Digital Cameras Guide

Fujifilm X-Pro1 Launch & Interview with Product Manager: Hiroshi Kawahara

Fujifilm X-Pro1 Launch & Interview with Product Manager: Hiroshi Kawahara



Fujifilm X-Pro1 Launched in Singapore

Fujifilm X-Pro1 Launched in Singapore

Fujifilm's highly anticipated camera the X-Pro1 has just been launched in Singapore. The camera which we first had a hands-on in CES 2012, will be available in March, and will retail for S$2400 (body only). Lenses will be sold separately, at S$900 to S$1000 each. Three prime lenses will be available at launch, the XF 18mm F2 R, the XF 35mm F1.4 R and the XF 60mm F2.4 R Macro. 

The X-Pro1 is Fujifilm's first mirrorless system camera, and it introduces a new mount - the X-mount - into the mirrorless system camera market. It comes with a brand-new APS-C sized Fujifilm X-Trans CMOS sensor, with a 1.5x crop. That makes the above mentioned lenses the 35mm equivalents of 27mm (for the 18mm F2), 53mm (for the 35mm F1.4) and 91mm (for the 60mm F2.4). The aperture diaphragm blades are rounded off rather than cut off, which Fujifilm promises should deliver a sharper image (and more pleasant bokeh when shooting wide open with these fast primes).

The X-Pro1 is neither dust nor splash-proof, but the body construction is solid, made of die-cast magnesium alloy. The shutter speed dial and exposure compensation control are precision-milled from solid metal and the overall design has been considered with feedback from photographers who used the X100 (we speak more about that in our interview with the X-Pro1's product manager Hiroshi Kawahara).

The X-Pro1, like the X100 and X10 before it, isn't a cheap camera. At S$2400 for the body alone it's even more expensive than a Nikon D300s (S$2388) or Canon 7D (S$2249) DSLR camera, and the most expensive mirrorless system camera on the market - discounting a Leica M9, which, depending on how you look at it, is also a mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera. The M9 and the M8 are the only other mirrorless system cameras besides the X-Pro1 to offer an optical viewfinder. Besides the M9's larger full-frame sensor, it also has a larger price, S$11388 for the body alone. Compared to that, the X-Pro1 might appeal to enthusiasts looking for a digital rangefinder-style camera that is more affordable.

 

Hybrid Viewfinder with Magnifying System

Like the X100, the X-Pro1 comes with a hybrid viewfinder, which can switch between being an optical and electronic viewfinder. When a XF-series lens is attached to the X-Pro1, both the viewfinder magnification and the bright frame (the white outline) sizes automatically switch to support the lens' focal length. Viewfinder magnification switches to 0.37x for the 18mm lens and to 0.6x for the 35mm and 60mm lens.

How the magnification will work when telephoto lenses are mounted was unclear, as the answer seemed to be lost in translation, but we gather that only the bright frame sizes will shift as the lens zooms and not the viewfinder magnification. For that, the user will need to switch over to using the electronic viewfinder.

 

New X-Trans CMOS Image Sensor

The X-Pro1 comes with a brand-new X-Trans CMOS image sensor, which does away with the optical low-pass filter seen in almost every digital camera today. The low-pass filter reduces the appearance of moiré artifacts, which can appear in photographs of repeating patterns (see below for an example). This happens because the digital image sensor itself is a grid, and when two grids overlap at an angle or have slightly different sizes, a moiré pattern is created. The benefit of having an optical low-pass filter comes at the cost of blurring of fine image detail in the final photograph.

The X-Pro1 does away with the low-pass filter altogether, promising to solve the problem of moiré with its new color filter array. Inspired by the random arrangement of fine film grain, the new array's RGB pixels are arranged in 6 x 6 pixel sets with a high degree of randomness. According to Fujifilm, increasing randomness eliminates the cause of moiré, and results in higher resolution as well as better color reproduction.

 

Two More Lenses to Launch in 2012

According to a product road map which Fujifilm showed at the event, two more lenses - a 14mm (21mm in 35mm equivalent) and a 18-72mm F4 IS (27-108mm in 35mm) - will be launched in 2012. Four more are expected in 2013, a pancake 28mm F2.8 (42mm in 35mm), a 23mm F2 (34.5mm in 35mm), a telephoto 70-200mm F4 OIS (105-300mm in 35mm) and a wide zoom 12-24mm F4 OIS (18-36mm in 35mm). The final specifications of these lenses are still to be confirmed.

Additional Accessories, Sold Separately

Additional accessories for the X-Pro1 will be available at launch. These include a hand grip (HG-XPro1), a shoe mount flash (EF-X20), a leather case (LC-XPro1) and two protective filters, one 39mm and the other 52mm in diameter.