Before I start this post, I want to thank everyone who visited this site over the past week after I published my article, Fujifilm X-Pro 1 – A first look. Since then, we have had an additional 35,000 visitors to this site plus I received over 300 emails/messages from our readers. I must apologise first – given the volume of correspondence I received, I was not able to respond to everyone given my time constraints.
Fujifilm Canada held a press event in Toronto today and I was fortunate enough to be a part of it – I was present to answer questions regarding my experience with this new system plus show off some of the images that I shot with this camera over the past two weeks. Many of the questions posed by the journalists and camera dealers present were similar to those of our readers, so I will attempt to answer the most commonly asked questions about the X-Pro1.
Please keep in mind as I type, I was using a pre-production copy of the X-Pro1 and “X” mount lenses.
The most popular question I received was regarding the Auto Focus (AF) – how does the AF compare to the X100 and pro-DSLRs? The Fujifilm X-Pro1 (B&H – Amazon – Adorama) AF is definitely improved over the X100’s – where the X100 would frustrate me (mainly in low light), the X-Pro1 accurately locked focus in a timely manner, usually under a second. It is not the fastest AF on the market but it did not impede my ability to shoot.
Continuous AF seemed to work better than the X100’s and I had no issue tracking subjects moving at a slow or moderate speed. I also use a Nikon D3 as my main working camera, so if I need lightening fast AF to track a quickly moving subject (like a bird in flight or a runner), then I won’t be using the X-Pro1 as the AF would not be able to keep up.
Manual focus (MF) has improved over the X100 but for those of you who demand Leica style manual focus, I think you’re better off to stick with your Leica. I don’t use manual focus at all as with my vision, I really need to use AF.
I had a lot of questions regarding Fujifilm’s “M” adapter for the X-Pro1 and unfortunately, I did not have one to test as it is not available yet. I know a number of photographers are looking at the X-Pro1 as a backup to their Leica bodies and unfortunately, I am not able to comment on the useability of Leica glass (or other MF lenses) with this camera.
The second most popular question was about the new menu system and useability. Fujifilm redesigned the menu(s) and I found it simple to locate the items I needed to change. There are now groups/tabs (on the left hand side of the rear LCD) of items so you don’t have to endlessly scroll to find what you want. The “Q” button was really handy for changing common items like ISO, WB, etc. The new button layout and new controls (4-way controller, menu button, EV Compensation and shutter speed dial) made it really easy to use the camera. Basically, just about everything that I did not like on the X100 has either been fixed or improved.
I did not find myself waiting for the camera to finish writing to the SD card – if it was flushing the buffer, I could still shoot or change menu settings. I really, really appreciate this change in the X-Pro1 over the X100. I used fast SD UHS-I cards and when shooting JPEG FINE, the camera finished writing the image before I could take my eye away from the viewfinder.
I also appreciated the 7-bank custom setup menu that lets you store “groups” of commonly used settings so you can easily switch back and forth with minimal effort.
Regarding the OVF/EVF, it was a very similar experience as I had with the X100, except the framing lines in the OVF change depending which lens you have mounted. I did find in the EVF that when I half pressed the shutter release, the image would freeze temporarily which I found distracting. Maybe I am being picky, but I would like to see that change.
I had many questions from readers about the lenses. The above photo shows their sizes relative to the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 pancake (far left) and a Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f/4 (far right).
The Fujinon 18mm f/2 (B&H – Amazon – Adorama) lens is closest to being a pancake lens and at 116 grams, is small and very light. It is quick to focus and very sharp in the centre wide open. The edges, while not pin sharp wide open, are good and sharpen up nicely by f/2.8 to f/3.2. I used this lens the least as I tend to be more of a compressionist, so I tend to favour longer focal lengths. Overall, it is a very good performer, but the least stellar (optically) of the initial three X-Pro1 Fujinon lenses.
BTW, all of the images that I am posting here from the pre-production X-Pro1 I used are straight out of camera – they have had no post processing (except resizing for the web).
The Fujinon 35mm f/1.4 (B&H – Amazon – Adorama) was the lens that I expected to use the least as I rarely use use mid-focal lengths when I shoot. To my (pleasant) surprise, it became the most widely used lens of the three.
I just loved the f/1.4 aperture as it sucks in all the available light and the close up focus capability was extremely useful. The bokeh of this lens is simply beautiful, it is sharp wide open and razor sharp when stopped down.
I originally did not pre-order this lens as I thought I would not use it much given how I see the world, but after using the sample Fujifilm lent to me, I changed my mind. Its only money, right? (OK, I have some further explaining to do to my wife.)
This is the one lens that did struggle with AF at times, often in low light. It did hunt in macro mode quite a bit and I do know that this is somewhat normal for all macro lenses (my Panasonic/Leica 45mm f/2.8 and Nikon 105mm f/2.8 VR also struggle at times in low light). In decent light, there was no issue with the AF.
Fujifilm provided me with the X-Pro1 Hand Grip (B&H – Amazon – Adorama) and I did not think I would use it much – and I ended up using it all of the time. It is not very big (you cannot put an extra battery in it like other grips) and does add about 1 cm to the height. It makes the camera extremely comfortable to hold and at 102 grams, does not add much additional weight. Fit and finish are excellent.
The other thing I like about the grip is that the tripod mount is located in the centre of it – which is great as on the bottom camera plate, this mount is located next to the battery compartment (i.e. off centre). You do have to remove the grip, however, if you wish to change the NP-W126 battery (B&H – Amazon– Adorama) or SD card.
Image Quality (IQ)
I spoke at length in my previous post that IQ is the most important aspect of a camera to me and that the X-Pro1 had it in spades. I still believe that this is the best image quality from any APS-C sensor camera currently on the market and it would rival many full frame DSLRs.
I shot the X-Pro1 solely in JPEG FINE as my favourite RAW converter (Lightroom) does not support this camera yet. I normally shoot my Nikon D3 in RAW so I was unable to do a D3 RAW vs. X-Pro1 RAW comparison. Given what I did see though, I am going to say that the JPEG images I shot from the X-Pro1 are comparable to anything my D3 produces. Remember, the D3 was a revolutionary camera (with respect to noise and IQ) when it was first introduced
Fujifilm’s colours are fantastic and I love different film modes available. But hey, a picture is worth a thousand words, right?
OK, so here are some pictures for you.
I shot the following scene with the X-Pro1 using the 60mm f/2.4 lens in mixed light. The wine bottle and fruit are front lit using window light and the background is lit using overhead tungsten lamps. I have the camera set on automatic white balance (AWB) and in Aperture Priority mode (f/3.2). I also used the “Pro-Neg High” film mode with all of the default settings (standard saturation, sharpening and noise reduction).
Keep in mind that this is a pre-production camera.
Nice photo, correctly exposed with good colour and AWB seems accurate.
I chose the following section of the scene (in the red box) to show you a crop. I selected it as there is fine detail (on the wine label and apple), shadow areas and some nice colours.
Now, here are images I shot at all of the ISO levels (200 to 25600) using the crop of this scene (all files are straight out of camera):
As you can see for yourself, there is very little noise up to ISO 3200 and colour fidelity is excellent throughout the entire ISO range. ISO 6400 is very, very good and I would still use it (with a little noise reduction) for large prints. I would even use ISO 12800 and 25600 for small prints or for the web. Keep in mind that when you are using high ISO (1600 and above), accurate exposure is critical – if you need to correct an underexposed image in post processing, you will introduce additional noise, especially in the shadows.
I still remember when I used film and could get a decent print at ISO 800 – I was thrilled at the time. I also remember when ISO 800 was the upper limit with DSLRs for acceptable noise levels. Now, we can shoot with exceptionally low noise levels, good dynamic range and great colour at über-high ISO levels – this is amazing coming from an APS-C sensor.
If this is a pre-production camera, I’d love to see what a production camera can do with the IQ
I have no empirical evidence, but I also believe that the X-Pro1’s sensor will out resolve other 16 megapixel sensors on the market due to its sensor design that uses no low pass filter and a new Color Filter Array. I will be curious to read what the technical review sites conclude about their resolution tests. What I do know is that I am able to shoot excellent quality, very detailed images, straight out of camera.
Fujifilm have done a great job with this system and I look forward to it expanding over time. They have planned some additional lenses and as I said in my previous post, I am looking forward to having my own production copy in my working kit.
Sadly, I had to return the Fujifilm X-Pro1 (B&H – Amazon – Adorama) and lenses to Fujifilm today – I was quite fond of it as I took it everywhere given how light and easily transportable it is (I kept it in a ThinkTank Retrospective 5 which fit everything perfectly plus it had room for an extra lens or two). Hopefully it won’t be too long before my dealer calls and tells me that my pre-order has arrived.
Please do not take my word for any of this – if you are remotely interested in this camera system, I encourage you to get to your dealer and try one out and see for yourself (don’t forget to bring an SD card with you). From what I understand, the Fujifilm X-Pro1 (B&H – Amazon – Adorama) and “X” mount lenses should arrive at North American dealers by the end of March 2012.
I’d like to thank Fujifilm Canada for the opportunity to use this new camera system and to be able to speak to publicly about it, both online and at their press event. I know that there are many excellent, well respected photographers they could have chosen for this assignment and I am honoured that they selected me.
*** UPDATE *** – to read my review of the new Fujifilm X-E1, please click here.
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