Fujifilm announce a new high end mirrorless camera system with a new sensor design

Written by Gary on January 10th, 2012

The long awaited announcement from Fujifilm has finally arrived.

Their take on a mirrorless camera system is clearly targeting the enthusiast photographer who does not care for taking movies nor need zoom lenses, but who want high quality images using wide aperture prime lenses.

See here for details.

In short, it is based upon a new APS-C sized “X-Trans” sensor which has a new pixel array instead of usual Bayer pattern, and no anti-alias filter which should mean it can capture more detail than comparable traditional sensors with anti-alias filters.

The 1st camera, the X-Pro1 is expected to retail at $1600 body only and there are only 3 prime lenses available, each expected to cost $600-700.

The hybrid optical/EVF viewfinder is designed to change optical magnification to suit each of these 3 lenses, so I would not be expecting a big range of lenses.

That said, their traditional film era choice of lenses may well be adequate for the target audience (in 35mm terms):

  • 27mm field of view at f/2.0
  • 53mm field of view at f/1.4
  • 90mm field of view portrait/macro lens at f/2.4

Clearly they have done their homework on lens choice given the popularity of the following Micro Four Thirds lenses:

  • 12mm f/2.0 = 24mm
  • 20mm f/1.7 = 40mm
  • 25mm f/1.4 = 50mm
  • 45mm f/1.8 = 90mm
  • 45mm f/2.8 OIS macro = 90mm macro

However, personally I would have preferred the following range in 35mm terms:

  • 24mm at f/2.0
  • 35mm at f/1.8
  • 50mm at f/1.4
  • 90mm at f/2.0 with macro
  • 150mm at f/2.0 with OIS
  • 250mm at f/4 with OIS

I presume the optical viewfinder technology may be the limiting factor in providing such a range of lenses.

The Users Manual can be downloaded from Fuji here (pdf).

A few more features:

  • 16mp APS-C sized sensor with no anti-alias filter
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card support
  • only +/- 2EV exposure compensation
  • auto switching between OVF and LCF screen via eye detection as with Panasonic GH series
  • manual switch on front right to switc between OVF and EVF and set the OVF zoom
  • aperture ring on lenses with Auto selection as well
  • for Programmed Exposure Mode, there is no P mode but you set both Shutter dial and Aperture dial to A (but only allows speeds 1/4000th sec – 1/4 sec) – makes good sense
  • all shutter speeds (1/4000th sec to 1 sec ) are selected and visible from the top dial – makes street shooting much easier, for Aperture Priority, set this to A for auto shutter speed
  • for Manual Exposure mode, just chose shutter speed and aperture that is not A
  • for timed long exposures 2-30 sec, set shutter dial to T then use EVF with menu buttons to select actual exposure
  • for Bulb long exposures, set shutter dial to B -can take up to 60 minute exposures but if you set aperture to A, the exposure will be set to 30 sec
  • the shutter button even has a traditional screw in shutter release cable facility – one of the few digital cameras to have this – very nice and retro indeed!
  • exposure compensation is via it’s own top mounted dial and clearly marked – again great for the street shooter or tripod user
  • Macro mode on the rear buttons automatically changes OVF to EVF to avoid parallax error – seems strange to bother, as the type of user for this camera would know to do this anyway!
  • burst mode 6fps or 3fps
  • 2 exposure multiple exposure mode
  • panoramic stitching mode
  • self-timer activated via menu system  or allocated to the Fn button
  • viewfinder displays focus distance as this is not visible on the lenses – perhaps the biggest let down for the street photographer!
  • does not appear to be any manual focus aids other than a single zoom magnified focus enabled by pressing the centre of the command dial
  • ISO 100-25,600 although only 200- 6,400 in RAW mode and Auto but no intelligent ISO as with Panasonic cameras which assesses degree of subject movement
  • 10 film simulation modes including B&W with either Y,R or G filter, and a sepia mode
  • flash sync 1/180th sec, PC-sync terminal as well as hotshoe, no built-in flash, no remote TTL flash, no HSS flash?
  • 1080 and 720 24fps HD video, stereo mic, C-AF, 3x zoom some manual controls but perhaps not shutter speed selection?
  • weght 450g incl. battery and memory card
  • size 140mm x 82mm x 43mm – certainly not as small as the Olympus Pen or Sony NEX cameras

Potentially this is a great camera for many enthusiasts who want high image quality, want to use prime lenses only and only in this range, and who want to be able to see at a glance what aperture, shutter speed or exposure compensation they have selected by looking down on the camera. The hybrid OVF/EVF certainly appears to be a very attractive feature but will it be enough to overcome the camera’s other limitations?

Unfortunately for its high price, it lacks the versatility of the Micro Four Thirds system, and the enthusiasts will not be so happy with its lack of manual focus or focus indication functionality, nor its poor exposure compensation range.

Perhaps they should do a deal with Olympus and get in-body image stabilisation, sensor dust removal system, Super-FP HSS flash and remote TTL flash all of which are absent in this camera!

At its price point I would have hoped for a faster flash sync and potentially compatibility with a major brand’s remote TTL flash system such as Nikon, Canon or Olympus.

The HD video capabilities are reasonable but much more limiting than with other mirrorless cameras.



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