Fuji X-Pro 1 - Manual Focusing using the 35mm f1.4 lens

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

 1/60th. sec, f/1.4  ISO 200

There's a piece from the Dpreview preview of the camera that says:-

"Manual Focus
Unfortunately, the MF complaints we had with the X100 are unchanged with the X-Pro1. In order to check focus you can set the EVF to magnification mode easily enough by clicking-in the rear dial. Yet the camera insists on choosing its own aperture setting for the image preview - chosen presumably to maintain scene brightness in live view - which in some situations can make critical focus effectively impossible.
When pointed at a bright scene, for example, the camera will show you a magnified live view with the lens set to a narrow aperture, which of course shows a relatively wide depth of field. But if you actually want to shoot at a wide aperture (f/2.4 for example), you can easily be looking at a scene element that appears sharp in the magnified view but sits beyond the depth of field at the taking aperture. In this case, you'll end up with an out-of-focus image, despite it looking sharp in the magnified focusing view in the EVF. For a camera that is so clearly geared to enthusiasts and professionals, this is a critical misstep.
There is a workaround to this problem, although it's far from obvious. If you configure the Fn button for Depth of Field Preview, pressing it before you adjust focus sets the lens to the taking aperture. At this point, clicking in the rear dial for magnified view will allow accurate manual focus. Rather curiously, when set to video mode the camera honors the taking aperture in both normal and magnified live view all of the time, giving full time depth of field preview. I don't see why the camera can't behave this way in still image mode.

1/50th. sec. f/1.4 ISO 640
So this does work, and I was able to achieve satisfactory and accurate focus every time. However it does have a couple of problems. Firstly it ties up the function button, and if you are planning to use manual focus infrequently, then that button could be allocated to other more important purposes. I would also point out that for a camera thats supposedly "old-school" there are a few too many functions left inside the menu system for my liking.

 1/540th. sec. f/2.8 ISO 200

The second problem is manually focusing the focus-by-wire 35mm f/1.4. Though you might get the impression that this lens is also "old-school" its not. Its very much a modern electronic lens. There is huge travel on the focus barrel and it needs to be moved much more than what I would normally expect from a MF lens.

However, it does work if you need it, and the magnification is fine. There are also little problems at narrow apertures and I found f/8 no problem. However the EVF which is what you need to do this isn't that good in low light and there is a lot of flickering which makes it difficult.

Now treat this as you will, but when I was talking to the Fuji rep. at the Focus on Imaging show, in answer to my question about whether the MF system was the same as the X100 and whether there would be a better system for MF, he told me that when Fuji release their own m-mount adapter they will be re-writing the firmware in the camera to allow a better functionality. Hopefully that will be true and if so it might mean that focusing the Fuji lenses manually will become easier. 

As Dpreview rightly indicate, this isn't a snapshot camera and manual focus is something many buyers of this camera will be interested in.

1/160th. sec. f/2 ISO 200

 1/50th. sec.f/8 ISO 250

1/1100th. sec. f/1.4 ISO 200

1/60th. sec. f/1.4 ISO 200

Finally I would add that the 35mm f/1.4 has once again impressed me with its performance wide open. I think its very good, and it will be interesting to see how it compares with my Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2.

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