Fuji X-Pro 1… Another Fuji Misfire?


A while back ( around the time of the launch of the X10) Fuji stated they were serious about getting into the upper echelons of the prime camera bracket.

Obviously with the arrival of the X-Pro 1 and with it pitched into the same market as the Leica M9 it was supposed to be a more affordable alternative to the much more expensive M9 ( $10500.00 NZD). For US dollars deduct about 20% on the NZ price and you are close to what an M9 costs in other countries.

It therefore appears that Fuji’s X-Pro 1 will sit squarely in the middle of the Leica range, and as it offers video support as well as a series of interchangeable lenses it should appeal to the enthusiast who likes the look and feel of a rangefinder style camera. And with its distinctive retro styling whats not to like?

Well quite a bit as it turns out. Some reviewers have noted that it definitely isn’t a compact camera (no surprise really) and that its somewhat bulky. Fuji have also touted the camera as a “Pro” level camera but I have serious doubts about that. I think there are better “Pro” alternatives in the market place than the Fuji.

Lets assume that we are going to go the whole hog and set up a new X-Pro 1 system and do away with all our other cameras. So heres a list of items that a “Pro” might well consider when buying a X-Pro 1:

Fujifilm Finepix X-Pro1 16.0MP body $2,580.00
Fujifilm XF18mm f2.0 lens $870.00
Fujifilm XF35mm f1.4 lens $870.00
Fujifilm XF60mm f2.4 lens $870.00
Fujifilm EF-X20 TTL Flash $375.00
Fujifilm LC-XPro1 Leather Case $279.00
Fujifilm HG-XPro1 Hand Grip $185.00
Fujifilm NP-W126 Battery $140.00

Our thanks to Photo & Video International for these prices.

Thats a total of $6169.00NZD or approximately $4935.00USD. In terms of pro -gear and the cost its not excessive, a new Canon 5D MkIII with a 24-105mm lens will set you back $6399.00NZD and the new Canon 1DX body only is a cool $9900.00 NZD, therefore in terms of cost for a pro photographer the outlay isn’t huge.

Dpreview did a review of the X-Pro -1 back in June this year. You can find the article here, http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/fujifilm-x-pro1

While the list of lenses isn’t over the top price wise the range is very limited. There is a suggestion that a telephoto lens is on the way but as yet details are very sketchy. Prices are rumoured to be about $1200.00 NZD. We will have to await any announcements from this years Photokina, or from Fuji directly.

While the Dpreview reviewers find the X-Pro 1 a pretty decent camera and gave it a rating of 79%, I think this is overly generous. With a camera of this class, I expect, not hope for, top quality AF and manual focus. I would also expect the Auto ISO function to work accurately, not to mention the fact that the Histogram doesn’t work in manual mode. You have gotta be kidding right? Even my lowly HS20 and s1000fd have a live histogram in manual mode. A pro-photographer isn’t going to take that too well when wanting to check exposure values before pressing the shutter. What were the Fuji techs thinking? Then there’s the advent of no Face detection AF. WTF? Again my lowly HS20EXR has face detection AF. In point of fact it can do multi face detection Af.

Another thing that is important for pro and enthusiast photographers is the depth of field gauge or scale. Even my Pentax MZ-6 SLR has a rudimentary version of this. In a Pro level camera this needs to work and work properly and as statemed in the review this is basically inaccurate and useless.

For me at least you can have all the image quality in the world, coupled with a very solidly built retro styled rangefinder camera, but if it cant focus and do what you would expect a DSLR a quarter of its price to do then what you end up with is another expensive door stop. Sound harsh? Perhaps but if the brakes of your brand new Audio only worked one pedal press in four you wouldn’t accept that now would you? So why would you accept a camera that is poor in performance with some pretty serious limitations? At the price point of this camera and given its limitations I doubt that you would.

It seems on reflection the the Fuji engineers really haven’t learn’t from there mistakes with the painfully slow x100. It’s all very well to have stellar image quality but you have to be able to capture the image in this lifetime, and at present that’s not really an option with the X-Pro 1. Yes there are those, just as there are with the X100 that are happy to work around or put up with these limitations and kudos to them. I for one aren’t. If you produce a premium grade product and advertise it as such, then it damn well better live up to the hype.

This then leads us back to the statement that Fuji desires to be taken as a serious contender in the market place. I applaud their innovation with the mid and upper level camera ranges. I don’t mind paying for a premium product providing that’s what I get. Unfortunately that’s not what you get with the current batch of X Series cameras, and Fuji needs to acknowledge this and set the bar a lot higher for its design and engineering teams. Good quality imagery and design is being let down by some very poor implementations, and the QC needs to be held accountable as well.

I haven’t a clue as to how much longer Fuji enthusiasts are willing to forgive them these  problems, but sending back faulty cameras doesn’t help. Once again we approach the time of year when we hear what Fuji has in-store for the next generation of cameras. Hopefully markedly better versions of what we have now.

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9 Replies to “Fuji X-Pro 1… Another Fuji Misfire?”

  1. What’s your thoughts on the X Trans colour filter array and its effect on RAW (RAF) file conversion available in-camera and with supplied RAW File Converter -EX (Silkypix) and other standalone software?

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    1. For the most part, I think you are concentrating too much on the negative flaws (and every camera out there has them). As for your statement regarding design and imagery being let down, well we will have to agree to disagree.
      The design in my opinion is excellent. I miss the flash-fill ability, but I understand the physical design limitations with lens shadow if there was an in-built flash. However, for the rare occasions I need it, I’ve just purchased the EF-X20.
      Imaging? Well, if you own this camera (which I’m guessing you don’t), you would not even touch the subject unless you were commending it. I am blown away by the quality of images from the X-Pro 1 and my 35mm f1.4. Comparing shots taken with my friends DSLRs using similar sensor size; no contest, especially as you jack up the ISO. Quality is on a par with the Nikon D800E in my opinion, but it has a bigger sensor and your DOF changes to make comparisons more to do with your taste.

      As an X-Pro 1 owner, I admit, convincing me to spend significantly more than what other manufacturers were charging for high end mirror-less ILC’s took some doing. I did however spend time trying out the competition beforehand and to me there was no contest.
      For you and (others migrating from camera phones or basic point and shoot cams), Face Detection might be important. That is a personal preference as much as all the other technological tricks buried in software nowadays. For me and many others who are the targeted consumers of this breed of camera, we want to be free from gimmicks and distractions so that we can concentrate on taking wonderful pictures in the knowledge WE made the decisions, not so much the camera. The most welcome gimmicks are the film modes that can be bracket shot, love it!

      I’m not a professional shooter but grew up with film and learned to shoot SLR’s from a young age. I enjoy taking pictures, pure and simple. Fuji released a camera which brought back the days when we actually had to think about what was going between the subject, the lens and our eye. I can use the manual options in confidence or hand my wife the camera on full auto without worrying about too much about the output.

      Personally, I cannot relate to DSLRs with their convoluted menu structures and enormous size. The intimidate subjects too easily and attract attention from undesirables who want nice gear for free.
      The X-Pro 1 is kind of a ‘back to basics’ concept with a modern overlay. As a frequent traveller, I can say it makes the perfect and understated companion.

      Fuji have innovated.
      They should be applauded for not just sitting back and being another brick in the wall (or on the shelf) like some others who entered the mirror-less ILC arena lately. They brought some great alternative approaches to sensor design and EVF/VF technology. They have only 3 primes, but they are all getting exemplary reviews. More lenses will follow and I expect the X-system will enjoy long and respected life for those you want to hold a camera, not a gadget.

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      1. Hey Yuma, Very nice review of X Pro1 from a user’s perspective. Thanks!

        I’m still on-the-fence regarding the X Pro1…

        Would you comment on your experience of post-processing X pro1 images in-camera and with standalone software?

        Also, did you consider or have any experience with an X100? If so, how do images from an X100 compare to those from an X Pro1?

        Thanks again for your commentary! 🙂

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  2. I’d love to be in a position to give you my impression of post processing. Unfortunately, I’m working abroad on a project and have only an aging, basic, small screen laptop with me. The camera was hand delivered without any packaging, manuals or even the bundled CD software when a family member visited. I had my reasons…..
    The user manual was downloaded from the Fuji website, but downloading large software programs in this part of the world is not easy and prohibitively expensive, if you can get a reliable connection. A bit annoying, but this life. I will splash out on an ultra-book, install whatever software I need and hopefully purchase a 14mm lens when I return home in a few months.

    Saying that, post processing is something I don’t get too involved with anyway. I get more pleasure taking pictures and enjoying family time over being glued to PC monitor! Manipulating RAW images does have its place and I’m sure I’ll get into analyzing the Fuji files in due course. Not being so bothered bears testament to just how good JPEGs are from the X-Pro 1. They are very impressive in my opinion and I’ve only had to do cropping or minor orientation adjustments. I’m looking forward to seeing what RAW has to offer so that I can rescue a few of my silly mistakes!

    As for the the X100? When I first saw it, I reacted like a cat that got the cream. Got to play with it in the shop only, but I felt an instant attachment. I resisted buying it because I was between projects and recession was deep…. To be honest, I really wanted to change lenses for that sort of money. From that moment, Fuji etched itself on my mind. I liked their approach and felt that an interchangeable lens camera was their next evolutionary step.
    For what it’s worth, I’d still buy one, but I really can’t justify it and my wife would surely object……unless I bought it for her……hmmmm.
    The all black limited edition is gorgeous. Within weeks, you will have the choice of it’s successor to ponder and the current model is bound to drop further in price.

    In all fairness, if it weren’t for Sony’s NEX-7 production problems due to flooding, I’d have bought their camera months before with the Zeiss lens. Fuji’s offering, which was a turn off on price alone, justified itself by giving me that instant attachment I felt with the X100. The simplistic menu was another great feature. With a little practice, everything can be done without taking your eye from the view finder. I like logical and simplistic approaches to engineering. Sure, placement of some buttons left of the screen is less than perfect, but compromises have to be weighed against frequency of use.

    Sitting on the fence is OK, I did it for a long time! It means you are open minded. Take what you read in reviews with a pinch of salt. Most reviewers are far from independent and there is plenty of bias to decipher. Fuji is the new kid on the block (sort of) and they are making waves and setting standards, not everyone appreciates that in business. Sony has taken time to be seen as a serious camera manufacturer, but look at them now! Canon and Nikon are sharing sales with these guys and appear to be changing their product lines as a result.
    You don’t normally shoot in lab controlled environments. How many pictures will you frame in A2 or A1? Know what I mean? Tech reviews are simply a way of differentiating between the performances of other cameras. They do serve to help advancement and drive the industry, but your personal bond with a camera is more important. This is the critical link between your eye and what you want to capture.

    My advice to anyone is to try out friends cameras, rent something you are considering (with the latest firmware and read the manuals) and consider the opinions of owners, not just reviewers. I see too many people out there, showing off their fancy gear, yet they have no concept of how to operate the camera on anything other than auto mode. Up to them, but to me it is a waste of money. To get the most out of your camera, and pass on useful knowledge, understanding the priority settings and full manual control is a must.

    The X-Pro 1 is not everyone’s cup of tea. It is a lot of money to part with and a fresh system gamble. Choose carefully, don’t let others choose for you. Good luck with whatever you feel is right for you!

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    1. Hi Yama

      I appreciate the thoughts.
      When writing this article I knew it would be somewhat contentious, however the issues are worth exploring.
      I agree regarding the image quality, I never said otherwise, in fact one of the strong points of the X series has been the image quality, disregarding the lens and sensor issues of the X-S1 and X10. Fuji has certainly got some very good sensor technology at present.

      In regards your comment on Post Processing or lack thereof, Fuji is to me one of the very few manufactures that produce cameras that result in Jpeg images that require more often than not only a little PP work or none at all. I’ve had a very hard time getting that through to some of the PP stalwarts at Dpreview Fujitalk Forum.

      I don’t however necessarily agree about the DSLR not being as good as the X-Pro 1. Take the latest Pentax K30 (which I will be purchasing a little later in the year). It sports the same size sensor, has primes available every bit as good if not better than the X-Pro 1 and I have no doubt will produce images at the same quality level as the X-Pro 1 straight out of the box.
      The two lens kit price is approx the same as the X-Pro 1 body only. If I then want a more people/ candid camera I will buy the X10. With its new sensor and extremely good mid range lens I can have the best of both. The reason I would purchase the Pentax is many fold but a part of that is the large range of lenses I already have, including a favourite 35 mm f1.4 that I use for portraits.

      The entire point of this article however is to make people aware that they may well be shelling out some fairly large sums on a camera that has flaws that to me and many others are just not acceptable. I have retired from professional photography now but given the reviewed shortcomings, the lack of a lens system, over the top price (there are other 1 inch sensored cameras around that are as good as the X-Pro1, actually as good or better) at better price points.

      If you advertise something as a premium or professional level tool it has got to stand up to professional work loads and requirements. Take nothing away from Fuji for their innovation, image quality, color, design style, I like it a lot. But quite frankly if a $600 bridge-camera can do some of the simplest things and this camera cant, or does them poorly, then there is some serious questions to be asked. I for one wont pay for a camera that cant attain focus reliably or cant provide a histogram in manual mode. These are basic functions.

      As for face recognition, it may not be important to you but Fuji thought it important enough to include it in the X10 so why not keep it in the X100 and X-Pro 1? Its just a bit of fancy software after-all.
      I concur with your thoughts regarding reviewers though. I have been particularly annoyed with the EXR camera reviews as most reviews don’t incorporate the EXR as part of the review.
      This is inherently wrong as the core of these cameras is the EXR technology, both software and hardware play a role in these cameras, so why leave out 50% of the cameras functionality. I put this down to poor information from Fuji, or a reluctance by Fuji to discuss the technology for fear of having it copied by a competitor. This type of attitude from Fuji doesn’t do them any good as it leads to a great deal of confusion surrounding EXR cameras and their technologies. Mind you I haven’t seen too many well thought out reviews any way, as time constraints play a big part in the review process. Only so many people and so many cameras to review.

      Cheers
      Ralph

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  3. Thank you both very much for your thoughtful insight. It is very helpful to have differing views of the same subject matter presented side-by-side for comparison.

    My question regarding post processing is a result of confusion as to whether proprietary in-camera processing is an advantage or disadvantage. Many report in-camera JPEGs are fantastic. For some an ability to change in-camera development parameters before taking a picture is a benefit, for others a burden better suited for post. But, film simulations and some other development parameter are available in-camera only; they are not included in the Fujifilm supplied RAW File Converter. So, in-camera development appears to be Fujifilm’s preference, be it before or after taking a shot.

    What are your thoughts on the in-camera proprietary image processing of the X Pro1?

    Thanks again for your commentaries. 🙂

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    1. For me , I rather like some in camera processing.
      For example, film simulations such as Velvia are much better shot with this setting in camera, as software packages rarely give accurate representation of the color range that Velvia produces. Thats not to say with some care and the right software you couldn’t replicate it, but why would you when its supplied in camera.

      Another thing I advocate, and regularly get told is a cardinal sin, is setting the in camera sharpness to hard. However I’ve known for a while now the the Jpeg engines in the newer Fuji cameras is excellent. I dislike the introduced noise you get from post processing and the IQ trade-off from this is increased smearing. So the argument becomes simply how much post processing do you want to do given that the algorithms in camera are very good.

      The image below is a slight crop, with a little levels & contrast adjustment but hasnt had sharpness applied as this was done in camera.
      Its a good example of what the in camera processing is capable of, so I wouldnt be too worried but rather intrigued by just how much assistance you can get from the in camera software. EXR cameras are very good at this if shot well.
      Flower in shade

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  4. Beautiful!!! I hope my images turn as such…

    My conclusion from this and other exercises on X Pro1 post-processing is use of in-camera development creates superb JPEGS; skill and practise obviate a need for standalone software and final tune-up…

    Thanks again.
    😉

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    1. Thanks.
      Yes as much as possible I like to minimise the post processing, but as you know that isn’t always how things go. But as a general rule if I have shot the image half decently then the end processing isn’t usually much more than a slight levels and contrast change and maybe a bit of noise reduction if I’ve been using higher ISO’s

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