The Fujifilm X-Pro1 is the latest digital camera to grace Fuji’s premium X-series range. Following on from the fixed-lens X100, the X10 advanced compact and the X-S1 superzoom, the X-Pro1 finally takes the collection into compact system camera territory. Available from the end of March, the X-Pro1 is an unashamedly high-end product and, as such, doesn’t come cheap at around £1,330 for the body only, or around £1,800 if bought with the 35mm prime lens our review sample came fitted with. So, what do you get for your money? And does the performance match up to the price? Let’s take a closer look and find out…
The X-Pro1 is built around an all-new 16.3-megapixel ‘X-Trans’ APS-C CMOS sensor. The big deal here is that the sensor breaks with the standard 2x2 Bayer colour filter array and instead uses its own bespoke 6x6 pixel arrangement. This has allowed Fuji to remove the anti-aliasing filter (also referred to as the low-pass filter), which in turn leads to increased edge sharpness in images (the low-pass filter is essentially a light softening filter), but without the moiré problems that can often dog cameras lacking a low-pass filter. It’s a smart idea in theory and the good news is that it works in practice too. We’ll talk about image quality in more depth on the next page, but for now we’ll put it straight out there that the X-Pro1 and the dedicated 35mm f/2.8 Fujinon EF lens we tested it with is one of the sharpest combinations we’ve yet seen – sharper than many high-end DSLRs even.
Returning to the X-Pro1’s internal specs, the new X-Trans sensor is backed up by Fuji’s powerful EXR Processor Pro image processor that enables the capture of Full HD movie recording at 24fps, as well as delivering low-noise images even at higher ISO settings. The X-Pro1 offers a standard range of between ISO 200 and 6400, which can be extended from ISO 100 – 25,600. Naturally enough the X-Pro1 is able to record loss less Raw image files (Fuji .RAF format) as well as JPEGs.
Maximum output at full resolution in the default 3:2 aspect is 4,896 x 3,264 pixels, although there are also options to lower resolution to 8MP and 4MP. Alternatively, you can also choose to shoot in 16:9 and 1:1 aspects, although as these basically just take a crop from the 3:2 sensor they come in at slightly lower resolutions. There’s no 4:3 option through.
The X-Pro1 benefits from the same clever hybrid viewfinder tech used on the X100, whereby a lever on the front of the camera toggles between an optical view overlaid with a translucent framing box, and a 1.44million-dot EVF that offers a 100% field of view. Both have their own particular benefits and, overall, it’s a really neat system to use. We also like how the viewfinder displays all of the primary shooting settings – shutter speed, f-stop, ISO and the all-important light meter (more on this in a moment) along the bottom and side of the frame in both optical and EVF modes.
Should you wish to frame your shots using the rear LCD monitor, then the good news is that the 3in, 1.44m-dot screen provides a class-leading degree of clarity. Not only is this useful for framing, it also enables you to easily zoom in and check image sharpness when deciding which shots are ‘keepers’ in Playback mode. A View Mode button under the hotshoe allows you choose between the optical viewfinder/EVF and the LCD monitor. Alternatively, you can make use of the built-in eye sensor to seamlessly switch between the two.
In keeping with the X100, the X-Pro1 doesn’t offer a dedicated exposure mode dial, nor the standard range of exposure modes usually found one, but rather apes a retro 35mm film camera with a dedicated shutter speed dial and an aperture ring on the lens. There’s an Automatic setting on both of these should you wish to let the camera do the work (effectively putting the camera into Aperture-priority or Shutter-priority exposure mode), but should you want to use the camera in fully manual mode it’s simply a case of selecting the aperture or shutter speed you want and then using the light meter that runs down the side of the LCD screen/optical viewfinder/EVF to adjust the other as necessary.
It has to be said that shooting fully manual in this way this way feels wonderfully intuitive not to mention decidedly old-school, however it does make the shooting process slightly more time consuming, at least until you get used to it. That said, the metal shutter speed dial and lens-based aperture ring undoubtedly make for a far more satisfying user-experience than simply rotating a thumb wheel.
In addition to its still image capabilities, the X-Pro1 can also record Full HD movies at 24fps with stereo sound, although there’s no external microphone jack. Given that there’s no main exposure model dial you need to open up the Drive sub-menu and scroll down to get into movie recording mode. Besides the microphone input the X-Pro1’s only other major omission is a built-in flash, although it does sport a hotshoe.
As an all-new CSC standard, the X-Pro1 becomes the first camera to use the Fuji ‘X’ lens mount, and as such launches alongside a set of three premium-grade Fujinon XF lenses that have been especially designed to take advantage of the bespoke sensor design and lack of low-pass filter. These include an 18mm f/2, a 35mm f/1.4 (as supplied on our review sample) and a 60mm f/2.4 Macro. Of course, given the X-Pro1’s APS-C sensor the usual 1.5x crop factor should be applied to the XF focal lengths in order to calculate their 35mm equivalent.