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Fujifilm X-Pro1 review - Design, Performance, Image Quality and Verdict

Audley Jarvis

By Audley Jarvis

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

9

Picking the Fujifilm X-Pro1 up for the first time the first thing that strikes you about it is the size; by no means is it a small camera. Indeed, compared to its immediate APS-C touting compact system rivals such as the Samsung NX200 or Sony NEX-7, the X-Pro1 is by far the biggest of the bunch. If you're planning on going out all day with it then You’ll almost certainly need a camera bag to carry it around as it’s too big for all but the largest of coat pockets. The bag itself needn’t be all that huge though.

Fujifilm X-Pro1

Despite the bulk and the not inconsiderable weight that comes with it, the X-Pro1 really does feel like a premium camera. Build quality is superb, with an all-metal outer casing finished off with solid metal Shutter speed and EV compensation dials. The camera’s unashamedly retro design is further enhanced by the faux leather finish used on other X-Series models – and indeed just about any 35mm film camera from the 1960s onwards. Taking this retro theme even further is the internally threaded shutter button that allows you to attach a threaded shutter-release cable.

On the front there’s a low-profile rubberised moulded finger grip that actually offers far more purchase than it looks to have any right to. Indeed, we found that it enabled us to get quite a comfortable hold of the camera. One-handed operation is just about possible, although you’re undoubtedly better off using two hands – especially given that the X-Pro1 lacks any built-in image stabilisation.

Start-up is all but instantaneous, with the X-Pro1 going from being switched off to focused and ready-to-shoot in a fraction under two seconds which is pretty impressive even for a CSC. Continuous shooting, meanwhile tops out at a respectable 6fps with the camera able to record around 12 consecutive full-res JPEGs before the buffer fills and the camera begins to slow down. Switching over to Raw capture brings this figure down to around 8-10 depending on the complexity of the scene.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 8

Autofocus is taken care of via a 49-point module that covers the vast majority of the viewfinder, with only a small patch on the extreme edges that’s not covered. The focus box can be assigned to any of these points which allows for all kinds of creative focusing possibilities – especially with the f/1.4 lens attached. Autofocus speed itself isn’t at all bad, although it’s not as fast as some other compact system cameras we’ve tested recently. There’s no AF tracking mode either, although we’re not going to hold that against the X-Pro1 too much as it isn’t really designed to be a speed-driven camera for capturing fast action with in the first place.

At present there are only three Fujinon XF lenses available for the X-Pro1’s bespoke X-mount, all of which are primes. Our review sample came with a super-fast 35mm f/1.4 optic which we found to be exceptionally sharp as well as bags of fun thanks to the exceptionally shallow depth of field effect it’s capable of producing. Put simply, it’s the kind of lens you can shoot portraits with in which the subject’s eyes are pin sharp while the back of the ears are blurred.

Of course, the lack of dedicated XF lenses along with the fact that they are all primes does mean that the choice of focal lengths available to the X-Pro1 is presently a bit limited. No doubt Fuji will add to the range though and hopefully bring some XF zoom lenses to the table as well. If Fuji can maintain the same high degree of quality with all its XF optics that we’ve seen with the 35mm f/1.4 then they’ll doubtless be worth the wait.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 5

And so to what is undoubtedly the X-Pro1’s trump card: image quality. Put simply, overall image quality is some of the best we’ve ever seen an APS-C camera. The bespoke X-Trans sensor, EXR Processor Pro and Fujinon XF lens all combine to produce JPEGs that are breathtakingly sharp and supremely detailed straight out of camera. Even when viewed at 100% images maintain sharp edges, and reveal stunning amounts of fine detail. Those looking for a camera to regularly make poster-sized prints with will find the X-Pro1 fits the bill nicely.

As with most advanced, enthusiast-targeted cameras the X-Pro1 offers plenty of scope to shape the type of images it will produce via a rich array of image processing customisation options. These are found in the main menu and enable you to adjust sharpness, highlight tones, shadow tones, dynamic range and noise reduction among others. Being a Fuji camera, there’s also the option to choose from a range of Film Simulation styles which, as always, are named after (and mimic the look of) classic 35mm Fuji film stock; with Provia offering lifelike colour, Velvia offering something more vibrant and saturated and Astia something deliberately muted. There’s also a good range of bracketing options available – from basic exposure and ISO bracketing to Film Simulation bracketing.

Metering is taken care of via a TTL 256-zone module that proves consistently reliable. Should you need to you can call upon /-2EV exposure compensation via the solid metal dial that’s located within easy reach of the thumb on the top plate. In addition, there's also a dedicated AE-L/AF-L exposure/focus lock button that can be called upon in trickier lighting conditions. Again, this is found within easy reach of the thumb on the back of the camera. White balance also proves accurate when left in the Automatic position, although you can, of course, force it to the temperature you require.

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High ISO is another area in which the X-Pro1 offers class-leading performance, especially in the mid to high settings of ISO 1600 and above, where it’s able to produce cleaner, sharper images than most DSLRs. At lower sensitivity settings of ISO 100 to 800 image noise is all but non-existent as might be expected, but nudge things up to ISO 1600 or 3200 and you’ll be hard pressed to spot any significant deterioration. Even the top standard setting of ISO 6400 produces excellent results with very little in the way of visible noise. Beyond this, at the extended settings of 12,800 and 25,600 some noticeable image degradation does occur, however the fact that you can still get useable images from both settings speaks volumes for the overall quality of the X-Pro1. It’s the kind of camera that image quality purists will quickly fall in love with.

Verdict

The Fuji X-Pro1 is an enthusiast-level compact system camera that produces class-leading image quality and a really satisfying user experience thanks to its manually operated shutter speed dial and lens-based aperture controls. Those looking for something to shoot fast-moving action with might want to look elsewhere, but for image quality purists, 35mm SLR film veterans and anyone looking for a camera that's as rewarding to use as it it is capable of should give the X-Pro1 serious consideration. While it doesn't come cheap, the X-Pro1 is a serious bit of kit that is sure to reward those who invest in one.

Martin Daler

January 11, 2012, 5:16 pm

1/10 seems a bit harsh?

HDRE

January 11, 2012, 7:09 pm

I'm not sure Expensive lenses is a "plus" Cliff :)

Ed

January 11, 2012, 9:14 pm

Oops. Wrong boxed got ticked. Should be fixed now. Cheers for pointing out.

Ed

January 11, 2012, 9:16 pm

Likewise, wrong box got ticked - too little sleep, too much jetlag. Should be fixed now. Cheers for pointing it out.

929

March 17, 2012, 10:01 am

isn't the 35mm lens a f/1.4 not f/2.8?

flixelpix

March 19, 2012, 7:03 pm

Yes the 35mm is F/1.4

tean

April 25, 2012, 9:47 am

Hi Reviewer,

10/10 is really not justified either you are very lenient with your assessment or your camera grading/scoring system is flawed.
A major fault in this camera is the speed of its auto-focus, very slow indeed, you can miss shots in real live situations. This was reported by many users. On top of that this camera is very expensive much more than NEX7 or EM-D.
I think you look at changing/reviewing your existing grading/scoring system for camera.

Emin

May 20, 2012, 7:15 am

If a company has taken the effort to provide a Manual Focus does the Auto Focus speed really matter?
I agree its far too expensive otherwise I would be using it now. I can buy a Leica M3 and a lot of film for these manual features.
I like prime lenses but the Fuji X10's lens was adequate with the benefit of 1cm macro! just needed the EVF without the extra bulk.

michael mckee

June 13, 2012, 6:57 am

$2500 for a jpeg only camera and lens is absurd. Yes, Adobe has released a camera raw module for Lightroom/ACR, but it makes vegetation look like it's been run through a bad Photoshop effects filter. Add in the truly terrible focusing in low light, glacially slow manual focus with Fuji lenses and lack of diopter adjustment for the EVF and this is one of those near misses. Great sensor. Great lenses. Terrible autofocus. I sent mine back within a week. Hopefully, version 2 will have the electronics to match the image quality. And, hopefully, Adobe can solve the non-Bayer array problem that keeps this camera from realizing its potential in Lightroom post processing.

Rt

April 28, 2014, 7:42 am

I have the X-pro 1, 14mm, 35mm, 55-200. Top quality, I carry a camera all the time, even my Nikon D800, all in the same stride of perfection...

Fabiola Mann

September 13, 2014, 4:16 pm

10 years ago i dreamed of a camera like this. i bought a second hand leica digilux 2 which was the closet thing. The M8 and M9 liecas are out of my price range - one day.But they are all too big /expensive. Ive gone off DSLRs because there too big. You go out and its like carrying and elephant. I want something small but something that fells like a camera - not a phone.

The xpro 1 definitely ticks the boxes but i feel its still a bit too big. The body is almost the same size as a canon dslr 600 body. However with the 28mm 2.8 lens the package is awesome. because it small it makes the overall dimensions of the camera small. But still too big. The main thing is the optical viewfinder and the optional magnified focus EVF which enables you to become a real photographer again - you can focus on what you want manually. It looks gorgeous but would have been better if they had left the top part of the camera was silver in colour as they do with the fuji 100x.
Bough mine second hand and for £500 body and lens i am a happy bunny [despite having to sell my kidney to attain this].
One of the most coolest functions on the camera is the panoramic shot function- when you discover this you will "smile in amazement" - overall an excellent camera but they should have made it smaller. I personally do not like an LCD display on the back and would rather everything through the EVF / OVF. If were going retro - lets do it properly. nb i love the look of the square hood - [similar to m8] but it does not stay on properly.

tony

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