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

Part 76: The X-Pro1: Revisited (Kinda)

Because I had been preparing a historical article of all my years using Fujifilm cameras (which you can read by clicking here – incidentally that was the article that was used as the base for a piece that Fujifilm UK wrote about me, which you can read here!). I had cause to go through my back catalogue of images.

During the course of doing this, I came across all the X-Pro1 shots I’d taken.

It’s 11 12 months (I wrote this over a month ago!) since I shot and owned the X-Pro1, and where as I miss that camera in a whimsical sort of way, there’s no denying that the X-Pro2 is a higher spec and more versatile image making tool.

But there’s also been a few forum posts recently, people asking about the image quality of the original X-Pro, and others saying it’s still their favourite.

The articles I wrote waaaaay back when about the look of the X-Pro1 images, (click here and here if you missed them) have been some of my most popular, and as I browsed through my X-Pro1 back catalogue, I started to look at the shots and wonder if there was any hard fact to the notion that the X-Pro1 took a nicer image than all the later Fuji APSC cameras.

When I go through old shots, I usually find some RAW files that I never got round to editing, and the X-Pro1 archive was no different!

So I thought I’d re-process a few of them, using my current apps and techniques and see how they looked.

Beach Scooter

Surf School

No Flies on Me

Sunny England

Watching. Waiting.

So what do we think?

Is there some sort of undefinable look to these shots… For me, just maybe yes… I think there’s something about the distribution of tone that gives the image a gentle yet compelling look.

The problem is that appraisals like this are deeply subjective.

It’s pretty hard to decide what’s POSSIBLY preferable about the X-Trans mk1 files, compared to the later versions.

The word that’s most brandied about is “organic

To my eye… the X-Pro1 files are softer, there’s less contrast, shadows don’t blacken so easily and the highlights roll off slightly more gently.

I think this observation is PROBABLY driven by the fact that the X-Trans mk1 files have less dynamic range, less colour depth and less acuity than the later sensor.

Surely we should see this as a good thing, that the later sensor is technically superior? We can argue all day about whether it’s a good shot or not and our points of debate will be around the composition, the use of light – in short, whether or not we actually like it. This is called attribute data. Attribute data consists of things like which car is the nicest colour. When it comes to sensor specs, the X-Pro2 out performs the X-Pro1 chip in just about every* measureable parameter. This is called variable data. Variable data consists of measureable parameters, such as which car goes the fastest or what’s the largest animal in the world

(*after a year with 24mp compressed X-Pro2 14-bit RAFs – 16mp 12-bit RAFs really do seem to fly through the workflow pipeline 🙂 )

But we live in a time where companies like VSCO/RNI make pre-sets designed to make our images look more ‘organic’ – we often see advice on custom tone curves that are designed to soften the fade points of our shots.

Can it be that we want the option of a more “organic” looking photograph, and does the X-Pro1 offer this look very naturally?

Well, I think in short – yes some of us do and yes the X-Pro does!

So am I about to run out and buy the X-Pro1 AGAIN (for the 3rd time)?

Ha! Let’s not make a prediction on that….

In all but a few little operational niggles, the X-Pro2 is a superior camera.

So for me, it becomes an exercise in trying to understand if there’s something tangible that I prefer about the earlier sensor or is it merely all in the mind?

Like I said – “organic” is the word most used to describe the X-Pro1 look, but what exactly does that mean?

I think the answer to that is rather subjective 😉

When I look at X-Pro1 files, I see less contrast… well a different visual contrast

This might just be a side effect of modern digital sensors.. The dynamic range is so vast that we end up post processing to achieve the perfect exposure, perhaps a little less variable data could make the image pop more ie give us more attribute data?

So here’s three recent X-Pro2 shots, where I’ve tried to think about an organic look, rather than a textbook PP process.

Have I succeeded in a more organic feel to the these shots?

Perhaps, it’s a bit subjective really!

Do they look like they were shot with a X-Pro1?

No. No they do not. Not in the slightest to be honest.

So I think I have to stand by those original articles – there is something to the X-Pro1. It did (and no doubt still does) take a special image.

But by understanding what we like about our back catalogue, we can understand which way to take our current work.

And pointers like that are always worth the effort to revisit older images and remember past cameras.

A lot of time and effort goes into this site.. Hopefully it’s helped you? Perhaps you’d consider helping me?

One way you could help me is if you want to buy from Amazon, if you do so using the links below, then I will receive a small percentage of your expenditure, and you will pay NO MORE than you would have paid anyway.

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The X-Pro Series Content: Referenced and All In One Place

7 Replies to “The X-Pro1: Revisited (Kinda)”

  1. Now you have started something Adam.. or at least continued. I still think the original X100 had a great sensor, images from that vintage machine are still among my favourite, but that is for another debate..


    1. The x100 and XP1 share the same native tone curve I believe, certainly each has a cult following

      It’s definitely not rose tinted memories though, the XP1 images really do still look great and need very little in post


  2. I have both the X-Pro1 and the original X100. Both of these (I feel) have rather unique renderings which is what attracted me to them in the first place. New models are definitely more harsh and lose some of the film-like gentleness that these cameras are fantastic at. So I’m going to stay old-skool for a while yet and maybe pick up some “backup” bodies second hand when I get the chance.


    1. Those two cameras share a tone curve, the later models offer useful possibilities through features and more polished user interfaces, but I agree they never quite beat the charm of the original incarnations

      But sometimes better iso and focusing etc sure does come in handy!


  3. Having just hopped on the 4mp bandwagon … I really don’t know. Yes, the X-Pro1 JPEGs have less contrast, and retain more shadow details than those of the X-T1 (though the X-T1 JPEG engine produces great colours).
    However, the 24mp Pro Neg Hi film simulation beats both the X-Pro1 and X-T1 in my opinion. I didn’t even try Provia on the X-Pro2 and X100F yet; Pro Neg Hi (with WB and contrast tweaks) produces exactly the photos that I like.
    On especially the X-Pro1, the Pro Neg film simulations were too bland for me. The X-T1 was better, and the X-Trans III generation has the right balance for me.


    1. Hi Johan,

      It’s a very long time since I used the jpegs, but I seem to recall adding saturation to Pro Neg on the XP1

      That said I found that the various variants of Fuji chip and processor gave different responses with the RAFS too

      If you’re getting what you need SOOC that’s fantastic



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