We knew it was coming due to last week’s leak, so we had more than an inkling that the system would be an impressive one.
The Fujifilm X-Pro1 lays to rest 2011’s announcement that a new Fuji compact system camera (CSC) would see the light of day. The resulting X-Pro1 is a unique compact system camera with plenty more tricks up its sleeve besides.
On the face of it, the X-Pro1 looks a lot like the company’s high-end X100 compact camera, albeit with interchangeable lenses. There’s more to it than that, but first impressions count. And besides, the X100 looked retro and cool – something the black-finished, magnesium top and tailed X-Pro1 has also adsorbed into its mighty similar design.
The X-Pro1 introduces the brand new Fujifilm X-mount. At launch there will be three XF-series lenses released in tandem with the camera: a 35mm f/1.4, 60mm f/2.4 macro and 18mm f/2. That’s right – only high quality primes to be found here (though there’s scope for zoom lenses in the future). That’s an approach that no other CSC manufacturer is taking and it nestles the X-Pro1 in its own niche market bracket or, perhaps, as a bit of a Leica-beater…
The X-Pro1’s headline-grabbing feature has to be its new sensor technology, something that’s exclusive to Fujifilm. The latest 16MP X-Trans CMOS sensor (no sniggering at the back) is a brand new design that does away with the conventional four-pixel colour array (also known as a Bayer colour filter array). We’re going to need to get a bit geeky here, so hold onto your tech hats.
When a standard sensor detects light it outputs a reading from each photosite (i.e. pixel) that wouldn’t correspond to colour if it wasn’t for a colour array filter. A Bayer filter’s red, green, green, blue (four part grid) array repeats throughout the sensor so an accurate colour reading can be created. Surrounding pixels’ colours are generated by what’s known as a demosaicing algorithm.
However, due to the tight and repetitive nature of the colour array, detail areas can fall into issues and produce undesirable factors such as moiré. But the Fuji X-Pro1 ousts the standard four-part grid and instead opts for a far larger 36-part grid with colours arranged in a less rigid fashion. This removes the necessity for a low-pass filter and so Fujifilm claims the X-Trans CMOS sensor will not only avoid undesirable moiré, but also provide a more filmic result than ever before with resolution resolved higher than a full-frame DSLR sensor. Sounds good to us.
Taking a leaf out of the X100's book, the X-Pro1 has a similar hybrid viewfinder that blends together a full-field-of-view optical viewfinder with the benefits an electronic one. It's possible to toggle between the two finder types or overlay digital data when viewing through the optical viewfinder. Where the X-Pro1's viewfinder differs is in two areas:
a) The standard 18mm lens is wider than the X100's 23mm lens and so the image preview area isn't as expansive as the X100's larger-than-100% field of view and; b) There’s a built in magnifier that moves into place when one of the longer lenses is attached to provide better frame coverage in the viewfinder. The 60mm macro adjusts the crop lines in the frame to cater for accurate framing. The one flaw we can see with this, however, is that much longer future lenses won’t have accurate magnification, so instead we’d predict that only the EVF will be of use in such scenarios – though that can’t be confirmed until such lenses see the light of day.
The one flaw we can see with this, however, is that future lenses won’t have accurate magnification for using the optical viewfinder with, so instead we’d predict that only the EVF will be of use. At the Fujifilm press conference this was neither confirmed nor denied, however. Nine new lenses are planned for launch by the end of 2013 including at least one zoom lens.
Our initial thoughts are that the X-Pro1 looks a lot like an improved X100 with interchangeable lenses. If the image quality surpasses what that camera’s APS-C sensor was capable of then, well, we’ll be very impressed. Small adjustments have taken place to make the user experience all the more desirable though.
A Q menu button brings up a multi menu on screen for easy adjustment of all the major settings, the exposure compensation dial is now set into the body to avoid accidental knocks and the shutter dial on the top of the camera features a lock button. Oh, and the camera’s black all over of course – it won’t be available in the silver finish, presumably to avoid too much confusion between it and the X100. Speaking of which, we notice the X-Pro1’s lens lineup consciously avoids a 23 or 24mm lens to ensure that the pricey X100 remains relevant moving forward.
All in all, the X-Pro1 looks like it’ll tick plenty of boxes for high end users. Perhaps the CSC market has become mature enough to deliver a truly high-end product. And if anyone’s going to manage it then it looks like Fuji’s on the money. Leica lovers ought to see bags of potential in this release, we just hope the X-Pro1 shapes up to be as promising as it seems. Pricing is the only loose part of the deal – we’re guessing it’ll cost more than £1500 just for the body, considering that the X100 was that much at launch. Not something for your average consumer, then, but but we still reckon it looks rather cool.