Digital Cameras Guide

Fujifilm X-Pro1 review

Fujifilm X-Pro1 - A Passionate Love-Hate Affair

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Overall rating 8/10
Finely detailed images with low noise
Bright optical viewfinder
Faster buffer than X100
Sluggish auto-focus
High price

Design & Handling - Hybrid Viewfinder

Design & Handling - Hybrid Viewfinder

Like the X100, the X-Pro1 comes with a hybrid viewfinder which can toggle between optical and electronic views (and like other mirrorless system cameras, the back monitor can also be used to frame and shoot).

When in optical viewfinder mode, you look right through the glass unto the scene. Because the viewfinder is not aligned with the lens, what you see is not exactly what you'll shoot (just like on a rangefinder). The X-Pro1 helps to get around this with two sets of framing outlines. The first set shows you an approximate frame and the current position of your focus point, the second set will animate to more closely approximate your actual shot frame and the actual focal point. The actual focal point from the second set appears also in the first frame as an outline, this is very useful to help you pinpoint focus.

Still, no matter how the X-Pro1 tries to help you get the framing just so, these are always approximations, not exact representations. So why shoot with the optical viewfinder? It's large and bright for one, letting you see your scene more clearly than any electronic viewfinder could. You also get to see more of the scene than your shooting frame, letting you anticipate the shot. And because the optical viewfinder stands apart from the shutter mechanism, there is no momentary blackout when you press the shutter release.

If you shoot with your left eye like this reviewer does, you'll run smack into one of the most maddening aspects of the X-Pro1. Fujifilm placed an indicator lamp right in front of where your right eye faces as your left is against the viewfinder, which will blink right at you. The lamp is supposed to indicate, via different colors, the camera's current status, like if focus is locked or if it's recording images. We can't imagine a worse place to place an indicator; it's especially bad in low light when the light is more prominent.

When an X-mount lens is affixed, the optical viewfinder undergoes an interesting transformation, and here is where the X-Pro1 differs from the X100. Both the viewfinder magnification and the framing outline sizes switch automatically to support the lens' focal length. The viewfinder itself will magnify, to 0.37x for the 18mm lens and to 0.6x for the 35mm and 60mm lens, giving you a more equivalent frame of view. Because the 60mm (a 90mm equivalent) zooms so far away, the framing outline is quite small, and we ended up using the electronic viewfinder to more easily see what we were shooting.

Because the optical viewfinder is not tied to the lens in any way, you can't see the effects of manual focus, nor can you shoot macro using the optical viewfinder. In order to do both, you'll need to switch to the electronic viewfinder with the viewfinder selector lever on the front of the camera. The front lever, which switches between the optical and electronic viewfinder, has been flipped upside down, pointing downwards instead of upwards like on the X100. Unfortunately this doesn't feel as intuitive or as easy to reach to us as it did on the X100. While framing and AF point selection is exact using the electronic viewfinder, the view isn't as bright as it is while using the optical viewfinder. Lag is also quite noticeable in low light.

To switch between using the viewfinder and the back monitor, you can simply press the View Mode button on the back of the camera, or switch on the eye sensor, which will automatically switch views to the viewfinder when your eye goes up to it. The monitor and viewfinder switching is buggy when it comes to accessing menus though. Sometimes when you're in viewfinder mode, pressing the Menu button will bring up the menu on the monitor, and sometimes it'll appear in the viewfinder.