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Does Fuji’s new retro-style, interchangeable lens pro camera
live up to the hype?
Bob Rose, a contributor to PDN, got his hands on the Fujifilm
X-Pro1 and filed this report. This month, check out pdnonline.
com/gear to see test shots he took with the camera.
Fujifilm’s surprise return to the pro camera market last year
was perhaps even more surprising for the type of camera the
company introduced: a retro-rangefinder-style model with a
fixed lens design, called the X100. Now, less than a year later
and fueled, in part, by the cultish success of its little brother,
an interchangeable lens variation has arrived to much fanfare:
the 16.3-megapixel Fujifilm X-Pro1.
Much like the X100, the Fuji X-Pro1 is a camera that provides
some technological innovation and the promise to deliver
high-quality images in new ways through a relatively compact, solid, well-built package.
To be fair, Fuji has released two other models with the X
designation: the X10 and X-S1. But while both cameras are
capable of providing good results, they are prosumer models
and don’t fit the “professional digital camera” designation reserved for the X100 and X-Pro1.
Fortunately, having much experience with the X100 made
it easier for me to compare the changes Fujifilm has implemented in both the design of the new X-Pro1 and its performance. Some of these performance enhancements, it should
be noted, have been made after the fact to the X-Pro1, with
In other words, the X-Pro1 is capable of providing undeniably
superb images, but operationally it has a few quirks. Is it a good
option for pros or just another novelty capitalizing on the throwback design trend? I’m primarily a travel photographer, though
I also shoot commercial, fine-art and panoramic images. Here’s
what I thought of the X-Pro1 after testing it in the field.
THE TOP DOWN VIEW
Although much larger than I expected, the X-Pro1 fit well in my
hand and was comfortable to shoot with. Add on the X-Pro1
Assist Grip ($94.99) and it was just about ideal, helping me reposition my fingers for better access to the poorly placed AE/
AF Lock and Q (Quick Menu) controls on the right side.
Here’s my other criticism: the Assist Grip must be removed
in order to access the battery/SD card compartment, which is
also completely blocked if you have the camera body mounted
on a tripod.
Beyond that, the controls on the top plate were easy to access and adjust including the power switch; locking shutter
speed dial; exposure compensation dial; Fn (Function) button
(user programmable but default set to ISO); and shutter release (threaded for standard mechanical cable release).
Each of the new XF lenses for the X-Pro1—more about
them later—has clearly visible aperture controls (which
should be lockable at “A” but at least have a third stop incre-
ment adjustments), and a wide manual focus control ring.
A hot shoe, TTL compatible with three Fujifilm flash units
(most notably the $249.99 EF-X20 designed for the X-Pro1)
and a left side mounted conventional PC socket round out
the top deck features.
FROM THE BACK
Though the X-Pro1 is a retro-style camera, one of the nicer,
not-so-retro features is its brilliant 3-inch, 1.23-million pixel
LCD screen on back, which complements the hybrid viewfinder (discussed in the next section), giving you two great ways
to frame and review shots.
The X-Pro1 also has a vastly improved (compared to the
X100) Control Ring, which is the primary user interface to almost all things within the camera menu.
While, as mentioned earlier, I found that the AE/AF Lock
and Q controls were badly positioned on the upper right
rear of the camera—it’s too easy to accidently hit them
with your thumb—the Quick Menu itself is a truly welcome
enhancement. It’s one of the nicest features of the X-Pro1,
giving you a quick view and control (with the Command
Dial) of the 16 primary camera settings, thus preventing
you from having to go through the tedious conventional
You can really customize and streamline what is shown in
the display windows, and switch on grids as well as an electronic level to assist with camera positioning/composition.
Other basic focus navigation/image viewing controls
and accessible features are pretty standard, although I
feel compelled to point out a quirk regarding capturing
bursts of action. The Drive setting is where you select
“Continuous” to access either 3 frames-per-second (fps) or
6 fps operation. While in this mode, the camera can shoot
up to 9 frames (at maximum resolution) before the buffer
is filled and it writes the images into individual folders on
the card. During playback, images in each folder are shown
by default as a looped sequence or as the first image of
the sequence only, which can be a bit frustrating to view.
(Fortunately, they’re all individually accessible outside of
the camera playback.)
Obviously everyone feels compelled to include video capabilities in still cameras these days and the X-Pro1 is no exception. So while testing the camera, I shot full 1080p HD footage,
which was of good quality, however video is not something I
would buy this camera for.
And while I, typically, don’t use much of the in-camera
image adjustments offered these days, preferring to leave
this step for post processing while editing, I have to hand it
to Fujifilm that they don’t overdo these. So when I actually
wanted to make a change on the X-Pro1, it was as simple as
switching from Provia (standard) to Astia or Velvia or Fujicolor
PRO in the menus.
REVAMPED HYBRID VIEWFINDER
The X-Pro1’s unique Hybrid Viewfinder lets you see all the important exposure information directly in the eyepiece. Similar to
using a traditional optical viewfinder (OVF), with the Hybrid you
can see the frame line of the lens with some extra space to tell
what’s moving into or away from the field of view of the lens.