Fuji X-Pro1 Review & X-Series Thoughts

When I first purchased my Fuji X-Pro1 not long after it first came out, I suppose my feelings were a pretty equal mix of excitement and frustration.

I started to write some reviews of the camera, then of course Fuji started bringing out firmware updates which helped to fix some of the issues that were causing so much frustration.

I have now re-written the reviews to be up to date. 

© Andrew Newson

© Andrew Newson

So I've had the Fuji X-Pro1 since April 2012 and I have absolutely no affiliation with Fuji. I am a professional photographer making the majority of my living from running photography courses. I have also helped run a Fuji X Series Open Day for a camera retailer.

I have always been impressed with the image quality of this camera from day 1, in fact beyond impressed, blown away sometimes. The resolution and detail that the sensor can record is really something else.

Low light (high ISO) capability is really great too. I won't bother with samples for this, there are lots of samples online to show this in great technical detail. But I suppose if you're thinking about changing your camera system and are wondering just how good the low light capability is, I would compare it at least to my old (now retired) Nikon D700, full frame digital camera. In fact I'd go as far to say it is better. So in short you are not getting the same ISO performance you would get from a regular APS-C DSLR, you are getting something much more.

Fuji X-E1 

Of course now you don't just have the Fuji X-Pro1, you have more choices, like the Fuji X-E1. The X-E1 is pretty much the same as the X-Pro1 without one major thing, the hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder. If this is important to you then really you have to go with the X-Pro1.  The X-E1 does also have a couple of benefits over the X-Pro1, such as an on-board pop-up flash and higher resolution electronic viewfinder. The camera is also a little bit smaller.

© Andrew Newson

© Andrew Newson

Fuji X-M1

Another new camera to the line up is a much more recent addition, the X-M1. I have yet to actually hold one, but on paper it sounds pretty good. Crucially it has the same X-Trans image sensor that the X-Pro1 and the X-E1 have. This means super high image quality and great low light performance.

It's a tiny camera too, maybe even smaller than the X20! But hang on, it doesn't have a viewfinder of any kind, only the LCD on the rear of the camera to frame your shots. This may or may not be a big deal for some people. I know a lot of people find it hard to see the LCD in bright sunlight and as much as the manufacturers say this is no longer an issue due to technical improvements, sure improvements have been made but it can still be an issue. The benefits of such a small camera with great IQ may out weigh the 'issue' of a lack of viewfinder. It does however have a tilt LCD, which I used to think was bit of a gimmick and perhaps not that useful in real life. That changed recently when watching a documentary about Vivian Maier, the most famous (not-famous) street photographer! She used a TLR camera for street photography which perhaps gave her an advantage as she was able to photograph people candidly on the street without the distraction of getting eye contact, because she was looking down in to the waist level viewfinder of the camera. You could use the X-M1 in a similar way and because it is so small, maybe it's a good option for street photography. Street purists will of course snub it because of the lack of real viewfinder.

X-A1 

Yes, yet another new camera from Fuji, this time the Fuji X-A1. This is not actually released whilst I'm writing this but is surely to make an appearance in the next few days. Essentially, it's a budget version of the Fuji X-M1, so no viewfinder but this time no X-Trans sensor either, still an APS-C sized image sensor just not the fantastic X-Tras. This is pretty clever from Fuji I think because as of yet they haven't produced a camera to rival a very big part of the market, the entry level SLR. This could be it! 

X100s 

Of course I haven't mentioned the Fuji X100, well to be more precise, the newly improved X100s. The X100 was Fuji's first X-Series camera and it became a real success story, perhaps more successful than even Fuji could have imagined. The camera sure had it's issues though and photographers were both loving and hating it. Fuji responded well with the new X100s with some 70 improvements on the older model. There has been some supply issues with this camera, but those using it are very pleased with the performance. Remember this camera does not have interchangeable lenses, but does come equipped with a great 23mm f/2 lens. The camera also sports the great hybrid viewfinder.

© Andrew Newson

© Andrew Newson

Flash Guns

From older review:
1) The EF-X20 flash gun is pretty nice, but there is a very obvious flaw. When shooting with the flash on, when the camera goes to sleep or is turned off, the flash is turned off too. You have to press and hold the flash power button to bring it back to life. In a situation like a wedding for example this is not good at all. The flash should sleep (go in to standby) when the camera sleeps or is turned off. Every other camera I have every owned works this way and I really hope Fuji can fix this with a firmware update.

Note: Still very much an issue, please look at this Fuji! 

User Interface 

From older review:
3) Image Review. I find that the review mode in the X-Pro1 needs a little attention. Currently you can choose to see the large image, the large image with some shooting data or smaller image with histogram and highlights. I'd like to see the option of viewing clipped highlights on the larger image too. Maybe clipped shadow detail too.

Note: Still very much an issue, please look at this Fuji! 

Auto ISO Minimum Shutter Speed

  From older review:
4) Auto ISO. I don't use this too much, but when I have I find it frustrating that it often defaults to a shutter speed of 1/30 sec, which is often too slow. I see in the new firmware update there is a new Auto (6400) option which may help, but I'd like to see each Auto ISO have a setting for minimum shutter speed, maybe 1/30, 1/60, 1/125 options would be nice.
Note: Still very much an issue, please look at this Fuji! 

Tripod Mount

 From older review:
5) Tripod mount. This is position off-centre and just feels weird. Also when a tripod base plate is on the camera you can't access the battery and memory card door, doh! You can purchase one of these base plates from The Really Right Stuff which will solve that problem. Or the Gariz half leather cases look pretty sexy, also solving this issue. Neither of which I have, as yet!
Note: Still an issue of course, not a massive deal but something to think about on the X-Pro2

More Accessories:

The Thumbs Up from match Technical looks pretty good. I've yet to use one, but I think it might be a useful addition. Not cheap though.

I use a soft touch shutter button too, mine is a plain chrome button and was about 3 or 4 quid from eBay, it works like a charm. Useful tip, put a little dab of clear nail varnish on the screw thread to ensure you don't lose it! This won't damage the camera and still works when you remove it (for cable release) and replace. It seems to add a layer of subtle stickiness to it that stays put for a while.

Top Tip! 

This clear nail varnish comes in handy elsewhere too. Beware that the eyepiece can come unscrewed and you will lose it like I did and so many other people!! Please remove the eyepiece and use a few dabs of clear nail varnish on the screw thread. Hopefully this should keep things together. I purchased this Nikon replacement from Harrisons Cameras - it fits perfectly but is not rubberised like the original Fuji one, which would be nice especially for glasses wearers like myself.

Looking to the Future

I am now hearing rumours ther might be a new Fuji X-E1 in the horizon, perhaps an X-E1s or maybe even an X-E2, who knows.

So assuming that is correct, then we can also expect something new for the X-Pro soon too I would think. But what? 

My list of hopes... 

  1. Weather seals. This is a big one for me, using the camera in adverse weather conditions is important. 
  2. Better UI, see comment above about image review layout. 
  3. Slightly smaller body. 
  4. Built in pop-up flash. I know most people won't be fussed on this. 
  5. Diopter adjustment on the eye piece. 
  6. Exposure comp to go to +/- 3 stops
  7. Mic input
  8. Maybe a couple of extra mega pixels, if no compromise on IQ. 
Andrew NewsonComment