Fujifilm-X-Pro-1

In 2012, Fujifilm introduced its proprietary mirrorless camera system. Way back in 2012, the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 was introduced featuring a beautiful, retro, rangefinder-style camera body with a number of small prime lenses. The X-Pro 1 brought a larger (at the time) APS-C sensor into the mirrorless camera market with lots of tactile, manual setting controls and a hybrid Optical viewfinder (OVF)/Electronic viewfinder (EVF) system. When originally released, issues with the camera’s autofocusing system and poor battery life were among the chief complaints to an otherwise well-received camera. That said, how does the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 stack up ten years later?

Fuijifilm X-Pro Tech Specs

  • Sensor: 16.3 Megapixel X-Trans CMOS APS-C sensor
  • Focusing: Contrast Detection AF
  • Mount: Fujifilm X-mount
  • Media: Single-slot SD/SDHC/SDXC
  • Exposure: TTL 256-zone metering
  • Viewfinder: Hybrid OVF/EVF

Ergonomics

I’ve used (and continue to use) my X-Pro 1 since 2014; I purchased mine used shortly after the X-Pro 2 was announced (always a good way to get a decent camera at a much lower cost) and have never really looked back. The X-Pro 1 was initially dubbed the “poor man’s Leica” for its retro rangefinder styling that takes a number of design cues from the Leica M series of cameras. Though not a true rangefinder, Fujifilm didn’t hide the fact that it was their take on what a digital rangefinder could be – its hybrid viewfinder allows users the benefits of both an in-camera preview of your image (EVF) and the ability to look through the viewfinder and see beyond your frame like in a true rangefinder (OVF). Over time, I’ve noticed that the body has become less grippy which is a problem considering that the original X-Pro was largely a rectangular piece of kit with very little to hold onto. Future versions of the X-Pro fixed this problem but largely a few aftermarket mods helped ease ergonomics concerns.

Now, much like back when the camera was first introduced, using the camera with larger lenses can be a challenge. The camera was designed for smaller prime lenses (again, another nod to the Leica M) and shines when paired with any of Fujifilm’s smaller prime lenses. Generally, I take my X-Pro out with either the XF 27mm f/2 or XF 16mm f/2.8 – preferring the wider compositions over my XF 35mm f/2 or my Jupiter III 50mm f/0.95 (adapted lens). When paired with one of Fuji’s prime lenses, the system becomes a compact, lightweight camera that can be stowed in a coat pocket or small bag. It travels well and offers a great bit of flexibility with a look that’s distinct even today.

Real-world Use and Image Quality

The obvious rub here is that you’re reading the tech specs and see that it’s only a 16-megapixel camera. Before you completely disregard this camera consider this: most photos today are taken with a phone with a tiny sensor and will never be seen on a screen larger than 6 inches. Which is to say, 16-megapixels is more than enough to crank out social media-worthy shots. Where I find the most joy in shooting with the X-Pro 1 is that many of the film simulations (specifically Velvia and Provia) do capture the essence of the film they are mimicking. It’s not a one-to-one copy of the films’ character (for that just shoot film) but it’s a good reminder of what photos with characters can be. Sure, the industry has moved toward very clinical, clean, ultra-sharp images, but there’s something about a little grain that makes a photo appear timeless.

One of the things that the X-Pro 1 clearly lacks is weather-sealing. While many of the lenses announced with its release pointed to weather-sealed cameras to come in the future, the X-Pro 1 wasn’t meant for the elements. I’ve shot in some light rain and snow in the past but by no means would I recommend going out into a Nor’easter with this one. It’s one of my biggest complaints about this camera outside of some of the issues with its AF system. Speaking of which, the contrast-detection AF on the X-Pro 1 was spotty even when it was first released. Since then AF systems have only improved (all hail, king SONY) and make the autofocusing on the X-Pro 1 seem nearly non-existent. Keeping AF settings to single-point and center is the best/fastest way to achieve consistent autofocus; just be prepared to half-press and recompose.

Sample Images

A quick note about the video on the X-Pro 1; don’t. The video tops out at 1080p at 30fps, there’s no input for an external mic, it’s almost as if it was thrown in there because they needed to check off a spec sheet box. In short, don’t use this for video, you won’t like what you get.

Wrapping Up

Ten years after its introduction, the X-mount has made Fujifilm the king of the APS-C market. The retro styling that was introduced with the X-Pro 1 has clearly hit a sweet spot among photographers looking for a camera that looks just as good as it shoots. Today, the Fujifilm X-Series cameras have a lot to offer for both stills and video shooters alike. While a lot of attention is given to full-frame cameras, Fuji owns the APS-C and digital Medium Format markets thanks to both their aesthetics and feature sets. Although it’s been 10 years, I still find it a joy to go out and shoot with my X-Pro 1. I have a few cameras to pick from when I decide to go out, but using the X-Pro 1 is very much like talking to a lifelong friend, and you just can’t put that into a spec sheet.