Image quality

Fujifilm has a long history of pairing its cameras with unconventional image sensors. With the X-Pro1, the company introduces a 16MP X-Trans CMOS APS-C sensor featuring a  non-traditional color filter array. The headline feature of this new design lies in Fujifilm's claim that it can prevent color moiré without the need for an image-blurring low-pass filter. Traditionally, cameras without a low-pass filter boast greater resolution of fine detail than those of identical resolution that use a filter, but the trade-off is color moiré patterning in image areas containing high-frequency detail.

We certainly look forward to putting the X-Pro1 through our studio tests for a quantitative assessment, but in our real-world shooting experiences, everyone in the dpreview office is - so far - quite impressed with this sensor's performance. Fine details are rendered with clarity and I have yet to encounter scenes that generate significant amounts of color moiré.

This landscape scene includes areas of low-contrast detail at a focus distance of infinity. Rendering of this type of detail can be challenging for camera sensors. As this 100% crop shows, the X-Pro1 does an admirable job. Individual blades of grass are distinguishable as opposed to being rendered simply as an undefined green mush.

The camera's metering and white balance response have been consistently pleasing out in the field. It has typically been only in very high contrast scenes or when shooting back-lit subjects that I've had to reach for the exposure compensation dial.

As we found in our review of the X100, Fujifilm's JPEG processing for the X-Pro1 is generally outstanding, with little to be desired in terms of sharpness, noise reduction and color balance. In low-color temperature lighting scenarios, such as those typically found in home interiors, images shot at the highest ISO of 25,600 do suffer in terms of color accuracy, with noticeable color bleeding, horizontal banding and blotchy colors in shadow areas.

This ISO 25,600 image was shot under very low light levels illuminated by a low-color temperature household bulb located around a hallway corner. White balance, noise reduction and sharpening were left at the camera's default values.
As this 100% crop demonstrates, the sensor captures usable detail that is well-suited for display on the web and small prints. Color noise is well-controlled without an overly aggressive amount of noise reduction being applied. Color accuracy suffers at this ISO and you can clearly see color bleeding from the orange text on the book's spine.

Yet, as you can see in the examples above, the files are hardly unusable. My only significant complaint is that the extended ISO settings of 12,800 and 25,600 (as well as ISO 100) are JPEG-only options, unavailable when shooting Raw. 

Drawing directly on its longstanding analog photography heritage, Fujifilm provides a choice of several film simulation modes with the X-Pro1, as shown in the image rollover below.

Provia Velvia Astia Pro Neg Pro Neg (Hi)

Provia is the default film mode and proves pleasing and realistic colors. Much like in its film heyday, Velvia is an option too tempting to pass up, at least at the beginning. And just as its chemically-based namesake did, this mode boosts color saturation and contrast. In portrait work, I found, not unsurprisingly, that the Astia film mode usually provided the most pleasing colors among a range of skin tones. The Pro Neg film mode offers subdued colors and simulates the low-contrast look of color negative film. A Pro Neg (Hi) option is available if you desire slightly more contrast.

Of course, one of the downsides to using a sensor that requires non-standard demosaicing algorithms is a paucity of support from third-party raw manipulation software. At the moment, X-Pro1 users shooting in raw mode are limited to using SilkyPix, a copy of which is included with the camera. And based on the default color rendering we've seen so far in SilkyPix, we're not convinced we're looking at the most optimal demosaicing settings. Silkypix isn't the most user-friendly software out there either - in my experience of using it to manupulate the X-Pro1's raw files it takes quite a bit of work to produce a raw file that looks as pleasing as a typical 'straight from the camera' JPEG. I've actually been opting for the X-Pro1's capable in-camera raw conversion ability when I want to convert raw files instead of using Silkypix. I anxiously await what I hope will be forthcoming raw support from Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw, which I use daily.

But don't take my word for it. Below I've provided some real-world samples in raw format, alongside their corresponding in-camera JPEGS for you to download. Current Raw support is limited primarily to SilkyPix Developer Studio, which is available for a 30 day trial. Use this or any other compatible raw developer and edit the files as you see fit. You can share your findings in the Comments section below this article.

Raw and JPEG files for download

The zipped files below each contain a raw file and its corresponding camera-generated JPEG for comparison.

Click here to continue to page 6 of our article, First Impressions: Using the Fujifilm X-Pro1