Fujifilm's X-Pro1 - the company's first Compact System Camera - looks to be an impressive rangefinder-style camera. Does it deliver on its superior image quality claims? What Digital Camera's Fuji X-Pro1 review investigates...
The Top Gear photographer, Justin Leighton, reveals why he’s hooked on Fuji’s rangefinder-style Compact System Camera.
About Justin Leighton
A regular freelance photographer for Top Gear magazine, Justin Leighton is based in Oxfordshire.
Working in the industry for 25 years, Justin has travelled all over the world documenting history. After setting up a magazine with a few friends at the age of 18, Justin developed a passion for photography. The magazine didn’t last, but Justin’s eye for editorial images did. He went on to establish a career in photojournalism, documenting such historical events as the Balkan conflict, The Good Friday Agreement, the fall of Communism in eastern Europe and three general elections.
Justin was also part of the British-based collective, Network Photographers, a group of 25 of the most reputable reportage photographers. His work has been published across hundreds of national newspapers and magazines.
In 2006, Justin decided to put his news photography on hold and pursued the opportunity of documenting a long-held personal interest: automobiles. As well as undertaking a range of commercial work, Justin now works on a freelance basis for BBC’s Top Gear, shooting both stills and most recently video for the TV show, magazine and website.
Top Gear photographer Justin Leighton was one of the first photographers to get his hands on the X-Pro1: Fujifilm’s first rangefinder-style Compact System Camera. With a sensor that delivers film-like results that will rival some full-frame DSLRs for quality, a hybrid viewfinder and a set of high-quality fast prime lenses available for it, how has the X-Pro1 fared in the hands of a working pro?
How long have you been using the X-Pro1? Did you have a pre-production sample?
I think it is about six or seven months now. I started with a pre-production sample as I was working with Fujifilm on a project for Focus-On-Imaging for the X-Pro1.
What have you been shooting with it and how has it performed?
It’s been my work rest and play camera. I have been shooting a few bits as part of a few personal projects; used it as my recce camera; taking pictures of family events; and for a few magazine features too. Performance is very good. I use it personally and professionally to make me money.
What other photographic gear do you use and how does the X-Pro1 fit in?
I use anything that fits with what the job requires, from Alpa/PhaseOne medium format cameras and backs to my iPhone. My personal camera kit comprises Fuji and Nikon gear. I wanted a modern rangefinder and the X-Pro1 came along.
Have you used all three prime lenses and if so, which do you tend to shoot the most with?
Yes, I have used all three primes, although I just recently got the 60mm so I haven’t used that lens much yet. The 35mm is my favourite because it’s equivalent to a focal length of 50mm.
Would you consider the newly announced Leica M-mount adapter to use with it?
No but if you have investment in those lenses then it’d be a good thing to do. Now an R-mount, I might be interested in that….
Is the AF quicker enough or do you tend to focus manually?
The AF is quick enough for how I use the camera.
How do you find the hybrid viewfinder? Do you use the EVF or optical display more?
I use both all the time. I am still a bit addicted to flicking between the two. It’s when one uses the 60mm, that it really comes into its own. Maybe Fuji could do a 300mm!
How does it stand up to day-to-day use? Is the build quality up to it?
I hammer my kit. To me, cameras are work tools. I really care about build quality. As of today the X-Pro1 hasn’t let me down. That is all I can ask for.
Are you pleased with the results from the X-Pro1? Does it compare with a full-frame camera?
I don’t really compare my Nikon D800 and my Fuji X-Pro1 because I regard them as different tools.
I use the X-Pro1 for work and I put my name to the pictures I shoot on it. I am very happy with it. Especially now that Photoshop has caught up with ARC.
What’s the thing that’s impressed you the most about the X-Pro1?
The X-Pro1’s EVF and the sensor are both fantastic. And the Fujinon glass is very, very impressive too.
Are there any little quirks or major omissions that you’d like to see changed on the next generation?
The one thing I would like is a lock on the exposure comp dial. I tend to knock it off the setting.
Can you sum up your thoughts on the X-Pro1? Would you recommend it?
It’s a rather special camera; small, light with a lovely film-like sensor. Great glass. It can be just a great compact camera that you can change lenses on one day, and your main workhorse on a big magazine feature the next. It’s the sort of camera you get really attached to. It sits in my bag (when I can stop my assistant ‘borrowing’ it for weeks at a time) and is always with me. The X-Pro1 made me enjoy just shooting for fun; like its brother the X100. If you like taking pictures, you’ll find something you like with this model. As the saying goes, the best camera is the one you have with you. The X-Pro1 is small, light and versatile enough to be in your bag or over your shoulder at all times.