For our regular readers, you will know by now that I was hired by Fujifilm last month to shoot the promotional images for the Canadian X-Pro1 product launch in early March 2012. I was honoured that they gave me the chance to use a pre-production camera and lenses for about two weeks and I wrote about my experience in these two previous articles on this blog:
Now that I’ve had my
grubby little hands on a “production” copy of the Fujifilm X-Pro1 (B&H – Amazon – Adorama) for about a week, I wanted to share a few additional thoughts I have regarding this new camera system. This is by no means a formal review of the final product as everything that I wrote about previously is still valid, so I won’t include that information here.
First and foremost, the image quality from the X-Pro1 is fantastic and at present, I believe it is the best from any APS-C sensor on the market. The JPEG output rivals anything that my Nikon D3 produces and I understand it also beats the Canon 5D Mark II (which is also an excellent camera). Yes, I know these full frame DSLRs have been replaced by the Nikon D4 (B&H – Amazon – Adorama) and Canon 5D Mark III (B&H – Amazon – Adorama), however, to have an APS-C sensor camera compete with its bigger full frame brothers is quite a feat.
I haven’t been able to analyse the output from the RAW files (as Adobe Lightroom 4 does not yet support them and I refuse to use the Fujifilm supplied SilkyPix) but the JPEG output straight out of camera is simply superb. I have no hesitation using this camera up to ISO 6400 and will use ISO 12800 and 25600 for small prints or website use.
I also found the Auto Focus (AF) to be a bit snappier than the pre-production camera I borrowed (and definitely faster than the X100). In bright or low light the camera had no glaring issues with the AF. No, it is not pro level DSLR fast, but as my primary travel camera, it does the job and does it well. I know a few other reviewers had AF issues – I guess I am one of the lucky people out there who have not struggled with the AF.
Overall, the production copy X-Pro1 that I purchased just seems faster overall – from accessing menus, start up times, displaying images, SD card write times – everything. I guess Fujifilm took all of the initial feedback we provided and managed to further refine the camera. A very pleasant surprise indeed. Keep in mind that I am using fast SD UHS-I cards (as you see here) which helps a lot with the camera’s performance.
I purchased all three lenses for the X-Pro1 and just wanted to give you a few final thoughts on each one of them. They are all excellent performers optically and I appreciate that they have an aperture ring (with 1/3 stop indentations) and a metal lens hood. The lenses are lightweight as they are made of a polycarbonate material, which is perfect for the traveling photographer (like me) who wants to minimize the weight in their camera bag.
The Fujinon 18mm f/2 (B&H – Amazon – Adorama) is the closest one to a pancake lens and in IMHO, the weakest of the three. Don’t get me wrong – it is a very good lens, however, the other two lenses are superb performers. It can be a little soft on the edges but they sharpen up nicely by f/3.2 to f/3.6. Also, I noticed quite a bit of chromatic aberration (CA) in the corners of the image in strongly backlit situations. It is the fastest of all the lenses to focus and it is extremely compact.
The Fujinon 35mm f/1.4 (B&H – Amazon – Adorama) is superb optically and very sharp wide open. I love the close up focus capability of this lens and use it quite a bit for my product photography. One thing about this lens that bothers me – it makes a ticking sound often referred to as “aperture chatter”. The pre-production lens that I borrowed exhibited this and I dismissed it as I knew this copy was an engineering sample. I did not expect this phenomenon in the final production copy. None of the other lenses produce this “clicking” sound when in use, so I hope and trust Fujifilm can rectify this issue.
The Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 Macro (B&H – Amazon – Adorama) is the sharpest of the three lenses and when you stop it down a bit, it is so sharp, you can shave with it (OK, not really, but you know what I mean). The lens hood is quite large and I was taken aback by its size, but it seems to do a good job of preventing extraneous light from entering the lens. The pre-production copy I used hunted quite a bit in low light (or in macro mode) but the final production copy I purchased is much better in this regard. It still hunts more than the other two lenses in low light, but it is much improved over the pre-production copy I reviewed.
This section is intended to be a
laundry list of things I’d like to see Fujifilm implement in the future – most of which can be done via a firmware upgrade:
Not a major list, but it would be nice to see these items address in the future, nonetheless. I know Fujifilm have been proactive in improving the X100 via firmware updates and I believe they will do the same with the X-Pro1.
I guess it is no secret that I am quite pleased with the Fujifilm X-Pro1 (B&H – Amazon – Adorama) and “X” mount lenses [18mm f/2 (B&H – Amazon – Adorama), 35mm f/1.4 (B&H – Amazon – Adorama) and a 60mm f/2.4 Macro (B&H – Amazon – Adorama)] – especially since I put down $3,500.00
pesos dollars of my own money to purchase one. I keep getting asked if I plan to replace my pro level DSLRs with the X-Pro1 and the answer is “no”. It excels at many things, however, there are times when I need a DSLR for work (birds in flight, quickly moving subjects, extreme temperatures, etc). Remember, use the right tools for the job, especially if you are a working pro.
Having said that, the X-Pro1 will become my main travel system given it’s lightweight, compact, “stealth” and has superb image quality. In fact, for an upcoming assignment to Asia, it will be my main camera system – and it all fits very nicely into my ThinkTank Retrospective 5 bag.
Fujifilm have done an excellent job and I applaud them for thinking outside the box. Of course, the X-Pro1 won’t appeal to everyone and its high price tag does make it out of reach for some – but for those who value superb image quality in a compact (and classically styled) package above everything else, you may have just found camera nirvana.
I plan to report back on how the X-Pro1 performed on assignment when I return from Asia.
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