A dual magnification system and continuously variable frame lines give you a
good indication of what you’ll see in the final image, which is a big plus.
If you prefer greater framing accuracy (especially for near objects and when using the 60mm Macro up close), flip a lever on the camera and the OVF switches to a
1.44-megapixel electronic display (EVF). This is similar in design to the X100 but of higher resolution and with the extra features necessary to deal with multiple focal lengths.
For my style of photography, I preferred the X-Pro1’s EVF because I’m very specific
about how I frame things. In addition, even though Fujifilm has already made adjustments in one firmware release, I found the projected OVF frame lines a bit too light
to work well with lighter density backgrounds.
As a side note, to keep the viewfinder’s design compact, there isn’t room for a
variable diopter for the eyepiece. The camera does use a standard 19mm screw-in
thread compatible with individual fixed diopters, right angle finders and accessories
available from Cosina, Nikon and others.
NEW LENS S YSTEM
Of course, the best image sensor wouldn’t be worth much without some good optics in front of it. To that end, the Fujinon lens design team has created the XF Lens
system and X-Mount for the X-Pro1, determining that an extremely short lens flange
to sensor distance would be critical to the design.
According to Fujifilm, by reducing the space between lens and sensor, light
transmission is maximized, focus travel is shortened and shutter lag time is decreased. Subsequently, Fujifilm was able to adjust lens designs for optimum coverage of the sensor.
In the new lens system, there is generous use of ED (extra-low dispersion) glass
and aspheric elements. Fujifilm even went so far as to redesign the lens aperture
to provide a smoother, more circular shape with minimum refraction knife-edge
blades. The out-of-focus backgrounds (aka bokeh) was quite pleasing in my tests,
and great for shooting portraits to help isolate the subject and make him or her pop.
What looks like a light baffle inside the X-Pro1’s body actually provides a step for
each different lens to mate with and register so there is a greater physical connection than just the mount itself.
The initial launch of the Fujifilm X-Pro1 includes three fast but somewhat compact (compared to DLSR) lenses: the XF18mm f/2 R; the XF35mm f/1.4 R; and the
XF60mm f/2.4 Macro (think: 28/50/90mm
full-frame 35mm equivalents, give or take a
millimeter or three).
Besides the camera’s unusually sturdy construction and extensive use of machined
metal parts that feel hefty but comfortable, the focus of the X-Pro1 is Fujifilm’s completely new APS-C 16.3-megapixel X-Trans CMOS sensor.
As a digital camera manufacturer with true
film experience, Fujifilm says it looked deeply
into the structure and mechanics of the way
digital images are most often created and
determined that they could introduce a more
“organic” and higher quality look to image
capture by changing the rules a bit.
Fujifilm’s solution is to switch from a traditional 2 x 2 Bayer color filter array on the
sensor to a 6 x 6 array, incorporating more
randomness into the color filters. (Fuji argues that it’s this randomness that makes
film images so sharp and smooth, but also
free of moiré).
In doing so, Fujifilm was able to completely
remove the low-pass optical filter from the
X-Pro1’s system. (Note: The low-pass filter
shouldn’t be confused with the IR filter, which
is still incorporated in the X-Pro1 and essentially helps image quality but suppresses any
But a new color filter array requires a new method of processing, and in the
X-Pro1, that’s aptly handled by the camera’s EXR Processor Pro, which produces well
balanced, 5.6-mb JPEGs in camera. RAW image files are 26. 1 mb and, up until press
time, could only be processed by the SILK YPIX software that Fujifilm provides in the
box. (Unfortunately, this basic software is not part of anybody’s workflow that I
Thankfully, I had access to a pre-release sample of Adobe Camera Raw which, by
the time you read this, will be available publically both as version 7. 1 for Photoshop
CS6 as well as integral with Lightroom version 4. 1. Although not quite as fully supported as other cameras in the vast list that Adobe tries to maintain, at least it
brings the X-Pro1’s workflow back to familiar territory.
I was truly pleased to see that the X-Trans CMOS sensor delivered on the promise
of extra sharpness without aliasing effects. To prove it, I went out of my way to photograph subjects with fine lines, details and complex patterns, and couldn’t see any
negative effects resulting from the elimination of the low-pass (anti-aliasing) filter.
ISO 200 is native and gave the best results but it was easy to shoot at 400 and
800 without compromising the image. While I experienced some noise at 1600
and ISOs above that (you can shoot at up to ISO 25600 in extended mode), results
showed tight, sharp and pleasing “electronic grain” similar to that from X100. Also,
as with the X100, the dynamic range, even at high ISOs, was impressive, making it
almost impossible to unintentionally blow out highlights.
LENS QUALIT Y
It appears the Fujinon team has delivered on
its promises. In my testing, the overall image
quality from the X-Pro1 with these lenses was
extremely high and quite useable at even the
widest, brightest apertures.
While I did find the 18mm lens to have
slightly softer edges and just a touch of easily correctible falloff at the corners, the 35mm
and 60mm showed almost no optical weakness. If you’re not photographing test targets
I would say most people wouldn’t notice, and
in fact would be challenged to find flaws, even
on poster-size prints.
Each lens includes a matched lens hood,
shaped and sized to provide maximum flare
reduction. And as a result the 18mm and 35mm hoods have rectangular-shaped
fronts, which are thoughtfully covered by Fujifilm in the form of a flexible rectangular lens cap (which, unfortunately, is so flexible I ended up not using for fear of losing
it). They also share a common filter size of 52mm.
The 60mm lens is a Macro, so while it only requires a somewhat less common
39mm filter, the extra lens extension does necessitate the included oversize lens
hood, which is almost as large as the lens itself, but can be reversed for more compact transport. Although not a lens that’s particularly fast focusing in Macro (down
to about half-life size), it produced unusually sharp images even fully wide open at
Fujifilm has promised to deliver more lenses over time and are on track to ship
two more by the end of the year: a 14mm (21mm equivalent) super wide and a me-dium-range zoom.
In addition, due to the expected popularity of this camera (and the physical benefits of having the shortest lens flange to image sensor distance), a number of manufacturers have announced lens adapters to allow mounting a variety of the more
common brands of lens systems. Not to be outdone, Fujifilm has started shipping
the M-Mount Adapter ($199) to attach Leica M-series lenses to the X-Pro1. It’s Fuji’s
first adapter for the X-Pro1, and it allowed me to enjoy the quality of the X-Pro1 imaging sensor with the speed/convenience of the conventional Leica focusing ring. (In
some ways, this is a natural choice given the amount of interest Leica owners have
apparently expressed in this camera.)
Though the 16.3-megapixel Fuji X-Pro1 has a retro look, it has some sophisticated,
modern features under the hood.