Fujifilm X-Pro1 in-depth review
The X-Pro1 offers a movie mode, although it's pretty clear the Fujifilm has added it mainly because customers expect to see listed in the spec sheet. Like on the X100 it's accessed as a drive mode, with recording started and stopped by the shutter button. The implementation is improved over the X100 in a few key areas, but overall not by very much, and still has annoying flaws. This really isn't the camera to buy if video capability is important to you - the Sony NEX-7 would be a much better option, for example.
The X-Pro1 offers HD video capture at choice of 1920x1080 or 1280x720 resolution, and a fixed frame rate of 24 frames per second - no other options are available. The data is compressed using the H.264 codec, and stored in the easily-shared QuickTime MOV format. Audio is recorded via a built-in stereo microphone situated behind two closely-spaced holes either side of the AF illuminator, but there's no socket to connect an external microphone. The X-Pro1 offers neither a wind-cut filter nor control over the recording volume either.
|Size||• 1920x1080p (Full HD): 24fps
• 1280x720p (HD): 24 fps
|Audio||Internal Stereo Microphone|
|Running time||29 min|
Using Movie Mode
To set the X-Pro1 to video mode, you first have to select 'Movie' in the drive mode menu, at which point the preview display will switch to the 16:9 format. You can't use the optical finder for movies, so the camera will automatically switch to the EVF if you put it up to your eye. A full press of the shutter button initiates recording, but curiously only a half-press is required to end it.
Manual exposure control is limited; you can set the aperture and exposure compensation before you start, but once the camera has started recording it will ignore any changes made to these controls. ISO is always set automatically, and the shutter speed dial is ignored completely. This means that if you're shooting stills using manual exposure then switch to movie recording, the camera effectively goes into aperture priority mode, and suddenly recognizes the position of the exposure compensation dial too.
The implementation of autofocus in video mode is poor. It uses the 'Area' mode only, with the camera focusing wherever it likes in the scene: you can't choose a specific point. The X-Pro1 will also autofocus continuously during recording regardless of whether the focus mode switch is set to Single or Continuous, which means that even with a completely static subject, it will hunt to reconfirm focus every few seconds (and quite possibly refocus in the wrong place). We simply can't understand why the camera shouldn't allow normal use of the AF-S mode.
If you want to lock the focus before starting recording, you'll therefore have to switch to manual focus. In a welcome improvement over the X100, here you can either use the AEL button to autofocus, or click-in the rear dial to engage magnified live view. You can also move the focus area around the frame, just as in stills mode. Overall we'd recommend always switching to MF for movie shooting - it just works much better.
Curiously, the X-Pro1's aperture control behaviour changes completely in movie mode; the preview image is always displayed at the taking aperture, rather than a random aperture of the camera's choosing, which we'd consider to be a more sensible approach in general. Ironically this means manual focus works reasonably accurately in movie mode, as opposed to stills mode where it's effectively broken.
Movie mode displays
|When set to movie mode, the camera shows a 16:9 preview image. You can customise this display to show or hide such things as gridlines or a live histogram (which are turned off here). Unlike when shooting stills, there's no separate 'simple' and 'detailed' displays.
In movie mode, the camera always shows the preview image at the set aperture, and adjusts the brightness to reflect any exposure compensation you have set.
|Once recording has begun the camera displays a flashing red dot on the screen, and counts down the available time remaining. Movie clips are restricted to a maximum of 29 min in length (up from 10 min on the X100).|
|The Q Menu is dramatically pared-down compared to stills shooting, offering just Movie Mode (Full HD or HD), Film Simulation, White Balance and LCD Brightness. None of the processing parameter tweaks that you get in stills mode are available.|
|The Shooting Menu in video mode is likewise extremely limited, but includes an option to customise what's shown on the record display separate from stills shooting.
You can't set a custom white balance for movie recording, although you can manually specify a Kelvin setting with blue/amber and red/green shift. Luckily the Underwater preset is still available.
|You have just two options for movie recording - FullHD 1920x1080 or HD 1280 x 720, each at 24 fps. The X-Pro1 can record up to 29 minutes for a single clip.|
|You can customise the information displayed on the movie record screen; in addition to the options shown here, battery level is also available.
Display Custom Settings are stored separately for movie recording and stills shooting.
|You get essentially the same four playback screens in move mode as you do for stills. You'll want to play your movies back in the 'Information Off' mode, but then you'll have to remember which buttons to press as you no longer get the requisite onscreen hints.
The X-Pro1 doesn't support remote control over HDMI, so you have to use the camera's 4-way controller to navigate between movies and start/stop playback.
Video quality comments
The X-Pro1's video quality is OK, but not great. As when shooting stills, colour is natural and appealing, and white balance generally pleasing. Exposure tends to be well-judged, but highlights are rather prone to clipping in bright light. The camera is capable of rendering plenty of fine detail when the contrast is high, but moiré and false colour can be quite pronounced with certain repeating patterns (for example railings, brickwork and the like), while low-contrast detail tends to get smoothed-away. As a result, video quality doesn't really stand up to to scrutiny when viewed up-close on a computer monitor, but looks fine when n viewed on a TV from a longer viewing distance.
Sound quality is perfectly acceptable for casual use, but the tiny internal microphone can't work miracles and is quite prone to wind noise under the wrong conditions (there's no wind-cut function either). The mic can also pick up operational sounds from the camera while recording; for example if you forget to turn off AF, or manually refocus during recording, then the focus motor can be audible in your soundtrack. A substantial fraction of our movies signed-off with the noise of the shutter button as recording was stopped too. (Note that there's no provision for an external microphone, which could solve these problems to some extent.)
Because the camera has no image stabilization of any kind (at least with the initial set of primes, your videos will be highly prone to shake, and a tripod is essential for best results. This is, of course, more visible the longer the lens, and is exacerbated by the use of the shutter button to start and stop recording - many of our movies began or ended with visible downwards camera movement. So it's probably a good idea to use a cable release too.
Also, because you have no control over the shutter speed (and naturally the camera uses fast speeds in bright light), any movement can appear disconcertingly 'jittery', whether it's subject motion or hand-shake. This is compounded by the fact that the camera doesn't tell you the speed it's using, so it's not immediately obvious if you'd benefit from adding an ND filter to slow down the shutter and make motion appear more smooth.
Playback over HDMI
It's worth noting that the X-Pro1 is a rare example of a modern camera that doesn't support CEC, the communication standard that allows external devices to be operated using a TV's remote control when connected via HDMI. As a result you have to play back movies using the camera's own buttons. This is an annoyance rather than anything else - it mainly means that you have to buy an HDMI cable long enough to stretch from your TV to your sofa.
Sample video 1
This movie was shot on a tripod, in manual focus mode using the 18mm F2 lens. It encapsulates the best and the worst of the X-Pro1's movies; colour and white balance are very pleasant, but look too closely and you can see jaggies on diagonals and colour artefacts all over the place (in the water, for example; most visible if you download the original FullHD version). The X-Pro1's microphone also picks up plenty of wind noise.
|1920 x 1080 24 fps, H.264 .MOV file, 25 sec. 43 MB Click here to download original .MOV file|
Sample video 2
The X-Pro1 records using the aperture set on the lens, and the relatively fast prime lenses give plenty of options for blurring the background. In manual focus mode you can also refocus during recording. This is illustrated in this movie, using the XF 60mm F2.4 R Macro lens wide open. If you listen closely you can hear the lens's focus motor clicking away during refocusing.
|1920 x 1080 24 fps, H.264 .MOV file, 13 sec. 22.8 MB Click here to download original .MOV file|
Sample video 3
You can of course also stop right down for maximum depth of field. Here we're using the XF 60mm F2.4 Macro, set to F22 to get both the foreground and background sharp. As video is much lower resolution than stills there's no real image quality penalty for using the smallest apertures, and in principle they can help smooth motion too, by forcing the camera to use a slower shutter speed.
|1920 x 1080 24 fps, H.264 .MOV file, 25 sec. 43.1 MB Click here to download original .MOV file|
Sample video 4
This short video gives an idea of the X-Pro1's sound quality and pleasing colour rendition. But it's also shaky due to being shot hand-held, and shows how the camera repeatedly refocuses even when the focus mode is set to AF-S for normal stills use.
|1920 x 1080 24 fps, H.264 .MOV file, 9 sec. 16.2 MB Click here to download original .MOV file|
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Specifications
- 3 Core Technology
- 4 Body and Design
- 5 Body and Design
- 6 Design Compared
- 7 Lenses
- 8 Operation and Controls
- 9 Handling
- 10 Hybrid viewfinder displays
- 11 Live View displays
- 12 Playback displays
- 13 Menus
- 14 Performance (Speed and AF)
- 15 Photographic features
- 16 Image Quality Tests
- 17 Noise & Noise Reduction
- 18 Resolution
- 19 RAW mode and RAW conversion
- 20 Dynamic Range
- 21 Lens corrections
- 22 Movie Mode
- 23 Image Quality Compared (JPEG)
- 24 Image Quality Compared (High ISO)
- 25 Image Quality Compared (Raw)
- 26 Conclusion
- 27 Image samples