The X-Pro1 “Look”

Other than 2 ‘new’ primes, and another OEM battery + Charger, what was it that I truly liked about the X-Pro1? What made me want to repeat the experience of owning it? An experience that I had found somewhat lacklustre the first time around.

I was archiving old shots to my back up drive, and it was time to clear away the X-Pro1 shots. I don’t know about you, but when I archive, I usually end up going down some long winding, image fuelled memory lane! As I looked at those X-Pro1 shots I noticed that they were different from the X-T1 ones. Not necessarily better, not necessarily worse, but different.

Mariner
Mariner: X-Pro1 & XF35. F1.4 1/3800 ISO200 PP from RAW in Capture One Pro. Click for Flickr version with full EXIF

I find it quite hard to describe… I want to say ‘less digital’ but of course they’re completely digital. If you want to have filmic look to your shots, shoot film. Digital cameras make digital images. Digital images with VSCO film presets applied, look like digital images with VSCO film presets applied.

The Bus Ride
The Bus Ride: X-Pro1 & XF27. F2.8 1/800 ISO200 PP from RAW in Capture One Pro. Click for Flickr version with full EXIF

So how to define ‘less digital’? OK you got me… Let’s try this… a record sounds analogue, wild scratchy wonderful vinyl. A CD is digital. MP3 is digital. But a CD sounds less digital than MP3. Does that make any sense? I sort of think of it that a CD is like a first generation digital product, where MP3 is further refined, smaller, better for DAM, but because of this MP3 is more digital.

Landfill
Landfill: X-Pro1 & XF18. F2.8 1/2400 ISO800 PP from RAW in Capture One Pro. Click for Flickr version with full EXIF

But this analogy doesn’t really work… it’s more of a simile I guess… because first generation digital cameras had CCD sensors, which being first generation digital products they were PERHAPS a little closure to the analogue film which they replaced. Sure, like CD Vs Vinyl, CCD is resoundingly digital, but the noise patterns and ISO performance are closer to film than the CMOS sensors found in so many cameras today.

The X-Pro1 has a CMOS sensor. It has good ISO performance; it doesn’t produce random noise patterns that are similar to film. There’s no way that I can realistically describe the X-Pro1 as a first generation digital product.

Side Street
Side Street: X-Pro1 & Xf35. F1.4 1/120 ISO200 PP from RAW in Capture One Pro. Click for Flickr version with full EXIF

The CD Vs MP3 analogy is the best I have…. Sorry. Of course it is Fuji’s first generation digital X Mount camera (but not their first CMOS), Fuji also make claims about the composition of their X-Trans sensor, and that it’s designed to incorporate elements of a film look to it. Could it be that, which I’m seeing? Well no, because the same elements exist in X-Trans II, as used in the later X mount cameras.

So I can’t really explain what drew me back to those X-Pro1 shots, nor describe what drew me in about them…

But I can tell you this, what ever it was; it was enough to draw me in to forgive the camera its quirks and foibles and want to get the best from it.

FOOTNOTE: The images shown here are actually from my second X-Pro1… I’m not sure they show what I’m failing to describe! But to my eye, my tastes these shots all have a little quality that’s very “X-Pro1 Look” about them, and that’s what, in my humble opinion, the X-Pro1 is all about.

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8 thoughts on “The X-Pro1 “Look””

  1. I agree Adam. I have been thinking for a while that my X Pro 1 images have something that my XT1 doesnt. I didnt even realise there was a difference in the sensors so I thought I was imagining it.

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  2. I have a X70 and I have agree the images l9ok more digital on the Xtans II.
    It seems like the color saturation and noise reduction make them more digital.

    But to be honest my Fuji S5 pro is even better than the X-pro1. It is definitely the best camera I ever owned when it comes to 3D and not so digital look.

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    1. If I remember correctly, the S5 has a CCD sensor, so that will have a different look to the CMOS sensor cameras.

      (As you’ll probably know) The Leica M8 and M9 cameras had a CCD sensor, before they switched to CMOS for the newer bodies, and from what I’ve read in forums, these cameras still have a big following because of the CCD “look”

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  3. Hi Adam
    I have been new to this Fuji x series and my first camera in this system was the xpro1 which I bought not so long ago. I have been shooting with my old yet capable s1, s2 and s3 pro cameras until I got the xpro1. And I must say the older s series have something about them that my xpro1 lacks. Also very recently I got an xe2s and the pictures lack what the xpro1 has! I put on the same lens but the output is different! Why does Fuji do this sort of thing? Not only Fuji even Leica owners complain about the look of the m240 and later models that they don’t have the look and feel of m8, m9.
    Maybe the camera makers want to create a cult, I don’t know. Maybe they don’t wan to make the model obsolete. Maybe that’s the reason!
    Cheers

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    1. Hi Alwin,

      🙂

      Yes for sure whenever a new version of an existent camera arrives, many people prefer the output of the original.

      There can be many reasons for this!

      PERSONALLY I think that it’s a side effect of progress….

      Camera ‘A1’ arrives and people love it, but some say if only it had more dynamic range

      So Camera A2 is released, it has more dynamic range. But then people lament the inherent flatter tone curve and the need to do more work in post

      Sometimes the differences are more tech based. The M8/9 and S1/2/3 (I think) cameras had CCD sensors and the newer Ms and Fujis have CMOS sensors… lots is made of this CCD v CMOS thing (especially in the Leica world) – I think a lot of apparent severity is in the eye of the beholder personally, but for sure there are real word differences between the way CCD and CMOS draws a scene

      Other times it’s all about pixel size… the APSC Fujis (and Sonys and Nikons) jumped from 16mp to 24. This makes pixels smaller, this adds to the sense of acuity (good) but smaller pixels overwhelm with light easier and have a different noise pattern (bad)

      The solution too and the cause of, all of life’s camera problems would appear to be progress 🙂 🙂

      Cheers

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      1. I agree about the progress thing. But this CMOS CCD thing is true! I have shot almost entirely with ccd cameras like Nikon d200, D50, sony a350, Fuji s series.. and now with the xpro1 which is not ccd. I should admit that the xpro1 creates some gorgeous pictures sooc! I should also admit that theres something lacking compared to the other cameras mentioned above… i cant say exactly what :-maybe micro contrast, clarity, colour depth, etc.
        Anyway last friday i got a new xe2s and its fast, great evf, etc etc but the output though not inferior to that of xpro1, it still doesn’t have the mojo of the xpro1!
        Btw the xpro1 feels great to hold 😉

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      2. For sure there’s real world differences between the way CCD and CMOS draws a scene. With every new camera we need to find a way to make the look we like

        The X-Pro1 and X-Pro2 are great little cameras

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