fringing in the previous shot that I need to go in and remove, but I figured I would post it like this for you. I bumped the saturation on some of the colors in this too, so it looks worse than it is.

But look: the camera gets a hint of the window frames against the blown out windows. I know, from much experience shooting these kinds of subjects, that this is very very good. You can get some haloing around areas with extreme highlight/shadow differences, but this camera handles it much much better than others do. Wait til RAW support is available and we can really tease the detail out of these files.

See first reply to this post for Part II.
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endus
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Review: Fuji X Pro 1 for the Architectural Photographer (Part 2)
In reply to endus, Apr 8, 2012

OUCH purple fringing on this one. I'll need to correct that. But still. Look at the rest of the file! This was shot at 1.4. Here's a (tad bit over) sharpened 100% crop...

Whoa!

The electronic level works amazingly handheld too, as the next two shots show.

The camera holds highlights well even in jpeg mode.

Killing it. Killing it killing it killing it.

My contacts are dry and I am so used to having to sharpen 5dmkii files that I definitely oversharpened some of these and missed correcting the fringing. You get the point, though. This is most definitely the camera I've been waiting for. Maybe it's not the camera you've been waiting for, but its a camera that is light and portable and capable of delivering excellent excellent results. I care less about nitpicking it's quirks and what I have to get used to than the question of, "Can I finally leave my 5dmkii at home sometimes?" Answer: Yes.

Even with how uncomfortable the camera seemed today, it was still growing on me. Now that I get a hint of what it's really capable of, the quirks start to become endearing rather than something that makes you want to light the camera on fire and throw it off a bridge. It definitely seems to be quirky in ways you can get used to. The menus are well laid out and most of the interface makes sense once you get used to it. The camera does make it easy to get to the adjustments you need. I need to read the manual and really go through it, but I eventually found everything I needed today.

I love the camera. It needs a lot more testing, but now I know one thing: I can get the results out of it that I wanted. I can't wait to shoot it off my real tripod, try out IR on it, try some night shooting, see how the RAW files are, print some pictures, etc. but so far I have no reason for concern. This thing was expensive as hell and I was nervous. It looks like I had no reason to be. It's awesome.
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d e s o l a t e | m e t r o p o l i s
http://www.desolatemetropolis.com
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d e s o l a t e | m e t r o p o l i s
http://www.desolatemetropolis.com

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almostinfocus
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Re: Review: Fuji X Pro 1 for the Architectural Photographer (Part 2)
In reply to endus, Apr 8, 2012

Thanks, that is a very interesting take on the camera and interesting photos. I use my X100 for photos of urban environments for my work--streets and the building/street relationship as well how the buildings address the public as in how the facade offers transparency or a feeling of engagement or safety or whatever. Not art photos, but useful, and the X100 has been great in that the dynamic range and sharpness allow me a lot of latitude in exposure.

I have been thinking of the X-Pro1 as a tool for this as well as a tool to expand my photography, and your review adds a plus to the list. Added a photo from a recent work trip in the Pittsburgh neighborhood in Atlanta, a place with wonderful people and some very real difficulties.

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itairom
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Re: Review: Fuji X Pro 1 for the Architectural Photographer (Part 2)
In reply to endus, Apr 8, 2012

Wonderful writeup and images. Thanks for sharing!

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Bad Pic kev
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Re: Review: Fuji X Pro 1 for the Architectural Photographer (Part 1)
In reply to endus, Apr 8, 2012

pics look clean
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pinned to my wall.
An image of you and of me and we're laughing and loving it all.

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CriticalI
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Re: Review: Fuji X Pro 1 for the Architectural Photographer (Part 1)
In reply to endus, Apr 8, 2012

Great examples.

I think anyone who grew up with manual cameras in the '80s like me finds this camera far less bothersome than others do. The quirks dont get in the way of shooting much if at all, and when I tried the AF is was deadly accurate. Hope the one I ordered is as accurate as the one in the shop.

But the sensor is so darned good I would buy it in a box brownie if I could get images like this.

I think a lot of people will be very disappointed but some people will fall hopelessly in love.
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jpartlo
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Re: Review: Fuji X Pro 1 for the Architectural Photographer (Part 1)
In reply to endus, Apr 8, 2012

hello - thank you for your review of the new fuji. it is a camera that i've been considering but, to be honest, it's difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff in terms of user experience. the principal aim of my photography is the print and so much of what's reported seems to be written by many who use the camera for on line images. i print in sizes anywhere from a4 to a2 and currently use both a canon 5dii and a leica m9. i'm happy enough with the files from both these cameras for printing (the leica's are very nice indeed) but the canon is a heavy beast with the zeiss prime glass i use and the leica i find a bit challenging in handling and focussing (this may be just me getting old). with printing fairly large being the end result would you have a view on the fuji's output? i would much appreciate your opinion.
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jim partlo
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endus
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Re: Review: Fuji X Pro 1 for the Architectural Photographer (Part 1)
In reply to jpartlo, Apr 8, 2012

From what I can tell the files look awesome for print. Print is sort of my requirement too. I don't want to take a great shot and then not be able to print it large because of the gear I was shooting with at the time.

I may actually try and print an image on my printer today...if I do I will report back.
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endus
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Result
In reply to endus, Apr 9, 2012

Printed one of the pictures Sunday. Just did an 8x12 but so far I am extremely impressed. I printed my second shot, which was heavily processed, and it stood up very well. Cannot wait to begin getting raw files together from this camera!

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SeeRoy
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Switch box 100% crop
In reply to endus, Apr 9, 2012

I don't mean it rudely but this crop looks simply dreadful. If I didn't know otherwise I would have said it came from a P&S shot at high ISO.
Roy

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