A Day with the Fujifilm X-Pro 1

I’d not had the time to really play with my X-Pro 1 until now.

To me, the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 appears pretty much like the classic Contax G2—the one and only AF rangefinder camera. Elegant, well designed, compact and friendly to use. The features on the X-Pro 1 aren’t intent for the average shooters. Moms and pops will not be happy if they buy the X-Pro 1 to photograph their children’s sport moments or their kid’s birthday parties. The same goes for those who entirely depend on AF lens system and Program mode. Contrarily, shooters who have interest in rangefinder cameras will find joy shooting with the X-Pro 1 system.

I keep going back and forth between the X100 and the X-Pro 1 during the first couple weeks. I like the build and the feel of the X100 more. But then, the X-Pro 1 begins to grow on me. The weight of the X-Pro 1 body with a Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R isn’t that much different from the weight of the X100. I can run around on the streets all day with an X-Pro 1, three lenses and couple spare batteries without hurting my muscles or running out of energy before the day ends.

At its size, I can easily shoot from the hip or at the eye level before my subjects even notice an invasive camera is pointing at them. The black paint body, no logo in front and compact lens size also add discretion.

2012 © Optical Collimator

It’d be a lie if I tell you that the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 is an awesome rangefinder camera. The Fujifilm X-Pro 1 is a hybridviewfinder camera; it’s viewfinder functions quite different than what you see on the Leica M series. I want to say that the X-Pro 1′s viewfinder is better than a traditional rangefinder but in reality, it does need some improvements. On the other hand, the hybridviewfinder is the key to future rangefinder cameras. Although the X-Pro1 is a beautiful design, well built camera, it still lacks the “awesome feel” when I hold it in my hands. However, it’s indeed an interesting, fun to use camera.

Honestly, I have to say that I’m more impressed with the Fujinon lenses than the camera; especially, with the Fujinon XF 60mm f/2.4 R Macro. All three prime Fujinon XF lenses are exclusively designed for the X-Pro 1 camera to amend the light volume in image edge areas and to minimize the chromatic aberration. They’re also inhered the Fujinon’s famous Super Electron Beam Coating to keep ghosting and flare at the minimum. Other elements that make the XF lenses great are glass-molded aspheric lens along with curved, molding aperture diaphragm segments.

Fujinon has been known for its high quality lens making since the 1940s. The company knows exactly what it’s doing and continuing to bring forth the best optics at affordable prices. Comparing to the price tag on a Leica Summilux-M 35 mm f/1.4 ASPH, I’d say that I’m satisfied with the build and performance of the Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R.

Shooters find many quirks with the X-Pro 1; especially, those who use DSLRs and have no experience with the classic rangefinder cameras. I have couple friends who don’t like the laggy EVF. I used to dislike the EVF when I first got my Fujifilm FinePix X100; but after shooting with the X100 and now the X-Pro 1, I get used to it and kinda referred this issue as a feature instead of a quirk. The chattering aperture and the focus-by-wire method can be annoyed to some people, but I don’t see these as problems. They are just minor quirks and they aren’t stopping me from taking photos.

Maybe, it’s just with my camera but I notice that my X-Pro 1 has the tendency of over exposing when I shoot in Program AE mode—Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority are fine. Hopefully, Fujifilm will fix this with their next firmware update. Meanwhile, my remedy for this curse is to dial the Exposure Compensation knob to -⅓.

2012 © Optical Collimator

As I continue working on this post, the folks at Fujifilm issue the firmware update for the X-Pro 1 body and lenses. After I update the body and lenses firmwares, the aperture chattering noise is significantly reduced on all three lenses. The AF also responses snappier. Firmware version 1.01 improves the OVF visibility, fixes the deleting issue and the parallax compensation issue in OVF when the camera is in manual focusing mode, as well as to reduces the iris chatter. To make all these work, users need to update the body firmware first; then, the firmwares for each individual lens.

One thing that I like most about the X-Pro 1 is the “Q” menu. It is easy to navigate and it allows me to quickly modify a number of features–a must for street ‘togs. On top of the “Q” menu, I can also assign one feature to the “Fn” button, which I’m using to access the White Balance mode. Lately, I find myself using the Menu less but more of the “Q” menu during my photo walks.

2012 © Optical Collimator

For this post, I decide to put the X-Pro 1 through different type of lighting to learn about Fujifilm’s new color filter array, the speed of the new EXR Processor Pro and how the X-Pro 1′s Dynamic Range responses to extreme lighting conditions. I choose to work with ISO 200 for outdoor and 640 for most indoor scenes. I leave other camera settings at default. The Film Simulation is left on Provia/Standard. My choice of optic is the Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R and my shooting mode is Aperture Priority.

I use the Average metering mode for the “Headless Mannequin” and Multi-Zone metering for the other photos. I can’t find any documentation on how the X-Pro 1′s Multi-Zone metering actually functions, but in general, the Multi-Zone metering mode tends to bias its exposure towards the autofocus point being used to ensure that the point of interest would be exposed properly. As for the Average metering mode, the final exposure is based on the light information which was gathered from the entire scene. In my opinion, both metering modes read the scenes and precisely generate the exposure no matter which lighting condition I put them to test.

The Dynamic Range responses well even at default setting. Highlight and shadow details look natural in the photo below. Auto White Balance is surprisingly accurate.

2012 © Optical Collimator

In my opinion, both metering modes—Average and Multi-Zone metering—precisely read the scenes and generate correct exposures even in most crucial lighting condition. The light in the “Best by Test” scene below is a mixture of the afternoon light and neon sign lighting. I love how the Multi-Zone metering mode renders the perfect exposure for the colors and tones of the neon sign.

2012 © Optical Collimator

At ISO 640, the jpeg files are free of noises. Beautiful colors, too. I will do a high ISO report in the next write up so make sure you visit again to see how the X-Pro 1 performs under street lighting.

2012 © Optical Collimator

“Dinner Choices” is another example of Multi-Zone metering. The shadow and highlight beautifully blend together. And if you look closely at the left side of the photo, you will see a hint of blue color from the sunlight leaks through a nearby door. That is the work of Fujifilm’s new EXR Processor Pro.

2012 © Optical Collimator

The “Shoe Stretchers” shows how the Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R sees sharpness and detail. A separate write up on those three lenses will be posted shortly. I’m hoping that Fujifilm will bring us an XF 23mm f/1.4 in the near future.

2012 © Optical Collimator

At wide open, the Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R gives a smooth blend depth of field. This is rarely seen on APS-C sensor type. This also makes the XF 35mm a versatile lens for different types of photography.

2012 © Optical Collimator

Look how real the red, green, blue and the brown color on the Radio Shack sign show in the image above. If this shot was taken with an Olympus or a Panasonic, one of these colors would look unreal in the jpeg file.

In conclusion, I do like the X-Pro 1 as a camera for street photography. The X-Pro 1 is not only giving me good pictures but it also makes me look good taking pictures with it. As I commented earlier, the X-Pro 1 isn’t a perfect camera, but I do have faith in Fujifilm. They have the technology and they are holding the key to future mirrorless cameras. Probably the next X model will bring us more pleasure; still, the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 is worth every dime I’d invested in it.

In no time, we will have a wide range of high quality optics to play with and that’s what I’m looking forward to. For now, I’m good with the Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R and the XF 60mm f/2.4 R Macro.

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About Kris Phan

I'm not a photographer. I'm a camera user. View all posts by Kris Phan

2 responses to “A Day with the Fujifilm X-Pro 1

  • gunston

    so which metering mode are you using the most?
    which is seems to be the most accurate for you..
    of course i would only switch to average mode when shooting against back lighting.

    • Kris Phan

      Gunston,

      With the recent firmware updates, the metering modes seem more accurate now. I often use the center-weighted average mode for street photography. For street portraits, as well as shooting against the sun, I use the spot metering.

      Thank you for stoping by my humble blog. =)

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