Dade Freeman
Photographer & Trainer


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Fuji X-Pro1 vs Canon 5D MKII

On Friday I met up with Julie Edwards in a café, before putting her FujiFilm X-Pro 1 through its paces as we stalked the streets of Worthing. Julie had kindly agreed to share her knowledge, camera and time with me while we did a little street photography to compare our cameras and their abilities. Julie, a working professional photographer and Nikon shooter, reached into her small bag and brought out the Fujifilm X-Pro1. The first thing I noticed was that it has a retro die-cast aluminium alloy body and is clearly aimed at the DSLR user, being the bridge between the fixed lens mirrorless systems and the chunky DSLR world. Could this be the fabled DSLR killer?

Julie has only had the camera for about a month, and already she says it will be her "go to" camera. Although it may not be as fast and work as well in low light as her DSLR, she has used it on a shoot and the client couldn't tell the difference between her usual DSLR images and the ones taken with the X-Pro1. This bodes well and opens up a lot of opportunities.

So, with coffee over and done with, it was time to hit the streets, cameras in hand. I popped on my 50mm lens to give me the same focal length as her 35mm (crop factor) although Julie did have the option to go to f/1.4, unlike me. The camera comes with a neck-strap but, much like the Canon EOS-M strap, it is pretty pointless and ends up wrapped around the wrist. :/

Using the X-Pro1

I noticed that once you actually take a photograph, writing the file is a bit of a drag, especially if you want to check the shot quickly (chimp). Julie also told me that the RAW files are a little soft compared with the JPEG option.

The buttons on the back didn't seem plasticky (as they did on the Fuji X100), but the nice wheel mechanism has been replaced with cross-key buttons which seems like a step backwards. I found the hand grip slightly too small and flat for my hands, perhaps because I am so used to the 5D MKII. This camera has no touch screen, which I would prefer in place of the tiny Q button. The X-Pro1 has a large camera body and, in my opinion, there is enough retail space to provide slightly larger buttons and better dials. I only spent a few hours with the camera but it did seem that, with it up to your face, you would struggle to find the right buttons to make changes, due to their size and flush nature.

Having three composing/viewing options seemed slight overkill and I'm not sure they served enough of a purpose. When I first started to use the camera, I got quite confused between the Electronic View Finder and the Optical View Finder, and what each one was doing because they work slightly differently. With the viewfinder where it is, once you put on longer lenses they will start to obstruct your view. This is definitely something to consider and could be a good reason to start using the EVF more. A feature I rather like is the electronic horizon through the viewfinder.

I found the internal display a little hard to read especially when facing bright light - it was like trying to read subtitles on the picture, rather than in a simple black border. As for the display itself, I am more interested in knowing the exposure rather than how much is in focus - I already know that information based on the aperture I chose, so I would prefer to have the option of changing these two settings around.

Currently the X-Pro1 has a small but growing range of lenses. The fact that the lenses are removable means we still have the age-old problem of dust!

Focusing seemed okay, but then it was a bright day so it was unlikely to have problems. I noticed that it does the same thing the X100 - it has a momentary stutter in Electronic mode. By that I mean, if you see a subject walking and don't immediately push the button all the way down to take the shot, it freezes them in the viewfinder but doesn't take the shot until a moment later by which point they might not be where you originally wanted them. This means giving a little more thought to where your subject will be in a second's time, in order to get the shot you want, OR you have to change your viewing mode.

As for the shutter, it isn't super silent as it is with the Fuji X100. There is a discreet but audible click which wouldn't be noticed with background noise unlike that of the 5D MKII. I have heard of many issues regarding the shutter speed and focusing, which have been partly addressed via firmware updates but it's still not on par with DSLRs. None of the Fuji mirrorless range is built for sport or fast action, nor do they claim to be.

The battery life didn't seem very long - we had to change batteries after only two hours. Also, Julie said the warning level on it is low, meaning you have to notice the warning in good time to avoid being faced very quickly with a dead battery.

Unlike the X100 there is no built-in flash, but it does have a hotshoe for flash accessories. The ISO button has a fairly useful lock on it, but the exposure compensation dial has no way of recognising (or telling you) when you have dialled it back to zero and it has no lock.

The camera has some built-in editing features, panorama and macro options although we didn't have time to try these out, so I cannot speak to how good they are. I didn't notice if this model comes with the nice built-in ND filter as the X100 does.

There is a learning curve involved in using this camera, that's for sure, not only in terms of how you use it, but how your hands can and can't move around the camera. For example, you need to turn the lens focus from underneath because if you do it from the side you obscure your own view.

What would make this camera better? Making it full frame, giving it a faster shutter action and either a touch screen or a better button system. Bear in mind, this is only my opinion and that it was formed after only a few hours of use - it might be different after a week or so. The main barrier to entry with this camera is most likely to be the price tag - at £950, it's pretty pricey.

To conclude, this model is not the DSLR killer that people may have been hoping for, but the mirrorless systems are definitely heading that way at an amazing speed.

Julie sent me a couple of images - unedited, straight-out-of-camera RAW and JPEGs so that you can see the quality.

Here are my street photography shots, edited in Lightroom using VSCO presets - punchy fade filmic colour/BW.

Dade Freeman is a Brighton photographer producing portraits and headshots for actors, musicians, corporate business and other professional industries.