Sunday, June 3, 2012

My Very Short Time With the Fuji X Pro 1

I recently had a chance to play around with the Fuji X Pro 1 over the course of a couple of days. I figured that I would add my voice to the cacophony of reviews littering the web. I found that I used the optical viewfinder rarely, so issues with framing lines that many people had were never a problem for me.

Me Likey:
  • Image quality is amazing. Review photos barely do it justice. It's not quite up there with a 5D Mark II, but it's very close. Color saturation is excellent. Detail at high-ISO is amazing, but color saturation drops off at about the same point as most other APS-C cameras.
  • The body is very light. Some have complained about this, and I get their point, but it's much easier on the arms than a FF camera. Still, I enjoy the feel of my GF1 more.
  • The 35mm lens is critically sharp.
  • The 60mm macro is a noticeable upgrade in almost all optical ways compared to the Canon 60mm EF-S.
  • I found very few interface quirks that I disliked, unlike the X100. To be fair, I only used the X100 before the firmware upgrade.
  • The dial and button layout is excellent.
Me No Likey:
  • Autofocus is awful. Really, truly, amazingly awful. It's worse than the X100, the Olympus E-P1, and even the crappy point-&-shoot cameras that I had lying around. Compared to newer mirrorless cameras, it's not even a competition. This AF issue kills any advantage that the 60mm macro has over the Canon equivalent. I like to photograph fast-moving bugs with my lens, and the X Pro 1 is useless in that regard. The AF problem also affects my opinion of the lenses, since companies like Samyang are producing amazing glass for dirt-cheap... they just don't have AF. AF is the primary reason to buy within a company's system.
  • The 18mm lens is a huge let-down. Early shots seemed very good, and they are not. The other two lenses are worth their price, no doubt in my mind. The 18mm is not.
  • RAW converters still seem to be having a hard time figuring out what to do with the X Pro 1's sensor. It's been out for, what, two months and no updates? Currently, the Out Of Camera (OOC) JPEG's do a much better job of extracting fine details than Lightroom or Capture One. I don't know whether to blame the software companies or Fuji.1
  • I didn't encounter the serious metering issues that many did, but the camera did have a hard time getting it right on a few occasions.
  • I had some problems with reds not looking right. I don't know what to make of this.
  • Yet another mirrorless camera without focus peaking.
  • Bad video, but that's not too big of an issue. I have a GH2 for that.
  • The camera is still quirky. After coming from the slick, speed-oriented interface and workflow of Canon, it takes some adjustment, some of which I'm not willing to make. I don't need to feel deliberate and methodical to feel self-important about my photography. I shoot bees and my friends. I'm not photographing presidents.
  • No image stabilization system.
I wanted to like this camera a lot more than I did. I still am 100% behind it. Fuji is shaking up the industry and boy howdy does it need that. Everything about this camera is very Leica-y, though, and that only works for Leica because they are Leica. They are a prestige product. People don't own Leica because the photos are fundamentally better. They own Leica because of how it makes them feel when they take the shots.

Fuji understands that insofar as they are charging much, much less for their camera than Leica does. But the weird interface issues, slow autofocus, and lens choices make it obvious that Fuji is shooting not just for the enthusiast crowd, but the Leica crowd.

I am not the Leica crowd. I want every element of the workflow and interface to be flawless. I am willing to make concessions for image quality, as I've frequently said, and this camera's images are very impressive... buuuuuut, no. I just found myself, even after only a day, reaching for other cameras when I went out with friends and needed to get shots quickly before my friends had a chance to yell at me for taking photos.

This camera will absolutely be kept on my back burner. I loved so much of it. Unfortunately, Micro 4/3 has gotten very exciting, very quickly, and that did much to temper my excitement over the Fuji. Similarly, Sony's NEX system is growing quickly, providing further competition. I am not saying that they are superior, I'm only saying that they get so much right that the Fuji gets wrong, that it's hard for me to really drool over the Fuji like I did when it was first announced.


I should have pointed out that I see little difference between this camera and other top APS-C Cameras at low-ISO. Compared to a Pentax K5 and Sony NEX-5n, noise is visible in solid colors like blue sky that is not visible on the Fuji, but that's it. There is no other difference. I wish I had a 24MP Sony sensor to down-res to 16MP in a base-ISO comparison. I suspect that in that comparison, the Sony sensor would actually be superior.


1: A member of the Fred Miranda forums posted about watercolor artifacts in RAW conversions. He suspects that Fuji is to blame.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All posts are moderated, so it may take a day for your comment to appear.