Fujifilm x-pro 1

Fuji have been making some incredibly exciting cameras of late, I owned the fujifilm x100 and loved the handling and simplicity of it. I'd been looking for a walk around camera that could produce excellent images, handled well and was digital. I have a wealth of film cameras that live up to this billing but I wanted digital for quick access to the photos. I loved the x100 but found myself constantly wishing for interchangeable lenses. When the x-pro 1 was announced it seemed to answer all of my wants
  • Relatively lightweight
  • Choice of lenses
  • A workable viewfinder
  • Great image quality
  • Not spend Leica money to get it
The viewfinder was what lead me to the x100 in the first place, it uses a hybrid optical and electronic viewfinder changed at the flick of a switch. The fuji x-e1, which is practically the same beast as the x-pro 1 only has the electronic viewfinder.
     So, I sold the x100 and got the x-pro 1. It's incredibly well constructed, solid and has the feel of a Leica M. The lenses so far from Fuji have been excellent, the 35mm f1.4 being the pick of the crop, it truly is an excellent lens and is a joy to use. From all accounts the 18-55mm zoom lens that was released recently is incredibly good. Due for release this year is the 56mm f1.4 which I can't wait to get hold of. Here's the proposed line up from Fuji

As with the other x series cameras the out of body jpegs are incredibly good, outstanding even, which seeing as right now there are no great options for raw file handling, is essential. I'm an Apple aperture user, as with most software choices it's what I'm comfortable with, Ive used it so long that I find it quick and unobtrusive in my workflow. Due to fuji's use of the x-trans sensor, Apple don't support it as yet, I'm not even sure if they ever will, as trying to get a definitive answer from Apple is difficult. Adobe Lightroom supports the x-pro 1 raw files, but I'm not too happy with how it handles them and neither are others. There are a few other options, Capture One, Silkypix and Accuraw, I haven't used Capture One for the x-pro raw files yet, but Silkypix and Accuraw are absolutely horrible. For me, this is a serious limitation, I've never shot in jpeg before, I came straight from film to raw and my entire way of working is based around raw. All that said, the x-pro 1 does some things so well that I've so far never cursed not having the raw file for an image, namely -

  • High Iso performance
The Fuji x-pro 1 is incredible with high iso, these two were shot at iso 6400, and the last one at iso 3200. Completely usable and noise free, couple that with the 35mm 1.4 lens and you're all set for low light photography. My first digital camera, the full frame Canon 5D, as amazing as that camera still is, couldn't hope to compete with the fuji x-pro at high iso and my 5D mkii just about keeps up.

  • Auto white balance
So far, the auto white balance has performed exceptionally well, I've thrown some difficult situations at it, half natural light mixed with fluorescent lighting and it's handled it really well, much better than any other camera I've used.

  • Dynamic Range
The x-pro 1 like the x100 does a reasonable job with dynamic range and so far I've not wished for a raw file to pull out detail

Still, if the idea of only shooting jpeg appals you, especially if you are an aperture user, at present, you're stuck with this. Fuji and Apple really need to get together to sort this out, in fact, Fuji needs to get together with all post production software companies and present consumers with not just a work around but strong support if they want the x-pro system to be a serious contender for professional use. 

The x-pro 1 has a pretty easy menu system to navigate but for me the nicest part about using it are the dials; shutter speed, exposure compensation and aperture ring on the lens make operation a dream. I've mapped iso to the function button, I wish this was on a wheel or dial and then I'd never have to look at a menu screen. I love having everything accessible to my hand, the less time looking at the back of the camera, the better as far as I'm concerned. There are a lot of features packed into the x-pro 1 that I doubt I'll ever use, the film simulation modes are nice enough, I was quite excited about the velvia mode on the x100 but it's nothing like Velvia, so pretty pointless to me. The black and white modes do produce nice images but I prefer to use Nik Silver Efex pro

There is also a panorama mode, which is pretty simple to use, again, after testing it, not something I'm likely to use but I'm sure some people will enjoy it

There is a huge market for third party lens adaptors and Fuji themselves have released one to let people use Leica M mount lenses on their x-pro's.
Obviously there is no auto focus with any of these adaptors, I was sent a Kipon Canon EOS mount adaptor to try out and I was quite surprised at how easy it was to use, manual focus using the evf is very easy and the results were pretty good. The adaptor was pretty stiff so I didn't have the bottle to use my 85mm f1.2 and I figured the 135mm would be too long, so I settled for my 50mm 1.8, the adaptor I was sent means the lens has to be used wide open but there is a newer adaptor out that allows you to change aperture. It's not something I'll use that often, mainly because fuji's lenses are so good.

x-pro1 with Canon 50mm f1.8

So, apart from post processing, it's a dream camera? Not quite, the auto focus is poor, the x100 was bad at first and got a bit better with software updates but the x-pro 1 isn't much better. I actually found it a lot better on the last firmware but this latest update can leave me pulling out my hair. It struggles indoors pretty much constantly, I've missed quite a few shots and outdoors isn't always great. I'm not at the point of giving up on it, I really love this camera, it feels like a camera should and the quality it produces is fantastic. I'm hoping a future update will improve it even more and that the newer lenses this year will provide better performance. 

In terms of innovation and progress, thank God for Fuji. Their x series of cameras are exciting and a joy to use. They feel like cameras made by actual photographers and that alone deserves praise. There is also the cheaper XE-1 which has the same insides but no ovf, not an option for me as I need the optical view finder, I'd feel weird without it.
  I can't wait for the summer months when I'll be doing a bit of travelling, this camera is going to be perfect for travel, coupled with the 35mm lens, it's probably all I need. Imagine that, only one camera and one lens, I might have room in my bags for clothes and sunscreen!
     Below are a few more shots from the x-pro 1


  1. Great review. What was the post-process technic of the color pics?

  2. Hi Bas, thanks for that! There are a few different processing techniques, if you use apple aperture I could e-mail you an action with them all combined,
    thanks, Alex

  3. Hi Alex,

    Really good review. Must say that I agree with almost everything you say in regards the X-Pro 1. The piano player, the Labrador (raised three myself) and Earl's Court train station are my favorite shots.

    The high ISO capabilities are as you have explained. It did come as a surpirse to me to see the Fuji out perform my D3 and D700 in that regard.

    Been using some Voigtlander lenses via the Fuji M mount adapter with good success, but then again the Fuji 35mm is a tough act to follow.

    Thanks for writing the post.

  4. Hi Alex. That would be great but I'm a Lightroom addict... ;-) Too bad!

  5. Hi Gambofoto, thanks, I appreciate that. I saw some results with the Voigtlander 50 1.1 that were fantastic but you're right, the fuji 35mm is pretty special.

    Bas, if you use lightroom, have a play around with black point, contrast, curves and sepia tone.

  6. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)