Fuji X-Pro1

Looks like Fuji is introducing a camera I might actually buy: the Fuji X-Pro1. Dumb name, but it’s an interesting looking camera system. As in interesting enough that I might eventually get one.

My camera preferences

I shoot mostly film. Actually, 100% film. I started on a Canon DSLR in 2004, but quickly transitioned to film and rangefinders for a variety of reasons, but the number one reason (after the fact that I like the look of B&W film) is the size of rangefinder cameras. While I don’t need an ultra compact camera, the reduction of size and volume one gets by using a camera like a Leica M6 over a Canon DSLR is pretty sizeable.

Over the years, I gravitated towards shooting mainly with a 28mm lens. My second most used lens is probably a 50mm lens (or a 21mm lens). I like have fast lenses so I have the option to shoot in dim light. So my main kit, the one I find necessary for me to consider a camera system, needs to have the following characteristics:

  • Relative compact — smaller than most full frame or APS-C DSLRs. And have smaller lenses. Think Leica M sized.
  • A 50mm f/1.4 or equivalent lens.
  • A 28mm f/2 or equivalent lens.

The last one is the tough one. I’d be ok with a 24mm equivalent, or even a 21mm equivalent, as long as it was reasonably fast (f/2 or faster). I can’t think of any camera system that has a 24–28mm lens that is f/2 or faster and is roughly the same size as a Leica M. Sure, Canon and Nikon have suitable lenses for their DSLRs, but they are huge. Sure, there’s a rash of new compact interchangeable lens cameras, but none of them have a decent fast wide in the 28mm range. 35mm doesn’t cut it for me.

As a result, I haven’t been tempted into buying a digital camera. I’ve thought about finally getting a 24L for my Canon 1V, and eventually buying a 5D (or whatever is current when I get around to it), but I’ve yet to do it. It’s just so huge.

The Leica M9

The obvious solution to my problems is to get a Leica M9. I have lenses for it already that meet my needs and it’s the right size. A couple problems with it:

  • The price. I can’t spend that much on a camera.
  • The price of the rest of the system. While I do have a good complement of M lenses, I’ll probably never buy another one, and can’t necessarily afford to replace the ones I have. They are just getting silly expensive. I don’t want this much money tied up in a system.
  • Other niggling issues like:
    • Red edges.
    • Can’t use my Zeiss ZM 21/4.5 lens on it.
    • High ISO performance. I’d probably ok with it if it didn’t cost so much, but it does, so it better be a better performer than it is.

I’ve thought about waiting to see what the M10 offers, but even if everything is perfect on it, the price concerns still remain.

Enter the X-Pro1

This camera looks good so far. The specs are decent. And, as a first in any of the new camera systems as far as I know, it has the right complement of lenses for me. The 18mm f/2 is equivalent to the 28/2 I use most, and the 35mm f/1.4 is close enough to a 50/1.4 that I’ll never notice the difference. Assuming one can adapt M mount lenses to it, I can slap on my 50 Summilux ASPH or 75 Summilux whenever I’m feeling the need for a long lens. And it all looks to be about the right size for me. This picture pretty much sums it up.

As long as its high ISO performance is ‘decent’, I’ll be fine. Remember I’ve been shooting film; my preferred high speed film is Kodak P3200TMZ shot at 1600. It’s a grain fest. But not a banding fest. Grain is different than banding.

What really remains to be seen is the other bits of the camera. Are the lenses any good? What’s the autofocus performance like? What’s the interface like? If any of that stuff is buggy, I’ll probably pass. As it is, I’ll wait to hear some user reports before I take the plunge, but this is looking like it might be my next ‘real’ digital camera.

Here’s some information on the camera and lenses (from Fuji), as well as a hands on preview from dpreview.com: