With a hybrid viewfinder and a new colour filter array on its 16.3-million-pixel sensor, Fujifilm’s highly anticipated X-Pro1 compact system camera is more than just a pretty face
Build and Handling
The Fujifilm X-Pro1’s resemblance to a classic rangefinder lends it a reassuring familiarity. It is larger than other compact system cameras, yet it feels comfortable to hold, with no small fiddly buttons. It is clear that it was never intended to compete for the title of ‘world’s smallest system camera’, but is instead meant to be much more of a workhorse built for ease of use and quick handling.
Fuji’s decision to include an aperture ring on all its X-mount lenses is a great one. Combined with a labelled shutter speed selection dial, a separate exposure compensation dial and, of course, the hybrid viewfinder, the X-Pro1 feels, for want of a better term, like a ‘proper’ camera.
When I first picked up the X-Pro1, I was taken aback by how light it is. As it looked like an old rangefinder, I expected it to be a rather solid lump of metal, but its magnesium-alloy top-plate provides strength without the weight. In fact, at just 450g including battery and memory card, the X-Pro1 is more than 160g lighter than the Leica M7 and 143g lighter than the M9.
As well as adding to the classic charm, the faux leather finish of the body allows the X-Pro1 to be comfortably gripped. However, as easy as the nostalgic references make it to forget, the X-Pro1 is still a digital camera with all the associated settings.
For instance, there are a lot of options in the camera’s menu system, which can make it a little daunting when deciding exactly how images are to appear. I shoot raw and JPEG as much as possible and aim to get the JPEG as close as I can to perfect. It was only for the occasional awkward scene that I had to delve into the menu to change the white balance or switch the metering.
Thankfully, there is an excellent Quick Menu button on the back of the camera, which displays all the shooting and image settings, and makes quick changes possible for the most regularly used modes.
Most other options have their own dedicated settings. The drive mode button allows access to all the bracketing choices, as well as basic single or continuous shooting modes, and there are metering and AF buttons, too. All that is missing is an ISO sensitivity button, but this can be set to the Fn button on the top-plate.
My impression of the X-Pro1 is one of great design. Of course, it can never fully be as simple to use as a film rangefinder, but the direct exposure controls and viewfinder display do capture some of that experience, which is something that most other compact system cameras have failed to do.