A while back ( around the time of the launch of the X10) Fuji stated they were serious about getting into the upper echelons of the prime camera bracket.

Obviously with the arrival of the X-Pro 1 and with it pitched into the same market as the Leica M9 it was supposed to be a more affordable alternative to the much more expensive M9 ( $10500.00 NZD). For US dollars deduct about 20% on the NZ price and you are close to what an M9 costs in other countries.

It therefore appears that Fuji’s X-Pro 1 will sit squarely in the middle of the Leica range, and as it offers video support as well as a series of interchangeable lenses it should appeal to the enthusiast who likes the look and feel of a rangefinder style camera. And with its distinctive retro styling whats not to like?

Well quite a bit as it turns out. Some reviewers have noted that it definitely isn’t a compact camera (no surprise really) and that its somewhat bulky. Fuji have also touted the camera as a “Pro” level camera but I have serious doubts about that. I think there are better “Pro” alternatives in the market place than the Fuji.

Lets assume that we are going to go the whole hog and set up a new X-Pro 1 system and do away with all our other cameras. So heres a list of items that a “Pro” might well consider when buying a X-Pro 1:

Fujifilm Finepix X-Pro1 16.0MP body $2,580.00
Fujifilm XF18mm f2.0 lens $870.00
Fujifilm XF35mm f1.4 lens $870.00
Fujifilm XF60mm f2.4 lens $870.00
Fujifilm EF-X20 TTL Flash $375.00
Fujifilm LC-XPro1 Leather Case $279.00
Fujifilm HG-XPro1 Hand Grip $185.00
Fujifilm NP-W126 Battery $140.00

Our thanks to Photo & Video International for these prices.

Thats a total of $6169.00NZD or approximately $4935.00USD. In terms of pro -gear and the cost its not excessive, a new Canon 5D MkIII with a 24-105mm lens will set you back $6399.00NZD and the new Canon 1DX body only is a cool $9900.00 NZD, therefore in terms of cost for a pro photographer the outlay isn’t huge.

Dpreview did a review of the X-Pro -1 back in June this year. You can find the article here, http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/fujifilm-x-pro1

While the list of lenses isn’t over the top price wise the range is very limited. There is a suggestion that a telephoto lens is on the way but as yet details are very sketchy. Prices are rumoured to be about $1200.00 NZD. We will have to await any announcements from this years Photokina, or from Fuji directly.

While the Dpreview reviewers find the X-Pro 1 a pretty decent camera and gave it a rating of 79%, I think this is overly generous. With a camera of this class, I expect, not hope for, top quality AF and manual focus. I would also expect the Auto ISO function to work accurately, not to mention the fact that the Histogram doesn’t work in manual mode. You have gotta be kidding right? Even my lowly HS20 and s1000fd have a live histogram in manual mode. A pro-photographer isn’t going to take that too well when wanting to check exposure values before pressing the shutter. What were the Fuji techs thinking? Then there’s the advent of no Face detection AF. WTF? Again my lowly HS20EXR has face detection AF. In point of fact it can do multi face detection Af.

Another thing that is important for pro and enthusiast photographers is the depth of field gauge or scale. Even my Pentax MZ-6 SLR has a rudimentary version of this. In a Pro level camera this needs to work and work properly and as statemed in the review this is basically inaccurate and useless.

For me at least you can have all the image quality in the world, coupled with a very solidly built retro styled rangefinder camera, but if it cant focus and do what you would expect a DSLR a quarter of its price to do then what you end up with is another expensive door stop. Sound harsh? Perhaps but if the brakes of your brand new Audio only worked one pedal press in four you wouldn’t accept that now would you? So why would you accept a camera that is poor in performance with some pretty serious limitations? At the price point of this camera and given its limitations I doubt that you would.

It seems on reflection the the Fuji engineers really haven’t learn’t from there mistakes with the painfully slow x100. It’s all very well to have stellar image quality but you have to be able to capture the image in this lifetime, and at present that’s not really an option with the X-Pro 1. Yes there are those, just as there are with the X100 that are happy to work around or put up with these limitations and kudos to them. I for one aren’t. If you produce a premium grade product and advertise it as such, then it damn well better live up to the hype.

This then leads us back to the statement that Fuji desires to be taken as a serious contender in the market place. I applaud their innovation with the mid and upper level camera ranges. I don’t mind paying for a premium product providing that’s what I get. Unfortunately that’s not what you get with the current batch of X Series cameras, and Fuji needs to acknowledge this and set the bar a lot higher for its design and engineering teams. Good quality imagery and design is being let down by some very poor implementations, and the QC needs to be held accountable as well.

I haven’t a clue as to how much longer Fuji enthusiasts are willing to forgive them these  problems, but sending back faulty cameras doesn’t help. Once again we approach the time of year when we hear what Fuji has in-store for the next generation of cameras. Hopefully markedly better versions of what we have now.