Fuji X-Pro1

Posted by on Sep 19, 2012 in Review | 27 Comments
Fuji X-Pro1

Ever since I switched from Canon to Nikon in 2009 (due to annoying focus issues with my Canon gear) I was happily shooting my D700 with the Nikkor 50mm ƒ/1.4 G. The 50mm became second nature over the years. I think I used this combo for about 90% of all my pictures.

One thing that always annoyed me about Nikon were the SOOC colors. For me everything looks too yellow and skin tones with the default settings are a disaster. Yes, I know – if you want accurate colors you can use the ColorChecker Passport and calibrate. But I don’t want accurate colors, I want aesthetic colors that look natural.

I never felt home with that and my Nikon. But the build quality and the fact that everything about the Nikon always just works outweigh the frustration I had with the SOOC colors. It took months, countless work, experiments and a lot of trial and error in post work to finally get a result that I like without tweaking every picture endlessly.

I wrote about my experiments with emulating Porta 400 NC a while back. I finally ended up with special self made color presets and camera profiles for my Nikon to be able to emulate certain colors of specific films.

Here is an example:


From left to right: Nikon SOOC, JP Fuji 400H, JP Portra 400 NC

Even these results look close to me and I am happily working with them, I always wanted a digital camera that could reproduce authentic film colors and, even more importantly, the dynamic range of film without having to tweak anything major in my post processing.

After loving Fuji 400H, having read about Fuji’s new sensor design and being thrilled about my little Fuji X10 point-and-shoot camera, I was very tempted to purchase the Fuji X-Pro1. Just like Zack Arias, I expected this to be the DSLR-Killer. Not for everyone, but at least for myself.

I started reading more reviews and the bottom line really threw me off. Too many people were complaining about the obvious downs of the X-Pro1: Slow speed, no responsiveness, unusable autofocus and manual focus. That wasn’t enough to make up for the expected build and image quality. I thought I would rather wait a little until Fuji would hopefully fix the firmware for the X-Pro1 which was obviously still beta when they first released the camera.

With the release of the new firmware (version 2.0) all my concerns were addressed and I went ahead and ordered the camera. I got my X-Pro1 about a week ago and the camera grows on me quickly. If you switch over from a DSLR I suggest you give it time. Don’t expect this to be some sort of DSLR replacement, it’s not. It’s not a rangefinder either and not a point-and-shoot. Try to approach the X-Pro1 with a clean mindset and you will be amazed. Especially if you like to shoot film or with a slower pace and more awareness.

The image quality of the Fuji X-Pro1 is seriously mind blowing and outperforms most cameras I have used so far, including my D700. The dynamic range is better than film, highlights roll off beautifully and smooth and the colors are stunning straight out of camera. I love the compact size, the build quality, the quiet shutter that sounds like a shutter and not like a machine gun. It’s discreet and not show-off-y which I love as well. The quality of the Fujinon 35mm 1.4 lens (which is the equivalent of 50mm ƒ/2.0 on a full frame) is stunning. It’s tack sharp wide open.

This camera is a gem and I cannot remember being so excited about anything new I have tried, seen or read about for years. The only thing that I don’t like is the fact that I have to take it out of the OEM leather case every single time I want to either download the images from the memory card or replace the battery.

Here are a couple of images shot with the X-Pro1 and the 35mm 1.4:

27 Comments

  1. Mohamad Ramadan
    19. September 2012

    I’m not an owner of an X-Pro 1 but I did buy the x100 (mainly after reading every single photographers review out there including Zach Aria’s extensive review) after using the D3s for a while I was a bit frustrated with the x100 but slowely that camera crept up on me and slowely became my favorite for slow shoots as you said!!

    A great comeback for Fuji!

    And some great pics by you sir!

  2. Rebecca Lily
    20. September 2012

    You and the X-Pro1 make beautiful pictures! Great review, Johnny. As someone who places a lot of value on colors, I appreciate that you addressed this. I’m excited to see more of your work with the Fuji!

  3. Mike
    21. September 2012

    I’ve been shooting with my X100 for 8 months or so, and its the first digital camera I’ve come to love. I’m glad you like the X-Pro1. I am thinking of giving up my Canon 40D and a bunch of heavy lenses for a Fuji X-E1 and some of that lovely Fuji glass. There’s a lot to be said for a camera you are actually going to carry with you!

  4. Johnny
    21. September 2012

    Thanks to all of you for your kind feedback.

    I am seriously tempted about the X100 and I will try to order the X-E1 for Rebecca as soon as it’s out. More and more people are falling in love with these it seems.

    I personally hope the rumors about the new Fuji full-frame compact system are true.

  5. Mike
    24. September 2012

    Sorry, I have the XP1 and I shoot BW film. No way, no how does the DR on the XP1 compete with the DR of BW film. Yeah, you won’t get much DR with BW film if you send it out to a lab to get developed. But if you develop it yourself and learn how to compress the highlights, you get amazing results. I have the results to prove it.

  6. Johnny
    25. September 2012

    Mike, thanks for your opinion and your feedback on this topic.

    I tried to be very careful about how I worded this. I didn’t want any of the review sounding too technical, because that’s not how I approach photography in general.

    The Fuji X-Pro1 outperforms the Nikon D800 (which is rated with 14,4 EV) in highlight detail. DR200 on the X-Pro1 offers a huge 4.7 stops of highlight range, and DR400 goes another stop beyond this. That is better than any other digital camera at the moment. Film offers a total of about 15 EV. You can find a good comparison chart about the dynamic range on DPR.

    Depending on how you expose and develop you might be able to tweak things a little in post work, the same with merging two digital exposures into a HDR. But that wasn’t my point. I was talking about what you would get under “normal” shooting conditions which are a “normal” scan from a good lab vs. a “normal” exposure sooc without extensive post work in either medium.

  7. Markus
    4. October 2012

    I recently stumbled upon your site, really like your work a lot.

    When you say SOOC, do you mean RAW, or the jpgs in particular? Personally, I have difficulties matching the (fantastic) colour rendition of my X100’s jpg’s when I work with the RAW files in Lightroom, and I hear it’s not exactly easier with the X-Pro.

    Can’t wait for the day you (hopefully) review the X-E1!

  8. Johnny
    7. October 2012

    Markus, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts.

    With SOOC I normally refer to either one, JPG or RAW. I have difficulties with the default colors of both formats on my Nikon if I don’t use a couple of tweaks (in camera and in LR).

    Personally I don’t find the RAW files of the X-Pro1 bad at all. I see room for improvement, especially because the in-camera profiles are still missing. But I can’t really understand where all these rumors came from that the RAW files of the X-Pro1 are not usable in LR.

    I am very excited to get my hands on the X-E1 as well.

  9. Nik C
    25. November 2012

    Like many who have a DSLR, but find it a bit cumbersome to lug around everywhere but put up with it because of the image quality pay off, I’m seriously looking at an X100, or the new XE1.
    I’ve not used my Canon 600D that much recently because I’m usually out with a 3 year old in tow, who also enjoys sitting on my shoulders! so the extra weight of a DSLR, a 17-50mm and any other baggage leaves me wishing for a simpler, smaller, more compact alternative, I’ve resorted to using my old Panny LX3 as my everyday alternative, slow by today’s standards, but still gives me some good shots set to Aperture priority and lowest F no. so I’m looking for a camera which will give me the best of both worlds, and I love the look of the X100 and the new XE1…dear Santa!

  10. Johnny
    25. November 2012

    Nik, thanks very much for your feedback.

    I can definitely recommend the X-E1. We just got a copy for Rebecca and the IQ is exactly identical to the X-Pro1. If you don’t need the OVF and like the looks, I would go for it.

  11. Nate
    23. December 2012

    Those colours, are soooo Fuji Xpro1. Great set of photos.

  12. Dawn Shiree
    15. March 2013

    Johnny, thanks to you + Rebecca both for sharing your lovely personal work with us and your thoughts on the fuji film cameras. I’ve spent a bit of time today on both of your sites and am so enamored by your (both of you) beautiful way of seeing. My question for you is whether or not you think this or the ex-1 would be a good fit for documentary style family photography both indoor and outdoor? My husband and I are serious amateurs who choose not to be in business but our love for beautiful documentary photography has found us with quite an investment in canon full frame + various lenses. We are tired of traveling so heavy and would LOVE to trade it all for a set up like the fuji film system in a heart beat. But kids don’t sit still for long and especially not where the light is always pretty. ;) Thoughts? Thanks so much. Have very much enjoyed both of your sites today. xx

  13. Johnny
    15. March 2013

    Dawn, thank you and your husband very much for your kind feedback.

    Your question is difficult to answer. For me personally it’s a definite yes. I sold all my Nikon gear after I got the X-Pro1 and I don’t regret it for one second. The only thing I do regret is that I didn’t make the decision earlier. It’s the same for Rebecca.

    But it really depends on what you are going for. The image quality, dynamic range and the colors of the Fuji are outstanding. The AF is precise but noticeably slower than a DSLR, but that never really bothered me personally.

    I would suggest you guys rent it for a weekend and try it out. It’s a very different shooting experience and you will probably need some time to get used to it. Then you can try if it fits you, your style and your way of shooting.

  14. Dawn Shiree
    15. March 2013

    Thank you for the reply. We were thinking along the same lines regarding renting it for it a weekend and giving it a test run. Thanks so much! :)

  15. Leah Canseco
    16. April 2013

    You are making me want to get one of these!

  16. Theresa Furey
    28. November 2013

    Hi Johnny,

    Great article! Sorry I only found it now. :( I whole-heartedly agree about the problem with Nikon colour and wish I would have read this before I invested in my D800 and more lenses. :(

    I was wondering have you decided to sell or share the LR presets or actions you’ve made to overcome the Nikon colour problem? And if yes, where could I purchase these?

    Many thanks,

    Theresa

  17. Johnny
    28. November 2013

    Thanks very much for your feedback, Theresa.

    My D700 camera profile wouldn’t work with your D800 and the presets I made weren’t intended to be sold as professional products. I would have shared a tutorial about my process for free, but I ultimately gave up trying and just switched to Fuji.

    Have a look at the D2X camera profiles Nikon offers for all their models. I used the “portrait” setting from the D2X profiles a lot before I made my own profile, that already helps a bit.

  18. Theresa Furey
    29. November 2013

    Thanks Johnny for replying so quickly. Yes I got that about going to the Fuji. ;)

    I already Camera Calibrate in LR and normally I take everything to ‘camera standard’. If you don’t mind me asking, was there any reason in particular you used to take everything to ‘portrait’ with the D700? Also to clarify did you alter the D2X in camera or in post with LR?

    When searching more about D2X profiles and how they differ I happened to come across external camera profiles for Lightroom which I’m thinking may come in handy if and when I have second shooters (usually Canon folk) who have a different D2X profile as I thoroughly get irritated when the colours are so wildly different.

    Thanks for your honest, openness and help on the issue. I’m thankful for it most definitely this American Thanksgiving.

    Best,

    Theresa

  19. Johnny
    29. November 2013

    Theresa, I’m happy you found this helpful.

    Nikon mainly has problems with green and yellow. The color palette with the D2X profile and the “portrait” setting just looks slightly more desaturated and natural to my eye. But that’s of course very subjective.

    It really has been a long time since I used a DSLR, but I think you need to install the D2X profile in camera and then use the setting for LR to recognize it properly. Just give it a try, it’s not difficult to do. Nikon offers the D2X profiles on their website (for free).

    I have tried the profiles you mentioned but they didn’t work for me. You cannot turn a Nikon into a Canon. The difference is still very visible – even if you use the same white balance and color calibration.

  20. Bianca
    10. December 2013

    Thank you Johnny for this super informative post! Except now I’m a bit torn apart with my decision for a new camera. Perhaps you can shed some light…

    I am by no means a professional photographer but I do enjoy shooting my family a lot, especially my young kids. About 2 years ago, I used a Nikon D300 as my main camera and never really noticed a problem with the colors… but now I know it’s because I wasn’t really looking in that direction. For me, a good photograph was always about capturing a moment that was beautifully composed with the proper exposure and had good light. Your images though are so beautiful and evocative, it made me realize that it was a look I have always adored and was inspired by, but never knew how to achieve it.

    I stopped shooting with the D300 and lightened my load with an Olympus OMD-EM5 the last year. As much as I do love that little camera, I am itching for something with a bigger sensor and the Sony A7 and Nikon DF are calling my name. Because of you and Rebecca, so are the Fujis. My only worry with the Fujis are that the AF speed will not be fast enough for active kids. And the light is not always the best where I live (Manila, Philippines). It is always smoggy and grey. I am sort of leaning towards the Nikon DF just cause I already have some great Nikon lenses I can use with it. For a Fuji or a Sony, I will need to buy a whole new system.

    Do you think Fujis are fast enough for those action shots in low light? Do you think it will be impossible to achieve this look with the Nikon DF (it has the D4 sensor, if that makes any difference whatsoever) or with any other brand of camera? AND, if I do wind up with the DF – what do I need to pay attention to and tweak, color-wise? Should I install something in-camera or in Lightroom? I am also considering Rebecca’s signature color service. But given that I am not a professional, and will not be making any money out of my images, I am wondering if it is even necessary to do so. What would you suggest?

  21. Johnny
    11. December 2013

    Thank you very much for your kind feedback, Bianca.

    It’s really interesting that you notice the colors from Nikon being off too, most people don’t see that or see it differently. I agree with you, good light and composition make a picture. I just don’t like my own work if the colors aren’t right, which got worse over time. I cannot judge how much that makes you not like your pictures, so it’s really difficult for me to make a suggestion.

    I’m pretty sure that the Fuji X-Pro1 (or X-E1) with a prime lens probably won’t be fast enough for taking pictures of your kids. The AF is very precise and reliable, but it’s not fast. Fuji introduced huge improvements with the new hybrid AF sensor for the X100s and the X-E2, but I have not used these cameras yet and I can’t judge how much faster the AF is in real life. I think that’s the first thing I would try if I were you.

    I also completely agree that shooting a camera with a full frame sensor would be a lot nicer than shooting a crop. I think Fuji should have kept it simple, saved themselves half the X camera lineup and just brought out an X-Pro1 successor with full frame sensor instead. I saw results from the Sony A7/R and didn’t like the colors at all. I think my choice for a full frame digital camera would still be the Leica M9 or a Canon 5D Mark III.

    If you settle for a new Nikon, you can do a few things to tweak the colors and see if that helps. The most foundational thing is always to not rely on any auto settings for exposure and white balance. The next step would be trying the D2X profiles or presets for professional color grading. I recommend working with RAW files, you will be able to tweak everything in Lightroom then.

    I don’t think that Rebecca’s signature color service would be something I would recommend to you. This service is mainly directed at established pro photographers who need a consistent color palette as part of their branding or who shoot film and need their digital work to exactly match with their lab results. If you own Rebecca’s presets and you’re having trouble getting good results after you switch to Nikon, feel free to email her and ask for help.

    I hope that helps a bit.

  22. Bianca
    11. December 2013

    Thank you Johnny for taking the time to reply to my lengthy message, I really appreciate it! :-)

    If Fuji released a new camera with a full-frame sensor and fast AF, I’d be all over it… but I need what I need and that’s the problem. If I were shooting travel shots and mostly stills, I think the Fujis would be perfect, but because 2, 4 and 7 years old are so unpredictable, that AF speed is crucial. I figure, it will be more difficult correcting blur than color! My biggest problem is that where I am from, high end camera models such as this don’t usually have demo units you can play around with and come “by order” basis. So I need to be sure that I really like what I am ordering cause there’s no returns and exchanges. And even if I did get it from B&H, I would still need to pay all the overseas shipping charges and all so it’s best that I make a smart decision and rely on professionals and other review sites for that information. Poor me!

    I did take a few RAW shots with my D300 again and tested it on LR. I never dove that deep into Lightroom before and never knew about those color profiles! What a great little discovery! So I played around with it and kinda got close to what I wanted. Still doesn’t have that deliciously airy feel you have with your shots, but I think it had a lot to do with the fact that the scenes of Manila are NOWHERE CLOSE to those of Italy or Lake Como, or any of these awesome places you shoot in! The light just feels so different. Having said all that, Rebecca’s presets do help tremendously!! And you’re right, it would be nice to NOT have to do all of that color tweaking, but I think at this point, I need to experiment and find something I’m happy with cause a Leica is way over my budget and the Canons are too big, it may just wind up on my shelf again!

    I am looking forward to more posts from you both and hopefully more of these really informative tutorials! I know you can find plenty online, but it’s so nice and refreshing to read this from photographers whose shooting and processing style is exactly what you like! Know what I mean? So thank you for them. Without it, I would’ve never gone back to my photos to re assess their colors.

    Bianca

  23. Johnny
    12. December 2013

    Bianca, thank you for your reply.

    From what I’ve heard, Fuji will release a full frame camera in 2014. But I don’t know anything definite or release dates yet. It’s really unfortunate that you cannot test any cameras before you decide to buy them. If anything, that would be my best recommendation.

    You are exactly right, the quality of light in Provence or Tuscany is completely different and has a huge influence on the feel of an image. One of the reasons why I have barely any shots from Ireland in my portfolio is because the color palette is so different here (bold, saturated, contrasty vs. airy, gentle, pastel). The location and the light make all the difference, no matter what camera you shoot.

    Also, most of my work is shot on film. I published three blog posts about our trip to Italy in September, two of them were shot on film (including Lake Como) and one was shot with the X-Pro1. The same with Provence, one post was film the other one digital. Even though I get my digital work to look close to film, it’s still never exactly the same. Film emphasizes light, while digital evens it out.

  24. Bianca
    13. December 2013

    I love it! All your shots… and Rebecca’s. And I would love to get back into film too. I wish I had a Richard’s Lab here, hahaha! It’s actually quite difficult to get film processed locally these days. So unfortunate too as I still love the look of film. :-(

    That is actually great news from Fuji! I hope they do that. How exciting!! That would be so awesome. But more than that, I think they need to get their AF up to speed. I could live with an APS-C camera (heck, I’ve never shot FF before besides actual film!) but that AF speed will kill me.

    Thank you so much for sharing this info. And as always, I am looking forward to your next post/trip.

    Bianca

    P.S. I would’ve imagined the light in Ireland to be just as beautiful (it’s on my bucket list ;-) ), but now that you said that about the colors… yes, those are exactly the sort of photographs I’ve seen of it! Ha! I must pay more attention to those tiny details next time. It’s still on my bucket list.

  25. Johnny
    14. December 2013

    Thank you for your kind feedback, Bianca.

    I didn’t mean to say that film is superior to digital. Both mediums have their place, both have strengths and weaknesses and both require a different skill set. But digital files need more work to look natural to my eye.

    I think Fuji pretty much addressed the AF speed issues, I just haven’t tried any of their new cameras yet to judge how fast the new models are. They already did a great job with the firmware upgrades on the X-Pro1 and X-E1 (including focus peaking).

  26. Ryan
    27. June 2014

    I just started shooting the X-T1 and love it. Do you shoot in RAW? What’s your workflow with the files? I use LR.

  27. Johnny
    28. June 2014

    Ryan, thanks for your question.

    I’ve heard a lot of good things about the X-T1! I sadly never had the chance to try it myself.

    I work with Lightroom and shoot in RAW when I shoot digital. I created two presets for my Fuji X-Pro1 when I first got the camera that I consistently used as long as I had the camera. The color version is inspired by Portra 400 and the BW is inspired by Tri-X, as these are the films that I usually shoot.

    You can find a lot of information on my color work if you use the search or browse back trough the blog. I will probably share a tutorial about these two presets in the near future, in case you’re interested.

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