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The Fuji X-Pro1, A Post SLR Future

Fuji XPro1 First Light

The image above is “First Light” from the Fuji X-Pro1 that found itself in my hands a little over a month ago.  It’s a circuitous story of sorts as I had not intended to get into the mirrorless game yet, but here we were and since that first image on June 9th, I’ve been totally hooked.

A little background:  When you like to push the boundaries of imaging, you find yourself chasing the biggest and baddest hardware available to deal with adverse conditions or low light and this is where I was with the latest and greatest Canon gear in my camera bag.  However, it was an observation that Trent Nelson made while we were talking that got me thinking when he commented that the price of a personal computer has dropped dramatically over the past 20 years while getting unfathomably more powerful and yet substantially smaller.  Yet the opposite has seemed true of the digital SLR camera market where professional SLRs have gotten paradoxically *insanely* expensive and much larger in size.  It’s true!  I am going to start calling this the Nelson observation.  The first SLR camera I used was a Canon A-1 that cost $329 new and these days is shockingly small in the hand when you go back and pick it up and compare it with modern professional SLRs.  I’d say that the Canon A-1 I used in 1985 is almost pocketable (in cargo pockets).  Yet, in contrast, the Canon 1DX I typically shoot with is both *uncomfortably* expensive and insanely big.  Had I not been offered one of the first Canon 1DX cameras in the country and there not been two gigs already booked to pay for it, the camera likely would never have been purchased.  And when it comes to size, despite being a phenomenal camera, the Canon 1DX really is *gigantic*.   For instance, the 1DX is actually *bigger* than the 1D MkIV that preceded it.  Carrying a couple 1D camera bodies with say, a 24-70 f/2.8 and a 70-200 f/2.8 is a commitment to say the least, particularly when on a long or complex travel schedule or assignment.

I’d been pushing this conversation around in my head and thinking about size and cost for a while then experienced two defining moments that inspired the search for alternatives to hauling around my typical camera kit that had been organized around 2 1D bodies.

Defining moment #1 came after a full day of shooting in the streets of Havana, Cuba with the 1DX.  I returned to my hotel room and picked up the 1D MkIV left in the hotel room, only to be shocked at how much smaller it felt in the hand than the 1DX which had been in my hand all day.  I did not actually think that you could have gone up in size from the Canon 1D MkIV, but there we were.   The size and weight really starts to make a difference when you are talking traveling with a complete camera kit or spending all day on your feet hauling a couple of 1D bodies (or their Nikon equivalent) around.

And then there is the issue of attracting attention.  There are places and times you don’t want attention and smaller cameras are simply, less noticeable, particularly when there is not a big, white lens hanging off the front.  Somewhere, my friend Duncan has a picture of me in Havana, Cuba carrying a Canon 1D in each hand with said big, white lenses on them and I look absurdly like light infantry.

As a brief aside, many pros I talk with wished that Canon had a simple, rugged still image system without the complexity and cost of video, so I am not alone, but Canon seems to have ignored the sentiment that substantial portions of the pro market that is not necessarily interested in shooting video.   Honestly, I love the 1D body for its rugged nature.  In some ways it’s built like a tank, kinda like the old Leica M6 which was also remarkably robust.  The weather sealing is also important and much appreciated given all the inclement places I shoot.  The 1DX creates spectacular images, and I had wished that Canon would have come out with a pro-level body that just shot still images, dumping the video and either keeping the same size or going down in size a little bit to save substantially on cost and some size.

 

Canon Fuji Sony

Defining moment #2 was made after reviewing images made, shooting side by side in Cuba with James Duncan Davidson and David Hobby who were running a Sony RX1 and a Fuji X100s respectively.  These guys were killing it with those little cameras, delivering images that absolutely popped, had phenomenal dynamic range and came from a camera package that was perhaps 1/3rd or smaller than the 1D/lens combination I was shooting with.  Some of David’s images are here and Duncan’s are here.  “Nuts” I thought.  When you compared that imagery, it made the thought of carrying around bigger camera hardware kind of silly.  I mean, look at the picture just above, taken during breakfast in Havana.  Each one of those cameras is shooting a 35mm equivalent lens/sensor combination.  The Canon 1DX with a Sigma 35mm f/1.4 up against the Sony RX1 with a Zeiss 35mm lens and the Fuji X100S with a 23mm lens on an APS-C sized sensor (35mm equivalent) are in that image illustrating the size differences.  You can be sure that the 1DX is the biggest and heaviest combination in there.

So, the search for a more reasonable camera package, especially for travel began in earnest.  I wanted something compact, but with interchangeable lenses which had me looking at solutions from Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony and Fuji.  There were some advantages with most of the platforms, but some pretty profound tradeoffs as well.  Fundamentally, however the decision came down to imaging sensor and lenses.  These two factors led me to Sony and Fuji which have the lead in both, the Sony RX1 for instance using a gorgeous Zeiss lens and an amazing sensor.  I was hoping for interchangeable lenses however, and the RX1, while having a full frame sensor in a crazy small package was appealing, being limited to a 35mm lens at a $2800 price point was kinda tough, though it is solidly built.  The other frustration with Sony has been their interface design which has always been irritating, like they are not really thinking about how people navigate and use cameras.  This left the Fuji which had a excellent  APS-C X-Trans sensor and a set of optics that really are spectacular.

The Fuji X-Pro1 had been out for about a year by that time and had some that were extolling its virtues, among them, notably Zack Arias who, despite some initial reservations, ended up saying “Hot Damn” and apparently along with David (Flixelpix) and others are creating amazing images with Fuji cameras and have not looked back.  There are a number of options with the Fuji X platform now including the fixed lens X100s, the X-M1, the X-E1 and the X-Pro1.  Despite being the oldest camera in the Fuji interchangeable lens lineup, I liked the hybrid optical and electronic viewfinder and was looking pretty hard at it.  But what really pushed me over the top and be willing to explore the images was the tantalizing prospect of getting back to a world where I could carry a camera kit with lenses in a compact, unobtrusive package…

 

Fuji X-Pro 1 compared to Canon 1DX

Fuji X-Pro 1 compare to Canon 1DX side

When you examine the differences between the packaging of the Fuji X-Pro1 and the Canon 1DX, the size advantage is stunning.  This of course is what is possible by eliminating the mirror box of the SLR.  As seen from these screen grabs from Camerasize.com, it’s like we are back with the old Leica rangefinders, but with spectacular digital sensors *and* autofocus.  I can pack this Fuji X-Pro1 and 3-4 lenses in a compact fanny pack like the ThinkTank Hubba Hubba Hiney which is perfect for travel.

 

Fuji X Trans Sensor

Speaking of the X-Trans sensor, it has a rather unique design to eliminate moiré.  Fuji asked a rather fundamental question when designing this camera and that was how to make the most compact and high performance sensor possible.  Traditional camera sensors have their pixels arranged in a red, green and blue pattern which can lead to moiré effects, particularly in high frequency space.  Most camera companies get around this problem by bonding a filter in front of their imaging sensor that slightly blurs the image coming in.  Fuji took another path.  I imagine the thinking went something like “well… if we randomize the pixels, moiré is not an issue and we can eliminate the blur/low pass filter making our images sharper” or something like that.  It was a pretty radical approach, but it has worked out for them and the images coming out of these cameras are gorgeous.  Interestingly, this approach also makes the Fuji X-Trans sensor an intriguing platform for scientific imaging.  Because many biological and non-biological structures have complex, high frequency patterns *and* image sharpness is critical for everything from microscopy to astronomy, I am thinking that Fuji may have a hit on their hands for scientific imaging.  After all, most of the “scientific” cameras these days are small Sony sensors that have the additional benefit of being cooled to reduce noise in long exposures or low light levels.  But with the rather impressive high ISO performance on the X-Trans sensor, I am wondering if the X-Trans CMOS chip may be just the ticket for scientific imaging.  I have a custom T2 adapter on order that I’ll bring into the lab to test some of this out along with some other imaging experiments that I’ll return to later.

Honestly, this radical sensor design was also one of the reasons I held back from investigating these cameras a year ago, immediately after they came out.  The thing that made me hesitate was the initial lack of RAW file handling by Aperture or Lightroom.  Once that problem was addressed however, the cameras could function in my workflow.  That said, more than one person (Zack Arias, David Hobby, etc…) were shooting jpg straight out of the camera and were loving the performance.

 

East Canyon

Also, I was hesitant because of the APS-C sized sensor…  I’ve been in a full frame sensor kind of mood since picking up the 1DX which made the world newly wide to me after having shot APS-H sensors for years.  I was getting back into shooting landscapes with the full frame sensor of the 1DX, but in a sense, if the image quality is good enough, and you can represent the world optically on the sensor in the same way, the sensor size does not matter as much.  Where the full sensor really matters is in large imaging sites that are electrically quiet.  Fuji was smart in making the X-Trans sensor only 16MP when they could have gone much more as this kept the imaging pixels relatively large making for low noise images.  There are other things to consider there, but without going into gory details on how imaging sensors are made, it will suffice to say that the images coming out of this Fuji are spectacular.  This image above shows that landscape photography, a place where full frame sensors are prized are totally possible with the APS-C sized sensor in the Fuji cameras.

 

Quiet Car Park

Of course it helps that the sensor is combined with the glorious Fuji lenses of which the 14mm f/2.8 (21mm equivalent on a full frame sensor) is mind bendingly good.  It’s sharp throughout the frame with the exception of the edges when the lens is wide open.  But importantly, it has almost no aberrations or distortions.  I’ve never seen a non-SLR or medium format lens that has this level of performance which says something about Fuji’s expertise and heritage of making camera lenses which are found in everything from cell phones to satellites like the SELENE lunar spacecraft.

 

Gears of thought

Blue Fire

Saying that the Fuji lenses are spectacular might be an understatement.  In fact, I’d argue that the Fuji lenses are perhaps the best optical bargains out there with designs that have very little aberration, are crazy sharp particularly in combination with the X-trans sensor and they are small and compact.  I have two lenses with the X-Pro1, the aforementioned 14mm lens and the the 35mm f/1.4 which is perhaps, the most elegant and pleasing lens I’ve shot with, ever.  Ever…  It is well built, is compact, has good macro performance, has pleasing bokeh, no aberration to speak of and is sharp as can be.  The two images immediately above were made with the Fuji 35mm f/1.4 lens using the normal and macro focus modes and were really pleasant surprises with the level of detail, the color fidelity and sharpness, even wide open.

 

Glass UFO

Shooting into the sun

Also, pay attention to the images immediately above and look at the specular highlights from the sun on glass and water and looking directly into the sun.  For many lenses, these kinds of images are really challenging and the Fuji lenses handle them with aplomb.  Color fidelity is preserved, detail in high frequency portions of the image (like the back illuminated grass) are preserved and flare does not drown out  the images.  Truly impressive.

 

Road less traveled

The other mighty compelling aspect of Fuji cameras is that as a camera company, they listen to the end users and have been doing a very interesting thing…  After listening to their customers, they have increased the functionality of their existing cameras by *adding* features in software, something that I think might be unprecedented in the digital camera business.  In the past, any of my Canon or Nikon cameras have only had features added if you purchase subsequent models.  The thought of adding new features to the camera via firmware updates is pretty intriguing.  Through firmware updates, Fuji has substantially sped things up with respect to responsiveness and focusing and the promise is there for much more.  It is still not SLR fast, but it made the X-Pro1 usable to someone who was used to the lighting response of the Canon 1DX, a camera with perhaps the worlds best autofocus performance.

The other compelling aspect of this was that I had always expected Canon and Nikon to drive innovation in the camera market and this has not really been the case.  It’s like they’ve gotten comfortable and Fuji has been hungry and innovative.  I’ve been thinking about innovation in the camera market for a while and wrote up some thoughts back in December of 2012 in The iPhone As Camera, Where To Now? article.  While that article was focused on the iPhone, some camera companies had started making advances by integrating more software in the process of photography and Fuji is one of the notable ones.  Its been an interesting turn of events to see Fuji and Sony out innovate Canon and Nikon.

 

David Kent

It almost hurts to say, but the Fuji X-Pro1 is everything that I had hoped Leica would have done with the M series.  Amazing image quality, spectacular lenses, autofocus!!! and a company that listens to their customers by producing cameras that are affordable and lenses that are not only the best performance for the money, but are perhaps, the best lenses in the market for mirrorless cameras.  The depth and clarity of the images coming out of this camera are amazing.  Some of this is the lens for sure, as the images not only have the sharpness where you want it, but also gorgeous bokeh, but there is the data handling by the sensor and associated in-camera image processing.  Speaking of which, the black and white images that come out of the camera are amazing.  Though I love the purity of Leica’s Monochrom camera, I’d say the black and white images out of the Fuji are at least as good as what I’m seeing out of Leica’s dedicated black and white M series camera and perhaps… have even better tonal range.

So… Is the Fuji X-Pro1 the perfect camera?  No, and I’ll elaborate on that below.  But I will also say that it is the most interesting camera I’ve used in years and the camera that has been in my hand almost non-stop for the past month.  The X-Pro 1 is also the camera that I’ll be carrying with me on upcoming trips.

 

Snaileo

What would I change with the X-Pro1?  The X-Pro1 is not perfect, but it’s making all the right moves in the right direction.  However, in a “pro-level” camera, there are a few features that should be in place.

Autofocus/Responsiveness:  The performance of the focus and responsiveness of the camera should be improved.  Some of the micro 4/3rds cameras have impressive autofocus speeds, but other shortcomings in those platforms and the spectacular lenses are keeping me on Fuji.  The Fuji X-Pro cameras are not camera for sports photography… yet.  The X-Pro1 is not an “action” photography type of camera, because once focus locks on, it does not change for subsequent “continuous” images in the sequence.  In other words, focus does not track once shooting has been initiated.  Autofocus also hunts around *alot* in moving situations like wind blowing in the grass or flowers or people in constant motion or particularly in low light.  That said, focus in high frequency more static environments with lots of photons around is pretty good and responsive enough that a user coming from the Canon 1DX is satisfied.  Canon’s solution was to dedicate a separate imaging chip just for autofocus and perhaps this will be an option in future Fuji X-Pro cameras.

Why autofocus on mirrorless cameras is not as fast or accurate as SLRs is rather frustrating as there is no reason why a compact mirrorless camera should not be as responsive or faster than an SLR with a mirror physically flapping around inside a mirrorbox.  That strikes me as completely absurd and I expect that it will be resolved in the very near future.

 

Thumbs Up EP-7S

Form factor/Size:  Love the form factor and size.  Love it.  I don’t want Fuji to change much there as it is much less obtrusive than the big SLR iron and I find myself just picking up the camera to hold it.  However, while I love the retro design, for holding one handed, there is a thumb rest that is needed on this camera for stability that has been rather well done by a third party, with the Match Technical EP-7S Thumbs Up.  To my hand, this is an absolutely necessary piece of hardware addition, that while on the expensive side, is totally worth it if you spend considerable time with your Fuji X-Pro1.  Fuji apparently makes one as well, but it’s a bit more expensive than the one from Match Technical and it can’t be better made than the one from Match Technical.  Besides, Match Technical has excellent customer service and they also make the very cool red soft touch buttons for the shutter release.  The only problem with this solution is that it obstructs the hot shoe, which for on/off camera flash people like David Hobby is a deal breaker.  I’d love to see Fuji design something integral to the next revision like this.

Diopter adjustment:  There are a number of old school, very conservative approaches to the X-Pro1 and this includes the diopter adjustment.  Right now it requires you to change out reticles rather than having an adjustment.  Fuji has fixed this on the X-E1 and the X100s, so it seems like a reasonable expectation for the next X-Pro revision.

Intervalometer & Electronic Shutter Release:  I like the mechanical shutter on the X-Pro1, but it would be nice to have the option to trigger it via other means. I’d like to see Fuji include software intervalometer functions and an electronic shutter release.  The old school manual shutter release concept on the X-Pro1 is shared with the Sony RX1 is cool, but having this as the only way to trigger the shutter makes absolutely no sense to me, particularly given the USB ports in the cameras.

Weather sealing:  A camera that bills itself as a pro camera should have some degree of weather sealing.  The Olympus OM-D E-M5 has weather sealing and I’d love to see the next X-Pro revision adopt that feature.

Internal GPS:  The ability to write GPS metadata to your images is a feature that should be included in pro level cameras for sure.  Yeah, it’s another battery drain, but modern GPS chips are super low current drain designs and other companies are including them in point and shoot cameras, so Fuji should totally do so in the X-Pro revision.

Battery:  While we are talking power, the battery could be improved in two ways… 1) configure it so that there is only one way it fits into the battery compartment.  As it currently is, you can insert the battery in backwards where it will not power the camera.  This is an oversight.  2)  Provide a larger capacity battery for longer battery life.  It could be that I am used to the 1400-1500 shot capability of the Canon 1D battery, but only getting around 400 exposures is a little frustrating.  That said, the batteries are relatively inexpensive, and swapping them out is not a big deal.  Though I would really like to see a more accurate battery meter.  Also, I’d change the charger so that there are different lights on the LED for charging and full.  Orange/green for instance.  And in “pro” chargers, have dual slots for charging two batteries either at once or in automatic sequence.

Custom Metadata:  Am I missing something with the Fuji cameras?  I can’t find out where to put in custom metadata.  The ability to include additional personal data in the metadata like Canon, Nikon and others do.  I should be able to automatically tag every image that comes out of the camera with ®Bryan William Jones when shot for instance.

Software for image capture and remote:  I mentioned the applications for scientific imaging above where one could mount a Fuji camera on a microscope or telescope and run it remotely through tethering or perhaps via a wireless bluetooth or WiFi connection.  Fuji has proven themselves to be creative in integrating new features in the software, so it would be wonderful if they could come up with remote software like what Canon or Nikon offers or you can get through third party suppliers for Canon or Nikon cameras.  I’d just hope they make the software more responsive than the absurdly slow and clunky software offered by Canon and Nikon for remote capture.  But think about what could be done with remote capture and automation that is commonly more difficult on camera.  A whole world opens up here, particularly for those that would like to use the excellent high ISO features of the Fuji X-Trans sensor to capture other kinds of image data.

If they can improve the sensor, I am always up for that.  But as it stands the sensor in the current X-Pro1 is a remarkable thing and I look forward to having a tremendous amount of fun with the camera I already have.  Even more, I look forward to what Fuji may have up their sleeve for the next round of revisions.  What they’ve done already is bold and impressive.  These cameras have been a revolution in the camera industry and it’s exciting to see Fuji embrace software as a way to enhance the image capture process.  The convergence of software and hardware in the camera industry has been long coming, but also glacial in how fast features have been implemented at the consumer or professional photography level.  It’s exciting to see a camera company finally “getting” it.

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42 Responses

  1. Very nice summary. You were not tempted by the Canon EOS M though, which would allow you to use your EF lenses with an adaptor? It’s also APS-C, but I’m sure there are other tradeoffs looking at the massive price difference between the EOS M and the Fuji.

    I hope that Fuji monitors customer feedback as you suggest. I can’t imagine that implementing intervalometer, electronic shutter release, remote image capture through USB are difficult to implement through firmware updates. Using WiFi / Bluetooth though … does it already have those interfaces e.g. to transfer the images to the computer? Or just USB?

    • And for the size of the 1DX … I got the battery grip for my 40D because it makes the camera easier for me to handle and hold steady with my paddle hands. A 2 liter soda bottle in my hand looks like a 16 oz bottle in a “normal” hand. But I totally understand the issue because it takes planning to take a large SLR anywhere and there are absolutely times where I choose to not take it and use my wife’s point & shoot instead.

      • Yeah, how a camera “fits” in ones hand is a critical issue. It may not fit everyone, but when I had my 20D, I also got the battery grip for it for the same reasons.

    • Yeah, I looked at the EOS M and the lack of an optical viewfinder and initial slow focus kept me away. Though Canon just released a firmware update for the M that really speeds things up. However, I question Canon’s commitment to that platform and lenses given their new wide angle zoom lens for the M is not going to be made available for the N. American market, a decision that is more damaging than they may know.

      • 3 years later…

        I have the EOS M with the software update.

        It is slow. Very very very slow. Unusably slow in most situations. Combined with the lack of a viewfinder and it also can’t really be used in bright light.

        With that said, it really shines when taking portraits of folks. Something about the combination of me not being behind the camera and being able to use a finger to tap on focal point AND initiate the picture taking is quite brilliant for portraits.

        • This has been the amazing thing with Fuji. When the X-Pro1 first came out, it was quite slow. But they have released continual firmware updates that have improved the speed and added features consistently throughout the life of the camera. It has been an amazing experience.

  2. Exceptional write up as always.

    Erik CouseJuly 17, 2013 @ 9:19 amReply
  3. Zack* Arias! :)

    Niko EspirituJuly 17, 2013 @ 5:08 pmReply
  4. Canon makes large cameras because that’s what they think pros want.

  5. Always enjoy your thorough thoughts when writing a review. This camera has intrigued me as well, though I’m waiting on the next version before I take a more serious look. It’s an expensive investment to get the body and a few lenses, but I’d really like to find a smaller option as a backup/carry camera and the single fixed lens of the X100s just doesn’t give me everything I want. I’d like to see the built in ND filter get put into the Pro series as well.

    • Thanks Jeremy. I have no idea when the next X-Pro will come out. I expect sometime next year. The nice thing is that the Fuji lenses are *really, really* nice. Better in many ways than the Canon L lenses I have been buying and much cheaper. As far as the ND filter, that *is* pretty cool. You could do that electronically as well I’d think.

  6. Thank you – a brilliant article. As a dyed in the wool Canon man, I would be reluctant to closely examine anything not from that stable. But this article has opened my eyes a lot. Must must must investigate this further.

    • I hear you on the Canon thing. I hate to think how much Canon hardware I’ve purchased over the years. Honestly, I would have thought that it would have been Canon that had done something innovative like this, but instead, we got the Canon M which… is nice and has its applications, but I’m not sure of Canon’s long term commitment there. Fuji on the other hand, has bet the company it seems on their commitment to this platform. Its very impressive.

  7. Great review!!! Thanks. I’m not in the market for a 5D mkII replacement… yet. But that sucker weighs a bunch, esp with the 200-400 lens. It would be really nice to have a small light weight camera….

    • Hey Jerry! Nice to see you here.
      Yeah… the 200-400 is a phenomenal lens, but that lens is also absolutely unique in the world with that internal teleconverter. Not going to find that on a mirrorless mount… yet. And honestly… glass is glass. You can only make something that complex and fast, so light. That said, the T2 adapter I’ve ordered is going to be my experiment in digiscoping with the Fuji. I’ll report back on that after I’ve had a couple of opportunities to use it.

  8. good read!

    “The other frustration with Sony has been their interface design which has always been irritating, like they are not really thinking about how people navigate and use cameras”

    ^in defense of Sony on this, as a owner of 3x NEX cameras and the RX1, the menu system on the RX1 is significantly better designed compared to the NEX, it wasn’t apparent until I had purchased one and had it in hand how much easier it is to use. not that it would make much difference now as you’ve already purchased the X-Pro1 :P

    • I must admit that my experience with Sony interfaces has come from the NEX cameras. I should have explored the interface on Duncan’s RX1 more.

  9. Brilliant and thought-provoking article! Can’t argue very much about image quality with the picts you showed and linked to. On the other hand, the 1DX is a beast! That second grip/battery at the bottom adds like 40mm in height, right (and probably 200-300g)? Have you considered a 5Diii? Compared to the Fuji still large, but quite a bit smaller and lighter than the 1DX. For me (still shooting with the original 5D) it’s mostly the lens that is inconvenient/heavy/attention-getting, even though the largest one I have is “only” a 70-200f4is.
    I’m not particularly surprised about the lack of innovation from either Canon or Nikon. The larger all these corporations get, the less incentive for innovation. Great opportunity for a “small” company like Fuji. But I’m sure it’s just a matter of time until both Canon and Nikon realize the potential of precisely this sort of small(est) camera that maintains compatibility with EF lenses.
    Again, great read! Thanks for sharing!

    Dino LeoneJuly 22, 2013 @ 1:28 pmReply
    • Thanks Dino! Yeah, I’ve looked at the 5D and its a truly impressive camera. But with the Fuji, I can pack an X-Pro1, an 8mm fisheye, a 14mm wide angle, a 35mm normal and a 55-200mm telephoto zoom into a small fanny pack. All of that fits in the same space as a single 5DIII with a single lens.

  10. Great article and timely for me. I’ve looked at / through the X100s twice: I want to like it, but the EVF just gives me an instant woozy head! it’s interesting that you didn’t mention the viewfinder when discussing the X-Pro1 – which I presume has a similar viewfinder? Is it just me?

    Mike.

    • The viewfinder on the X-Pro1 is a hybrid optical, electronic viewfinder. The optical approach has a heads up display of sorts, but there is also a pure electronic display that is optional, except when shooting in macro mode. Then it appears to be obligate. Its a pretty nice system actually. I’m really liking it.

  11. Terrific article. As an X-Pro-1 owner of just a week I totally agree with you. There’s something magical about the camera that just feels …right. Coming from years of owning big Canon & Nikon bodies I haven’t been this excited about the feel of a camera since the film days with the Nikon F4. After shooting some informal images and taking the camera in the studio I’ve been blown away with the files straight out of the camera.

    The change/addition I’d like to added is moving the SD card slot to the side of the camera. Ideally I’d love the battery opening moved as well and just have a solid, rugged plate at the bottom but that’s just wishful thinking.

  12. I am wondering whether to buy the x pro1 or the x e1. Not interested in zooms or ois – just the high- end primes. The real issue seems to be the pleasure and usefulness of the ovf on the pro. Any suggestions?
    Well- written article. Thanks.

    • Ron,

      I went with teh X-Pro1 because of the optical viewfinder. It works best with the primes and less so with the zooms, though the ability to switch over to an excellent electronic viewfinder in the X-Pro1 is incredibly useful. Were I using zoom lenses more exclusively, or if it were for digiscoping more exclusively http://prometheus.med.utah.edu/~bwjones/2013/08/digiscoping-with-fuji-x-series-cameras/ I’d suggest the X-E1, but with the primes, I liked the flexibility of the hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder.

      The sensor is the same on both cameras, so you are not missing anything there.

  13. Bryan – thanks for the link to think to this via Twitter. I’m coming from a similar area of concern. I’m not a working pro photographer but an avid enthusiast. I felt as my skills progressed over the years that I could and should start using more professional grade gear. Next thing ya know, I’m deep in Canon glass with a big-ass 5D mk 2 and brick-sized battery grip. Eventually though I found myself taking it fewer and fewer places for enjoyment. Solo trips up into the canyons or studio work in the co-op down in Lindon were about it, and my limited time free means less of that than I’d like.

    My tipping point was a few weeks back during a trip to Southern California for my grandmother’s 85th. I’m the family photographer. I’m the one putting together the group shots and catching the candids. And I just didn’t want to lug out my camera and lens and tripod and flashes and pocket wizards and spare tires and the sink too. I just wanted to experience the moments and maybe catch a few key photos.

    Even my family took notice that I wasn’t attached to my camera. It was then I decided to go back and revisit what about photography was important to me. My favorite photos recently are from my iPhone…the camera that’s the one you have, right?! So I’m hoping that simplifying and shrinking the gear to a minimal everyday kit will bring back the spontaneity and connection I used to have with my first Pentax ME Super and my first Sony DSC-F55. Those were cameras I took everywhere. I wore them out. I didn’t baby them.

    I like the x-pro1but really want a remote release for HDR, and time lapse – and the X-E1 seems to fit the bill. So…in with both feet I go. Wish me luck.

    • Yeah, I can’t wait for the revision to the X-Pro1. Hopefully it will include some of the features of the X-E1.

      The big deal for me is with traveling. I am finding that I can take a shocking amount of gear in a very tiny and light pack. More reports in the near future…

      Welcome to the Fuji fold and I cannot wait to see your images. Post ’em up on Flickr.

  14. Bryan, I just picked up a 2nd hand X pro 1 and looking forward to putting it through the paces. I’ve seen some subjective comments regarding the Pro 1 vs Nex 7 vs M9. Would you say the Pro 1 is right up there in terms of sensor quality with the Sony and Leica? Also you talked about their fine Fuji X mount lenses. I’m intending on using legacy contax, nikon and Olympus lenses on them because I have a collection of them from my film days. Have you tried any legacy lenses on the Pro 1?

    • Hey Tony,
      Yeah, I’d totally say that the sensor quality of the Fuji X-Trans sensor is right up there. In fact, in terms of dynamic range, the Fuji and the Sony sensors seem to have just a bit more dynamic range than my Canon 1DX which seems insane, but its true. I’d say that in terms of ranking on sensor noise and high ISO performance, I’d rank the sensors: Fuji, Sony, Canon, Leica M9 sensors in that order. The 1DX has the best autofocus on the planet in my opinion, but the Fuji outclasses it in dynamic range and high ISO noise.

      As for legacy lenses, I borrowed a friends old Nikon F mount manual 50mm f/1.2 with adapter and had a great time with it. If I had old lenses, I’d totally get an adapter and use them on the Fuji. There are some great Contax and Nikon lenses out there. I am sure there are with Olympus as well, but I don’t have any direct experience with them other than an old 50mm that I had with an OM-2 that I briefly used.



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Continuing the Discussion

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