"Stunning," "astounding," "gorgeous" images are the Fujifilm X-Pro1's claim to fame in test after test. Even more than its retro rangefinder styling, its dazzling photos grab critics' attention.
But it's flawed. Slow autofocus, disappointing video and some flimsy bits relegate it to runner up behind the best compact interchangeable-lens camera, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 (*Est. $1,100 with kit lens). Note that Fujifilm has released a smaller, newer, cheaper version, the Fujifilm X-E1 (*Est. $1,400 with kit lens), which delivers exactly the same image quality.
Fun rangefinder style -- with some flaws. The Fujifilm X-Pro1 looks like a cool old rangefinder camera -- but it's not just for show. Those old-fashioned metal controls make expert testers feel right at home. "Just about everything on this camera is controlled by a mechanical lever, or manual dial, or rotating ring. That's what makes the X-Pro1 so much fun," explains Christopher Snow at DigitalCameraInfo.com.
It's not perfect, though. The rear plate is crammed with controls, but most of them don't do much, says Andy Westlake at DPReview.com. You can only customize one button.
Unlike other mirrorless cameras, the X-Pro1 has a true optical viewfinder, not an electronic substitute. But it's not a "through-the-lens" viewfinder like you'll find on a digital SLR (single-lens reflex) camera. Since there's no mirror to reflect the scene, Fujifilm had to scoot the viewfinder off to the side, rangefinder-style -- so what you see is a bit to the side of what you're actually shooting.
To help you adjust for this parallax, the X-Pro1 overlays an electronic frame (plus shooting data) on the scene, "sort of like a fighter jet cockpit," Snow says. It's "a joy to use," says Mike Lowe at WhatDigitalCamera.com, but it "can take a little getting used to." There's no built-in diopter correction, which irritates some reviewers who wear eyeglasses.
At 5.5 inches long, the X-Pro1 is a little bulkier than other mirrorless cameras. Still, reviewers point out, it's a lot smaller and more discreet than a DSLR.
"Amazing" photos, but second-rate video and focusing. "The X-Pro1's images were stunning," says Shawn Barnett at Imaging-Resource.com. "Astounding image quality," writes Lowe at WhatDigitalCamera.com. "Sharp, gorgeous pictures," says Snow at DigitalCameraInfo.com, where the Fujifilm X-Pro1 wins the site's 2012 Best Enthusiast Camera award. "The image quality is freakin' amazing!" writes one owner at BHPhotoVideo.com, who self-identifies as a seasoned pro. "The images are ridiculously sharp yet have a wonderful smooth, creamy texture. The color rendition is beautiful."
That's because its image sensor is different from any other digital camera's, Barnett explains. It's the size of a compact-sensor DSLR's, with 16.3 megapixels -- nothing unusual there -- but Fujifilm staggers its red, green and blue pixels, rather than repeating them evenly all over the sensor. This is supposed to cut down on both false colors and moiré patterning (rippled appearance) -- to the point that Fujifilm actually leaves off the slightly blurring low-pass filter that just about every other digital camera relies on to relieve moiré.
It works. In Barnett's side-by-side tests with compact-sensor DSLRs, the X-Pro1 delivers truer colors, less grainy image noise and "extremely clean detail," Barnett says. "None of the usual artifacts I've learned to accept after years of shooting and analyzing digital images." Even murky light poses no problem: Like the Olympus, the X-Pro1 gives Barnett a good 5-by-7 at its max ISO 25,600.
So why isn't the X-Pro1 everyone's favorite camera? Slow, buggy autofocus and crippled manual focus plagued early tests. Firmware updates have eased these problems, but it's still not a quick-draw focuser, says the post-update review at BHPhotoVideo.com: "It's still not a camera for action or sports photography."
Also, the full HD video quality is "spotty," Barnett says. Footage looks shaky (there's no image stabilizer), and jiggly rolling shutter pollutes it if you pan too quickly. Distracting artifacts infest Snow's footage, too. "This camera is purely for stills," he writes.
Battery life is rated at 300 shots per charge, which "ought to be longer," Lowe says.
Feels flimsy for the price. The X-Pro1's metal-plated body strikes DPReview.com's Westlake as "impressively solid," but other experts notice frailties. "The lenses are light weight, the aperture rings are loose ... and the overall camera feel is less substantial than I was expecting," says Barnett at Imaging-Resource.com. The black paint started flaking off after just a couple of days knocking around in Lowe's camera bag at WhatDigitalCamera.com.
Several owner reviews agree. "The body is well built and feels sturdy but every button and opening is very flimsy," writes one Amazon.com customer. Another says, "It's metal clad, yes, but feels less dense than it should. The shutter speed dial is cheaper feeling than it should be. I was shocked, picking this up, that for a $1700 camera [at launch] the quality wasn't better."
"I also think that it's poorly built for a [$1,400] camera," writes a BHPhotoVideo.com customer. "The buttons and wheels are wiggly. It is not sealed. It doesn't feel 100% solid. The motors sound squeaky." Another agrees: "I would have wanted a [$1,400] camera to be weather sealed," like the Olympus OM-D E-M5 is.
Pro-style feature set, with a few missing links. Only five lenses (*Est. $600 to $900 each) were available for the Fujifilm X-Pro1 as of this update -- and Fujifilm doesn't include any of them with the camera. Still, experts are excited about the lens possibilities: The X-Pro1's 35 mm prime lens is "truly excellent," Westlake says, and a $200 adapter fits M-mount lenses from Leica, Carl Zeiss and more.
Aimed squarely at pros, the X-Pro1 skips the usual special effects you'll find on consumer-geared cameras. You won't be able to make your photo look like it was shot with a toy camera, or like pop art, etc. However, you do get more sophisticated options. You can set the camera to emulate old Fuji film types like vivid Velvia or soft Astia; turn your photo sepia or black-and-white; add yellow, green or red filters; adjust dynamic range, saturation, sharpness and more.
Sweep panorama is present and works well, testers say. But there's no external microphone jack or built-in flash (although there's a hot shoe for an external flash).
Review Credibility: Excellent The Fujifilm X-Pro1's excellent image quality and handling impress Andy Westlake in this extensive test, but slow autofocus, "dysfunctional" manual focus and other bugs drag down its score. Westlake notes that September 2012 firmware updates improve the focus problems, and "we'll be revisiting our conclusions in due course."
Review: Fujifilm X-Pro1 In-depth Review, Andy Westlake, June 2012
Review Credibility: Excellent Imaging-Resource.com doesn't test as many point-and-shoot cameras as other sources, but its tests of more advanced cameras are unbeatable. Experts evaluate every aspect of the Fujifilm X-Pro1, shooting photos in multiple scenarios as well as video, plus side-by-side photo comparisons with rival mirrorless cameras and DSLRs at several light levels. They notice the same focusing problems (since alleviated by firmware updates) and disappointing video as other testers, but also the same "superb" image quality. Overall, they highly recommend it.
Review: Fujifilm X-Pro1, Shawn Barnett, Mike Tomkins and Zig Weidelich, April 18, 2012
Review Credibility: Very Good Thanks to its "sharp, gorgeous pictures" and "awesome" manual controls, the Fujifilm X-Pro1 wins this site's 2012 Best Enthusiast Camera award. Christopher Snow finds the video quality lacking and the rear panel too crammed with buttons, but otherwise it's "absolutely state of the art."
Review: Fujifilm X-Pro1, Christopher Snow, May 23, 2012
4. What Digital Camera
Review Credibility: Very Good "Astounding image quality" and a great hybrid viewfinder help earn the Fujifilm X-Pro1 a Gold Award here. Mike Lowe calls it "a staggering camera." He doesn't think the slow autofocus and other flaws are deal-breakers.
Review: Fujifilm X-Pro1 Review, Mike Lowe, March 9, 2012
Review Credibility: Fair More than 50 owners review the Fujifilm X-Pro1 here, and half award it a perfect 5 stars. Most others agree that it produces beautiful images, but they downgrade it for other flaws. Some (like chattering aperture blades and slow autofocus) have been improved through firmware updates, recent reviews note.
Review: Fujifilm X-Pro 1 16MP Digital Camera with APS-C X-Trans CMOS Sensor (Body Only), Contributors to Amazon.com, As of February 2013
Review Credibility: Fair With over 90 owner reviews posted here, the Fujifilm X-Pro1 maintains a very high 4.5-star rating (out of 5). Several low ratings complain about the slow autofocus, which has since been alleviated by a firmware update.
Review: Fujifilm X-Pro1 Digital Camera (Body Only), Contributors to BHPhotoVideo.com, As of February 2013