FUJI X-PRO 1 - interim assessment

For the whole Fuji X-Pro 1 Review and user experience click HERE

Fuji X-Pro 1 35mm f/1.4

I'm going to do an interim assessment of the camera. I have two adapters coming later this week for my Nikon F and Leica M mount Voigtlanders so I'll go into that when I've used them.

I'll use this opportunity to get down my initial thoughts on the camera.

THE BAD

Somebody should sue Fuji for the use of the word "PRO" in the camera name. Its misleading and implies that the thing works to a standard that a professional photographer would expect. Well it doesn't. 

A Pro (Well at least this one!) would expect:-

A battery to last longer than 85 pictures.
A Battery meter that didn't go from full to empty in 10 shots, and also had a % indicator to tell me how much was left and how much I was using.
An auto focus system that at least locked onto what it was supposed to EVERY TIME!!!
An auto focus and shutter release system that wasn't so slow that my subject had left the building before the camera took the picture.
A camera that could be used in a quiet environment without gurgling, grinding and chirping away from a combination of focusing noise and those REALLY IRRITATING clicking aperture blades.
A camera that didn't glitch and the screen go black occasionally and had to be turned off and on again. 
A camera that if it has frame lines they should be accurate and STRAIGHT!!
A lens that if it has an aperture ring, then it should let you mechanically change and set the aperture, instead of being some cosmetic electronic switch.
A camera that if it has retro styling should make some attempt to include some retro quality instead of being a polycarbonate facsimile.

The problem with the X-Pro 1 for me is this retro nonsense. Fuji did well with the X100, so they obviously think that this retro lookaleica stying is the way to go. They also seem to be attempting to come up with some kind of rangefinder aesthetic in a camera that isn't a rangefinder. If they are going to introduce these things then they should work and they should work properly. The mock aperture ring on the lens actually makes me quite angry. Its there as a cosmetic sop to us retro-heads and gives a false impression as to what the lens can do. Fuji also said the framelines would work and adjust to the focusing, well they don't. 

Several parts of the camera are very flimsily made. The somewhat important battery / card compartment opening flap is very difficult to use. Some of the switches and dials feel very fragile.

The focusing is very frustrating. There is something strange going on. The focusing mechanism grinds a bit before taking the picture and then for some reason grinds again afterwards, as if its resetting itself. I have continous focus turned off but it still does it and I have no idea why.
Manual focusing with the Fuji 35mm lens is virtually impossible in good light. Yes it has a magnification feature, but the lens barrel focusing ring has to be turned and turned and turned to make any difference, then its impossible to see whether its making a difference because the viewfinder or screen seems to default to a very narrow aperture and bears no relation to the aperture selected.

There's more but I'll stop there. Now if I'm missing something and there are people out there who have one these and instantly know how I can fix some of this, then I'd love to hear from you!

Hopefully, using manual lenses with "proper" aperture rings will fix a lot of this. I'll let you know.

THE GOOD

The sensor, the lens and the subsequent image quality they produce is nothing short of sensational. I said in my very first post that this is the best image quality I've ever seen and from what I've seen so far that is very much the case.

Fuji X-Pro 1 35mm f/1.4
All images - Fuji X-Pro 1 35mm f/1.4

Fuji X-Pro 1 35mm f/1.4

Fuji X-Pro 1 35mm f/1.4

Fuji X-Pro 1 35mm f/1.4

Fuji X-Pro 1 35mm f/1.4

Fuji X-Pro 1 35mm f/1.4

Fuji X-Pro 1 35mm f/1.4

Red Tulips are one of natures wonders but very difficult to capture accurately. In fact all very saturated red things are. Ann and I have a section of our garden which has a group of them. Every year we photograph them with another camera and every year we fail to do them justice. We can get the detail but loose the saturation or get the saturation and loose the detail. As you can see above the Fuji accomplishes this with ease. Also see the blow-up below.

Fuji X-Pro 1 35mm f/1.4

One of the wonders of this sensor is that it captures the world as it is. For years I've been trying to get the delicacy and sublety of the natural world I photograph into my images. Yes I've produced some nice images but very few of them were a completely accurate representation of what I saw. Now the X-Pro 1 can accomplish that. These pictures are virtually 100% accurate in terms of colour reproduction. The problem with photographing the tulips is that they are VERY red. The colour is very deep and very saturated. All the other cameras we have tried have produced a red blob instead of a subtly graded and recorded rendition. 

The Fuji also gets "real-world" contrast right better than any camera I've used. The gradations between light and shade look very realistic. Combined with this colour accuracy and beautiful colour separation, this is a camera that garden - flower - plant photographers will love. That the camera does this in a way that generates virtually no noise or artefacts at low ISO's and produces naturally sharp images, means that when I'm looking at these images on my screen I fell that I'm seeing the closest I've ever got to reality in two dimensions.

Not that this is going to make any difference whatsoever to how many pictures we sell, and I bought the Fuji not out of commercial considerations but simply because if I know this kind of quality is out there, and I can somewhow raise the money to buy it, then I will.

So, a very impressive and yet incredibly frustrating camera, as far as I'm concerned. And I did think that this would be a roller coaster ride. Part of the problem is that I want to do lots of things and change settings a lot when I'm out shooting. I go from wide shots to close-ups quite often. 

Two things I did like, firstly the optical viewfinder is very useful in bright sunlight with dark glasses on as it gives me a nice clear view. However whenever I select macro to get closer (Fuji - Why do I have to do this???) the optical viewfinder doesn't work and I have to use the EVF. Of course when I forget to turn off the macro setting and take a wide shot then I also forget that the optical viewfinder won't work and I swear at the camera because it doesn't do what I want. OK thats me, but I'm already trying to remember a whole list of other things, like the right combination between the viewfinder and screen settings that its just one more unnecessary hassle.

The other thing I like is that I can set the lens to MF and then press the AE-L button for a quick autofocus. This is very handy for panorama shooting. However what I really want is to leave it in autofocus, hold down the shutter button halfway and the camera to then lock the focus and exposure. However it doesn't let me take more than one picture doing this, so I have to remove my finger from the button, which of course means that it re-focuses. As I said frustrating. 

There will be much more on this camera. As I indicated in the first posts, when I look at the pictures on the screen, I love it, when I'm out using it, I hate it. Well not exactly hate it, but it does get called a few names. 

Hopefully Dpreview will do another of their "Its great but flawed, and these things need fixing" and Fuji will do something about these "eccentricities". Thats my only hope, since they won't take a blind bit of notice of me.

More later.

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