During my first day of shooting with the Fuji X-Pro1, I
did a simple side-by-side comparison between it and a
Canon 5D Mark II, the popular 22-megapixel full-frame
professional DSLR. Screen images and actual prints
from both cameras had very comparable image quality. That’s impressive considering the X-Pro1 is a first-effort camera from Fuji, with a lower resolution sensor
and new optics. It also costs about $500 less than the
Canon 5D Mark II.
The combination of Fujifilm’s new X-Trans CMOS
sensor, EXR Processor and freshly designed lenses—
plus, no doubt, some secret sauce—really worked.
After having spent some time and a few travels with
the X-Pro1, I have no doubt that the quality of the images are more than adequate for my shooting needs.
The camera’s compact, portable and discreet build
are also great to work with.
It’s not the right camera for all applications though.
For instance, it’s certainly not a replacement for a full-frame, fast-focusing DSLR when shooting sports and
fast action. In some lower light/lower contrast shooting conditions, the X-Pro1 had trouble finding focus
and didn’t always lock in quickly. The camera’s manual
focus is also hit-or-miss in terms of accuracy and us-ability, though improved from the X100.
However, when I did hit focus, my subjects were
super sharp. Eyes and eyelashes on models were superbly crisp and, if you are shooting fashion, your
model is going to want to make sure all skin conditions are covered up because every blemish will show
with this much detail.
When its FinePix S3 Pro and S5 Pro DSLRs gained a
cultish following among photographers in the mid-
2000s, Fuji developed a reputation for using its experience in the film world to create professional digital
cameras that produced wonderfully vivid but natural
colors, particularly flesh tones. That carries over to the
X-Pro1, which produced gorgeous images right out of
But the camera is not without a few glitches, including its slow focusing speed in low light and having the
PROS: Relatively compact and somewhat
inconspicuous retro-style, interchangeable-lens-based camera system; extremely
high-quality images for the price; excellent
skin tones right out of the camera; additional
system lenses and accessories expected soon
CONS: Slightly quirky operation including
some questionable placement of buttons;
inconsistent and slow focus in low-light/low-contrast conditions; optional Assist Grip must
be removed in order to access the battery/SD
PRICES: $1,699 (body only); $599 (XF 18mm f/2
R lens); $599 (XF 35mm f/1.4 R lens); $649 (XF
60mm f/2.4 Macro lens)
low end of its Aperture Priority automation bottom
out at a quarter of a second. These are relatively minor
issues though, which hopefully Fuji will fix in a firmware update. (Editor’s note: As we went to press, the
V1.1 firmware for the X-Pro1 fixed the Aperture Priority
range limitation, among other things.) Otherwise, the
retro-style X-Pro1 is a rare breed in the photo industry:
a camera that actually lives up to the hype.
The Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD is made primarily out
Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8
of polycarbonate but it still feels sturdy and professional.
Di VC USD (Model A007)
A new, budget-friendly workhorse of a lens with
When it comes to third-party lenses, the two companies photographers are probably most familiar with
are Tamron and Sigma. Though these brands might
not conjure the same kind of dewy-eyed respect that
actual Canon L-series lenses or top-of-the-line Nikkor
glass do, Tamron and Sigma optics are often significantly lower in price while their quality is usually very
good and occasionally great.
I’ve reviewed both of these company’s pro-grade
lenses over the years but probably with greater frequency since the global economic collapse in 2008
forced everyone to start looking more closely at their
While Sigma has launched some impressive professional lenses recently—I raved about the 120-300mm
F2.8 EX DG OS APO HSM lens ($3,180) in a review late
last year—Tamron’s latest offerings have been mainly
aimed at prosumers. So it roused my interest when
I heard in March that Tamron was developing a new
24-70mm f/2.8 lens with Vibration Compensation (aka
optical image stabilization).
A workhorse focal length/aperture combination
for professionals—particularly wedding and event
photographers but really anyone needing a high-quality standard zoom—a 24-70mm f/2.8 is an essential
part of a DSLR system. Throw in Tamron’s Vibration
Compensation feature and a price tag ($1,299) that’s
a good stretch cheaper than Canon and Nikon’s own
comparable glass, and you have another potential low-priced gem.
As usual, Tamron has given this straightforward
lens a rather awkward name: the SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di
VC USD (Model A007). I got my hands on a test unit of
this new Tamron 24-70mm in a Canon mount and took
it for a two-week test drive while attached to a Canon
5D Mark III. Here’s what I thought.
Tamron’s SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD has a primarily polycarbonate build but you might not guess that
from looking at it. Its all-black design with a gold
Tamron band around the center with the model name
is simple but attractive and suggests it’s made of
stronger metal. The polycarbonate keeps the weight
down to 29 ounces without making it feel flimsy. The
lens is solid and well balanced; a serious tool designed
Unlike Sigma’s own short and stubby 24-70mm
f/2.8 lens, the Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD’s
4.6-inch length is more in line with Canon’s 24-70mm
f/2.8 L lens. Though I liked the portability of the shorter
Sigma lens, Tamron’s 24-70mm f/2.8, which is weather-sealed and “moisture-resistant,” felt more professional. It should be noted that the three-year-old Sigma
24-70mm F2.8 IF EX DG HSM now retails for $824. That
lens doesn’t, however, have an image stabilizer.
It’s also worth noting that the older Canon EF 24-
70mm f/2.8L USM, which doesn’t offer image stabilization, sells for $1,599. Meanwhile, the new “version
II” iteration of that Canon lens does have stabilization
and goes for $2,229.
All of this is to reemphasize the point that the
Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD is a pretty good
bargain for a pro lens. Though I had no major complaints about its construction, I did find the lens’s
one-inch wide, rubberized zoom ring to be rather stiff.
While this did a great job in preventing lens creep, i.e.
having the lens unintentionally shift its zoom length
when pointed downward because of its weight, it
made quickly changing focal lengths a slow and somewhat rough experience. (If you really want to prevent
lens creep—especially when your lens is stowed for
travel—there’s a locking switch on the barrel.)
Official dimensions of the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8
are 4. 3 x 3. 5 inches and it has an 82mm filter size. The
lens is topped off by a removable, flower-shaped,
Along with Vibration Compensation (VC), which you
can turn on or off via a small switch on the side of the
lens, the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 has a very effective
Ultrasonic Silent Drive for tamping down noise. I literally could not hear the lens focusing, which is a great
thing if you don’t want to draw attention to yourself
while taking pictures.
While I found the wide rubber zoom ring to be stiff
and a bit slow to use, the lens’s autofocus was fast and
pretty much spot on in good light. While the medium
focal length doesn’t make the Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8
ideal for sports, images I shot outdoors of fast-moving
basketball and soccer were tack sharp. The real challenge was in dim or mixed lighting with low contrast
and while the Tamron felt just a tick slower in focusing than my Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM, that lens