Fuji X-Pro1 – The first ‘real’ consumer ‘rangefinder’?

Posted on by Bellamy

There are not many digital cameras that I would buy, but this camera has caught my eye
It could be said that this site has a bias towards film cameras, but that is not entirely true. I just don’t often find digital cameras that I like. Until now….

*news*
The camera that you see in these images was sourced for a customer. I am able to get the Fuji X-Pro1 now, with all accessories and lenses. Stock is available and certain stores even offer added extras. If you would like me to get you one of these cameras then drop me a line and I can make your dreams come true.

When Fujifilm released the X-100 I was not impressed, and then they released their other trinket, the X-10 and I was even less impressed. What happened to the Fuji of old? The company that brought us the TX-1 and the Natura S? The company that is famed for its lens making? It seemed like everything was gone the way of the marketing. Just making cameras that sell to the masses, and not making real cameras any longer. But it seems like I might have to eat my hat….so pass the ketchup.

If you are after a load of tekkie jargon, then you might want to go and read up on the camera somewhere else, this is not really about that. The specs of the camera are irrelevant to me. You see, one you get over a certain amount of mega pixels it doesn’t really make all that much difference. What does interest me about this camera is the design, the build and the lenses.
Let’s just be clear though….This is not actually a rangefinder camera. It is a rangefinder ‘style’ camera. This is a mirrorless digital camera and is not actually using a rangefinder system.
This camera is not aimed at being a pro camera, this camera is for the photographer who wants a quality camera that looks the part too. And It does look good, very very good.

To be honest with you, when I first saw the pictures I thought “Oh, here we go…another bloody Leica clone”, but I was wrong. Fuji have learned from what made the X-100 a success and have built on that. Yes, there are elements of this camera that are very much like the Leica cameras. But when you pick the camera up and feel it in your hand it really does feel like its own camera. The weight is trim, without being too light. The camera feels sturdy and like it would not fall to pieces at the sight of a bit of weather.

The back of the camera is well laid out and simple, without being too cluttered. The screen is nice and big and has excellent resolution, even in funky light situations. The problem that I have with some digital cameras is the massive abundance of buttons, but they have managed to dispense with some of the unnecessary ones, including the completely pointless ‘Raw’ button that was on the X-100. That said there is still a fair few buttons, and if you are not used to this sort of thing you may find yourself scratching your head and wondering what they are all for. What I really liked about the back though was the ergonomic thumb grip. Coupled with the front rubber grip it seems to fit the hand really comfortably. When I am buying a camera one of the principle things I am looking for is how the camera sits in my hand. It doesn’t matter how many bells or whistles the camera has got, if it is not comfy then I cannot deal with it, but the Fuji is comfy….lovely and comfy.

This particular camera was with the 35mm f/1.4 lens, which works out to be around the 50mm mark because of the APS-C filter. I really did wonder why they didn’t just make it full frame, but then the price would have pushed out out of the hands of the regular consumer and into the realms of the M9. This camera is not meant to be equal to the M9, but it certainly gives the Leica a run for the money….actually it floors it. The M9 sensor is not renowned for being fantastic, and fuji have made claims that the Fuji developed sensor on this camera has a higher resolution value than the sensor in the 5D MKII! Wow.
This camera was bought for a client, so I was unable to take test shots, but I have been able to shoot with it at Fuji headquarters and I can say that the camera is fast, smooth and very versatile. The AF is extremely fast and very accurate. I am not a big fan of AF, but this one seemed to be capable of handling everything that I threw at it.
The viewfinder is my only real boggle, but then I am spoilt as the viewfinders on my Leica cameras are bright and large. This one is a bit smaller than I am used to, and the digital RF took a bit of getting used to, but it can be switched to the original optical mode easily.
The camera is not as quiet as the X-100, but it really makes you feel like you are shooting a film camera again. In fact, when I first had the camera in my hands it felt like a film camera and I didn’t bother to look at the screen. It wasn’t until much later that I remembered that I could actually check what I had shot. This is a rare quality in a digital camera.

A lot of people wondered (moaned) as to why the X-Pro didn’t come as a native M-mount. But people forget so very easily. Fuji has never made an M-mount camera as they are a lens maker, so it is not really in their interest to make a mount of other lenses when they have the capability of producing their own lenses. And not only that, Fujinon lenses are generally regarded to be very good too. The 35mm lens on this camera was well balanced, sharp and fast without being overly soft or having terrible fringing. Fuji and Fujinon lenses have had a very long time to perfect their skills and the lenses for this camera do not disappoint. But, saying all of this, there is an M-mount adapter coming out soon, so you will be able to plonk your summicron on this camera and be ultra nerdy.
One of the really cool features I enjoyed on this camera was the film simulation modes, that have been developed to give the images that ‘film’ feel. Fuji re-created PRO 160NS and PRO 400NH in the software and they have done a good job of it too. I wouldn’t be surprised if firmware updates in the future offered other films too (we can all pray for a Super Presto together).

So, the Fujifilm X-Pro1, possibly the first digital camera that gets the Japancamerahunter seal of approval. I have been mightily impressed with this camera and I am really looking forward to seeing what people can do with it. Heck, I might even get one myself.

Japancamerahunter

4 Responses to Fuji X-Pro1 – The first ‘real’ consumer ‘rangefinder’?

Joel September 29, 2013 at 4:30 am

I’ve been using this for about six months now, and I am mightily impressed. I’m an old Leica/Haselblad guy, went digital about 6 years ago, and have been miserable ever since. But this hunk is different. I can finally shoot in B&W and get real results. The camera has an f/stop ring on the lens where it belongs, and a shutter speed dial where IT belongs. For analog folks like me (and I still shoot with my Hasselblad), this camera is intuitive and easy to use. It has a bulb function, praise jesus, an actual shutter release button that accepts old timey cable releases, and a real sync socket so I can use my old pro flashes or my studio lights. My image results are fantastic, and rival or surpass those of the $5,000 Canons or Nikons. And the 14mm f2.8 len is every bit as sharp as the 21 mm Super Angulon I shot with for years. I actually feel as though I am in complete control of my process again.

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Filipa August 2, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Hi, first of all, thank you very much for your reviews and articles which I follow via FB: such great enthusiasm and a precious contribution. I started less than a year ago photographing and using old film cameras. As I wanted to try digital i’ve been using the xpro with the 35mm and find it very intuitive too, similar feel of using a film camera. I love the lens so much I am wondering what would be the result on using it with film and would like to try it. There are plenty of adapters for using other lenses on the xpro1 but none found on using the fx fujinon on a film camera. Do you know where I could find it?

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