Firstly, may I say this is a long review, so if you want the main results but miss the finer points go straight to the end for the summary.
On first unpacking the X-Pro 1 and the current available three FX lenses the initial impression on looking at and feeling the products is one of quality.
All metal construction of both camera and lenses with what looks like leather around the body of the camera's face and back. It's not heavy even with the largest 60mm macro lens attached and weighs less and is smaller than my S100fs.
A front rubberised grip for your right hand also helps with the tactile feeling of this camera. Surface buttons and dials feel solid and are well placed around the body and are of good size and well marked in a way that does not look as if it will wear off over time.
Having come from mainly bridge style cameras and DSLRs I was awaiting this arrival with some trepidation, as I knew this camera would challenge me , though whether in a good or bad way was yet to be seen.
The trepidation was two fold.
First the body had an optical straight through old style view finder reminiscent of my parent's Kodak box brownie. I realised that could present problems with framing but I'll get to that later.
Second, there were two dials. One on top that had shutter speeds an 'A' on it as well as a couple of positions for custom settings and bulb etc. In all a pretty busy little dial. I have never had to use a dial like that before and wondered if it would slow down the way I normally work.
The second dial at the back of the camera below the top one was a command style type I'm used to.
The fn button was on the top right of the top dial, normally a pretty useless button for me on most cameras but came in useful later.
The Lenses again are very well made with proper aperture rings with a light but positive click positioning system you could feel without looking at and metal lens hoods of which one was round and quite deep for the 60mm lens and two that had squared off front ends which made them look quite stylish and blended with the style of camera body.
The lenses are all metal / glass construction with well milled focus / aperture rings which feel good and positive to touch and turn. This is good, as in the past I have had problems with lens ring rubber grips coming adrift on other makes.
A square specific purpose camera battery and SD card completed the package along with the software CD, cloths etc that I didn't bother un-packing as I had permission to use my own camera R strap which screws into the bottom tripod plate.
The tripod plate is a nice metal one and is a part of the metal body and very strong.
So with the battery on charge I found a camera case with dividing units to separate the lenses when not in use, and I would store the body with the largest lens on it in the centre face down. This is how I carry all my cameras, ready to shoot as fast as possible.
Overall, the build quality is much higher than that of base model DSLRs coming closer to the top level DSLRs of all metal construction.
The lenses were actually better in construction than some of the top range lenses by other manufacturers though around half the size or smaller than a standard APS-C sensored DSLR.
The lens I decided to attach for case storage was the 60mm with lens hood inverted and lens cap on for storage in the camera bag with a normal functioning lens cap in place.
The others were in their plastic bags in either side padded compartments with lens hoods on but lens caps off as the hoods had covering rubber lens caps that where on at the front to help prevent dust ingress and in their anti-static plastic bags in which I felt they would not get contaminated with dust during transport .
The reason for doing this was because with the lens hoods on there is no way of removing the normal style lens caps.
I'm assuming the design of the hoods which taper inward with an inverse curve to a rectangular opening are designed to reduce internal reflection on such wide angle lenses and if that's their job, to reduce and keep light even across the frame, they do it very well indeed.
I placed a few silica gels packs in the camera bag to keep the bag dry inside. A cleaning cloth, a lens pen just in case, and my camera strap went in the back pocket of the bag.
Bag sorted for the camera's stay with me, I waited for the battery which charged in a few hours.
Battery inserted with the lens on and card in, I turned it on.
"Lens Error" "Please update camera" was what I was greeted with along with a chattering of the lens .
Great I thought. Two minutes it took me to break it!
Immediately after turning the camera off I looked on the FujiFilm site where it stated each lens needed the camera to have a firmware update, one at a time with the appropriate lens attached at the time of the update.
Fuji had said the unit and lenses had come factory fresh from Japan, so I felt I had been given an untested unit, presumably from random.
So no effort was made to supply me with a checked, fault free unit but had a genuine production run camera.
With everything ready, I went out for some test shots in the garden as I'm used to shooting with all controls to hand next to my practiced fingers so I don't have to take my eye away from the view finder.
I found that switching the view from optical to electronic easy and not as confusing or hard as I first thought it may be.
Push once on the little lever at the front of the camera, next to the lens and it switches and returns to its original position. Another push and you are back to the optical view.
I should add that this camera also has the option to automatically switch between view finder and screen and worked much better than previous models to the extent that it was predictable and worked well when you needed it and not premature in it's workings .
Hand and finger positioning on such a small body was awkward at first with the right palm accidentally pushing the Q button from time to time but things soon settled down enough for me to be comfortable with it .
Turning a front lens ring for aperture seemed natural even though I've never used such a lens in the past. There was no dedicated ISO button, which on a camera that boasted full access to major controls I found odd until I found out you can program the Fn button to anything you wished.
The fn button which I don't think I've ever used on another body was programmed to do the ISO settings
A few more test shots and I was ready for an outing.
The camera arrived while I was taking my summer break which this year has been a series of day trips to local places I'd never visited, or liked to visit.
This little loan made it feel like Christmas had come early (I hoped) .
First trip out was to the zoo to see if I could cope with prime lenses , especially as they started wider than anything I own and the longest lens is only the equivalent of a 105mm .
Not long for a zoo trip but with 16 MP to play with I felt that worst case I could crop the pictures
Apart from it being a day out, the idea was to see if the camera would easily focus through cage wires and glass.
Along with this I took other pictures through wire etc and yes for some pictures I did suffer a lack of focal length , but I got more usable pictures than I thought I would for the focal length and the quality on this first day out impressed me even though I made a few mistakes along the way .
The next major outing was to a historical enactment day from all periods of history and all parts of the world.
It heaped down! Fuji had warned me that the camera was not weather sealed so it stayed in it's bag most of the time, coming out in the brief periods of sunshine and overcast moments.
That was not too frustrating as I had my own camera with me as well and shot with that instead. I did manage about a hundred shots with it while I was there due to the weather.
No matter the nature of the shot, as long as the exposure itself was OK I never blew out a colour channel, not even on red silks and day glow colours which I normally find hard to tame.
Because of that accuracy though colours can seem drab when they are that accurate, but shoot RAW and you have all the film simulations you would want to play with.
If you prefer to only shoot in JPEG you could take three shots at once in different film simulations chosen from the camera's menu.
That could be a good alternative to those that don't like to play with RAW.
It is also possible to select ISO bracketing in which the camera will take one shot and produce three files at three different ISO setting chosen by the operator which is a neat trick though I didn't have time to try that one out.
I should say that during the entire time I shot with this camera, all the settings for sharpness and tone etc where set to the middle settings of 0 , so that anything I did could be post processed from JPEG more easily if that was what was needed .
I did this when I shot JPEG only for the day.
This is how I shoot with any camera for sports so I have some flexibility if the shot needs any adjustment after it's taken.
The next day I was looking forward to an equestrian cross country event meeting at Firle House near the south coast between Brighton and Eastbourne.
Now two things I noticed while I'd been shooting over the last few days were that the lenses where a bit slow to focus (compared to my own fastest lenses costing four times the price) and the body was still painfully slow and would lock up the camera for quite sustained periods shooting in RAW or worse RAW + JPEG .
The X-Pro 1 does not do this shooting JPEG nearly as easily or for as long, so this day would be JPEG only day.
A lot of people complain that focusing with bridge cameras is not good for sports due to the focusing method of using contrast measurement.
This camera had to be put to that test for lots of reasons and most crucial was would I be able to time shots the same way I could with my own gear? Would the shutter focus lag be too much?
To get around this problem with horse riding I decided to use the pre-focus method combined with single auto focus and burst mode.
Some people may feel that this is cheating and not something anyone can do but I would argue that if you have a tool then you adapt to what it can do or find a different tool. Sometimes ease of use is not everything and may be a compromise some are willing to have in return for better quality images , providing that happens of course .
I did not worry about being sideways on to the action but placed myself 45 degrees to it for most of the shots.
Did my focusing methods work?
It worked in bright light, it worked in shaded areas, worked with a small aperture and with splashing water using the method I described above.
Pushing the ISO up a bit and using the EXR mode gave some nice results which I thought for tonal graduation was actually very good.
The auto white balance was always very good and never gave a poor result in that department.
I should say that earlier in the week I had noticed the battery charge lifespan, although reasonable, probably would not last a whole day for two reasons.
The first reason is I take tons of pictures.
Normally somewhere similar to this event I could take close to a thousand pictures, though on this day because it was a shared day out I took many less.
The second reason was the optical view screen.
Being a bit to one side and above the actual lens meant the view is skewed even if there is an electronic frame projected onto the optical view finder to place the subject matter within the real view that the lens sees.
Also with the longest lens attached (and even the shortest) the lens hoods obscure a part of the framed area within the optical view finder. Enough to not see a distraction within that area like a person's elbow between you and the subject matter!
Normally this is not a problem as you would switch to the EVF and see through the lens but that introduces a time lag into the view due to refresh rates in the electronic view finder and fuzziness if you have to pan to follow the action. That in turn loses your focus spot on the subject. Not good for this type of photography, especially if you opt for a wide aperture to isolate the action from background. Even though I would have liked to use the EVF, for battery life and for constant visual accuracy I had to use the optical view finder.
Did I get many good shots?
Tons of them!
Though tougher to do this type of shot with this camera than my sports gear, I think with practice and familiarity with the kit it would get easier with time, but you do have to work this camera to get the best results. That said I don't think I got the best out of it that day as impressed with the results as I was, and there was definitely room for me or anyone to improve with what I have managed with that set.
The one type of action shot that any camera using contrast measurement over phase detection finds almost impossible to do is sadly, oncoming action. It turned out to be as true with this camera as with many others I have tried in the past and was something I do personally find annoying with any contrast detection system.
That is not to say the problem can't be overcome with planning but it does need planning , and that places anything out of what is predictable happening at an event out of the range of capability to this camera at present .
I did try, and try, and try, but sadly nothing short of the pre-focusing method worked for fast, oncoming action shots.
The reason for the use of contrast measurement is simply down to the lack of a separate focusing system which you can look up on the internet if you are interested.
I know Some manufacturers are working on a form of phase detection for mirror-less cameras using photo-sites from the sensor to work instead of having a separate focusing screen. Whether it works sufficiently well or not is yet to be seen but would be a welcome addition to any camera of this type to my mind if it works. That said, results that are again stunning in this price range for any sized camera can be obtained with planning and taken in JPEG only for cameras write speeds and frame rates which is more than adequate in JPEG fine mode .
The next time I took the X-Pro 1 out for an outing I was interested in its low and artificial light performance as the camera does not have a built in flash.
I had been impressed with the initial ISO 1600 test shots I had done in relatively good light but how would it cope in places like museums and indoor centres where lighting can vary wildly in type and strength.
Well, unlike the action shots, in these places there is time to compose and sort out your shots so I left the white balance on auto, upped the ISO initially to 1600 with JPEG fine + RAW.
On average there was little the camera would refuse to focus at, though sometimes it took more than one or two tries.
Colour rendition and tonal graduation were as good and in some instances better than my own equipment. ISO performance above 1600 was better than my full frame DSLR though it’s a few years old now.
Again when set up right, the camera never really blew out any colour channels, which in itself is impressive.
Where the highest contrast was to be expected like taking shots of stained glass windows it was possible to get interior detail as well as good lighting on the windows themselves.
Church interiors were also not much of a problem to do hand held.
I should add that most of my shots for this review are hand held.
After those two tests the next was to be for the macro/non macro use in botanical photography.
This is one of the areas I'm not happy with myself in taking reasonable shots.
Having said that, I used the screen of the camera despite it being a bright day. I was wearing a brimmed hat that helped darken the area of the screen but the use of the screen to get the correct angle for the shot needed and a better idea of close up depth of field made the use of the screen for this a no-brainer.
The screen itself appears to have a darkened glass surface and the focus area which can be moved around the screen via the directional control buttons on the back and an adjustable size of focus spot is useful for this.
Reached by the use of two of the back buttons and then the direction buttons, the action of this method is not the quickest around but more than adequate for this task and not difficult. The bright green selected focus area shows up quite well against whatever it is pointed at.
Focusing in these modes is surprisingly quick using single focus. The screen seems slightly more flicker free to my eye than the EVF or at least not a strain on the eye.
The screen is self adjusting for the ambient light and should not be seen as a way to evaluate the picture exposure being taken.
The screen can also be made customised viable with as many, or as few on screen helps as is needed for the task in hand.
In this instance I chose the artificial horizon for levels, the grid for composition, and the live histogram which only shows when the shutter button is not pressed, to help me out. Isolation with these superb Fujinon lenses can be as isolating or inclusive as you desire through the use of DOF and all of the present three lenses do very well indeed.
These lenses give one third aperture choices which is really nice to have and has a level of effectiveness that is hard to find in quite a few other lenses.
Not only that but the lenses worked almost equally well at all the apertures I chose , so much so that I didn't even think which aperture was best for sharpness or had least optical imperfection associated with it. This just allowed me to get on with the idea of choice rather than necessity which is only the preserve of only the finest optics.
The other thing about the camera is its white balance and colour rendering which is just superb even when set to neutral.
Next on my “to do” list was similar to zoo photography but indoors. The idea here was to push the ISO and DOF to allow for more dynamic bird of prey portraits.
The hall these where taken in only has small skylights to stop the halls from overheating or getting too cold so light is dim at best. There is no fencing here to get in the way though even the 60mm lens was a bit short here for trying to get a head only shot of an eagle of two sitting less than eight feet away.
Though cropped an amount, these shots, of which I did quite a few, came out quite well though I may have overdone the shallow DOF a little on these.
In between all of these outings I mainly took macro shots in my small back garden and mostly there was no trouble with doing that but on shots with low contrast between the subject and background or where colour variation was not so great the camera refused to focus at all on singles or continuous focus.
I resorted to placing my little finger in front of the object then taking my finger away and moving the camera forward. Not ideal for something like a fly but for my spider shots was only mildly annoying as I hadn't done any macro in some time.
Next up was the ability of Fuji cameras in particular to do good portraiture work.
I've never been a studio photographer and wouldn't know where to begin so instead I went to a medieval fair on the look out for some character shots.
I like the use of shallow DOF for isolation in these situations and I had lenses that went down to f1.4 and f2. Whether these shallow apertures would be too shallow would rely heavily on the camera's ability to focus accurately on an eye , preferably the leading eye nearest the camera.
The film simulation modes also play a good part here depending upon if you want more of a natural look or a cine screen type of shot. I decided to try both as shallow as I'd dare go. The results where on the whole very pleasing indeed and this subject matter is definitely where this camera shines best to my mind, where even much better kit would struggle to keep up or do better. It did focus reasonably fast and very accurately on close up, slower moving, subject matter shots.
For effect the camera and lens combinations are just about perfect.
You would have to spend a lot more to do better in 99 percent of your portraiture shots in my opinion.
What limitations to expect under what circumstances.
At first my idea was to treat it as a travel camera because of its compact size and relative light weight for its image quality.
Up to a point this continued to the end but with as much general variation thrown into the mix as I could because everyone does not have the same interests and not everyone would have access to more costly equipment.
So the main question became, if you owned more expensive (and on the whole heavier) camera equipment would you bother buying it and for whose reasons and if you didn't own more expensive equipment already would it be enough of a camera to stop you considering going the DSLR route?
So a little more testing was in order.
Firstly, everyone tries out a sunset or two.
There are a lot of techniques for this but I tend to find the best results come from tripod use, low ISOs and longer shutter times.
To do that you need to stop your lenses down.
The smallest aperture belongs to the macro lens in this group so I started with that at f22.
Changing white balance as I went and changing EV values as I went to get my desired results.
There are two odd things happening here.
Though it's not uncommon for the base ISO of a camera to be 200, it is unusual not to be able to use the RAW capture mode in the pulled lower ISO setting.
So not being able to use RAW at ISO 100 was something of a shock but this is probably not a mistake from Fuji who probably have very good reasons for not including that.
Unperturbed by this, it would be my second reason to shoot JPEG only on a fine/large setting.
I could not get the camera to expose more than thirty seconds even in full manual.
When I got home it turns out that it can be done but only with a shutter release mechanism which I didn't have to hand
Oh well, not important, or so I thought.
It is not often anyone will want more than thirty seconds of exposure for whatever reason and is on the whole a specialist thing.
Personally I've only used that on maybe two or three occasions so I don't overly think of it as a problem. Someone else may do though so I mention it now.
The results though are just gob-smackingly beautiful.
I wish to heaven above I had had more time just to try this more at different locations.
Graduations and transpositions of colour are amongst the best I've seen.
As I was around I did a couple of night shots of the town centre’s bus stop as well with a mixture of different lighting on auto white balance , which to be fair did a reasonable job and quite possibly better than my similarly sized sensored DSLR has done in terms of white balance . In terms of noise handing it seemed slightly but not much poorer.
I used the same technique of tripod, slow shutter speed, small aperture and low ISOs for these shots which was possibly a mistake , but it's what I went for expecting the best results that way.
The results were not bad considering costs and portability but I think they are not as good as I get with even my two thirds sensored DSLR and this way of taking shots.
I may be going about this the wrong way with this camera though so I am not going to say a definite here.
I have just simply run out of time for verification after thinking about the results, so sorry for that.
What I did do was some very demanding shots at the end of the golden hour which didn't work too well for me.
Again the long exposure noise reduction at low ISOs is not as good as my other cameras and it's the only way I know of to get certain colours into a certain type of shot.
The back screen also goes very grainy making the use of manual focus next to impossible and the auto focus in such low light refused to lock on very well.
This was not in the pitch dark but making the setting such that it was appearing darker than it was for effect.
Now again this is a specialist shot as far as I'm concerned and not one taken on by the majority of people as far as I know, but even when the camera gave me a reasonable focus the resulting shot which had to be taken at ISO 100 for the shutter speed and the subsequent lack of RAW meant that the graduations that where such a treat with the sunsets had gone.
Again I must stress that from my point of view after the success of the sunset shots I was just upset from a personal level that I'd pushed the camera two stops too far (Camera pun intended).
But then at that point I had done as much as I could to push this camera to breaking point photographically speaking and compared to what anyone was offering even six years ago at any consumer level , this piece of equipment is still light years ahead of most of that .
It is not a bad camera.
There were, however other concerns while I used the camera over the period of three weeks.
One was the concerns with water. Maybe not an unreasonable one for a piece of electronic equipment but I like to shoot in all weathers, even if it's with a plastic bag. Being even in high humid areas made me nervous with this camera especially as this unit seemed to be playing up a little.
The lens fitting on this camera is the tightest, most well fitting that I have ever encountered and is a joy to use.
The lack of a mirror box and the general shallowness of the design mean that accidentally sticking your finger directly on the sensor while trying to hold onto two lenses for a quick change over outside is a worry and not exposing any part of an element or the shallow sensor area to debris is slightly higher than usual.
The upside is it would be easier to blow clean when needed and any small gritty particles in the sensor area easily spotted and dealt with.
On the whole I was impressed with this arrangement rather than intimidated by it.
For anyone starting out in interchangeable lens systems this easy access may be either a bit daunting or a bit tempting.
Either way, do not leave this camera exposed to small children when dismantled.
The real reason for concern over the tight but well engineered fit was that on the 60mm lens in particular when mounted caused me a problem.
Sometimes after a prolonged amount of time with the camera off , when switched back on the camera back screen would just pulse and not come on and the controls froze.
This did extend to both other lenses to a much lesser degree.
The problem was easily remedied by gently rotating the lens a fraction of a turn in the lens mount of the body without either detaching it or depressing the lens release button. I have never encountered this problem before and can only put it down to an intermittent contact pin in the camera. I did report this to Fuji that made a note of the problem but said it was OK to continue using it.
By the time I got to shooting the equestrian event it sometimes happened between walking from one jump around the course to the next.
Towards the end of the last week it was much less but gave me a scare and cost me a couple of missed shots.
If it had been mine I would have sent it back for inspection.
The pins for connection of the XF lens are in the camera in a recess which is good thinking as.
1:Only the camera has pins and they are reasonably protected from accidental bending, or fingers laying down oily coatings on them.
2: The cost of each lens is kept marginally down by not having spring loaded pins in them and the contact areas are easily seen for contamination examination.
In all it should be a good system and I'm willing to accept mine could have had a fault after I could not find anyone that owns one complaining about that problem on the net.
The first time it happened though nearly put me into shock with the responsibility.
Another physical concern is also with certain aspects of the lens designs. They are small problems and not show stoppers but generally annoying to me personally.
Metal lens hoods.
They look great and retro and all that, but drop one and it bends and chips horribly from four and a half feet.
I know, I dropped the largest one while mounted on the 60mm macro lens.
I have offered to buy a replacement as the camera was in my care and I feel awful about it.
It happened, and received so much damage because it hit tarmac.
Out in the street I was busy looking through the view finder and my finger must have rested on the hood while I tried to manually focus.
The collars connecting to the lens barrel are again to very tight tolerances but with no real locking mechanism beyond a depression and a torsion type bar spring catch resting in the depression.
They are very easily moved out of position.
It may have also gone because that lens I did for a while need to rotate back and forth to get the camera to switch on properly for a time.
Either way my idea of a lens hood is the protection of the front lens element from the sun but equally protects from knocks and bumps.
A plastic hood would have bounced, not bent. It would have had pin **** indents that would have polished mainly out and not left small chips in the finish.
In all, I would at least appreciate a set of lens hoods in plastic for every day, use or a locking mechanism that does not allow accidental removal.
Even using the rubber dust caps on the smaller lenses caused some wear of the lens hood finish at the far ends.
The rubber caps on the 35mm and 18mm are there presumably because with the hoods fitted it is impossible to remove the normal plastic end element lens caps so they are there for normal walking around.
For me that was a problem as I had permission to use my normal R strap which is attached to the tripod base plate.
It's how I normally carry my cameras now as I can use up to three bodies without any of the straps crossing each other in use and still wear a glasses retainer strap around my neck and not strangle myself or allow cameras to bang together.
Also the camera in the sling position is so light you just don't notice its weight at all, which is a very positive thing.
The negative thing was that the rubber lens caps did not stay on for more than fifteen strides anywhere. I had to put them away in fear of loosing them.
In daily use, even on a sling strap, the camera caused no visible interest from the public at all.
Brilliant, unless you are a poser.
Don't buy this if you want people to ask you what it is.
They won't, unless they are a clued up photographer with higher end equipment of their own.
They ask polite questions about speed and performance mainly. They take the quality for granted.
Even then they don't seem overly concerned and once curiosity is satisfied they almost totally ignore you.
I loved this about this camera as people you take shots of didn't ever look concerned and you don't need to watch your back all the time in crowds.
The X-Pro 1 does make a small amount of shutter noise but people only notice that when you use the burst frame modes .
In all, you can go about what you want to do in complete unadulterated, unmolested, uninterested, bliss.
The last thing that from my background put me off a little was the parallaxed angled view finder for a couple of reasons.
One was getting used to having to watch the frames inside the view finder to frame your subject, but on the whole it was not too big a deal.
Another was the information within the view finder which was plentiful but depending on the background you are shooting against, particularly large amounts of sky, some of that information is bleached in to the background and becomes unreadable at the time just prior to fully pressing the shutter home, especially in the top portion of the frame.
The lens hoods even on the smallest lens (which happens to have the widest view) always blocks a part of the optical view.
It's very annoying because the optical view finder is first of all, flicker free and otherwise my preferred use on the camera.
The problem is that at the end of a long day's shooting and you forgot to charge enough batteries to allow the luxury of switching to EVF , or you are panning an action shot and don't want or need screen judder , you are blind to a portion of the frame???
On more than one occasion I ended up with another photographer's elbow or passer by's hand, head or other body part I didn't want within the frame.
Will this become a bigger problem when longer length lenses are released?
Who though this was a good idea?
Were not enough film versions of this type of camera body made in the past to foresee this?
Sorry to go on but this is an important issue for those that can only take one picture or two at the time of an event .or when time to review a shot is not there.
Yes there is the EVF but people will buy this for the optical view finder as well.
The one other thing that takes getting used to but is a user problem not a camera problem is the focus spot or square, again, in the optical view finder.
When you think you have the focus spot where you want it, you press the shutter button half way down and a new, green coloured focus spot appears next to , but not in line with the white focus spot.
Why does it not know already if it comes up on the shutter press?
It's probably a distance related thing on thinking about it but if you have ever experienced this you wonder what is going on.
This is off putting when you know you have a very wide aperture selected and the focus spot has gone from the eye to the cheek or nose.
It delays the moment while you think about it and sometimes the moment has gone.
As I say though it's a user problem in as much as familiarity will over time, make the operative more able to anticipate where this will be, at least with prime lenses.
What will happen with zoom lenses?
I have no idea but I seldom pay attention to the focal length being used on a zoom but instead pay attention to focus spot aim, what’s within the frame in the way of distractions, and exposure readings.
To then presumably have a new reading somewhere you are not anticipating could be even more disconcerting.
Of course this may be conjecture and have no bearing on what will happen but I have no idea and the manual is less than explanatory in this department and the experience has left me wondering as to what practical maximum length primes or zooms are we to expect and how will the view be if you prefer or need optical viewing?
The video output of this camera is really good for the price with one problem.
There is no problem with the quality of the picture as far as I'm concerned or its brightness or tonal accuracy, even the sound can be good and as far as I can tell does not drop frames.
So what's wrong?
The autofocus hunts back and forth when there is no need to.
At first I though it was like having a faulty optical stabilization unit on the blink with the picture doing slight jumps from left to right but no , it's slight jumps forward and backwards in the focus and there is no way to focus in manual or single focus.
If you could focus in manual and set a small aperture to give you reasonable coverage of the depth of field, then you would easily get, with a bit of practice and a tripod, really usable video to my mind. Compared to what I've seen in the past from cameras doing true HD I would be easily impressed I think.
Others may not share that assessment but I would be happy with its output which is a first from any digital camera for me that I've used.
So after all that I should hate it right?
The way the camera works and is set out makes me think about the shot I'm taking more than my regular camera.
The tones and colour are really very good.
The focus, when fast enough is very accurate. The lenses are very, very, very good, both optically and in precision engineering.
They are a joy to use both physically use and in their end result.
They are up in quality of output to anything I've owned to date.
They could do with more modern focus motors, both for speed and noise, and really in this day and age of video could do with some from of optical stabilisation on the 60mm / 105mm equivalent, especially as it's a macro lens. It would be very useful in that use.
The macro lens when used normally is unusually sharp for a macro lens as well.
Definitely my favourite of the three for most used lens focal length.
They may be a tad expensive but they are simple lenses that should last years into several bodies I would think.
I also expect their second hand value to not depreciate too much either if the system continues to both expand and last.
The body is also well made and feels solid despite its lack of weight and felt well balanced in the hand which I didn't expect.
The finish is too good. I would have liked to see an aluminium version that hides knocks better.
(Not that I hit it in any way, shape or form)
I did not feel the need to want to try the optional hand grip as my hands are not that big but someone that may have larger hands than me may benefit from that option to keep your palms from accidentally activating any of the back panel buttons.
The back panel has a Q button which gives quicker access to most of the most used menu options which is an excellent idea that all cameras relying on menus should have.
The menu does not rotate with the change of use from portrait mode to landscape, always staying in the landscape view mode. On a tripod in particular that is irritating on such a great feature.
Button positionings can be learnt and dials felt but menus need reading.
If you can build in an artificial horizon guide that works very well, how hard is it to change a menu around by 90 degrees?
You did it on the Z700EXR.
Don't hold your hopes up for the auto panning feature for all sorts of reasons. It's quicker and less frustrating to do manually the old fashioned way. I just plain gave up.
The manual states for best results use the 35mm lens but even then you have to know your shutter speeds or the resultant exposures will show side movement blur.
So who’s this camera for?
Actually despite everything I've said about my experience with this camera there is little that stops the experience from being both enjoyable and profitable in the rewards of the pictures it gives.
Auto White balance is good and thrown by very little you throw at it.
What focusing issues there are not insurmountable with thought and care, with at present, the exceptions of very low contrast situations and very low light levels.
High ISO performance is up there with all but the top 2% of cameras today with me having no qualms what so ever about quality of image when shooting at ISOs of up to 1600.
Even at ISO 3200 it's better than most other cameras costing much more.
With a lot of noise reduction even ISO 6400 produced one or two shots I couldn't obtain any other way in a given situation and have never achieved as yet with another camera.
(Hand-held astronomy shot of Orion’s Belt from back garden).
JPEG quality straight from camera is exceptional and Silkypix works well with this body with the RAW files even if the processing is a bit slow, it's worth the wait.
I think that this camera is the Lancia of cameras.
It can be equally rewarding and at times frustrating, but it makes you work as a photographer and rewards you with excellent pictures that equal those from what is regarded by some to be better types of cameras.
I'm not sure the equalling of large format camera rumours are justified for resolution but within it's price range and for some way above that whatever the digital medium, it stands out.
It is value for money and I'd like to see anything currently at this price level that can honestly do better in image quality.
The camera is probably not for a beginner unless they seriously want something they can grow into.
The camera is not for anyone that wants the camera to do the job of taking photographs on it's own with little input from the operative.
The camera is for anyone who wants to be reminded what photography is about. That will teach them how to use their other equipment to better advantage.
The camera is for the student that wants to take a serious camera course with a body that will cope with the demands put upon it.
The camera is for serious photographers that want the fun back in their down time or don't want to be bothered by the general public while they work.
Would I give up my current gear for one?
Not until someone somewhere gets a foolproof predictive focusing system sorted out and more lenses are available for everyday use.
Do I want one for those times I really dread lugging 26 kilograms of gear around with me for the day but don't really need to?
Yes, very much.
I think it's the equivalent of that Lancia.
In the future you will have kicked yourself for not having owned one.
Not because it's without flaws but partly because of them.
To have had the experience of actually enjoying the process and getting better results for the amount of money spent. So that's it. Of course, if Fuji would like me to compare the results after the next firmware update they are welcome to send it back to me for further comparison for another three weeks – I will be only too happy to oblige.