While I'm working on compiling my thoughts in the full review of the Fuji X-Pro1 and X-mount system, but in the meantime I thought I'd put together some more informal thoughts on this new camera system.
With the Fuji X-Pro1, what we have is a new mirrorless system built from the ground up and seemingly with a very specific user in mind. Here are my initial thoughts on using this new compact professional system.
This is Not a “Dummy” Compact Camera
In contrast to other mirrorless cameras that bridge the gap between true compact P&S cameras and full-out DSLRs, the Fuji X-Pro1 is a camera that screams out as decidedly pro-oriented in its execution. The fact that the closest relative is likely the Leica M9 is a big statement, and Fuji certainly seems happy with that comparison.
After all, this is a camera that includes “Pro” in its name, after all. There's a lot to live up to in that statement – thankfully, it's something this system actually backs up.
You won't find a single scene mode on this camera. Which isn't to say you can't go full auto, because you can – but the Fuji X-Pro1 is a camera that begs to be shot in manual or aperture priority.
It's Old School
One of the most striking things about the X-Pro1 is that it's decidedly old school, and follows the same “retro” design as the Fuji X100 and X10 before it. There's a are dedicated dials for shutter speed and exposure compensation, just like your old manual film camera.
You'll either love this approach or you will hate it.
In my mind, Fuji has even gone to little too far in replicating the controls of an old film camera, because functionality suffers because of this form. While manual controls like exposure compensation might have been essential for shooting film, it simply seems like vestigial artifact at best for a digital camera.
The XF-Lenses are Winners
The quality of the new XF lenses is superlative. These are lenses that you can shoot all day long wide open. The Fuji 35mm f/1.4 in particular is going to be the must-have lens of the X-Mount system. For most people, Fuji might as well have superglued their Fujinon 35mm f/1.4 to the X-Pro1 at the factory. It's that good.
More over, these lenses are so light that you can load a small bag with the whole kit, carry it around all day and barely feel the weight.
Overall, the compact size of these lenses is ace. While the Sony NEX-7 looks like a fantastic camera, the E-mount is lacking in fast, compact lenses, something Fuji has addressed right from the start. Hats off to Fuji's engineers for designing such small, high quality optics in the X-Mount.
Handles Like A Dream
Wait, did I say dream? I mean a half-dream, half-nightmare combination that starts off good, makes you cry in your sleep, and then ends with you screaming yourself awake. It handles like that kind of dream.
To put it mildly, ergonomics and customizability are not this camera's strong suits. Neither is speed. If your are a DSLR shooter, there's a good chance that the X-Pro1's interface will infuriate you.
Light on Weight, Not Image Quality
One of the big features of the X-Pro1, like the Fuji X100 before, is the big APS-C sensor. Simply put, it's awesome. Image quality with this camera is extremely high, and while you'll be happy to leave the weight of a DSLR at home, you don't have to leave the image quality.
The 16-megapixel X-Trans sensor strikes a great balance between file size, resolution and high ISO performance. While the handling of the camera is a little questionable at times (read: all the time), the image quality of the Fuji X-Pro1 never is.
In fact, the image quality is so good that it's almost enough to about how weirdly/badly the camera handles. Almost.
This Camera Is Fun
Somehow, this camera is exceptionally fun. For all its sometimes awkward handling, the Fuji X-Pro1 is the kind of camera that invites playfulness, experimentation and serendipity.
The Fuji X-Pro1 eats up low light and works beautifully well handheld at slow shutter speeds. Surprisingly, this is a compact camera that somehow makes you excited to make images and just shoot, like when you were first learning how to shoot, before you became jaded. (Or is that just me?)
Ironically, because of the slowness and limited controls, it almost does feel like shooting film with this camera. Slowing down to adjust the aperture, shutter speed and carefully select focus really does seem to transport one back to a simpler approach to photography. This is not a bad thing, at least not when you go to use the camera with this in mind.
The Ideal Photographer For This Camera?
So, who is the right photographer for the Fuji X-Pro1? To me, this kind of camera seems perfect for someone doing travel and personal photography. It's for the photographer who wants the image quality and flexibility of a DSLR without the weight and commitment. It's also for the photographer who either has the luxury or preference of a slightly slower pace of photography.
Where To Buy
I'm working on my full review of the Fuji X-Pro1 camera and lens system, but I wanted to share these initial, informal thoughts as a preview. To be honest, the X-Pro1 is a camera I expected to hate, but one which has blown me away with its image quality.
If you have any questions for me about this camera, hit me up in the comments section!