Digital Cameras Guide
Design & Handling
Design & Handling
According to our interview with the X-Pro1's product manager Hiroshi Kawahara, the X-Pro1 was developed with feedback from photographers who had used the X100. It's evident in some areas, where the handling has improved from the X100, but we're afraid the lessons haven't been fully learned.
Like the X100 and X10, the X-Pro1 is a gorgeous camera fashioned after the rangefinders of old. The camera is all black, with no identifiable logo on the front (the Fujifilm logo and model name is on the top plate), minimizing any attention drawn to the camera. The camera looks finely finished, feeling strong in the hands. The X-Pro1 is neither dust nor splash-proof, but the body construction is solid, made of die-cast magnesium alloy. Further to that, the shutter speed dial and exposure compensation controls are precision-milled from solid metal.
The X100 feels lighter than it looks, is more portable than a DSLR and is quite pleasing to carry around. While it's almost the same size as the Leica M9, it is 135g lighter. A new thumb-rest on the back gives you a better grip on the camera, but while single-handed operation is possible, the camera really calls for two-handed use. Manual operation should feel familiar to anyone who has used the X100; the top shutter speed dial lets you set shutter speeds physically, as does the aperture ring around the lens. To set them to their respective automatic modes, simply align them to 'A'.
The X-Pro1, thankfully, loses the dedicated RAW button which 'plagued' both the X100 and X10. We weren't fans of the button, for the simple reason that we never used it - we were always either shooting in JPEG or RAW, and never saw the need to switch for a single shot. Where the RAW button used to be is now an empty space, Fujifilm says that this is because some photographers complained that their palms would accidentally trigger the RAW button when holding the X100.
The d-pad has been re-designed, where the X100 had a scroll wheel with a circular d-pad, the X-Pro1 has dedicated four-direction buttons. Fujifilm says this change is also due to photographers' feedback, and we have to agree, the d-pad feels much more comfortable and confident this way. Another new addition is the new 'Q' button on the thumb-rest, placed for easy access. It brings up a Quick Menu, where you can gain access to essential settings like ISO sensitivity, white balance and AF modes. It's a much welcomed and needed menu, one commonly found on other high-end camera models.
One other significant improvement over the X100 is the fact that the X-Pro1 will continue to work even when the camera is writing files to memory. Where the X100 would lock-up and refuse to shoot, the X-Pro1 will indicate that it's currently writing files to the memory card but still allow you to continue shooting.
While the Quick Menu adds much needed accessibility, the X-Pro1 menu could have been further improved. For example, unlike almost every other digital camera, the timer is not included within the Drive mode selection, but is accessed either via the Shooting menu or the Quick Menu. You cannot define a minimum shutter speed when setting Auto ISO (which only goes up to ISO3200), and you cannot set the EVF or monitor to show a live exposure preview. If you've used an X100 before, you'll notice that the X-Pro1's shutter is louder than the X100, that's because the X-Pro1 uses a focal plane shutter compared to the X100's in-lens shutter. However, the X-Pro1 is still quieter than a DSLR camera.
The AF button next to the monitor only opens up AF point selection. It does not let you switch between manual AF point selection and automatic Multi-AF mode; you can only perform that switch inside the menu or Quick Menu. In our eyes, this is one of the key failings of the X-Pro1, as its auto-focus can be tricky.