X-Pro1 – Comparing the Fuji Look to the Fuji Look

Continuing the blog serialisation of my popular X-Pro1 lust/hate/love story:

Part Five: Comparing the Fuji Look to the Fuji Look…

Continuing our look at what the X-Pro1 images have to offer.

Last time (see part 4 of this series Click Here) I spoke of archiving old images and re-discovering the “X-Pro1 Look”, leading me to decide to re-acquire the camera to use alongside my X-T1.

I want to keep that theme going this week! People have so many questions about cameras, about the AF, or the DR, the start up time etcetc. My first question about a camera is; ‘so how do the images look’ I don’t mean at 100% view, I don’t mean after lengthy post process or with filters applied to the files. I simply mean; ‘what’s the look to the files?’

This to me is the big thing. Not that the other stuff isn’t important, of course it is! But to me, the look of the file is the gateway to the feeling of the image, and that can’t be underestimated. (Your opinion may vary!)

So, having convinced myself that the X-Pro1 files had a signature that I liked, I wondered about what the actual differences were, and did some research to try and understand more.

On the excellent site, fujivsfuji (http://www.fujivsfuji.com/film-simulation-modes-compared/?rq=jpeg) this difference between X-Trans I and II is noted, and explained. In short it appears to be largely driven by white balance differences and tone curve changes between the jpeg renderings of each generation of X Mount camera.

But I shoot raw, and I can control the tone curves and WB quite happily, and I’m still seeing a grittiness to the images from the X-Pro1, that I don’t see in my shots from the X-T1, or X100S or (to a lesser extent) the X-E1.

Doesn't look very white to me ;)
An easy way to get a custom white balance setting!

Perhaps to find an answer we can look to the in-depth reviews found over on dpreview.com (http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/fujifilm-x-pro1/20), they test cameras in very specific and repeatable conditions. Personally, I’m not one for graphs and studio comparison charts… They have their place for sure, but –for me- the proof of the pudding is in the eating, not in micro analysing each constitute ingredient. But DPR has an excellent comparison tool; you can basically compare their measured values of a great many cameras side by side.

And what do we see if we compare the X-Pro1 against the newer Fuji X Mount cameras? (In fact what do we see if we compare the X-Pro1 against a great many cameras period?) We see that the maximum amount of shadow data capturable (before the digital image recorder –sensor- cannot cope and cuts to black) beats that of the other Fuji cameras, yes even the X-E1, which shares the same sensor as the X-Pro1!

Does this account for what we see, when we compare X-Pro1 images with other X-Trans products?

Truly – I’ve no clue.

But this difference in the files exists. As you might imagine, there has been much discussion about this on the various internet forums. Some people despise the newer rendering; others much prefer the cleaner look of the later files.

But the difference is there.

This would be a good point to share some shots from each camera that were carefully orchestrated to demonstrate the differences, right? Well I don’t have that! [I could do this if there was enough interest? Hit me up in the comments!]

But what I do have is 4 shots, 2 from each camera, that I think show the subtle differences. Your mileage may vary!

DSCF3705.c1.8.
X-T1

Serene Afternoon
X-Pro1

DSCF4340.c1.8._1
X-T1

Slowly Fading Light
X-Pro1

Like I say, it’s a subtle difference… Do you want to know my own personal opinion, as an owner of both X-Trans I and II products? If you make a direct comparison it’s win some/lose some, how can it be any other way? Some scenes look better with a bit of grittiness and grain; others look better as clean as can be.

But I’ll say this much. IN MY OPINION and TOO MY EYE the X-Pro1 has a signature to its images, a look that I love very much.

So I was cleaning out the old X-Pro1 images from my HDD, making room for all those X-T1 and X100S shots that I had been taking. That’s when I truly noticed the difference between the old and new files, and that’s when I started to miss the X-Pro1.

That’s when I understood… as much as I loved the shape of the X-Pro1, the fact finally became apparent to me – the beauty was more than skin deep. It was actually inherent within the camera’s very algorithm.

So the deal was made, the trade was done… always a bit scary… sending goods or money to strangers you’ve encountered on the internet… I’ve done this a lot… sometimes with quite expensive items, like wristwatches… not had that many problems… but… still…

The deal went smoothly; the X-Pro1 was indeed mint. The lenses were as described. Perfect.

Now, how was I actually going to get any decent in-focus pictures out of my X-Pro1, when before I had so woefully struggled?

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12 thoughts on “X-Pro1 – Comparing the Fuji Look to the Fuji Look”

  1. I am with you on this too, Adam.. though sometimes the differences are so subtle, almost ‘in the mind’ ! I still feel my original x100 with the tiny 12MP sensor still pumps out wonderful images, sometimes indefinable. That is not to say my Xe2 does not also produce super images.. but…… ??

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    1. It’s SO subjective.. But I think if we think we can see them, then the differences are probably there!!

      In my (little) brain I tend to think of the XP1 as having ‘mechanical grip’ there just seems to be some balance between 16MP, X-Trans1, 12 Bit RAW and the resultant files that’s very easy on the eye… a kind of imperfect perfection. Whereas many other cameras have far better files, but they sometimes look a little clinical.

      When I first ran this story, someone (a chap called Alex) said, if the X-Trans2 files look like gloss print, then the X-Trans1 files look like matte. I liked that analogy, and I think it sums it up well. (Then I was annoyed that I didn’t think of it myself !!! 🙂 )

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  2. The answer is phase detection autofocus. The pixels allowed to the phase detection sucked the life from the sensor. Fuji knows it but is prisoner of the quick autofocus madness.

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    1. There may be some truth to that… Although it’s not like CDAF pixels don’t also need interpolation… Also, I’m unaware of pages of internet people saying (for example) that the earlier Sony Nex cameras were nicer, because they didn’t have PDAF… (Although there’s probably someone who thinks that)

      My HUNCH is that it’s 12 bit Vs 14 bit, and how sometimes less is more, as the eye recognises the more gentle roll off of shadow/highlights are contrast, where as with 14 bit it looks like clinical sharp detail

      It’s definitely something to do with the sensor though 🙂

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  3. Really liked the images from the X-Pro1 but its inability to autofocus reliably in low light, dusty and light blowing snow and rain was the killer.
    Went back to the 1 Series Canon bodies and that was solved.
    If the X-Pro1 had been better in those conditions I would be shooting Fuji.

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    1. That’s certainly a really challenging scenario for a CDAF camera… At the end of the day, IQ is nothing without the ability to get the images in focus, maybe in the future, Fuji will 100% address AF performance

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  4. I have both the x-pro1 and the x100s and, while the difference between the look of the files from the two cameras is subtle, it is definitely there, and I also slightly prefer the x-pro1 ones. I wonder also how different is the rendering of x-trans2 files from the newly x-trans3 files from the x-pro2 and x-t2…I guess files are getting more and more perfect…or clinical, as you mentioned.

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    1. Well I currently have a X-Pro2 sitting on my desk, and I’ll be comparing it to the XP1 and writing about it, starting on Sunday in fact!

      The (XP2) files are less clinical than X-Trans2 one in my opinion… I haven’t yet decided why… They’re ‘grainier’ probably because there’s lots more pixels at work, and those pixels are smaller, the colours are richer too.

      The XP1 files are technically weaker (12 bit vs 14 for one thing) but they have a pleasing look, and no newer camera can chnage that fact!

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