Camera Review | Fuji X-Pro1
by Aaron Joel Santos
A Few Quick Things
So first things first. I’m not a camera reviewer, and this blog has never been about gear or technical specs or 100% crops or anything like that. I’m a full-time editorial and commercial photographer based in Vietnam and working across Southeast Asia. I travel. A lot. And I’ve been waiting for a smaller, more compact professional digital camera for quite some time now. With interchangeable lenses and a decent interface and enough resolution to work for magazines and newspapers and other publications. And so when the Fuji X-Pro1 came out, I was all over it. The following post contains some initial thoughts on the camera and its usability.
I tried to shoot in a variety of different settings, with different apertures and shutter speeds and ISOs and lenses and anything else I could think of. So this will be a visual diary. Look elsewhere for charts and graphs and Leica comparisons. I’ll undoubtedly leave out way more information than I remember to enter.
And Now About That Camera
The short of it is: it’s kind of awesome. But this review is very subjective. I’m an easy-going person. I make things work for me, even if there are small tweaks I’d like to see. So with that being said, I’m a little in love with the Fuji X-Pro1. It’s sleek and sexy. From the front, it’s all black with no writing. It fits extremely well in a small sling bag or satchel. It’s solid, but not heavy. And so far everyone that’s picked it up has had a similar “wow” reaction to it.
I purchased the camera with two lenses–28mm and 50mm equivalents–and two extra batteries. I also grabbed three 32gb cards and a new Billingham L2 to haul it all around in. The bag is charming as well, and everything fits nicely inside, with enough space for a notebook and a paperback novel and other miscellaneous photography trinkets.
It took very little time to figure out the menus and custom settings. I’m a big fan of the old school design, with the shutter speed dial up top and the aperture ring on the lens. The shutter dial is only in full stops, but the aperture can be set in 1/3-stop increments, which is very nice. The 28mm is an f/2 and the 50mm lens is f/1.4, and they both stop down to f/16. I don’t do focus tests and I can’t tell you if they’re softer at the edges or if f/8 is the sharpest opening or anything like that. But I can tell you that both lenses take amazing photos, and if you know how to work the camera, they’ll like as not be in focus.
Random Thoughts & Assessments & Ideas & More
I’m not organizing this post in any particular way, so I’m just going to kind of roll with whatever features or likes or dislikes that come to me, in regards to the camera. As I said before, I’ll definitely forget to include more than I remember. But I’m guessing if you came here for the camera review, this won’t be the only one you’re reading. And for that, I’m striving to make this one a little more personal.
Anyway, the files are pretty beautiful across the board, from ISO 100-6400, with both lenses and at all apertures. That’s the most important thing for me. Almost everything else I can deal with. The manual focusing leaves a bit to be desired, but I hardly ever manual focus, so I don’t predict that being a problem. So far the auto-focus has done a pretty good job of capturing what I’m trying to capture. Have I missed shots? Of course. But I miss shots all the time. And more often than not, that’s user error.
The Fuji X-Pro1 features the same hybrid viewfinder as the X100, which is a good thing. So you can switch between electrical and optical. Or you can view your framing on the LCD, and set it to go dark when you place the camera to your eye. Pretty cool. I’m also a huge fan of the viewfinder photo review: so you can see the shot you just took in the camera’s eyepiece.
I predict that I’ll lose the lens caps in a matter of weeks. I forgot to order UV filters when I bought the camera, and the front glass elements felt very exposed at first. I’ve since put some on, and now I’m much more comfortable with throwing the camera around like I’m used to. It turns on accidentally in my bag a lot, as the on-off knob gets hit quite a bit. The battery life is laughably brief. And I think the exposure dial is useless. I would have preferred one that changed ISO.
But all that being said, I’d still buy the camera again in a heartbeat. The good far outweighs the bad, and so far I feel very comfortable shooting with it. It’s small and light, but not too small and light. And it’s easy to use and takes really really beautiful pictures. Everything else is just fat.
All of the photos in this post were taken in Charleston, South Carolina. In the city and on the beach, with friends and family. They’re meant to show a variety of scenes, in color and black and white. The photos have been edited in Lightroom, in a similar manner to how I edit most of my photos.
Real World Application
June is looking extremely busy for me, and I look forward to using this camera for several different jobs over the course of the month. I also plan to write a second review of the Fuji X-Pro1 camera once I’ve seen how it does in the field. So far it’s performed to all of my expectations, but I’ve been on vacation. I haven’t had a deadline, and I haven’t had to worry about capturing a specific frame or subject. I’ve just been playing around.
And though I think I’m going to really like it as an assignment camera, I’ll need to take it on a few serious test runs before I can be sure. So first it will be traveling with me to Cambodia, on a travel assignment, then to Hoi An on another travel assignment, and then to three weddings, in Vietnam and Singapore. I’ll have my Canon 5Dm2 with me at all times, but I’m hoping to get a lot of mileage out of the Fuji X-Pro1 as well. We’ll see. Check back in a few weeks for those updates. Or do as I did and forget the blogs and BUY BUY BUY.