Fujifilm X-Pro 1 Hands-On: Intoxicatingly Simple

Fujifims' new X-Pro 1 is the most sophisticated mirrorless camera we've ever touched. We said sophisticated, not complicated. If you know the difference, you are going to love this camera.

As a camera the X-Pro 1 is incredibly easy to use, which means a lot of people are going to hate it. All of the functions you need to take a picture are right in front of you, and after spending the last few years navigating camera menus trying to set up shots, the layout is almost shockingly simple. Aperture is controlled by a ring around the lens, right where you expect it. Shutter speed is controlled by a dial on the top of the camera where you usually find the exposure mode dial on a DSLR. Where do you control exposure settings then? If you want the camera to automatically set the aperture, shutter speed or both, simply twist the the control ring/dial to "A". That's it. Simple.

We tried the camera out using a prototype so there were some quirks to the performance, but overall the camera is a lot of fun. There's not intelligent automatic settings that pretend to know what you're looking for from a picture. This camera isn't for snapshots. It sucks you in and begs you to focus on the kind of picture you're trying to take — to the point where you lose track of time trying to get it right.

Like other Fuji cameras, this camera has the unbelievably cool hybrid viewfinder, which allows you to toggle between the back display and the viewfinder. The coolest part is that all the menus and display options you're used to seeing on a camera's LCD are viewable through the viewfinder.

The camera's one drawback, and Fuji has told us that this will be the case on the production models, is that the autofocus isn't going to be as snappy as it is on other cameras. Fuji says thats because that's not what this camera is about. Fine, but it's going to annoy the hell out of you if you're used to a good point-and-shoot camera or DSLR.

This isn't a fully featured camera, it's just probably going to be a very good camera. We're very excited to see what the image quality on the company's proprietary version of the APS-C sensor looks like, because that's what this camera is all about. It takes care of the quality and leaves the photography up to you. The camera is will be available at the end of February, and Fuji tells us it'll cost about $US2400.


Comments

    All well and good putting AF in the backseat, as this camera will likely appeal more to legacy rangefinder owners or those pining for an M9 and kids who put rangefinder and cinema glass on their mirrorless systems.

    But they shot themselves in the foot by making the whole lens system "fly-by-wire". There is also no distance scale nor the option of adding a focusing tab but those are minor points.

    If you can't rely on the AF you need fast-focus via mechanical feel. The expensive Olympus M.Zuiko 12mm is quite possibly one of the best modern lenses made but is hurt by it electronic control. Thank god it doesn't have infinite spin.

    So if you're wondering why the glass is relatively cheap for its pedigree and construction, focus by wire is why. Keep hoarding legacy glass on eBay people!

    Thanks for playing. I'm out. These people are beyond silly... "That's not what the camera is about."

    Holy shit!

    A Leica-style camera system with a good sensor, good lenses, compact and lightweight. That was the good news.

    Here comes the bad news: the extremely slow AF that can be seen in a Youtube video and is confirmed by this report is an absurdity. Hey,it's a brand new camera and comes with a 1990 autofocus. Wow, I am very impressed - Fuji redesigns the meaning of 'retro'.

    What comes next? What about a rewind crank? Will they limit the sensor to 36 shots? Or will they glue the caps on the lenses?

    Holy shit - is it holy or shit?

    Did you note anything assisting in manual focus, like EVF magnification or something like Sonys focus peaking? I mean, if the AF is relativly slow and you don't have any DOF scales at the lenses or using MF lenses via an adapter, it will be very difficult to focus properly with a EVF without any magnification.

    I wish some of you would check your facts first. Both the Fuji X100 and X Pro 1 display the distance scale in the viewfinder. It doesn't need to be on the lens because it is always in sight. Voila!

      Great. It's in the finder. Look through the finder and ruin your street shots. Putting your camera in front of your eye is a good method to show everyone that you are going to photograph. Why is it so difficult to print a scale on a lens? Customers ask for that. Why do they put a snail-type AF in a camera that cries for action? Why do the forget a tilt/swivel screen?

      This must be the result of computer nerds designing cameras. Why don't they ask photographers?

        I think the grand example of computer nerds designing cameras would be the NEX-7. Neither a dis nor compliment.

        The X-Pro1 seems to be one of the only mirrorless cameras out there to be extensively shaped by forum demands and photographer fielding. It's so great on paper. But judging by the X100, there are one or two misses that may spoil the whole show.

      A distance scale on lens is a must for zone focusing from the hip or on-the-fly hyperfocal distancing. There are times I've been caught out with P&S's that I knew I could've got quickly and without AF on an SLR or RF.

      It could've been done. Just look at the M.Zuiko 12mm. Goes from infinite focus-by-wire to zone focusing that stops at focusing extremes. Not many focus-by-wire lenses like it. Or they could've used fully mechanical gearing and utilise ultrasonic motors as in Canon and Nikon lenses that allows manual override.

        Hi Connie,Glad you and your seitsr-in-law like the camera and I was helpful in the decision-making process. You'll need to let me know what she thinks of your family photos. ; )

    You're right and i was wrong, focus distance and DOF is in the EVF. But still, why not doing it right, and giving it something a function for setting it automatically at hyperfocal distance for a given aperture?

      Among other quirks and omissions, the reason I bought a GXR over the X100 was automatic hyperfocal distancing, otherwise known as snap focus. Half-press the shutter to override via AF. Easy as.

    Turner, I think they just screwed up a basically good concept with crackbrained incompetence. Fuji should have talked to photographers in the first line.

    For $2400 I would expect decent everything. I wouldn't drop that on a camera that can't autofocus as well as something that costs less than halve that. It would want to have truly unbelievable IQ.

    Errr go get a 5D or a 7D for that kind of money....... $2400 is massively overpriced.....

      Hit the nail right on the head.

    A tilt/swivel screen? come on, this camera would be even cooler if it did not had a monitor screen in the first place. However, in-efficient focusing system, even a manual one does sucks.

    Do the XPro1 controls lock up while the camera is saving an image, like the X100? Or can you continue to adjust settings while the camera is saving images?

    To all the people complaining about the AF - this camera is NOT for you. As simple as that. Yes, it would be nice the AF was up to the best but if it delivers on the image quality, usability and fast manual focus then that's more than good enough for professionals in several domains.

      How do you know that the camera is suitable for fast manual focus? I would love to learn that Fuji implemented something like a peaking function, otherwise I am afraid that streetshooting and candids will become painfull at larger apertures and/or low light.

    :O
    This camera, while it specs up pretty nicely, probably isn't worth the money they're asking. i could buy a 5d mkii and a 50mm f1.8 for that money

    "The camera’s one drawback, and Fuji has told us that this will be the case on the production models, is that the autofocus isn’t going to be as snappy as it is on other cameras. Fuji says thats because that’s not what this camera is about. Fine, but it’s going to annoy the hell out of you if you’re used to a good point-and-shoot camera or DSLR."

    Not what this camera is about? NOT WHAT THIS CAMERA IS ABOUT?! Oh my God, those are some painful words.

    Well, so much for Fuji. They've toyed with my heart long enough.

    Canon, Pentax/Ricoh, and Leica will also introduce new mirrorless systems this year. Hopefully one of them gets it right. Fast AF in low light (EV3-5), and some way to instantly change zone & scale focus purely by feel. It can't be that hard, can it?

    the reviewer believes a hybrid vf refers to a toggle between ovf with overlay and LCD which is wrong , the Fuji rep that gave him the info simply may be blowing smoke in the past couple of days ive heard 1000 pounds 1700 us dollars 2400 dollars 1394 dollars 1200 pounds 1200 euros 1500 euros

    oops typo ,corrected here

    im tired of this nonsense and psychological price games that are being played
    i an an early adopter of the x100 and x 10 , if fuji wants me to adopt this system im expecting decent accurate af and a launch price of 1800 dollars USA funds with a 35 lens …..otherwise im abandoning Fuji with a sense of betrayal and profound disappointment

    I think Fuji wants to lift the brand from one that just makes decent quality compacts to one that people associate with quality photographic tools. Its refreshing to see a new camera coming out today that doesnt focus so much on outdoing the competition but focuses purely on the art of photography. The fact that they've released this new model with ONLY prime lenses available indicates this. Easy simple and logical controls will make it a pleasure to use for those people who actually use a camera as its intended... as an extension of your eye and a means of recording a moment without interference from "intelligent automatic" modes and "scene recognition" technology. Good on Fuji for taking a brave and bold step in bringing digital photography back to its roots.

      The simple truth: sales for compact cameras are collapsing. Everyone has such a camera, the market is completely saturated. The manufacturers start to understand that they need something new because the bar is raised and many people don't want a DSLR but a *better* compact camera.

      That has nothing to do with the art of photography. Camera designers have no clue about photography, that's a law of nature. If they were photographers they would build different cameras with less bells and whistles and less child's play.

      I'm absolutely sure hat today's camera designers are the children of the guys that designed VCR programming, laser printer settings menus, Windows 95, the inflatable dartboard or wigs for kangaroos.

      So, who makes the design sketches for new camera systems?

      I bet it's the marketing guys, and that's the bad news:

      http://www.k64.org/London/img/9a/dilbert-marketing.gif

    For a non english native speaker: Wha is the exact definition of "not as snappy as..." ???
    Is it slow or is it not getting the right point? If it´s slower then usual, that is no problem for me. What I need is a perfect AF-field, hitting the exact sharpness for maximum performance. I used Canon for long time with a lot of experience using a fast AF, but not very reliable. I don´t want this camera for action photography, I want it for highest quality in landscape and travel.

      That probably translates to "we have a problem because the earth is rotating"... :-)

      In a german site, the "DSLR-Forum", I just read some people describe this camera as "Retro Kitsch". Ugly, but...

    To me it sounds like (and looks like) it operates the same as a slightly smaller Panasonic DMC-L1.

    Hi

    It seems the AF speed of the XPro-1 is possibly quite similar to the X100 (i.e., not fantastic), and while I understand that this is a concern, I have found that in reality, it has worked quite well for me.

    I bought my X100 in early December after fighting the temptation for months (mostly due to the various reviews calling out its various perceived flaws) and found out to my pleasant surprise, that even though the various reviews are mostly accurate, I was able to adapt and overcome the various shortcomings of the camera to the extent I've relegated my D700 + 35mm lens to the dry case far too often in favor of bringing out the X100.

    It's true the AF speed is slow, and it's almost hopeless tracking a moving subject, but these are not things I do with my Leica M6 in the past too. With a traditional rangefinder, I would preset the focus distance, or prefocus and wait for the decisive moment to occur, or for subjects to walk into my frame (again, a feature of the window finder you will not find in a SLR), and I was able to continue observing the subject even after the moment of exposure for more possible pictures because I experienced no viewfinder blackout with the clear window viewfinder of the M6.

    I was able to inherit this very valuable shooting experience entirely to my X100. Yes, the focus is slow like molasses compared to my D700, and sometimes not accurate, but it has a wonderful distance scale in the finder, and with the X100 set to manual focus, one press of the AFL button will activate the auto focus system of the camera to my selected distance or subject, and thereafter it's a matter of releasing the shutter at the right time while observing the subject through the window viewfinder.

    It is foolhardy to try to follow focus a moving subject with the Leica M rangefinder, and it's the same with trying to AF on a moving target. For me, my best pictures were never a result of me seeing a subject, and rushing the camera to my eye while auto-focusing at the same time to shoot. My best pictures come when I observe a scene, select the background, choose a focus point and let the action come to me, releasing the shutter until the definite moment.

    Actually, I do the same thing above even with the fast focusing demon that is the D700....

    What I love about my X100 is that it brings to my mind so vividly the experience of shooting with a film rangefinder, and it offers advantages that a SLR does not.

    I regretted waiting so long to get one due to the negative press and reviews. Which is why this time I'm eager to get my hands on the XPro-1, even if the AF has not been improved. Even if the write speed is the same as the X100. (I don't shoot continuous with any rangefinder, and with single shot, this is NOT a problem with the X100).

    I guess these X series cameras are not for people who buy with their heads (thinking in terms of specs and value for money) but are more for people who buy with the heart, who are after a particular shooting experience which is different. (of course I do wish these cameras will be cheaper too!!!)

      while one technique of shooting with rangefinders, presetting a zone of focus, does transfer to the x100, the more powerful technique of scale focusing instantly by feel in response to changing opportunities doesn't quite make it. the x100's autofocus is often too slow, and the method of changing manual focus is hopeless.

      the technology to make a fly-by-wire focusing tab that allows scale focusing definitely exists, but i'm having doubts that the market is large enough. developing the muscle memory to scale focus is probably too esoteric a skill for the younger generations, even though it used to be common among leica photographers.

    I think the $2400USD price quoted here would actually include a lens. That would leave the camera body only at $1700USD.

    "not what this camera is about", ha ha. then what is it about exactly??

    It is obviously aimed at those who can not afford ,an M9, who want to use it for street shooting. This requires ONE SIMPLE THING, fast focusing. Great, if the MF is awesome on this camera and just like an M9 - then its all good, if not, i smell a nasty flop on the way.

    A camera aimed at a market that does not do what that market wants - smmmarrrttttt.

    ha, as some stated - to many computer nerds designing cameras - they are not photogs and probably ONLY like photography cause it is now digital. Would have have these guys like photography in the 60's or 70's, nahhh. back then photography was for the cool, hot looking guys with all the girls..today, photography is now the domain of computer geeks that are still virgins. sad.

    I`m going to buy this camera,as it will go with my Leyland P76 I bought in the 70`s
    BOTH LEMONS.

    I have the X100 and at first it was a regretful purchase, I thought what a waste of money - the camera is archaic. The focus is slow and the exposure control is inconsistent. What have I done...
    But what I have come to realize is how the X100 makes you work for the shot. We have become lazy as photographers in the digital age. We have stopped considering the photo and just shoot away, hoping we capture something. Instead we wind up with 50 shot's of garbage that's close but not really anything but a variance of what instead should be just one great one. In school we had a K1000, a 50 mm lens, and one roll of film a week, it was a disipline - consider what you shoot - before you shoot it.
    I like what Fujifilm is doing - building a pro camera for photographers - not some expensive toy for rich people ( that can afford a Leica).
    It is old school and I love it!

      Exactly - gosh it takes almost second to focus, how awfully slow - get real in my day I actually had to focus by hand and sometimes it took more than 2 seconds. The X100 is a great camera the IQ is indisputable. I can only imagine how good the X Pro will be and mine is on pre-order. It's not for everyone if you don't like it buy one of the hundreds of other cameras available and stop whining.

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