With almost every major manufacturer, save mysteriously Canon, now offering a mirror-less compact with a larger than average sensor and on which the lens can be swapped for near digital SLR (DSLR) quality, Fuji has belatedly joined the fray.
Rather than aiming for the Argos mass market that most of its compacts occupy, Fuji has headed in the other direction and is directing the X-Pro1 at enthusiasts and pros. And not just because of a sizeable £1399 suggested price. That’s without lens too, though three are available now: a general-purpose 35mm, a wide-angle 18mm and a 60mm close up lens. You’ll notice they’re all fixed focus or ‘prime’ optics; as these traditionally provide better quality than jack-of-all-trade zooms.
And ‘quality’, aside from its chunky 450g metal construction and retro Leica-style operational dials, is what the X-Pro1 is being sold on. This camera, the latest in an impressive ‘X’ series of high-end compacts that includes our favourites in the X10, X100 and X-S1 super zoom, features a brand new 16.3 effective megapixel ‘X-Trans’ CMOS sensor. Improving its light gathering ability, this offers the same physical dimensions as APS-C sized chips found in entry and mid level DSLRs.
Fuji loftily claims that when coupled with new EXR Pro image processor, this provides pictures a match for full 35mm frame pro cameras. While that is a step too far, like Sony’s rival NEX-7 and Olympus’ OM-D, here is a camera that may tempt the fussiest of photographers to leave their bulkier, heavier DSLR at home.
We get not one, not two, but three means of composing stills and Full HD video: via an eyeball searing 1,230,000-dot resolution 3-inch LCD back screen, or hybrid viewfinder above which offers the choice of optical or even higher resolution electronic views. A ‘view’ button and automatic eye sensor is provided for swapping between the three options. With the choice of Raw and JPEG capture, light sensitivity maxes out at a see-in-the dark ISO25600, though we found camera shake/blurring problematic handheld in anything but daylight.
We did manage to take some lovely, creamily ‘filmic’ results with this Fuji, but with a slightly slow auto focus that encourages manual use, this is a complex beast that requires persistence and perseverance to achieve the stunning results it’s capable of.