My initial review of the Fuji X Pro 1 compared it favourably with the Leica M9 but did mention that the frustration and where the Leica is vastly superior is in manual focussing.
Since then the Fuji has had a couple of updates, the most recent to Version 2 Firmware being a substantial improvement on the previous set up.
Essentially Fuji have introduced two elements which have improved the camera immeasurably, and these are first of all a much faster focussing time, especially in poor light where the camera is set to auto focussing, and the second of benefit to anyone wishing to fit Leica, Nikon or Canon lenses is an improvement in the zoom option available for manual focussing.
To explain what this is, it was something which was not immediately apparent on picking up the Fuji and that is when the camera is set to manual focussing it is possibly by pushing in the scroll wheel on the back of the camera to digitally zoom in on the centre part of the frame to allow accurate manual focussing.
The problem originally was that sometimes the area which the camera zoomed in on was too tight for accurate focussing. The only option previously was a 10x magnification function, whereas now it’s possible to focus with a 3x magnification function.
In addition, when using the electronic view finder live view shows the minimum depth of field and therefore makes sharp focussing much easier.
Neither of these options are of course as good as Leica’s Range Finder, but it’s a massive improvement on where the camera was previously as far as manual focussing is concerned, and of course for the ubiquitous street photographer who doesn’t focus the camera anyway but rather uses depth of field, the new options add substantially to the camera’s flexibility.
Of enormous benefit however, is the massive improvement in low light focussing both in terms of speed and accuracy.
I used the X Pro 1 a couple of weeks ago to take some photographs at a party in relatively low light, and have to say that I was generally disappointed in the results simply because the speed of focussing coupled with the relative lack of sensitivity in low light meant that the failure rate was quite high and certainly far, far higher than it would have been had I been using an SLR.
Clearly the lesson is mine that I should have taken the SLR in the first place, but I was looking to see just how far I could extend the X Pro 1’s capabilities. I am looking forward to trying the camera again in similar circumstances and see how in a real world situation these further improvements have developed the camera.
The other big improvement to the Fuji is the introduction of their own M Mount Adaptor.
When I bought the camera initially I immediately purchased a Kiron Adaptor both for Leica and Nikon lenses.
Neither adaptor had any linkage at all to either the camera or lens, and therefore it’s necessary to remember to set the Fuji to manual when utilising non-Fuji lenses.
The Fuji adaptor does it all for you automatically, setting the camera to manual and therefore also making the focus magnification facility immediately available to hand.
I have to say that the quality of the Fuji sensor is absolutely excellent. The random nature of the pixels on the sensor certainly seems to almost entirely eliminate moiré, and certainly as I have mentioned in my original review of the camera the results, albeit with an APS-C Sensor, match those of the Leica.
On that subject Leica have just announced the Leica M10, albeit they are calling it the Leica M now, and it is interesting to see that at long last they have considered some of the features which frankly seem obvious given the trend towards digital cameras doing a lot more. They have introduced video for the first time to the M range, and have also upped the sensor substantially with a 24MP sensor and a faster processor.
There is also for the first time an electronic view finder option, and it will be interesting to see how this interfaces with the range finder.
Naturally the Leica purists are already complaining and I read a post on a Leica forum recently saying that even the Leica Monochrome was a breach of Leica tradition and ought not to have had a rear view finder, whilst there are many who enjoy the simplicity of the Leica, paying over £5,000 for a camera which lacks what are now basic facilities on other digital cameras seems somewhat extravagant.
It will be particularly interesting to see what the video capabilities are like on the new Leica. There is a massive move towards using DSLRs in a video context, but the idea of using high quality Leica lenses, which are already manual of course, in a video scenario sounds very appealing indeed and I suspect may create a completely new market for the M series cameras.
Going back to the Fuji, in common with most cameras it is not perfect. It is largely a lower cost alternative to the Leica M, but I really don’t think Leica are going to be too worried and suspect that the new M series, particularly with its substantially enhanced facilities, will prove to be very popular indeed.
On one final point I do appreciate, before somebody else points it out, that going from 18 million pixels to 24 million pixels is not, on the face of it, that big an improvement in resolution, technically to double resolution you need to go from 12 million pixels to 48 million pixels, or in the case of the Leica from 18 to 72 million Pixels. In practice the jump in the case of the Nikon D700 to D800 to only 36 million pixels has been massive. I suspect that the new Leica sensor even with only 24 million pixels will be a significant step up on the previous version.