PIX 2015
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Conclusion - Pros

  • Excellent image quality at all ISO settings - impressive resolution and low noise
  • Wide choice of film simulation modes offer superb out-of-camera colour rendition
  • Intuitive and straightforward traditional control layout (aperture ring, shutter speed and EC dials)
  • Well laid-out 'Q' Menu offers quick access to a wide range of settings
  • Impressively solid build quality
  • Hybrid viewfinder offers detailed information in optical finder (live histogram, electronic level etc.)
  • Reliable and accurate metering and white balance systems
  • Relatively quiet, discreet shutter
  • Well-implemented in-camera RAW conversion

Conclusion - Cons

  • Slow autofocus compared to its mirrorless peers
  • Dysfunctional manual focus
  • Overly-conservative DOF scale useless for zone focusing
  • Poor auto ISO implementation (uses too-slow shutter speeds)
  • Live Histogram doesn't work in manual exposure mode (always implies correct exposure)
  • No face detection AF system
  • Unimpressive video mode
  • Limited control customisation
  • Continuous drive mode uses different filename convention
  • Very low playback magnification when shooting RAW only

Overall conclusion

The X-Pro1 is a logical evolution from the fixed-lens FinePix X100, and it shares many of that camera's best attributes. The traditional dial-based control layout makes it a very engaging camera to use, and the clever hybrid optical-electronic viewfinder gives an immersive view of the world while providing as much or little exposure information as you like. Perhaps most importantly, the X-Trans CMOS sensor gives truly excellent image quality, particularly in combination with the stellar XF 35mm F1.4 R lens.

Perhaps predictably, the X-Pro1's biggest problems are also inherited from the X100, most notably somewhat sluggish autofocus and unresponsive manual focus. Fortunately though Fujifilm has eliminated most of the other problems that beset the X100 when it first released, and as a result the X-Pro1 generally handles and behaves much as you'd expect from a modern camera. A few residual operational oddities and glitches have found their way over though, which means that the X-Pro1 still feels rather 'first generation' in some respects. But on the whole it's a very likeable camera to shoot with, and one that can deliver absolutely stunning results.

Image Quality

We were hugely impressed by the X100's image quality, and Fujifilm has scaled even greater heights with the X-Pro1. The camera's JPEGs are little short of superb, with appealing colour rendition, lots of detail, and remarkably low noise even at high ISOs. The various 'Film Simulation' modes allow you to tune the camera's colour output to suit different subjects, and there's plenty of further fine-tuning on offer. Skin tones have always been a particular strength for Fujifilm, and the two 'ProNeg' modes, N and H, offer further, more neutral options for portrait work.

One flipside of the X-Pro1's unconventional sensor, however, comes for RAW shooters, for whom support is limited. Raw File Converter, like all of the various incarnations of SilkyPix, has never been our favourite program to use, with its machine-translated menus and odd terminology. It's capable of quite decent results, but because it makes no attempt to match the camera's colour rendition its output simply isn't as appealing. Adobe Camera Raw, meanwhile, produces generally more-attractive colours, but can show various demosaicing artefacts if you look too closely. However we've not found these to be hugely problematic in normal use.

The optics, of course, play a major part in the overall image quality, and we're especially impressed by the XF 35mm F1.4 R, which is truly excellent. The XF 60mm F2.4R Macro is optically very good too; its major problem is sluggish AF, especially in low light. The XF 18mm F2 R not at all bad for a compact wideangle - it's impressively sharp in the centre of the frame even wide open, but needs to be stopped down to about F5.6-F8 for the corners to sharpen up. Fujifilm is using software correction for distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberration in the camera's JPEG processing, which helps make the images look clean. One slight oddity is that the 60mm F2.4 Macro uses correction for pincushion distortion, which slightly degrades detail in the centre of the frame - although most of the time you'd struggle to tell.

Handling

The X-Pro1's 'traditional' control layout, with physical shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation dials, means that in many respects it's a joy to shoot with. It encourages you to engage with the process of making an image, rather than just pointing the camera and letting its automated systems do the job. The 'Q' Menu is a welcome addition too, giving quick access to a range of parameters that required menu-diving on the X100. It's not a new idea, of course, but Fujifilm's version is noteworthy for the simplicity and clarity of its layout. The X-Pro1's shutter noise is also relatively quiet and unobtrusive, which is never a bad thing.

Special mention has to be made of the hybrid viewfinder, and the ability to overlay detailed shooting information in the optical finder provides a unique viewing experience that's extremely well-suited to certain subjects such as portraits. The fact that you can also switch to the high quality EVF or use the rear screen for precise composition is an added bonus, especially as the user experience stays admirably consistent. One slight reservation here, though, is that the EVF's refresh rate can get distinctly slow, especially in low light.

The X-Pro1 does have its fair share of irritations, though. The AF point selection button is awkwardly-placed for use with the camera to your eye, slightly negating what should be one of the camera's key attractions - the ability to move the AF point freely around the optical viewfinder. AutoISO is a distinct step back from the X100's; in our experience it chooses shutter speeds that are too slow to guarantee sharp images, and should generally be avoided. Control customization is limited to a single Fn button, which you'll probably want to assign immediately to ISO, meaning you can't use it for anything else. This is especially frustrating as the X-Pro1's rear controls are distinctly under-utilised, especially in aperture priority mode (which we suspect many owners will use).

Our biggest bugbear with the X-Pro1, though is focusing. Its autofocus is slow compared to its mirrorless peers, especially in low light, and particularly with the 60mm F2.4 macro lens; this really isn't a camera for moving subjects. Manual focus is also distinctly flawed - the 'by wire' focus rings are rather unresponsive, requiring multiple turns to cover the full distance range. The X-Pro1's depth of field scale can't easily be used for zone focusing as it's ludicrously conservative, and accurate focusing using magnified live view can be impossible in bright light, as the camera will use an aperture of its choice for viewing that's often too small.

Having said all of this, if you shoot the X-Pro1 in aperture priority, using centre-point AF with focus and recompose, and setting ISO manually via the Fn button, then it behaves itself pretty well, particularly with the Q menu on hand for the less-frequently changed settings. Crucially, not only is this an entirely realistic way of working, it's one we suspect many users would choose by default. This doesn't excuse its flaws, but it does make them much more tolerable.

The Final Word

With the X-Pro1 Fujifilm has built on the platform provided by the X100, and is beginning to look like a very serious contender at the high end of the camera market. In a way the X-Pro1 has no direct competitors; its optical viewfinder and traditional stills-focused control layout sets it apart from the likes of the Sony NEX-7, and of course it's much less expensive than the camera it physically most resembles, the Leica M9-P, and operates rather differently too. This alone should ensure it a niche in the market, and we suspect many buyers will be delighted with it.

The problem that Fujifilm faces, though, is that it's still an expensive camera in the grand scheme of things, and one that the company has seen fit to label 'Pro'. This means it inevitably has to be measured up against the best of its peers in all aspects of design and operation. But while it passes with flying colours in terms of image quality, certain operational aspects are still problematic; for example, we'd argue a professional camera that costs the best part of $2000 (with lens) should really offer a manual focus system that works properly in bright light.

So when all is said and done, the X-Pro1 is a very good camera, with excellent design and image quality, let down by a few small but significant operational bugs and quirks. Because of this - and for no other reason - it just misses out on our top award.

NOTE: On September 18th 2012 Fujifilm released Firmware version 2.0 for the X-Pro1. This improves certain key aspects of operation addressed in this review, most notably both autofocus and manual focus performance. We'll be revisiting our conclusions in due course.

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

Fujifilm X-Pro1
Category: Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Performance
Movie / video mode
Value
PoorExcellent
Good for
Photographers looking for a combination of excellent image quality, traditional dial-based handling and discreet operation in an interchangable-lens camera.
Not so good for
Shooting moving subjects, video work
Overall score
79%
The X-Pro1 marks Fujifilm's entry into the high-end mirrorless interchangeable-lens market, and combines excellent image quality with fluid handling. The hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder is excellent, but autofocus is relatively slow and manual focus doesn't work very well.

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Comments

Total comments: 16
David Smith - Photographer

Well, I guess it's an early christmas for me this year. Today I'll receive my (like new with warranty) 2015 Fuji X-Pro 1 body. The price is insanely low for such a nice camera. It really is. I'm sure it will be a nice complement to my X-E2.

Yes, better camera models are coming at the end of this year. Possibly with a new higher resolution sensor, faster autofocus and more features. I'll get my hands on that stuff in a year or two, when everybody dumps it, like they dump the X-Pro 1 bodies now. Man I love capitalism.

Comment edited 31 seconds after posting
4 upvotes
photominion

Looking to get an X-Pro1 for christmas and really happy to see that all relevant flaws seem to have been eradicated by Fuji's firmware updates. Yes!

1 upvote
David Smith - Photographer

Well, I can tell you right now that you've got something nice to look forward to photominion. I just bought my X-Pro 1 and my first impression is very good. It makes the X-E2 feel like a toy and using the 27mm I haven't really found any difference in focus speed. Not sure what the fuss is about. It's not lightning quick. None of the Fuji cameras are. Focussing speed certainly is adequate and again, I don't see a difference in speed compared to the X-E2. It does take a little longer for the X-Pro 1 to write the file to the SD card. Since both cameras are about the same price, I recommend the X-Pro 1 if you don't need every bit of extra speed and if you prefer to hold a slightly bigger and noticeably better build camera.

1 upvote
bootsofspanishleather

I am a rather new member and I must say that the few dopey questions I have asked have usually been answered with great information and a lack of sarcasm and judgement. They were not dopey on purpose. If anyone would like to visit the images in my portfolio you will at least know that I am not just obsessed with cameras but sing them to shoot, share, publish et. So without further ado, just purchased a new Fuji X Pro1 and bam I read the rumor page and it says Fuji X Pro2 verified rumor will be introduced this year. Besides offering the advice, "just shut up and shoot', What would you do? Is this even the right spot to leave my qesriom

1 upvote
Gerardjan

Don't worry too much about it.I also just bought the X Pro 1,well aware of the rumors. It's all about IQ right?I can assure you,you wont be disappointed! Far away from it.And I really wonder whether the IQ(mind you, IQ!)will be very different from this one.
All else, yes for sure.

1 upvote
Don Sata

It will take you a bit of effort getting used to the AF of this camera but it's very engaging to use, the VF is great and images are great too.

If you don't shoot action (like sports, pets or running children) you will be ok.

1 upvote
theprehistorian

I bought an X-Pro1 a week or so ago - I've got a use for it (I wanted a compact 50 that's not too demanding) and they can be had new for £350 in the UK! Happy days. No doubt a new flagship X-Pro2 will be announced soon, but it'll be a very expensive camera, presumably sitting above the X-T1 in the range.

0 upvotes
BobFoster

Fujifilm has fixed most of the reported issues (like slow AF) with incremental updates. I got a chance to review it recently

7 upvotes
optofonik

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
0 upvotes
LightCatcherLT

things what you are asking do exist and they are called Leica.

1 upvote
paul simon king

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

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Dave Chilvers

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.

3 upvotes
bootsofspanishleather

I just purchased a used X-_pro1 like new in box and I am very curious about the firmware updates that seem to address its previous shortcomings. Should I ask the seller about these because I am naive and no nothing about these on her camera is it a simple fix to update the firmware Your recommendation I don't even know the latest and best ones. or are they available fre e or can they be user updated. and again what is the latest firm ware and how would you perceive this as situation.

0 upvotes
Nikonhead

The latest firmware update as of May 2015 is version 3.4 and can be downloaded from Fuji's website for free. Also check to see if your lenses are also up to date.

2 upvotes
bootsofspanishleather

Firstly I really would like to thank almost everyone for the generous and non combative input. So as long as I am curious about one further issue, any gracious input will be devoured with great enjoyment. Some lenses, whether short, medium or full on zooms have O.I.S and some don't. So any other advice on gaining sharpness and stability that works well for you, hardware wise , please let me know because I am well aware of the great impact shutter speed and stillness etc. have. And please take a moment to take a look at my gallery just so you understand that it is images and not equipment I am really hungry for. Thanks in advance, and yeah thanks Light Catcher LT for the real corn on the cob. "things what you are asking do exist and they are called Leica..Really??

1 upvote
darngooddesign

OIS helps when the shutter speed gets below 1/60.

Use as wide an aperture as possible and push the ISO up to 6400.

Brace the camera against your face with your left hand under the lens to steady it. A thumb-grip, like the Lensmate, helps as well.

Set the camera to continuous low and learn to fire off two or three shots. many times one will be sharper than the other.

After that, just practice being as smooth as possible while gently pressing the shutter release, I find a screw-in soft release button helps. Also, use a faster SD card like the Sandisk Extreme Pro 95 Mb/s.

1 upvote
Total comments: 16