Today is the first day that the IT Show opens. IT Show Singapore is the first IT and Electronics Sale Event of the year (there are 4 in a year). Normally I would avoid such crowds since the prices can be had at the other IT Malls around town so making the trip down is close to committing suicide through mass stampede.
Yes I am not exactly a crowd person but this year, as the same as a year before, is the official introduction of the long awaited Fujifilm XPro1 Interchangeable Mirrorless Camera or Compact Camera System (CCS) in short. As a camera geek, I side stepped all the other tech stuff for the time being and went straight for the Fujifilm booth. Asus Transformer Prime with Ice Cream Sandwich? I will look for you by the 3rd quarter of the year!
The black beauty. Taken with X100.
Nice brochure too! Collectors’ Item? Taken with X100.
The XPRO1 do feel familiar thanks to my owning the X100 for the past one year. You will feel at home instantly when you wrap the hands around the body. The camera feel well made though the weight is strangely lighter. I would expect the weight to be close or heavier than the X100 as it is a premium camera. I would akin to buy a Rolex but the weight is closer to a Omega. There is the heft but the expectation and reality do have a gap.
The dials are where a seasoned X100 user or a RF camera user would expect it to be. Changing the mode dial is easy and the EV Dial has become a tad harder to change after complaints of EV being changed easily on the X100. The aperture ring is also quite good, giving an assuring feedback as the ring rotates while changing the F number. Now the main difference is that the camera is able to take 1/3 F stops and that adds to the precise control of the camera settings. Nice!
The camera is set up with the 35mm F1.4 for testing. The feel is there. The heft is there so there isn’t really much to complain about. I have also tried the 60mm Macro lens. The focus hunting under Macro Mode was slow actually (for both 35mm and 60mm) and even for a seasoned X100 user like me, it was edging towards eternity. Under normal focusing distance, the focus hunting was also longer than what I have experienced in the X100. Would I be overly concerned about this? Not at this point for two reasons. a) I am not used to the camera system and like the X100, may take some time to get the hang of it. b) I will be expecting a firmware upgrade as it did for the X100 and focusing will improve. In short, the focusing need work, both for the camera and the user. It is like knowing a new girlfriend. You really have to spend time to understand and master it. If the X100 can do what I want in an instant now, the XPRO1 won’t be far behind. DSLR users who are prone to bouts of impatient rage should not apply.
I do find it weird though, with a interchangeable lens system, I still have a macro button on the body. I was thinking how can that be? If I put up a 60mm lens with macro capability, the body should be able to sense it and apply it. For the X100 it would be pretty straight forward, like a compact camera but on the CCS? It feels out of place. Really. To some, such things would be acceptable on the X100, but on the XPRO1, it does makes one feel amateurish. I think the major obstacle that Fujifilm faces is not the Image Quality of its output, but the way the camera should handle focusing.
Now what about output? I shoot in JPEG because I do shoot more at different settings at the place of capture and due to some projects, I sometimes do not have the luxury to do a lot of post processing. It is my preference to sharpen my skills this way. Judging by the skin tones, it retains the strength of the Fujifilm colour beautifully so shooting in JPEG is not even a handicap as X100 has shown.
The best addition is undoubtedly the Q button. It is the one thing that I wish that pesky RAW button on the X100 can morph into a Q button now. It is quick (that’s why it is Q button). It navigates quickly enough (the bigger directional 5 way pad helps). I can change settings pretty fast though not as fast as the Fn button if I am changing ISO. I see the potential that adding this to X100 would be a God send!
The hybrid viewfinder is also another improvement. With the 3 different prime lens involved, the only way the OVF can work well is to change the frame box as and when the lens is changed. Like the typical RF camera, it would not be 100% accurate but it is good enough to frame. Precision work would require the use of the EVF though and it is true to X100 performance generally if not better.
Photos below are shot with XPRO1 without any post processing. Any adjustments is done at the booth to correct exposure etc. I kept it at Provia if I remembered it correctly. AWB.
60mm 1/180 F2.4 Ev+0.3 ISO 2500 Spot Metering
60mm 1/85 F2.4 ISO2500 EV+0.3 Spot Metering
35mm 1/250 F1.4 ISO 2500 EV+0.7 Spot Metering
35mm MACRO Mode 1/240 F1.4 EV0 Metering Mode Pattern ISO 2500. The general hazy look of the X100 24mm at F2.0 is non existent.
60mm MACRO Mode 1/80 F2.4 EV+1 Spot Metering
I did play with the X-S1 too because WillH have asked me if this is a good camera that can be used instead of a full DSLR Kit. The X-S1 do feel like a DSLR generally but not as heavy. The lens feel about the same as a mid level 18-200mm Prosumer lens. It took me sometime to get the settings done though and I pat it down to lack of experience with the machine. Generally it is lighter than a full Semi Pro DSLR with the appropriate lens.
X-S1 158mm 1/200 F5.6 ISO1000 Pattern Metering Mode. Distance about 100 odd feet (35-40m). Image stabilization was on. To me it was pretty sharp for a bridge camera.
X-S1 26mm 1/12 F5 ISO 1000 Pattern Metering Mode. ISO Noise is there but not distracting. Moire Control pretty well but there are some smudging. Again, pretty good performance coming from a bridge camera.
XPro1 – The Achilles heel is still the same: the focusing. The lens done well optically. The sensor is superb and the JPEG engine delivers. That niggling feeling of inadequate focus on focus capability (pardon the pun) is getting old and not really welcomed.
For someone with the X100 and able to live with it, then the XPRO1 won’t be that bad but still it nearly pushed me to frustration, even with the tricks I have learnt using the x100. Just when I nearly throw in the towel, I got the hang of it. One just need to bite the bullet and learn how to chase this girl down.
Would I buy it? Not when 35mm equivalent is not in the mix. The 35mm/50mm F1.4 is a beauty for sure but I do miss the ‘just the right position’ feel of the 24mm/35mm on the X100. And since it is a system camera, having the zoom would be an essential at least for me and what I will be using with the camera (event/wedding)
As for the 60mm, it was a struggle to get it focus in macro mode so much so doing it MF ala Zone Focusing style may have to be used. I put it on continuous focusing and the camera automatically hunt the focus for you without any half press so that do help somewhat. If one is in the market for a macro machine, then the XPRO1 need a bit of work.
But the 60mm is a beauty when it comes to portraiture. It is sharp even at F2.4 at 90mm equivalent. The bokeh is of course not as creamy since it only drops to F2.4 but thanks to the sharpness the subject do pop out.
About the 18mm I did not really test it which I think was a pity as I was in a hurry. But for me, the 18mm is not really needed unless I am on a Landscape photography trip. I would still lean back to the 24mm for most of my work. If I needed that wide shot, then the motion panorama feature is indispensable IMHO.
Because the X100 is doing very much 85% of what I shoot, I did not miss the XPRO1 due to some missing kits in the mix. But for a person who like to shoot at 50mm equivalent for street, this is a good camera to have. Do note, time is needed to master the focusing mechanism but once that is conquered, it would give the same returns as the X100.
This trip did not solicite the same kind of excitement I have for the X100 because X100 is the game changer product. Besides that the 24mm Prime, zoom lens and built in flash is needed in the body before I look into the XF System again. In other words, XPro-2.
Singapore Price during the Show (Same as recommended price)
XPRO1 body: SGD2399 (IT Show exclusive: Price comes with Case, 16GB Class 10 SD Card, Multi Card Reader, Screen Protector, Tall tripod, Lens Pen, Dry Cabinet)
Buy 2nd lens will allow discount of SGD100 off the total price
EF-X20 Flash – SGD319
EF-42 – SGD295
EF-20 – SGD169
Hand Grip XPRO1 – SGD179