Customer Review

121 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How Fuji stole my heart and money, April 19, 2012
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This review is from: Fujifilm X-Pro 1 16MP Digital Camera with APS-C X-Trans CMOS Sensor (Body Only) (Electronics)
WHY WHAT WHO

I chose to write this review because the reviews on Amazon are so polarizing and sometimes downright pushy, so much so that they made me buy this camera to judge it for myself. I have to admit that it has been a long time since I had to defend my spending to myself. I am sure many must have faced the same internal struggle. Let me admit that this camera is a keeper for me. The decision came after a long search for a discrete both in use and appearance camera with a image quality worth taking prints and blowups of. I didn't personally own too many of micro four thirds, DSLRS and compacts but have friends who shared fair and clear opinion about the equipment they own(ed).

What this camera is? It's a collection of wishes in a very ambitious package and just like any other ambitious technology firsts, suffers from lack of polished user interface as well as competition. Some might find it downright offensive but X-Pro1 does not really have a competitor and for those who own M8 and M9s you know that you are eventually going to hit that buy button on your shopping cart sooner or later. You may say what about NEX7 and O-MD? I must say, to me NEX7 seems like a very light and compact laptop running Microsoft XL to take pictures, that is to say extremely flexible, configurable and fast but requires you to dedicate your brain, hands, fingers and eyes behind a thick software interface. Hardly photography for me since it would be so hard to make mistakes both unintentional and deliberate. I haven't touched O-MD so can't say much about it. And then there is the IQ, yeh well.. Fuji Xs can make any photography lover's eye go all watery but X-Ppro1 IQ can really grab on and hold on to a photographer's soul, especially when you get it going past its many issues. Although to be fair all issues are under MY limits of acceptable.

Who is this for? I understand why the reviews are so heavily opinionated since people have different photographic needs and have certain expectations from a camera especially an expensive one like this. If you:

Do landscape photography: You'd love it.
Do portraits: You'd love it.
Do street photography: You'd love it.
Do kids photography: You'd hate it.
Do sports photography: No way, this camera is not so sporty. You'd hate it.
Do low light action photography: You'd hate it.
Do want your camera to do photography for you: You'd hate it.
Want to show off your new toy to friends: You'd hate it. It would be hard to justify the cost to them in the 10 mins they hold the camera and the red dot owners would think that you don't know squat about photography.

So why would you go the distance to buy this camera? Just look at the images in flickr. Also it's truly an enjoyable experience to shoot with this camera. Here are my reason why I choose to keep this camera:

THE VIEWFINDER

The OVF is not complete by itself, it's the combination of OVF and EVF on a flick of a switch that makes this camera probably the best tool to compose great images. The bright lines and a little extra of the world that you see around them makes you think in terms of a `photograph' you are going to take not a `scene' you are going to capture. If you think that's a subtle difference, just try making a frame with your hand in front of your face and see it for yourself how a frame helps you compose when you can also see around it. One suggestion is to enable the parallax adjust focus frames, so that you can avoid about 10 mins of frustration when you think that the camera can't focus correctly. The frame lines are a bit tighter than the actual image that comes out but hopefully a fix to it is just a firmware update away. I have a 35 f1.4 and if I need to get a DOF preview, instead of enabling the function button to do that, I find it easier to switch to EVF and half press the shutter button. Needless to say my camera stays with OVF most of the time. One truly amazing thing is that OVF lets you compose your multiple exposure images, which may as well be a gimmick but is never the less very awesome to experience. The manual override to the magnifier is also sometimes useful like when I am taking images for a panoramic image. Yes I don't like the in camera panoramic composition, I would rather use a desktop software do it.

AUTO FOCUS

I think since it is almost fashionable to say that the camera has a slow autofocus, it is possibly the reason, I am almost glad that it's not as bad as I thought it would be. In bright situation it's just as fast as your run of the mill SLR. It does hunt in the dark and so does MOST of the cameras. It needs high contrast objects to allow it to focus in dim light. Now I am almost encroaching on the domain of Captain Obvious. One thing that I have already mentioned that you need to enable the parallax adjusted focus frames to correctly relate to what the camera is focusing at. I don't understand why Fuji didn't choose to enable it by default. Some people suggested that you use the continuous autofocus to work around the so called slow autofocus but I found it rather annoying but it's just my opinion and I DON't think AF is terribly slow on this camera or even slow enough to be even considered a limitation of the camera system although I wouldn't mind a firmware fix which can make it faster. Then there is accuracy. I have to admit that I don't spend a lot on modern cameras and I still love my MF Film SLRs but the 35mm 1.4 with AF can cause serious burn in issues on my plasma TV if I ever chose to render the images 1:1 on it. No, but really you get, very very accurate focusing and extraordinarily sharp images.

SENSOR AND IQ

Does it gets rid of moire without an AA filter?, my test says not completely but you won't see it on 99% of your images. Are the images sharp? Please check out full size images on Flickr. The noise performance is stellar. Someone mentioned on one of the forums (need to look up the link) that due to the modified sensor design Fujifilm will have to do excessive color NR which would result green or red patches on dark low contrast portions of the image and I was able to find a few of those patches but, I am guessing that can as well be a limitation of the in camera JPEG engine and possibly can be fixed with firmware updates but overall the IQ is just down right fantastic. The patches are not very obvious unless you know what you are looking for.
The film simulation modes are really what they say they are. Velvia just takes you back to those Fujifilm colors without the noise of course. As for me I don't think I am going to miss the lack of RAW support in Lightroom but on the other hand would LOVE to have it.

LOOK AND FEEL

The camera looks stunning, even better in real than it ever looked to me in all the images on the internet. People say its not as heavy as the money they have paid for it but I really don't intend to use it for self defence like I would if I had Leica M9 in my hand (and I would need its self defence capabilities if I had M9 in my hand). On the less humorous side, I feel the weight is perfect, does not tire me out and I feel that strap is redundant since I can carry it in my hand the whole day. Just get one of those beautiful Gordy's straps and you are good to go.
I live near NYC on the waterfront in a little infamous place called Jersey City and the boardwalk is very touristy and I often exchange looks of people looking at what camera equipment you are carrying. I noticed that people don't even look at my X-Pro1, which is awesome. I am sure the number of camera buffs / intersection is much higher in NYC and I might get caught but I am yet to test my theory.

The real dials to adjust aperture and shutter speed is a blessing. The shutter speed dial is a bit stiff but does have an excellent feel to it. The aperture dial feels a little too easy to turn but then you realise that you can change it with a single finger without taking your eye off the viewfinder and you catch yourself saying `damn Fuji'. Don't know if it is luck or its by design but it's perfect.

7 configurable settings and one Q menu to control them all, brilliant user interface, thank you Fujifilm!

The display is really good as long as you are not directly under the sun. Some say its the best in the industry but I wouldn't know.

I have big hands so even though the camera is big and chunky, I think the grip might help.

DEAR FUJI

Here is a list of things that I would like the Fuji engineers or anyone who has some influence on them to consider when they start giving firmware updates:

1. Get rid of power save mode - this mode only makes users unhappy, instead try to reduce the cost of the spare battery.
2. Make the fly by wire manual focus logarithmic, so that I can get to the focusing distance quickly and do the finer adjustments with slower turns of the focusing ring.
3. Keep the focus detection algorithm running in manual focus mode and highlight the focus rectangles on the parts of the frame as they get in focus. Kind of like focus peaking in NEX7 but on the OVF as well. My old EOS 20D used to do it for about 30 seconds when you switch from automatic to manual focus. You may choose to run the algorithm only with the half press of shutter to save on battery life.
4. Focus confirmation with the magnifier with the loupe only partially covering the frame like in many micro four thirds and point and shoots like S90/95/100 etc.
5. When the camera is in completely manual mode, i.e. user set shutter speed, user set aperture, user set focus and user set ISO, DONT think, just take the picture.
6. More accurate framing lines on the OVF.
7. Histogram on the image preview in EVF.
8. Faster autofocus.
9. Ultrasonic motor on the future lenses.
10. I would like to have more configurability of the buttons on the camera but i am not sure if that would make it another NEX clone.

I know that is a big wish list BUT again the camera is still very good and to me its a keeper. More than anything this is the camera that inspires me to take pictures, play with different settings and be creative. At this point I am totally enjoying this camera and I hope things get better or at least stay the same with the future updates from Fujifilm.
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Comments

Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 27, 2012 1:28:23 PM PDT
"Do street photography: You'd love it." Please explain? This contradicts almost everything that I have been reading so far.

How can a camera with slow auto focus be good for street photography? I wouldn't want to constantly have to zone focus to compensate for a slow auto focus. Especially at the price Fuji is charging for this camera. No matter how good the image quality is, it means nothing if you miss a shot or your shot is blurry due to a slow auto focus.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 27, 2012 2:26:50 PM PDT
Is the camera AF as fast as my 7 year old 20D? Depends on the lens but on an average no. But is it light, compact and fast enough for daylight street photography? Defiantly Yes. The slowness of AF is certainly overrated but again I only have the 35mm lens and I don't see any significant difference in AF speed compared to the 55mm prime I use on 20D "in day light". Yes the AF speed starts to drop very quickly with dim and low contrast subjects. I am not going to defend Fuji's pricing and I agree it's way too much for the camera system with limited capabilities but the only reason I still have it is the IQ in low light. And as I said the AF speed issue has certainly blown out of proportion on the forums. I do take a lot of 3200ISO shots with 1/120 second shutter speed of my kids at home and I couldn't be happier with the results.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 28, 2012 6:40:52 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 28, 2012 7:10:47 AM PDT
I have read many reviews from many different reputable websites and they all say the auto focus is terrible. That is real shame becuase they all say that the camera's image quality is phenominal.

The only way I would buy this camera is if they let me try it out (in real world situations, not just at the camera store) so I can see for myself. $2200 is a lot to pay for a camera with lens and there should be very little compromises at this price point.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 16, 2012 10:26:50 AM PDT
Rayto says:
During the day it's plenty quick enough for street photography. Startup or wake time is more of an issue. At night, zone focus. With the high iso IQ, the higher shutter speeds get back some shots you might have otherwise missed. It's not a camera I'd choose for the street, probably a Nikon V1, but it delivers some gorgeous night shots.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 14, 2013 3:56:45 PM PST
Earl Dunbar says:
Hyperfocal distance/focusing.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 3, 2014 3:30:58 PM PDT
Most street photographers use hyperfocal distance focusing, which Fuji took into account in their lens design for this camera. The fact that this camera has some form of autofocus, makes it superior to the Leica M9, in this regard.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 3, 2014 4:30:02 PM PDT
Earl Dunbar says:
Part of street photography has been the use of hyperfocal distance.

That said (and on a different topic) I am waiting to see what the X-Pro 1 successor has to offer. I can see it (or the X-Pro 1) paired with a film M as the perfect street and candid kit.
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