Review:http://www.martinzimelka.com/homepage/Blog/Blog.html

NAVIGATION:

First Impressions:

Un-boxing the camera and lenses was a very pleasant experience, much more so than with any Nikon gear I’ve un-boxed. The extra effort Fujifilm put into the packaging goes a long way to influence initial impressions, and admittedly, worked favourably towards my opinion of the camera.


I was quite hyped up about the X-Pro 1, and the prior reading I had done did get me rather excited to take delivery of a loan unit + 3 lenses, which Fujifilm South Africa kindly sent me.


I opened the lid of the camera box, and looked at it’s contents with anticipation. Within the box was the camera packaged in a plastic bag. This felt rather unnecessary considering the dense foam padding all around, and with ironic hesitation I picked it out of it’s box. It’s probably just me, but the light weight of the camera - which in itself is a feature - didn’t instil an immediate confidence of being a high quality product. I had anticipated picking up a heftier camera, even having read that it’s only a mere 400gr in weight. Weight factor aside, there was no doubt that the camera was built very solidly, as were most knobs and buttons, with the exception of a few buttons that felt incredibly cheap and plastic-like.


The form factor is not disappointing. The little rubberised grip, together with the light weight of the camera, contributes to making it rather easy to hold and shoot for extended periods of time. While I may be inclined to prefer the slightly smaller form of the X100, the X-Pro 1 doesn’t feel too big. The X-Pro 1 fits nicely into small camera bags, and an ideal camera to have with you wherever one goes.

 

The first lens I reached for was the venerable Fujinon XF 35/1.4 R lens. I had read so many good things about this optic, that I just had to see what the fuss was all about. I Immediately started snapping away at the most trivial of objects around, and quite quickly sensed there was something wrong.


While playing with the manual focus ring of the 35/1.4, I felt a small degree of play when changing focus direction, which translated into a terrible manual focus experience. Initially, I thought it may be the lens-mount’s bayonet fitting, which allowed for a tiny amount of rotational movement. I’ve experienced this with some Nikon lenses on Nikon bodies. However, it turned out not to be the lens mount, but a loose metal ring on the lens body, between the focus and aperture rings. The lens was evidently new and unused, so it was disheartening to experience a brand new faulty product. This aside, it soon became quite evident how good this lens was, optically speaking of course.


The camera came with the first version of firmware installed. I assumed as much, since the first hour spent with the camera was incredibly frustrating thanks to it’s general sluggish operation, and frankly terrible auto focus performance. Also, the Macro 60/2.4 had the newest firmware already installed, which prevented me from using it at first. After downloading and installing three sets of firmware, the differences in all round performance was quite astounding, yet still falling short of modest expectations. If anything, the Macro 60/2.4 was my least popular lens choice, since it’s application in close-up photography was futile. The camera often failed to achieve focus on even simple, bright and high-contrast subjects. It’s performance was so poor, that I seriously contemplated not taking it on my Namibia trip.


All in all, the tone of the X-Pro product experience was pretty much set within the first 90 minutes after un-boxing, and I sincerely wished that things would get better. The camera has the potential to be quite remarkable, but it’s let down by poor auto-focus, somewhat sluggish behaviour, poor battery life, uncomfortably high price, lack of a regular RGBG sensor (personal opinion), and lastly by account of the current lens choice, the terrible fly-by-wire manual focus.