This is by far, verrrrry far the hardest review I’ve ever done. I’d like to think that I’m pretty fast in figuring out a new piece of gear but the Fuji X-Pro1 has made my life hell for the last weeks. I just couldn’t decide what I think of this camera. Well, I could but after five minutes I would think something completely different … to switch opinions again after two deep breaths.
I must admit that I wasn’t too impressed with the specs of the X-Pro1 and the first time I held it and the first reviews didn’t really help to make my first impressions more positive. Let’s face it: on paper it looks like it’s similar to my Panasonic GX1 but at more than TWICE the price and with a bad autofocus system. And in many ways that statement still is true but it isn’t that simple.
The people of Fuji Belgium were so nice to let me test an X-Pro1 with the three available lenses for a week. As usual, I wasn’t going to shoot test cards or perform any lab tests, I wanted to see how the camera performs in real life. After making the usual test shots of trees, keyboards and the dog, I took the X-Pro1 to visit my brand new cousin Celine. Normally I would just take my GX1 for these kind of pictures but this time I shot mostly with the X-Pro1.
It took quite some time to get used to shooting with this camera and figure out how to use it best but I was pretty impressed with the image quality of the JPEGs that came straight out of the camera (at that time the X-Pro1 RAW-files weren’t supported yet in Lightroom). I had lots of shots with perfect focus … on the background, although I was sure I focussed on the subject. I also missed a lot of moments because the X-Pro1 is just too slow to give you a second chance in many situations.
I also tested the X-Pro1 during some other shoots I had scheduled during that week and always came to the same conclusion:
When the stars are perfectly aligned, the X-Pro1 is simply amazing but a fart in a galaxy far far away is enough to create chaos in the X-Pro1 universe.
What I mean is this: the combination of the sensor and the Fuji lenses gives you amazingly great sharpness, details and color. Straight out of the camera, the files often look a lot more crisp than my 5D mark II images. Fuji has a great reputation when it comes to sensors and lenses (they make lenses for Hasselblad) so that wasn’t a big surprise. The lenses are just like I want them: small, light, sharp and fast. But what’s the point in having a fast prime and a beautiful shallow depth-of-field if the camera isn’t capable of performing consistent autofocus?
At first, I didn’t like the weight (or lack thereof) of the X-Pro1 system. It’s a lot lighter than it looks. But I’ve come to appreciate the lightweight setup after using it for long periods of time. The build quality seems excellent. So it’s rather compact, light and sturdy, the ideal combination for unobtrusive shooting during events like weddings? Yes, if only it was a bit faster. Just about every aspect of the handling of this camera is just a bit laggy. It’s not really slow but it’s like the camera is slightly drunk and therefor reacts just a bit later than any other camera.
After this week of testing I’d give this camera a “close but no cigar” rating. The X-Pro1 didn’t really felt like an grown up camera to me, more like a very promising prototype.
So I dismissed the X-Pro1 and gave it back to Fuji. I told myself to keep an eye on what Fuji has in store for the future and while the X-system matures I will happily keep shooting with my GX1.
But despite all the downsides, I started missing the X-Pro1 the day after I returned it to Fuji Belgium. I felt like I might have missed something, like I didn’t really get it …yet. So I decided not to write a review at that point, think about things and ask Fuji if I could test the X-Pro1 for another couple of days. Move on to part 2 of my review.