I dont know about you, but ever since Fuji announced the X-Pro1 in January i have been anxiously waiting to put it through its paces. This is my extremely cursory upfront first impression review.
WOW! Wowsers! Yep...speechless. Almost.
I have seen some great shots from this camera out there on the internet. The tonal value of the black and white images have especially impressed me. Unfortunately, the internet can't tell you everything you need to know about a camera. It can't tell you how it feels in your hands, how well it balances or if the dials move smoothly and precisely. Fuji nailed it. This camera is more friendly to operate than the little brother and award winning X100. I was up and running at full speed within 10 minutes of first holding the camera. Its EASY. For the nostalgic, old school, rangefinder photo bugs, you will be right at home.
And that isn't even the best part. Lets talk lenses. Lenses are where the X100 stops being wonderful. The 23mm fixed lens is great at what it does, but obviously has severe limitations. Currently, Fuji has 3 lenses available in a brand new "X-Mount": XF18mm 2.0R, XF35 1.4R and XF60 2.4R Macro. I have shot the 18mm and 35mm but not the 60mm as we are still waiting for it to arrive. The lenses are wonderfully sharp with rich contrast even at the largest aperture. I will provide some sample shots at the end of this post.
These mirrorless cameras are paving the way for a new concept in imaging. Or to put it more adeptly, they are refreshing a much needed lost way of imaging. Rangefinders were all the craze in the 1940's and 50's. The smaller size, thinner profile, lighter weight and seriously great lenses made this style of camera a go to for hobbyist, enthusiasts, travelers, journalists and more. Leap forward to today's digital market, or more precisely about 5 years ago, and we had only two types of camera worth their beans. Compact pocket cameras and digital single lens reflex or DSLRs ruled the roost for the first 10-15 years of digital imaging. The trade off of the smaller camera was a very disappointing lack of performance. This was generally noted in the auto focus speed and resulted in blown opportunities and missed shots. A DSLR would circumvent this dissatisfaction, but meant carrying around 3-4 lbs or more. Where was the rangefinder?!
Many companies have tried and fallen short. Technology just wasn't ready to satisfy our need for speed, image quality and usability. Today we have some wonderful options that allow for a growing number of shooters (young and old of any experience level) to own the camera that suits their needs in the best possible way. On the top of the list for hobbyists and family photographers would be the Nikon J1. It's blazingly fast and simple enough for anyone (and I mean ANYONE) to operate. There is the Sony NEX 5n and NEX 7 for a shooter with a need for a higher level of control over their images. The NEX family is especially great if you are shooting Sony's wonderful Alpha DSLR cameras as you can utilize the same lenses with an adapter. Top of the list for me right now is very much the Fuji X-Pro1, this camera just feels right, shoots right, and produces color and monochrome tones like i haven't seen in digital cameras outside a significantly higher price point.
Here's a sampling of real world images. All metadata is intact if you care to look. Feel free to download. Please be courteous to both the subjects (Roberts employees) and the photographer (me). Images are right from the camera at a reduced JPEG resolution (2496x1664px). Monitors will vary if you do not have a calibrated system. For those that would like a more tangible experience, I will print the same images and have them available at our Carmel location.