Fujifilm goes mirrorless with the launch of the X-Pro1

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I am writing this article from the flight which is taking me to Vegas, home of the CES (Consumer Electronic Show) and I’ll cover the show to report you all the latest. On Wednesday, I have a very special meeting at Fujifilm’s : I will meet a highly anxiously expected camera, a camera Fuji gave me the information about a few weeks ago just before Christmas under NDA, their first mirrorless hybrid digital camera, please welcome, the Fujifilm X-Pro1 !

And as a member of the glorious X range, it is top notch, exactly as expected but yet, with a few surprise nuggets here and there. Let me describe this new Leica inspired digital camera :

– The X-Pro1 gets an APS-C CMOS sensor of 16 megapixels.

– Its sensor, called X-Trans sensor innovative : kiss the Bayer matrix low-pass filter good bye, the X-Pro1 gets a new type of color array filter featuring 6×6 pixels packets, with randomly located color lenses, like Fujifilm used to get a randomly arranged film grain. I can’t wait to get the X-Pro1 in hands for a full review in order to check that claimed advantages of this new X-Trans sensor really are on the final images. Fujifilm claims this sensor is capable of a resolution as good as, if not better, as a full frame sensor. They also say the color reproduction is outstanding and there is no moiré resulting on a very high ability to render details and motives.

– The X-Pro1 introduces a new mount, the X-mount. Its short flange back distance of 17.7mm for a low back focus and an improve image transmission.

– Fujifilm will launch the X-pro1 with three promising prime lenses. As the sensor is APS-C format, the focal length has to be 1.5x :
– XF 18mmF2 R
– XF34mmF1.4 R
– XF60mmF2.4 R Macro
Fujifilm has not yet given me any new lens roadmap and it is unclear whether they are working on zoom lenses as well and if they plan to open the technical specs of the X-mount to independent lenses manufacturers like Sigma or Tamron.
UPDATE FROM THE CES 2012 : Today, Fujifilm confirmed working on XF zoom lenses for the X-pro1. They also said the new zooms would arrive in 2013. Don’t expect any new XF lens this year.

Update : Fujifilm X-Pro1 review sample images gallery 

– These prime Fujinon XF lenses will have a premium finish metal barrel and manual aperture ring with 1/3EV steps. Fujifilm will provide aluminum made lens hoods.

– The X-Pro1 gets a new powerful processor called the EXR processor Pro, necessary to process the new type of signal of this new sensor.

– Fujifilm’s premium mirrorless camera inherits from the gorgeous hybrid optical viewfinder of the Fuji X100 (read the Fujifilm X100 review). When switching lenses, the viewfinder will display the relevant frame and adapt its magnification ratio. As on the X100, you will be able to switch from optical viewfinder to EVF in order to check the white balance, the exposure or the film simulation. Then a third hybrid view displays overlay information on the optical image. Neat.

– Film simulation, a Fujifilm’s trademark, gets some new preset (Color Positive high or standard). Black & White mode can use digital colored filters in order to enhance the density of reds with a green filter or to improve the contrast of the scene with an orange filter. Analog camera born photographers will appreciate that.

– A smart multiple exposure mode allow the photographer to see the first image in the optical viewfinder or in the EVF in order to compose the second shot accordingly.

– Accessories : the Fuji X-Pro1 will come out with a few accessories like an external flash (EF-X20) which gets a built-in diffuser, an optional hand-grip (HG-Xpro1) and a nicely designed vintage genuine leather case.

Will you ask me if I like the X-Pro1 ? No, you won’t because you have already guessed and anyway, I am pretty shure that a lot of photographers would kill for this camera which is seriously challenging Leica. We’ll see how this new X-Trans sensor behaves. Regarding the optical quality of the XF lenses, I am mor ethan confident if I refer to the high quality Fujinon 23mm f/2.0 they have built for the X100.
So, if you had a budget to get a Leica M9, would you consider the Fujifilm X-Pro1 ? Leave your comments below or join me on my Facebook page. (I reviewed the Leica M9 in the streets of Arles, France, during the photography festival “Les Rencontres d’Arles” where you really want to go if you have the opportunity to travel around Europe in July. Arles is an outstanding antique city)

Remember, I have a hands-on preview of the X-Pro1 planned for Wednesday here in Vegas for the CES 2012.

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