Mirrorless cameras are generally geared toward the enthusiast or semi-pro consumer. Some companies, like Canon with its new EOS M offering, are seeking to cater to a broader market in features and styling.
But not one of them can match the astronomically expensive FujiFilm X-Pro1 for pure photo-nerdery.
What Is It?
A relatively compact, retro-styled camera that delivers DSLR-quality images with a great deal of creative control.
Who's It For?
Camera lovers who want something easily toteable, that will utilize their technical skills, and that will reinforce their sense of photographic style.
Why Does It Matter?
It marks one of the most serious attempts by any company to satisfy such a niche market of hardcore enthusiasts. This camera was not built for widespread adoption; to be honest, it's rare to see a company put so much consideration into a product that satisfies the desires of so few.
The look of the X-Pro1 is its hallmark. Quality components aside, the real reason people lust after it is its looks. Specifically, its retro styling, which FujiFilm really nailed. Sure, it's quite large and isn't quite ergonomic, but some people value aesthetics over usability. The X-Pro1 is also replete with buttons, switches, and dials which may intimidate a beginner, but will lure in those looking for a fully customizable experience.
It definitely takes some time to get to know the X-Pro 1. But once you get used to the button and menu layouts, navigating the camera's many functions is satisfying and makes you feel in control at all times. Fuji's lens system isn't extensive yet, but the lenses it does offer are of great quality, with a 60mm f/2.4 Macro, 35mm f/1.4, and 18mm f/2.0. With an adapter, you can stick on Leica M mount glass as well. The camera's autofocus is no great shakes. In daylight, it is just OK, and in low-light, it suffers. Expect a lot of focus hunting to occur, especially with longer focal length lenses. UPDATED: The new 2.0 firmware greatly improves the autofocus capability. It still isn't insanely fast, but much better than before.
On the video side, ugh. While the video footage looked sharp and great when shooting macro, things quickly fell apart when any kind of detail was in frame. Aliasing and moire are AWFUL; the autofocus is constantly hunting. You can't even adjust ISO in video mode? Such a strange, unfortunate oversight.
The Best Part
The image quality! These pictures are delicious. They are sharp and colorful with Fuji's quality optics, and they hold up amazingly well in low light at higher ISOs. View our Flickr gallery of full-sized X-Pro1 images here.
For a camera geared towards people who like to manually control their devices, the manual focus on this system is terrible. It takes a seemingly infinite amount of turns on the Fuji lenses to find the proper focus range you are looking for. This camera is not for videographers. UPDATED: The 2.0 firmware for Fuji's individual lenses pretty much solves the manual focus issue. It is now totally useable and quite responsive!
This Is Weird...
The camera is slugglish. Thumbing through your images is painfully slow, and if you are shooting RAW, expect to wait a few moments before your next shot, especially if you shoot in rapid succession.
- The On/Off switch is prone to being accidentally switched on.
- Not sure if this was unique to our unit, but the body cap didn't tighten on. It sort of just sat over the lens mount with no fastening whatsoever.
- If you buy one lens, make it the 35mm f/1.4. It is fast, sharp, and versatile. All of our sample images were shot with this lens.
Should You Buy It?
If you have the money—and it's a lot of money—yes, buy it. It isn't just style without substance here. It's not a point-and-shoot. It is a camera that might make you work a bit, but it will reward you with great pictures (and jealousy from your photog friends). It is a bit hampered by the focusing system and video deficiency, but it is still a joy to shoot with.
• Price: $1699 (body only)
• Sensor: 16 megapixels, APS-C (23.6 x 15.6mm) X-Trans CMOS
• Max ISO: 6400 default (25,600 expanded)
• Video: 1920 x 1080 (24 fps) and 1280 x 720 (24 fps)
• Screen: 3" LCD, 1,230,000 dots
• Weight: 15.9 oz. (including battery and memory card)
• Gizrank: 4