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Sunday, 28 October 2012

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One of the X Pro's big features is that it is cheaper than a digital Leica while maintaining much of the Leica's features and, in some areas, outpacing it. No, it has no rangefinder. It has Live View focusing. Without going into a long list of technical specifications and problems for both systems, Live View maybe slower in some situations than a rangefinder in the hands of experienced user, but it's often more accurate. It's been almost a century since Leica gave us that little camera that changed photography. As of late they've sort of been in love with celebrities. It's both sad and nice to see it challenged by a little box that the working class can afford.

All it really needs is a high-quality zoom lens like 24-90 (equivalent) or so. Talk about giant killers!

I'm still waiting for the day when I understand why anyone wants an aperture ring. The few times I've used one, I didn't understand why I wouldn't want to select aperture the same way I chose ISO and shutter speed.

Maybe the problem is that I found my self tilting the camera up continuously to check what aperture I had selected, since it wasn't shown anywhere on the back of the camera or in the viewfinder...

Now if I can get one in 35mm.

There are thousands of articles about the XP1. I am a happy owner of one. I don't need to add more about the good things. But what nobody talks is that Fuji frame lines in the OVF don't work with M mount lenses, they are invisible in normal light. I don't want to sell all my Leica or Voigtlander lenses because I still use my M6 and is great to have a digital body to share this optics. Another worrying issue is that Fuji people commented in an interview that they have interest in a new design with a full frame XP. But none of the XP1 lenses will fit in a FF camera. More reasons to preserve my M mount lenses. The other thing that bother me is the lack of confirmation of focus in manual mode.

This summer I held a X-Pro 1 at the local pro shop and well just sweet...in every way except perhaps the price. But issues with RAW processing support in Aperture or LR scared me off.

So I went bought a Nikon D7000 with a 24-85 zoom. The price for that 'kit' was sweet.

Last night was thinking about that X-Pro and woke up to your post. I think this means something: strong camera lust driven by aesthetic desire or collective unconsciousness or approaching middle age fickleness. Not sure. But my Nikon 'kit' does not thrill me despite really great IQ for a APC sensor.

Perhaps my Nikon 'kit' will take a dunk and I can better rationalize the X-Pro 1 with three primes.

It looks like the DMD you wished for so many years ago has finally been realized.

Side thought - being a Madison, WI native married to a girl who grew up in Urbana, IL; I can speak to the strange dichotomy of supporting the Packers and the Bears. Except when they're playing each other, of course. Then it's Packers all the way.

Fujifilm is not standing still with respect too lenses. Here is a page at the Fuji web site showing current and planned lenses for the X-Series cameras.

Note the 23mm f1.4 coming next year. Nice.

http://www.fujixseries.com/discussion/933/fujifilm-x-mount-lens-road-map-2012-2013/p1

I bought my X-Pro 1 yesterday with the f/1.4 35mm lens. Fujifilm will send to me the f/2 18mm next month for free.

So far I have been very impressed. I do not found the focusing slow, as some have complained. I do not find many mis-focusing, as some have complained. Indeed I am now aware of many of the gripes some have had, but then, early days.

So far, it keeps asking me to pick it up and play with it. I shall take it out for a proper spin in the next few days.

Just curious about how all this (Fuji and NEX) stack up with your Olympus OMD purchase. I know you mentioned some concern with the OMD.

What bothers me is that the camera is slightly bigger and looks even more so than a full-frame one (M9)!?

No Mike! The NEX-6!

I love my X-Pro1. Spent five days in Paris with it hanging from my wrist while on pretty much all-day walks. Try doing that with a DSLR. There are fiddly bits like the tripod socket being off-center and too close to the battery/SD card door. And why is the SD card stored with the battery anyway?

The firmware is a whole other story. It's not like Fuji owners are asking for "Scene Modes" like M = "Shoot like a photographer from Magnum". It's stuff like being able to select a minimum shutter speed when in Auto ISO mode. Or focus peaking for all those old manual focus lenses we've purchased adapters for. Fuji does tend to get around to adding the features that should have been there on day one. I think Fuji's mission statement is "Get it right the third or fourth time."

The one thing they don't need to fix is image quality. This is the first camera I have ever owned that has caused me to lose interest in every other new camera that has come along since. Except perhaps the Fuji X-E1. I'm going to pick up one of those new 24-55mm zooms. The discount when purchased with the X-E1 is too tempting. I'm saving up to purchase the kit--just in case.

Mike, do you know anybody who knows first hand if the Fuji X-E1 have the same slow focus? I'm seriously considering to buy it.

"And besides, if somebody actually built a totally perfect camera..."
well, probably it wouldn't sell well, as most of my collegues-photogs actually WOULDN'T like The Perfect Camera constructed to satisfy the worlds most important taste (which is MINE of course). ;)

I got one recently having fallen in love with the X100. I am very impressed with the X-Pro1, great 35mm and 60mm lenses, decent 18mm. Although not small it is light and well made and takes exceptional jpegs. BUT - RAW conversion options are still limited and those that exist are execrable. ACR/Lightroom makes a dog's breakfast of X-Pro1 (and surely X-E1) RAW files - foliage particularly bloody awful. Caveat emptor!

Hopefully any Fuji executives reading this will be encouraged to pull their collective fingers out and get that sorted fast as it hobbles an otherwise brilliant system. My D800E only comes out for serious landscapes - everything else on the X-Pro1 and X100.

Your impressions mirrored - so to speak - my own experience. I've been using a brace of X-Pro1s since April, and especially since the most recent firmware upgrade they are a delight for rangefinder style shooting. The sensor is fully the match of any full fame in terms of low light performance, almost scarily so, and it was also curiously satisfying to mount my Leica 35mm ASPH Summicron on one and shoot prefocused. The resulting imagery is certainly in the same class as my now-traded M9. Finally, when you consider that the Fuji glass is outstanding in its own right, this is a wonderful rangefinder camera and a pretty darn good deal to boot for those of us who like this style of shooting.

If the Xpro1 is your "thing" then there is nothing else like it and all the faults become part of it's quirky charm. If it isn't you can find lots of reasons not to buy it. Perversely that's one of the reasons I like it so much.

I happen to be one of the "lucky b*stards" who has had a chance to handle to Fuji X-Pro 1's sibling, the X-E1, which I personally like even more. The biggest fly in the buttermilk for both of these cameras is the lack of high-quality third-party raw support. Either you use Fuji's awkward offering (Silkypix) or you use Adobe Camera Raw for Photoshop or Lightroom, which has problems with color smearing and the like. (FWIW, the cause is the unusual sensor Fuji uses in these cameras.) This won't matter to JPEG shooters. Raw shooters had best proceed with caution.

Mike, bought mine 2 months ago, lucky b#####rd as you say :) seriously, great camera. AF is a bit variable in speed, but very consistent, have taken more than 4000 pics so far, less than 5% were OOF. Great glass the 35mm 1.4, and the files are a pleasure. Only Lightroom treats the raw files so far (i dont count hteir own one, too clumsy...). Excellent stuff, am very happy.

Interested to hear about the details, such a the menu system - I have the X-100, and I really enjoy that camera and lens combination (I carry it with me all the time), alas the X100 menu system really "S...", I have that feeling that it was designed by a non-photographer!

Mike,

I am sad to say that my feelings on the camera don't mirror yours, though I wish they did---this (well, the XE-1, actually) is the digital camera I've most wanted to like. But after handling an X-Pro1 in my local shop, I was let down. It felt hollow and plasticky to me, despite being (allegedly) metal, and the lenses felt like flimsy imitations of the aperture-ringed, metal-bodied, manually-focusing beauties they are presumably meant to evoke. I guess drive-by-wire leaves me cold---the motions are the same as the old cameras, but the feel isn't there for me. I plan to keep using my beloved Canon AE-1 and Nikon FE for an unadulterated and, importantly, menu-free experience when I feel like turning traditional dials. When I want digital, I'll go whole hog with a soft-dialled, fully-modern device like an OM-D*.

-W.C.

(*Though I must admit that 'NEX-7' would be the more logical fit to this sentiment, so I guess I'm a bit of a hypocrite, and I do want a touch of classic design in my digital cameras after all.)

So I take it that your answer to your own survey question is B?

Fuji is building a very promising system. I find the optical viewfinder on the X-Pro1 particularly appealing, however the implementation of parallax correction with AF still isn't quite right. The problem is that, in S-AF mode, the frame lines are displayed for infinity prior to initiating AF; only after focus is locked do they jump to a parallax corrected position, which may then require recomposition. What's needed is a mode in which the frame lines are parallax corrected to the currently focused distance, whether set be a previous AF operation or manually (using the distance scale in the VF) -- something like the S-AF+M mode offered on other cameras, but adapted to work with parallax correction for the Fuji optical finder. At closer focus distances particularly, this would make it easier to compose using the optical finder before initiating AF, and to shoot immediately using AF without pausing to recompose.

I had a chance to chat with one of the Fuji reps at PPE about this and he seemed to appreciate the issue, so perhaps improvements in this area will be forthcoming.

Mike, Good follow up to previous post. I am considering the Fuji as my Christmas present. Great combination of image quality (results) and haptics. For me I am happy with the 35mm (50ish equivalent). I hope by Christmas either CaptureOne or Lightroom properly develop the files.

I got to play with the XE-1 and the EM-5 yesterday.

of the two well the EM-5 won't be replacing my GX-1 I found the E-M5 not that intuitive whereas the XE-1 was a lovely thing to hold. My dSLR may be getting sold for that !

I commented to the dealer that the x-Pro1 was too big for me. His comment was that he thought the X-Pro1 was designed for the North American market and the XE-1 for Europe.

Interesting post. Whenever I go to a camera store with a large selection, I feel that the X-Pro1 is too clumsy and expensive, I marvel at the size, options and EVF of the Nex-7, then end up handling the OM-D for a longer period of time. Note that my Nikon upgrade this year used my budget, so so far I'm just window shopping said cameras.

I never really feel that I love the OM-D, but it has pretty much all the features I need, produces pretty images, is compact and just works. What bothers me about the Fuji is the size, the non-tilting screen (I really like using the screen like a WLF) and no image stabilization. However, the lens roadmap looks good and they might be on to something with the sensor technology. The viewfinder is a nice feature, but frankly I don't find it nice enough to pay much extra for.

A few weeks ago I had a look at one a friend has. As a 99% film shooter I was very impressed.

My friend bought it as we was getting fed up with carrying a huge SLR around.

This got me thinking that the mechanical mirror mechanism of an SLR was a good solution to the problem of viewing what the lens sees but with advances in electronic viewfinders, this is not now necessary.

And the fact that you can switch between optical and electronic viewfinders is great.

In all, I thought it was a nice camera.

You may not remember that I commented about purchasing the XE1 when you wrote about it a while back. If I remember correctly, I suggested the XPro1 was just a bit expensive and a bit much for me. Anyway, I got fed up waiting for the XE1 and purchased the XPro1 with 18mm f/2 yesterday. Less than 24 hours later, I'm very much in love with it and agree with everything you have written above.

I was all psyched up to buy an X-Pro 1 (that name! groan)and managed to find a store that had one in stock. I wear glasses. This camera, perhaps uniquely in the price sector, lacks eyepiece dioptre adjustment. I found that either the EVF or the OVF (forget which) mode was oof.
I'd heard that one could fit other manufacturers' eyepiece lenses (Leica!) but no one I contacted who was stocking the camera actually had alternatives in stock - one claimed it would be "too expensive" to stock them... In any case quite how such a substitution would correct the differential characteristics I can't imagine. This is an appalling design decision and will reduce the likelihood of me ever buying a Fuji camera.

I bought an OMD. By no means a direct equivalent of course but I'm very happy with it. Despite the XP1's vaunted IQ I usually find myself more limited by what I point the camera at than anything about the pixels.

Mike, I knew you'd be impressed. I even dared you to hold an X-Pro 1.

It was only last Christmas that I bought my very first digital camera, the Fuji X100. The rangefinder ergonomics, particularly the ability to hold it steadily against the side of my nose, along with its excellent viewfinder, manual controls, APS-C sensor and excellent image quality won me over.

But in September, preparing for a long-awaited three-week photo trip to Turkey shooting ancient architecture with my 4x5 Cambo Wide DS, I decided I wanted a compact digital camera with a range of focal lengths. After much deliberation about the cost, I dived in and bought the X-Pro 1, the accessory grip and all three lenses (28 mm-e, 52 mm-e and 90 mm-e). A key factor for me was the reported class-leading image quality. Other factors were the same rangefinder handling, excellent viewfinder and straightforward manual controls inherited from the X100. The larger size is just right for my largeish hands. The camera also oozes quality in its construction and finish.

And the results were excellent. As yet, I've only seen the JPEGS, but they sure look good to me. It was fun taking Provia (colour), B&W (with red filter) and sepia versions of many of the compositions.

So yes, I'm a very happy owner of the X-Pro 1. One suggestion I'd make to Fuji is to move the Q button from the thumb grip at the right rear. But I don't have any complaints about the focusing. Doesn't hunt for me.

Warm regards,

Rod S.

I wanted to love the X-Pro 1 but the operational ergonomics of it drove me crazy and I had to return it. Almost everything about the camera was quirky: focusing, metering, Auto ISO, and even the rear command dial which never clicked into place with certitude. I think it was Thom Hogan who said the Fuji engineers must have designed the camera with the idea that it would not be used in a fast and efficient manner.

Definitely a beautiful camera but I had to wrestle with it too much to get the results I wanted. It would be the perfect camera if your subject doesn't move, but otherwise...

As a former X-100 owner I'd like to get back in the game, with an equivalent Fuji camera with a zoom. The 18-55mm kit zoom could be the ticket.

I'd probably go for the X-E1 -- it is smaller and unlike the X-Pro1 it has a diopter correction on the eyepiece. I'm waiting to hear if the RAW conversion in Lightroom has been upgraded to reflect the limitations pointed out by dpreview.

"So I take it that your answer to your own survey question is B?"

John,
Didn't I say so explicitly in the poll post? Look at the end of the post, right below the poll box.

Mike

This is a camera I wanted the moment it was announced, and yet 2 minutes in the hand and all desire evaporated completely. The operation is simply not slick enough, and to an extent that its hesitancy impedes the process of actually taking a photo. This is why the OM-D, while it has its faults, is so much better as a device for actually taking photos. It may not provide quite the same tactile pleasure of the Fujii, but the thing just works.

I have an ageing Pentax K10D that I hardly use any more, and am seriously considering a Fuji XE1 to replace it. I got an X100 a few months ago and it's really reignited my passion for everyday photography - carrying my camera around everywhere, just in case. The K10D is just too big for that, and my 'dedicated street shooter' Ricoh GRD3 just isn't versatile enough (and I seem unable to get nice colour out of it).

The X100 is also the first camera I've owned where I actually prefer the JPEG output, which came as quite a surprise to me as a (supposed) die-hard raw shooter. Possibly it's Aperture, but even SilkyPix can't match those incredibly good JPEGs – the colours are just so lovely, and whatever Fuji does to the raw sensor data to get the images looking like that, I've been unable to replicate it. Best of all, most of the time the JPEGs need no adjustments at all. I still shoot raw as well, but only as 'backup'.

I saw the XE1 (along with the 18-55) at Photoplus last week. I really, really liked the camera. I'd choose it over the XP1 - I would not use the optical VF as it doesn't show any confirmation of focus (unlike most cameras I've used from rangefinders to TLRs to SLRs) and also has limited magnification options for a few prime lenses.

I think I'll probably pass on it, though. It's on the big side for a carry-everywhere camera. It would be more suitable as a DSLR replacement, but I'm not ready to give up my DSLR yet. I'd opt for the NEX-6 (for its size) or the RX100 (or the Fuji XF1 for that matter, which I liked a lot).

Side note: At last years Photoplus Expo, Fuji had a table with a couple of cameras and few people stopping by. This year they had a respectable booth with a counter showing X-series stuff (in addition to other displays of digicams), a wall of big prints, and a crowd all day long. Nice to see. (On a related note, Sony's SLT counter was quiet all day, but the NEX counter was busy *and* the RX1s drew a lot of attention, too).

I wish Fuji's designers could be forced to spend a month shooting with Leica rangefinders, and learn to appreciate what is best about that design. I picked up an X-Pro1 in the shop and wanted to be impressed, but the lack of dioptre adjustment (mentioned above by Roy) killed it immediately for me. I also found it simply too light to feel steady in my hands.

I've had mine for just over two months. I'm very happy with it, and very impressed with the care Fuji has taken to deliver a photographic tool that is so fluid in use. I wanted to like the OMD and the Nex 7, but both left me cold; nothing wrong with them, I just could not connect with them.

The Fuji is so easy to operate, and I really appreciate the OVF. The latest EVFs are great, but still not where I feel they are ready to take the place f an OVF. Another thing I enjoy is the character of the files. They remind me of some firms, and also a little of the original 5D.

There is lots of chatter about the RAW files not being good in LR. Much of this comes from people who haven't actually used them. There are certainly issues, but only under certain conditions and even then it's not a consistent thing.

This is ne of those cameras that is a pleasure to look at, and to hold, and then n use just disappears into the flow. Awesome.

Given the X-Pro1's autofocus, I think of it as an Eggleston or Friedlander camera rather than a Winogrand or Cartier-Bresson camera.

To the people wondering about the diopter problem (?) I bought on ebay some Nikon diopters for the FM/FM3a cameras and they work perfectly on the Xpro, the same size and same thread, mine is a .50. So if anyone asks - the Nikon diopters work perfectly!

Semilog, X-Trans is simply a color filter on top of what is likely a Sony sensor. Nikon, Pentax, etc. all use their own color filters on top of Sony sensors.

The problem with X-Trans is that chroma smoothing is inherent to the design, so, while the camera exhibits excellent high ISO performance, it's at a trade off of chroma resolution at lower ISO. At low ISO, I'd pick any number of Bayer sensors over X-Trans, particularly if I was converting raws with Adobe.

There is no doubt Adobe must improve the X-Trans rendering algorithm.

However many people do not realize the default Lightroom sharpening and color correction defringing parameters are not suitable for the X-Trans sensor. Besides the fundimental demosacing differences, there is no AA filter.

There are some advantages too. I find it is rare to need color noise filtering at ISO 800 and below. The highlight recovery is more effective compared to my D700 raw files.

The well-discussed problems with ACR rendering are either irrelevant or significantly reduced by applying more appropriate parameters from a custom Development Preset upon import. The remaining deficiencies are more obvious with the 18/2 lens than the 35/1.4. I suspect this has to do with a higher degree of barrel distortion correction as pixel level problems with the 18/2 are most obvious at the frame edges.

Fuji made a mistake by not helping Adobe and others before the X-Trans sensor went to market. And Adobe must do better. Still the results are not fatally flawed for my work. I expect some will disagree. After all, there are people who reject ACR for sensors with standard Bayer filters and AA filters.

MIke,
I bought the X10 right before Labor Day; literally stumbled upon it at Costco of all places. Really liked the build quality and lens and bought it on the spot. First time I shot with it, I was seriously hooked (not a trace of blooming, either; new sensor body). Took it to Arches and Canyonlands Nat'l Parks on vacation and it really delivered the goods. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. Last Friday I rented an X-Pro1 at Borrow Lenses.com and have been using this bad boy for the better part of a week now. Man, I gotta say, I absolutely love this camera, all of it, the hybrid OVF/EVF, the build quality, the controls and their layout, the lovely shutter release, the incredible image quality, and, OMG, those Fuji colors!-it all just clicks for me, no pun intended. I've thought about the OM-D as I got into photography years ago shooting an OM-1 for many, many years, but I just LOVE using these X-series cameras. The way they are designed forces you to re-engage intellectually with the process of making images, and much like going back to vinyl and turntables, the experience is very rewarding and engaging.

Here's a snap I took at work yesterday:
http://photos.imageevent.com/puma_cat/fujix10pics/Work%20BandW.jpg

"Semilog, X-Trans is simply a color filter on top of what is likely a Sony sensor. Nikon, Pentax, etc. all use their own color filters on top of Sony sensors."

While the X-100 sensor was pretty clearly a Sony, it appears that the X-Pro1 sensor is not. At least, it's not the relatively common IMX038. There has been speculation that the new sensor is fabbed by Toshiba. Note also that the array uses a larger fraction of green pixels, which improves the (color) sensor's quantum efficiency (almost all common CMOS sensors are most efficient around 530 nm).

"The problem with X-Trans is that chroma smoothing is inherent to the design, so, while the camera exhibits excellent high ISO performance, it's at a trade off of chroma resolution at lower ISO. At low ISO, I'd pick any number of Bayer sensors over X-Trans, particularly if I was converting raws with Adobe."

That is a dramatic oversimplification of the signal processing involved. Adobe may indeed be using simple chroma smoothing, which would go a long way toward explaining the absolutely dreadful performance of Adobe's ACR/LR4 engine with XTRANS files.

De-mosaicing a 2x2 unit cell is not at all the same as de-mosaicing a 6x6 unit cell, if you're going to do it properly. It is clear that Fuji's in-camera RAW engine is doing much, much more sophisticated math than Adobe's cobbled-together must-ship hack, and it's probably based on wavelet theory. Fuji engineers have made it abundantly clear that development of new algorithms was required for this array pattern to reach Fuji's performance targets, and that it was the development and implementation of these algorithms in a hardware-dedicated JPEG engine.

In qualitative terms, output from the 17 Mpix XTRANS sensor is better than the 24 Mpix sensor in the XPro1. It yields more natural noise, lacks the pattern noise that I have seen with the Sony-powered NEX-7 at all ISO settings above 400, and has higher resolving power in real-world situations. At the single-pixel level in de-mosaiced images there can be some very minor chroma smearing, but this is more than compensated by the superior performance in other aspects.

And -- consistent with Fuji's claims -- I also have not been able to excite color moiré vibration with the XTRANS sensor, despite a weak or nonexistent antialiasing filter.

To expand on my comments about the signal processing from the non-Beyer XTRANS sensor, there's a good interview with some of the Fuji folks over at Imaging Resource.

Key passage:

TU: The biggest problem was how to process the signal from the sensor to the final image... the biggest difficulty was, after making the array random, how to gather all the data back together again to make a nice picture. Developing that "reading" process took a long time.

DE: So the process of unscrambling the random data was very difficult?

HS: ...it took a very long time. But the concept itself has existed for five or six years.

DE: ...R&D for five or six years before the concept became a product?

HS: Yes, it took a very long time to create the new algorithm. Because as a company we produce the chip and the processor and the camera, we could achieve a very high-level algorithm. Because everything in the system was made by Fujifilm, we could achieve a very high level of processing.

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