It’s Thursday morning and I’m sitting in a Starbucks in New Westminster, BC. Across from me is Gord Webster from Fujifilm. I’ve known Gord for going on five years; he’s one of those guys who gets photography and–more than that–he’s the type of guy that gets cameras, too. On the table in front of us is Fujifilm’s X-Pro1. Gord doesn’t say anything, he’s just letting me take it in.
There are a few things that I’m thinking at this point: ‘It’s gorgeous,’ is one of the them. ‘It’s looks like a classic,’ is another. I finally manage to voice something: “I want one.”
Gord smiles at me with a chuckle and shakes his head. “I can’t leave it with you right now, I’ve got another show to go to... but how about next week?” I agree, and silently repeat the words next week can’t come soon enough.
The X-Pro1 is the perfect representation of everything that Fujifilm is: incredible optics, stunningly powerful imaging hardware, and a fearlessness in design that no other major player in the industry has the guts to roll with. Fujifilm is that guy at a party who has succeeded (and occasionally failed) more times than you can count, and it’s been spectacular every time.
I used to sell cameras, a long time ago, in a Future Shop no less. Fujifilm’s SuperCCD seemed like magic, and fans and critics were divided on the idea, unwilling to agree on whether the technology was revolutionary or hokum. My own opinion? The pictures that I pulled out of Fujifilm digital cameras looked great, and they were willing to try things that no one else would. The form factor on the F601 (and its predecessor the F4800) should be proof enough: nothing is off limits.
Fujifilm’s history stretches back a lot further than their first digital cameras, reaching back to 1934 when the parent company was founded. Photographers came to trust the brand, with some elements–like their Astia and Velvia slide film, and their Fujica rangefinder cameras–achieving cult-like status in customer affection. In fact, most new Fujifilm cameras today still feature Astia and Velvia modes. My own first point and shoot camera was a Fujifilm, given to me when I was less than 9 years old. Thanks again for that, mum and dad.
You might be thinking enough history, get back to the X-Pro 1! Having a little history here is important, because (in
my mind anyway) the X-Pro1 is an important blend of old and new.
So what are we talking about here?
The X-Pro1 is the latest in the X-series line of cameras aimed at photo enthusiasts, following in the footsteps of previous cameras like the X10 and X100. These cameras have had an elegant retro design packed with cutting edge technology.
The X-Pro1, like its predecessors, is a mirrorless system camera with an everything-old-is-new-again rangefinder-inspired look. It’s the largest out of the bunch, sporting a body looks strikingly familiar to the much-more-expensive Leica M9. The X-Pro1 is launching with three new single-focal-length lenses and features a brand new 16 megapixel APS-C-sized X-Trans CMOS sensor. These lenses aren’t compatible with previous cameras like the X10, X100, and X-S1, which might irritate you if you’re a previous X-series customer, but I’m going to take a gamble here and say if you’re a previous X-series customer you probably have sufficient disposable income to not care.
How it feels and what it does:
Holding the X-Pro1 for the first time was a telling experience. It’s incredibly solid, while it has some heft to it, it doesn’t feel heavy. Gord handed it to me with the optional grip attached that makes the camera taller and fills out the grip; I think I’ll need more time to see if that accessory would be necessary for me–it felt great both with and without.
The rangefinder-inspired looks and controls just scream class. Little touches like the stamped-and-filled dials and labels harken back to an era before mass-produced pocket digitals. The X-Pro1 notably lacks a built-in flash, but I doubt it will be missed if you’re buying one; there are two Fuji-specific external flash options that are available for it.
Powering the camera on, there are two choices for sighting your shot; using an optical viewfinder, or switching seamlessly to an electronic viewfinder. The coverage lines automatically adjust to show you the image you’re taking, compensating for parallax, when you’re using the OVF; naturally with the EVF you’ve got 100% coverage.
One of the more interesting elements of the X-Pro1 is the colour filter array used in the CMOS sensor. Typically, the 2x2 pattern seen in typical colour filter arrays needs a low-pass filter in the camera to eliminate moire–it’s been all the rage recently for gearheads to yank the low-pass filter out of their cameras to increase sharpness... but no one is commenting on what that does to the degree of false colours and moire, mostly because it does indeed cause issues. Fujifilm has developed a more random 6x6 pattern that cuts down on moire and false colours. As such, they’ve omitted the low-pass filter, delivering an all-around shaper image. I’m curious and excited to put it to the test.
There’s a lot here to love, and while the X-series has had a storied past, I’m almost a little twitchy with impatience to get my hands on the X-Pro1. My biggest problem at this point? I think it’s going to push me over the edge to buy it.
Ah well, I like the way Kraft dinner tastes anyway. Stay tuned, folks, my review of the X-Pro1 is coming.
This interchangeable lens camera combines trendy, retro looks with cutting-edge technology to bring you a premium photography experience. The new, custom-developed 16 megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor produces stunning photos with higher colour reproduction and minimized generation of false colours.
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