HandlingThe X100 is to photographers what the DeLorean DMC-12 is to Doc Brown—a time-travelling camera that takes you back a good few decades. Here, however, there are no lightning bolts or flux capacitors involved. The camera's design is very old-school, and seems to play on a retro kind of rangefinder look with the optical viewfinder (complete with frame overlay) in the top corner of the camera—not to mention the chunky dials, the diaphragm-control ring around the lens, the screw thread in the shutter release to keep shooting nice and supple, and the coarse grainy plastic finish.
Build quality isn't perfect, however. The plastic used to make the buttons on the back of the camera is particularly uninspiring, as is the compartment door on the side of the camera. Although price isn't taken into account in our review criteria, we'd expect to see more impressive controls and materials used in a camera selling for just over £1,000. The Sony NEX-7 does a decidedly better job.
Like the X100, the X-Pro1 has a hybrid viewfinder. In optical mode, it's geared up for the 18 mm or 35 mm lenses but with added image settings and a frame to give you a (very approximate) idea of how to line up your shot. In electronic (EVF) mode, the viewfinder is similar to the one seen in the Olympus OM-D E-M5. It's therefore a little less impressive than Sony's NEX-7 viewfinder, but it's still very pleasant and comfortable to use with accurately reproduced colours. The only real downside is that anyone wearing glasses may have trouble seeing the whole frame in one go.
The X-Pro1 has quite a nice screen. It's actually the same display as used in the Ricoh GR D IV, with the same good contrast, well-balanced gamma and colour temperature (although it's a little warm) and decent—if not perfect—colour fidelity. On that front, the display has no major flaws, but the onscreen image judders and glitches a lot in low-light conditions.
Graphic user interfaces can be a bit hit-and-miss in Fujifilm cameras, and the X-Pro1 is unfortunately no exception. When using the camera day to day, we couldn't help but notice the scattering of strange features and inconsistencies. For example, the thumb-wheel has no use in shooting mode or in the main menu, but suddenly becomes indispensable in the Q menu. Similarly, the thumb-wheel is clickable, but this click is only used in manual focusing mode to zoom in rather brutally on the image.
The settings sometimes seem to be organised quite chaotically too. For example, the Q menu lists a selection of customisable settings profiles, but to change their parameters you have to hunt through the often confusing main menu. Similarly, the video mode is hidden right and the end of the Drive Mode menu. And for focusing, with a switch on the front of the camera, zone selection on the left, a macro button on the four-way arrows and the lock button in the top-right corner, you can soon end up getting lost.
Finally, one mechanical problem we noticed was that while the speed settings dial has a lock to stop it accidentally switching to S or M mode, the exposure correction dial hasn't been treated to the same system. On more than one occasion, we pulled the camera out of our bag accidentally set to over- or under-expose pictures.
As with many compacts with interchangeable lenses, battery life is a little tight in the X-Pro1. Fuji advertises 300 photos, but if you're a bit snap happy we reckon you'll need a spare battery to hand for a full day's shooting. Note that there's still no plastic guide to help you get the battery in the right way round either.
ResponsivenessThe X-Pro1 doesn't stand out in this field. The start-up and photo-to-photo turnaround times are both reasonable. The autofocus is no match for a mico four-thirds camera or a Sony NEX, but nor is it appallingly slow. The continuous shooting mode is pretty good too, at 5.5 fps.
However, these times hide an important problem—they're all measured when the autofocus actually manages to lock onto its subject, whereas in low light conditions, this is anything but systematic. Even with the 35 mm f/1.4 lens, the X-Pro1 refuses to lock on more often that it should, and you can see the image turn from sharp to blurred onscreen. We also found that the camera sometimes validated a focus setting and locked on even though the image was blurred. Comparison with the fast and reliable autofocus systems in the Olympus E-M5 or the Panasonic GX1 won't do this camera any favours.
Picture QualityIf there's one area in which the X-Pro1 was always expected to shine, it's got to be picture quality. After all, Fujifilm has invested a lot of time and money in promoting its exclusive new sensor (see inset) and its high-end lenses.
And we've got plenty to say about this new sensor! First of all, the various ISO sensitivity settings are handled very well. There are plenty of 16-Megapixel sensors of this size on the market already, and the Pentax K-5, Nikon D7000 and Sony NEX-5N have set the bar very high. However, the X-Pro1 tops the lot to become a new reference in the field. On the ISO test shots above, noise is visible at 3200 ISO, but it's mostly brought out by the fact that the camera over-exposes shots in our test set-up with its default settings in Auto mode (we always test cameras in Auto mode to make a level playing field for comparison). However, by switching to manual mode and adjusting the exposure—even by just a third of a stop—noise can be pushed down to a barely visible level at 3200 ISO. In fact, it still isn't too much of a problem at 6400 ISO (especially on 8" x 12" / 20 x 30 cm prints).
What's even more impressive is the fact that sharpness is maintained flawlessly even at high ISO settings, and that smoothing is still very slight at 12800 ISO (only available in Jpeg mode). On that front, the X-Pro1 easily outstrips its best rivals, which tend to smooth details heavily at this kind of setting.
Sharpness is actually a fundamental and inherent quality of the Fuji X-Pro1—you can really tell that there's no low-pass filter and, when the lenses are up to scratch, the level of ultra-fine detail in the shots is quite incredible. In fact, it's only really rivalled by the Sigma SD1 or cameras with much higher resolutions like Sony's 24-Megapixel models.
We received three lenses with our X-Pro1.
The 18 mm lens is the weakest link in the X-Pro1 series, as sharpness visibly isn't consistent across the frame at full aperture (this is noticeable on 8" x 12" prints). In fact, you have to close down to f/4 to get decent levels of sharpness in the corners of the frame.
Corners of the frame look slightly soft with the 35 mm lens at f/1.4—you'd expect at least that at this aperture setting—but detail is maintained well. Things get much better very quickly as you start to close the aperture, and at f/4, the whole image looks excellent, even at full size.
The 60 mm macro lens is a seriously impressive piece of kit. From f/2.4, full-size images look perfectly clear, crisp and sharp over the whole frame. Plus, when you close the aperture to f/5.6, the frame becomes even more richly detailed! At f/8, this lens is possibly the sharpest of all the lenses we've ever tested, with the exception of medium-format models, of course. The field covered (equivalent to 90 mm) also makes it a top choice for portrait photography—and all the more so for its nice touch of bokeh.
That said, the lack of stabilisation is obviously a bit limiting. With the 35 mm lens, we only got a consistently clear, sharp shot in our Barbie without flash test at 1/60 ths. But the wide aperture settings do go some way to make up for things, as we managed to stay at 800 ISO ... even though our test image is clearly over-exposed.
VideoVideo is filmed in Full HD resolution at 24 fps, with a nice, sharp image when the shot is in focus ... which, unfortunately, isn't always the case. Like in photo mode, the video autofocus isn't the finest feature of the X-Pro1. Otherwise, dynamic range is a little limited, and light shades are soon washed out to white. The framerate could be higher too—30 fps video filmed with the Olympus E-M5 will look smoother and less glitchy when viewed back on a monitor, and the 50 fps video mode in the Sony NEX-7 is noticeably smoother with a graphics card that's good enough to handle it. Plus, you can't change settings such as aperture while filming. Sound is recorded in stereo, but it's muffled and it's not always easy to make out distinct noises and voices.
In the end, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 shoots better-quality video, and that's not to mention video specialists like the Panasonic GH2!
- Incredibly impressive CMOS sensor: excellent image quality up to 6400 ISO, superb sharpness with good lenses
- Good build quality, good grip
- Hybrid viewfinder: nice to use in optical and electronic modes
- Practical to use in manual exposure mode
- Finish could be better in places (buttons made from low-grade plastic)
- Controls and handling can sometimes be strange (clickable thumb-wheel with practically no uses, no lock on exposure correction dial)
- Autofocus is inconsistent, especially in low light
- Low battery life, no battery guide (to help you get it in the right way round)
The Fuji X-Pro1 is a very nice camera that takes excellent-quality pictures—better than any other APS sensor camera out there, in fact. However, it's let down by its rather strange handling and its unreliable autofocus in low light. In the end, it's not as pleasant to use as the Sony NEX-7 or Olympus OM-D E-M5 (its key rivals), and we're not so sure its top-notch picture quality—although far superior—will be enough to make up for that.