Fujifilm X-Pro1 in-depth review
Overall Handling / Specific handling issues
The X-Pro1 is in general a delightfully straightforward and intuitive camera to use. The combination of physical dials for exposure parameters, customisable Fn button, and on-screen Q menu for setting other functions means that pretty well all everything you need to access is at your fingertips.
The back of the X-Pro1 positively bristles with controls, but there's still sufficient blank space to provide a positive grip for your thumb. The controls are also well-arranged so that the exposure compensation dial, rear dial, four-way controller, and the Q and AE-L buttons can all be easily reached without having to shift your grip.
If we have a criticism, it's that the three buttons arranged down the left hand side of the X-Pro1 are relatively inaccessible with the camera to your eye, as you have to shift your left hand from its natural position supporting the lens and operating the aperture and focus rings. This means that moving the active autofocus point around the frame is somewhat slow and awkward - the temptation is to stick to the central AF point instead. This is a pity, as the X-Pro1's ability to use an off-center focus point in its optical viewfinder should be a unique advantage.
The X-Pro1's rear controls also feel somewhat under-utilised. The thumb dial does nothing at all directly during normal shooting - we'd love to be able to allocate it to change ISO. The dedication of the left/right keys of the 4-way controller to fine-tuning shutter speed means that they also are inactive in aperture priority mode (which we suspect many X-Pro1 owners will use most of the time) - it would be great to be able to use the controller directly to reposition the AF point (like on many SLRs).
The X-Pro1 offers Auto ISO behaviour that's much more similar to Fujifilm's zoom compacts than to the X100. In its favour, Auto ISO can be accessed directly from the Fn button or Q menu, rather then being hidden in the menus. Sadly, though, it has a number of limitations that means that it goes from being extremely useful to highly flawed:
- The maximum ISO available is 3200 - you can't access anything higher
- Auto ISO is available in M mode, but doesn't honour exposure compensation
- The camera always uses a minimum shutter speed of 1/[1.5 x focal length], i.e. 1/90 sec with the 60mm F2.4, 1/52sec with the 35mm F1.4, and 1/30sec with the 18mm F2.
The last of these is the biggest problem. It's based on the old '1/focal length' rule of thumb for getting sharp hand-held shots without obvious blur due to camera shake, but this really isn't sufficient with modern high-resolution sensors in the absence of any form of image stabilization. This is particularly problematic when using the rear screen for framing, which requires an inherently less stable shooting stance than the eye-level viewfinder.
As a result, we find that Auto ISO delivers more slightly-shaken shots than is really acceptable, simply because it always uses a shutter speed that's not quite fast enough. Likewise it's not well-suited for moving subjects, which are likely to end up blurred. We'd much prefer to be able to specify a minimum shutter speed like on the X100, or better still have the option of biasing Auto ISO towards higher shutter speeds while still taking the focal length of the lens into account (an approach that Pentax has used for years).
You can sort-of get around this by setting both your shutter speed and aperture manually. Auto ISO is still available, but because the exposure compensation dial is now inactive, you can't control the brightness of your image so have to rely on the camera's metering. (It's also worth noting that Fujifilm's lens roadmap suggests that upcoming zooms will include optical image stabilization, which should negate blurring due to camera shake.)
The X-Pro1's firmware is clearly based on the X100's, and inherits a few of that camera's remaining glitches. There aren't all that many left, but there are still a few that can catch the unwary user. Here's a short list of some to look out for:
- Autoexposure lock doesn't just lock the exposure, it locks the exposure values. For example, if you press AE-L with the aperture set to F4, then turning the aperture ring to F8 has no effect - the camera still insists on using F4. Likewise, turning a dial has no effect when the shutter is half-pressed. This behaviour makes no sense on a camera with analogue dials.
- The live histogram doesn't work properly in manual exposure mode (it always represents a 'correctly metered' exposure regardless of your settings).
- Changing the drive mode to one of the 'unconventional' bracketing options - DR, ISO, or Film Simulation - disables RAW file recording without warning.
- Both program shift and manual focus count control operations beyond their limits, which have to be undone before the camera will respond again.
With its rangefinder-inspired looks and prominent manual focus rings on each lens, you might expect the X-Pro1 to be an excellent camera for manual focus work. Unfortunately this isn't the case at all - due to a combination of hardware and firmware issues, manual focus is instead decidedly problematic, to the point of being almost unusable.
In principle, the X-Pro1 offers three different methods of working when the focus mode switch is set to M. You can use the AF-L button as a 'one shot' autofocus acquisition, use the viewfinder distance display for scale or zone focusing, or used magnified manual focus with the EVF or LCD. Unfortunately all three methods are flawed, to a greater or lesser extent:
- When using the AF-L button, the camera provides no visual confirmation of focus (i.e. the focus box doesn't light up green), and doesn't show the corrected AF frame in the optical finder either. So you don't know for sure whether the camera has achieved focus or simply given up, or precisely what it's focused on.
- When using the distance scale, the indicated depth of field is far too conservative to be usable for zone focusing.
- In normal live view operation, the aperture stops down uncontrollably (presumably to regulate the light reaching the sensor), even in the magnified focus check view. This makes critical manual focus impossible in bright light, as the depth of field at the viewing aperture can be much greater than at the taking aperture. In turn, this means that the subject can look in-focus in the viewfinder when it will be out-of-focus in the final image.
This is shown below, using manual focus in the center of the frame. The lens was set to F2.8 but the X-Pro1 stopped down further for focusing, which means that the resultant image is out-of-focus despite looking perfectly sharp in magnified live view. And this is just an illustrative example in not-particularly-bright light.
|XF 60mm F2.4 R Macro @ F2.8||100% crop|
To be honest, we find this unforgiveable an camera that lays claim to the 'Pro' label. Photographers know full well that lenses should be focused with the aperture wide open, so it's inexplicable that manufacturers sell cameras that don't open the aperture properly in manual focus mode (and it's not just Fujifilm; Olympus and Pentax have the exactly the same problem with their mirrorless offerings). Tellingly, the X-Pro1 doesn't autofocus with the aperture stopped-down like this; instead it uses the taking aperture or larger.
A further problem is that Fujifilm's implementation of 'focus by wire' simply isn't very refined, and is a far cry from state-of-the-art implementations from the likes of Panasonic. The lenses' manual focus rings don't feel very responsive, and require multiple full turns to cover the focus range. This makes focusing slow and awkward, which is a particular problem with the 60mm F2.4 lens for macro shooting.
All of this is compounded by the fact that the camera also registers any rotation of the focus ring beyond infinity, and requires it to be reversed before the focus groups will move again. This is worst with the 35mm lens, and means you can reach a point where rotating the focus ring through 90 degrees and back has absolutely no effect. Again, this isn't really acceptable on a 'Pro' camera.
Manual focus workaround
As it happens, it's entirely possible to force the X-Pro1 to give a magnified live view display at the taking aperture, using the Fn button to activate DOF preview. Here's how you do it:
- Set to Fn 'Preview Depth of Field'
- Set lens to maximum aperture
- Press Fn to engage DOF preview (OVF will switch over to EVF)
- Press-in rear dial to magnify live view
- Half-press shutter to return to normal viewing
- Set lens to taking aperture and and shoot
The effectiveness of this approach can be seen below, compared to the example above. Forcing the lens wide open has enabled accurate manual focus.
|XF 60mm F2.4 R Macro @ F2.8||100% crop|
This works absolutely fine, even shooting wide open in bright sunlight, which begs the question as to why the camera can't just open the aperture up for manual focusing automatically. As a workaround, though, it's clumsy and really shouldn't be necessary. We can't see any reason why the camera can't just set the aperture correctly the moment it detects the manual focus ring is being turned.
Hope for the future?
While we've identified certain flaws with the X-Pro1, it would be remiss not to mention the good work Fujifilm has done in providing firmware updates for the X100 that have transformed it from a quirky, buggy, infuriating camera to an excellent photographic tool. This commitment to updating and improving products, sometimes adding new functionality in the process, can only be applauded.
Fujifilm has already issued updates for the X-Pro1 to mitigate the 'aperture chatter' problem that annoyed early buyers, and provide improved functionality for users of adapted manual focus lenses. We've every reason to believe that the company will continue listening to users and reviewers alike, and improve the X-Pro1 based on the feedback it receives.
- 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
|Spring evening by Kaappo|
from Landscape #1
|Bringing Home the Bacon by Domenick Creaco|
from My Best Photo of the Week
Well-known photography educators Tony and Chelsey Northrup recently won $40,000 from an Australian company who used one of their most popular portraits on product packaging without so much as asking permission. Check out the video for the full story.
The Sigma 105mm F1.4 DG HSM Art lens—colloquially referred to as the 'bokeh master'—will cost just $1,600 USD when it ships for Canon, Nikon, and Sigma mounts in 'late June.' That's $600 less than the Nikon 105mm F1.4E.
'Recall shooting functions' lets you recall previously saved exposure settings (including shutter speed and aperture) by simply pressing and holding specific controls. The function is designed to allow for quick shooting parameter changes in variable light conditions.
Zeiss has announced a new lineup of 13 'Supreme Prime' lenses for large format cinematographers who want smaller and lighter glass that still produces top-quality results. The kind of lenses that make your salivary glands work... and your wallet groan.
The new HP DesignJet Z6 and Z9+ supposedly offer "the fastest printing capabilities available on the market today," all while using fewer ink tanks, and featuring useful add-ons like a built-in vertical trimmer.
In an effort to streamline production and minimize confusion, RED has announced that it is simplifying its product lineup to three main cameras. As an added bonus, this change dramatically drops the prices for all three options.
Fujifilm's new X-T100 is an SLR-style mirrorless camera that takes the internals of the X-A5, including phase-detect AF, and adds a fully articulating LCD and high-res OLED viewfinder. The X-T100 is priced at a very reasonable $599/€599 body-only and $699/€699/£619 with a 15-45mm lens.
Panasonic's latest firmware update for its GH5S, GH5 and G9 series of cameras was leaked in Japan earlier today and is now being officially announced a week early. But don't get too excited – you still won't be able to download it until May 30th.
We've been saying for years that the term "lens compression" is misleading, but Lee Morris over at Fstoppers has put together a useful video that explains why this is the case, and demonstrates it with two easy-to-understand examples.
Last week, some 'leaked' photos were published online that purported to show a DJI Phantom 5 drone with interchangeable lens camera and several prime lenses. The rumor was widely reported, but DPReview has learned that those images do not, in fact, show a Phantom 5 at all.
The bezel-free Vivo Apex concept phone with its pop-up camera might be more than a concept. A new teaser video and ad seem to hint at a similar smartphone to be released June 12st.
Skylum has teamed up with its sister company Photolemur to create Skylum AI Lab, where the duo will work on AI-powered image solutions including image segmentation, tagging and upscaling.
Award-winning fashion and celebrity photographer Markus Klinko recently tested out the Godox EC-200 flash extension head. Actually, he tested out four of them, creating a quad-flash ring light alternative that works great for both beauty and close-up work.
According to a recent investor presentation, Sony intends to occupy the top slot in the overall camera market by the end of 2020, beating back Canon and Nikon by boosting its interchangeable lens systems.
HTC brings back the dual-camera on the newly-announced U12+, which features a secondary tele-camera with 2x zoom factor, as well as 4K video recording at 60 frames per second.
Google has finally added the ability to mark your favorite images in Google Photos, so they can be filtered into a dedicated album. The service is also planning to a social network-like "heart" button that lets you like other people's photos.
We've been messing around with Apollo, an iOS app that allows you to add 3D lighting effects to images using depth information, and have to say we're impressed with what it's capable of – but that doesn't mean we don't have a few requests for the next version.
The new lightweight laptop packs a whole lot of photo- and video-editing punch. The laptop can be specced out with a Core i9 processor, 16GB of RAM, 1TB of SSD storage, NVIDIA graphics with 4GB of GDDR5, and a 4K display with 100% Adobe RGB coverage.
It looks like Canon is getting into sensor sales. The three specialized CMOS sensors the company recently demoed—including a 120MP APS-H model and an ultra-low light sensor—have been listed for sale through a distributor in the US.
Instagram has finally launched a "Mute" button, and is testing an "All Caught Up" feature that will let you know when you've seen all new post from the people you follow from the past 48 hours.
45-year-old photography magazine Shutterbug announced today that it is shutting down its print publication, focusing instead on reaching its readers online as a web-only publication.
Kodak Alaris has launched a new single-use disposable camera in Europe. Called the Kodak Daylight Single Use Camera, this 800 ISO film camera is supposedly ideal for parties, weddings, and similar events.
Computer vision company Lucid and cinema camera maker RED have partnered to create an 8K 3D camera that can capture 4-view (4V) holographic images and video in real-time. The camera is designed to work with RED's upcoming holographic Hydrogen One smartphone.
If Canon and Nikon do get into high-end mirrorless, it's almost certain that they'll do everything they can to maintain compatibility with their existing mounts. But, asks Richard Butler, wouldn't it be more interesting if they built a small, niche system to live alongside their existing DSLRs?
It seems RED's Hydrogen One super-phone will make it into the hands of customers in the near future. The phone is now officially slated for a Verizon and AT&T release in the US sometime this summer.
You know that feeling when you're already all suited up and out on a spacewalk outside the International Space Station, and only then do you realize you forgot to put the SD card in your GoPro? No? Us either... but one astronaut on the ISS sure does.
From 2015 to 2017, filmmaker Macgregor and his crew spend many months traveling back and forth on the famed Mauritanian Railway—the so-called 'Backbone of the Sahara—to document the grueling journey endured by merchants who regularly travel atop this train. This beautifully-executed short doc is the result.
You can now insert another user's Instagram post into your own Stories as a customized sticker, the first official "regram" feature we've seen from the Facebook-owned photo sharing app.
Synology has added a new 6-bay NAS to its DiskStation+ series, and it's aimed squarely at photographers and medium sized businesses. The DS1618+ can handle up to six 12TB drives, giving it a max capacity of 72TB, or up to 60TB in RAID 5.