Fuji has just released the much anticipated mirrorless interchangeable lens camera X Pro1. This camera adds to the X line of cameras, along with the X100 and X10. Much has been said about this camera and a number of “pre-release reviews” are out there. Well, I don’t have the camera in my hands so there will be no review here. I rather talk about the whole concept and the bold move Fuji is making with its X line.
The X-Pro 1 is not the first interchangeable lens camera from fuji, but to my knowledge is its first mount system. The FinePix S3 and S5 Pro were digital SLRs but used the Nikon F mount. I actually had a chance to use an S3 and really liked it. When Fuji discontinued the S line, sure it was a big disappointment for a number of users that liked the sensor used in that line. However, since it used Nikon F mount, there were no orphans with lens that could no longer be used.
Starting a new mount system is quite a responsibility since lot of people will invest in glass that will likely outlive their cameras. You don’t want to replace all your lens in 5 years just because your camera became obsolete and a new one came out. This is even more important when the lens aren’t cheap. Although it is a bold move form Fuji to start a new mount system, at least they are not migrating from a different one and are leaving no “orphans” behind. They are starting from scratch. This put them in a position where they can apply all current technology in manufacturing the camera and lens system (focusing, metering, etc). This was not possible for Leica, for example, when they introduced the M8 in 2006. They wanted to keep the compatibility with the M mount system released in 1954. The entire rangefinder mechanism was kept essentially unchanged likely for that reason.
When Fuji introduced the X100 with all its hype, they were in fact just showing the tip of the iceberg. Certainly the X100 is a great camera with a few drawbacks such as the focusing speed and accuracy and ergonomics (too many buttons in the back, making it difficult to have a good grip without touching them accidentally). The X-Pro1 seems to have addressed the first issue with promised faster focusing, but still looks like has too many buttons in the back (I will only be able to tell for sure once I have it in my hands).
But the X100 brought into light what I think is the biggest innovation in photography for quite a while: the hybrid viewfinder. Much has been said about it, but only using it you can really appreciate how good it truly is. You can decide how much information you have on screen at the same time you have optical quality viewfinder. The X Pro1 will incorporate the same technology and will improve even further by allowing different focal lengths (the X100 only has 35mm lens).
The X-Pro1 has been touted as a M9 killer. Differences in price, sensor size and other technicalities are being used as part of the argument. To me its more about the shooting style and most importantly: manual focusing (see this article). The manual focus system on the X100 is a joke and I don’t even try using it. The X-Pro1 also uses the same “by wire” manual focusing style, which is far from good.
Even with the rumored M-to-X adapter, the point is not if I can attach an M lens to the X-Pro1, but how the focusing will be done. The solutions I’ve seem from other systems to incorporate M lens are not perfect/easy to use and far from the rangefinder experience.
I look forward to seeing the X-Pro1 and handling it, although I doubt I will be buying one. I hope Fuji continues to launch innovative technologies such as the hybrid viewfinder and new sensors to keep pushing other companies to do the same (including Leica).
Few links to the Fujifilm X-Pro 1
The Fuji Guys Hands on Preview videos: