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Hybrid (optical/electronic) viewfinder

The X-Pro1's uses a development of Fujifilm's unique hybrid viewfinder (as first seen on the X100), which projects a 'heads-up display' of all shooting functions into the camera's large direct-vision optical viewfinder. It's evolved and refined from the X100's design, and most importantly offers the choice of two magnifications to handle a wider range of lenses. For wideangle lenses the magnification is 0.37x; for 35mm or longer, an additional magnifier slides in to place to give 0.6x magnification.

Below is the view through the X-Pro1's viewfinder using the 35mm lens, with the information display in its more detailed view - roll your mouse over the buttons to switch between optical and electronic modes. The camera can display highly detailed shooting information in both modes, along with a live histogram to help judge exposure, plus configurable gridlines and a virtual horizon to aid composition.

Optical Viewfinder Display Electronic Viewfinder Display

In optical mode a frameline is shown which covers about 90% of the final image at infinity focus, to allow for parallax error and any change in the lens's angle of view on focusing. The overall view through the finder is distinctly wider than the captured area, though, as can be seen by comparing to the EVF view. The 35mm lens's barrel protrudes slightly, but not obtrusively, into the lower right corner of the view. On a bright sunny day the viewfinder overlay can be a little faint, but it's still quite visible.

In this view we've covered the viewfinder front window to obtain a clearer view of the information displayed (and deliberately activated as much of it as possible). There's a whole array of information across the top of the frameline covering secondary settings - focus mode, flash, metering, white balance, film simulation, and dynamic range expansion to the left, plus shots remaining, file quality/size and battery status to the right. You can customize which of this information you want to see in the Set-up menu (and do so for the OVF and EVF independently).

Corrected AF Frame

One feature that's not enabled by default, and we'd recommend turning on the moment you unbox the camera, is what Fujifilm calls 'Corrected AF Frame'. This compensates for the inevitable parallax error between what you see through the viewfinder and what the imaging sensor (and therefore the autofocus system) sees through the lens. It's particularly important if you use the 60mm F2.4 Macro lens.

This is the standard view through the optical finder in detailed view. The active AF point is indicated by the small white rectangle in the middle of the frame. On half-pressing the shutter, the AF point lights up in green to confirm focus, and the detailed information (including the live histogram) disappears to give a less-cluttered display for composition. The frameline shifts right and downwards to correct for parallax error, but if you look closely, the indicated AF point hasn't moved.
The 'Corrected AF Frame' option in the Shooting Menu changes how the AF point is displayed, to compensate for parallax error between the optical viewfinder and the lens. Set it to On... ...and a solid white rectangle indicates the AF point's position at infinity focus, with diagonally-offset brackets for close focus. On a half-press of the shutter, a parallax-corrected AF point is shown in green.

We think it makes sense to enable the Corrected AF Frame all the time, because it can substantially reduce the risk of misfocusing at close distances. For the very best results, though, it still makes sense to switch to the EVF for short-range shooting; the camera will force you to switch over at distances closer then about 0.6m anyway..

Hybrid viewfinder displays

This is the detailed view with the corrected AF frame display turned on. Pressing the 'DISP' button allows you to toggle to a simplified view that shows just basic exposure information, plus the frameline and focus point.
The line across the center of the frame is an electronic level, which goes from blue to green when the camera is level. Here's the EVF view of the same scene (in detailed mode). Much the same information is available, in large white or yellow icons scattered around the screen.
In OVF mode, pressing the Fn button highlights the ISO value, which you can then change using the rear dial, or left/right keys of the 4-way controller. However in EVF mode, pressing Fn brings up this distinctly obtrusive menu instead, which is changed using up/down keys of the 4-way controller.
In manual focus mode, or on half-pressing the shutter to autofocus, the camera displays a red line at the current focus distance along with a white bar indicating the depth of field. This is very conservative indeed (see below). In Program, Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes the live histogram can be used to help judge any exposure compensation you may wish to apply. But in manual mode it stops working properly and always indicates 'correct' exposure, which is positively misleading.
Press the AF button, and you can move the active focus point around the frame using the 4-way controller; press 'OK' to return it to the center. There's a choice of 25 positions in a 5 x 5 grid. When 'Image Disp' is enabled in the Setup menu, the X-Pro1 will switch across to the EVF after taking a picture and show this review image. It has no exposure information at all, let alone a histogram or highlight 'blinkies', making it much less useful than it really should be.

Dual magnification finder: displays with different lenses

As mentioned above the X-Pro1's optical viewfinder offers two magnifications, and the camera automatically selects between them based on the lens in use. However, if for some reason you prefer to use the other viewfinder setting, you can manually switch over by pulling and holding the viewfinder selector lever for a second or two. Here's how the viewfinder works with the three initial lenses.

Here again is the standard view with the 35mm lens, using 0.6x magnification Here's the 35mm using 0.37x magnification, and a smaller frameline to match. Note how the gridlines don't scale to the framelines.
This is the standard view for the 18mm lens, which uses 0.37x magnification. With its hood on, the lens blocks a fair bit of the viewfinder If you manually select 0.6x magnification with the 18mm lens, the camera displays yellow arrows in the corners of the frame to indicate that the image area extends beyond the viewfinder.
This is the standard view for the 60mm Macro, using 0.6x magnification and with the image area represented by a smaller frameline in the center of the finder. Note the large displacement between the infinity and close-range focus brackets. Finally here's the view using the 60mm lens with 0.37x magnification selected. The frameline occupies the central area of the 3x3 grid.

What this shows - perhaps unsurprisingly - is that it normally makes little sense to choose the 'wrong' magnification setting. But equally the option is there if you want it, and we can envisage it being useful in some situations. So it's good to see that Fujifilm has left this under user control.

Overly-conservative depth of field scale

As alluded to above, while the X-Pro1 displays a depth of field scale in the viewfinder, it's very conservative indeed as to the distance range it considers to be in focus. This means, sadly, that it's not at all useful for the common technique of 'zone focusing' - i.e. pre-setting the focus distance and aperture such that subjects across a specific range of distances will appear acceptably sharp, thus eliminating the need to refocus for each shot.

Here's an expanded view of the X-Pro1's depth of field scale using the 35mm lens. At a focus distance of about 2.2 m and an aperture of F8, most depth of field calculators will indicate an in-focus range of 1.7 - 3 m; the X-Pro1 instead shows just 2.1 - 2.4 m.

So what's going on? To understand this, you have to take into account that the concept behind Depth of Field is to determine what will be rendered 'acceptably sharp', and the results are therefore entirely dependent upon what is considered 'acceptable'. The depth of field scales on most manual focus SLR lenses are designed around a sharpness standard that's based upon printing, i.e. objects within the indicated range will look sharp when viewing a print from a 'normal' distance (considered to be roughly equal to the print's diagonal). However, the X-Pro1 instead appears to be designed to indicate what will be sharp at the pixel level on screen - a much more stringent measure of sharpness.

Overall this means that the X-Pro1's depth of field scale is telling you something different to what photographers have become used to seeing. What's more, judging from user comments it's overwhelmingly not what they want to see either. We'd love to see Fujifilm offering a choice here, perhaps allowing users to specify their own preferred standard of sharpness based on use-case scenarios (something like Print / Fine Print / Screen).

For those interested in the mathematical derivation, the X-Pro1 appears to be using a Circle of Confusion of 0.005mm diameter, which is equal to one pixel pitch. In contrast, most depth of field calculators use 0.02mm for APS-C. This means that the X-Pro1 will suggest stopping down about 4 stops further than usual to achieve the same depth of field.

As it happens, there's a deeper conceptual problem with Fujifilm's choice of 0.005mm for the circle of confusion, and this is the softening effect of diffraction. Once you stop down beyond F4, the diffraction blur circle starts to exceed the circle of confusion, and by F8 - an entirely sensible aperture to use on the X-Pro1 - it's double the diameter. In effect, this means that no part of the image will quite reach the standard of sharpness that Fujifilm has chosen to use.

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Comments

Total comments: 3
optofonik
By optofonik (4 months ago)

What is the seemingly insurmountable problem with studying a traditional 35mm film rangefinder and re-engineering it into an equally capable digital rangefinder instead of trying to re-invent the wheel? The idea that you cannot accurately use manual focus is absurd. The whole focusing by wire thing is absurd. Again, why is everyone trying to re-invent the wheel?

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
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paul simon king
By paul simon king (5 months ago)

looking at these RAW examples the fuji x Pro looks softer nad less saturated than the Fuji X100s

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
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Dave Chilvers
By Dave Chilvers (6 months ago)

After using one for a while and with the latest firmware I find the camera to be quite superb. Lets face it, most of us are looking for IQ firstly and has been said in the review lenses like the 35 1.4 are second to none in my book.

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Total comments: 3