The Most Talked-About Gadget at CES Was Probably This Ultra-Cool Fuji Camera [CES 2012]



My colleagues here at Cult of Mac, PR reps completely unrelated to Fuji or anything photographic, random showgoers whose snippets of conversation I intercepted — everyone seemed to be talking about it. Even the very air at CES seemed to be pulsating with the word “Fuji.” Of course, they were all talking about the enigmatic, neo-retro Fuji X-Pro1.

This camera isn’t for everyone. This is the prototypical enthusiast gadget, not really a daily driver. It’s a Shelby Cobra, not a Honda Accord; in other words, it’s stylish, difficult to live with, a blast to drive — and expensive.

How expensive? Fuji isn’t sure, but they told me it’ll probably be around $2000 — and that’s just for the body. Eek! Then again, the X-Pro1 is stacked with some deliriously cool features:

It’s a compact mirrorless camera that uses interchangeable lenses, like the Micro Four Thirds system outfits such as Olympus and Panasonic use; but unlike the smaller sensor of the Four Thirds, the Fuji has a larger APS-C sensor the same size as those used in prosumer Nikon DSLRs (Canon uses a very similar version).

Everything’s wrapped in a body designed to look and feel something like those old Leicas; even the three lenses available are all equipped with manually operated aperture rings that move around the lens barrel (in 1/3 stops) with nice, satisfying clicks.

The rangefinder-style viewfinder has a neat twist: it can digitally superimpose all the shooting data you could ever want over the real live view, including a dynamic level indicator and parallax lines. But it’s a hybrid: With the flick of a switch, it can also display a simulated electronic view that lets you see what the captured image will look like as you apply changes to it; exposure, depth of field, white balance can all be adjusted and simulated before the photo is taken.

And here’s where it gets really interesting. The Fuji Pro-X 1 can also simulate styles of different films (remember those?) and take images with several levels of dynamic range — essentially capturing an image with a wider range of exposure, a similar (but less powerful) effect to that achieved with HDR software. And all if this can be previewed with in the electronic viewfinder.

There’s more: HD 1080 video at 24 fps, a dynamic sweep panorama function and a dust reduction process.

But only three lenses will be initially available for the X-Pro1, a 35mm f/1.4, a 60mm f/2.4 and an 18mm f/2 (equivalent respectively to 52.5mm, 90mm and 27mm on a full-frame body). That’s not nearly a large enough selection to make this a practical shooter right off the bat. If Fuji ramps up the accessory options (and maybe lowers the price a bit), we could be looking at the first mirrorless to entice pros to make (a little) room in their gig bags for.

  • Nathan Glass

    sounds pretty awesome.

  • Garrett Polo

    Sounds just like the Sony Nex series except the NEX has more accessories out.  checkout the NEX-7 if you haven’t yet.  

  • Don Pope

    For me, the attraction of this camera is the traditional aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation dials. Today’s multi-purpose dials and menus just aren’t as usable or satisfying.

  • Iliy Naidenoff

    …i really don’t want to believe that is going to cost that much 

  • Dave Stephens

    How many megapixels? Basic question – what is the answer?

  • Richard Migneron

    The only way I’d pay that much cash for a Camera, it would have to include a Full Frame Sensor.

    Anyway, nowadays, to be worthy of the “Pro” qualifier, in my book it needs a Full Frame.

    Furthermore, if Fuji really had the vision on Cameras (like Apple has it with its devices), there wouldn’t be any compromise, and it would have a Full Frame.

    This is a useless, too expensive for what it is offering camera.

  • Kevin Gault

    If you knew more of the specs you’d retract your “full frame sensor” mentality. Fuji has created a new sensor type that provides all the features of full frame without having to be full frame. Check out some hands on reviews and you will see that Fuji is pushing the envelope on development, certainly more so than Canon or Nikon at this point. The telling point will be the quality of shots and exposures once people get their hands on it.
    If this camera has the same impact the x100 has had with professionals we could see an interesting change in the paradigm of price points and quality of camera.

  • WS

    if you need to ask, this camera’s not for you

  • Mari-Xouana H Flou

    Happy to see Fuji taking that road.
    A few notes however, mostly to the author:”A rangefinder-like viewfinder”. Viewfinder and Rangefinder are two different things, that used to take up two spots in earlier cameras. In more recent ones, where the rangefinder and the viewfinder are in the same window, it’s called “combined rangefinder-viewfinder”. So there is no “rangefinder-like” where the is no rangefinder.”… to look and feel something like those old Leicas.”. The modern Leicas also have almost the same shape and feel as the old ones. Take a look at the M9, M7, MP, etc. . In the “feel” department, nothing feels exactly like a Leica, which is perfectly normal as those cameras are made to last for ever and cost 4000$ for the film versions.

    ” it can digitally superimpose all the shooting data you could ever want over the real live view”. Well, of course it’s useful, but nothing revolutionary, aperture, shutter and similar data shown in the viewfinder was possible since the ’60s.

    As for “film simulations”, well, pretty useless. It’s a 2000$ photographic instrument, not intended for Facebook pics. And any serious photographer 1.)wouldn’t use the in-camera conversion to get that film look, 2.) most importantly, every photographer knows that nothing digital can match some films, like Fuji Velvia, Astia, Provia, etc. .

    As for the lenses, they are enough for now (a super wide angle, a normal and a slight tele), supposing their optical traits are good. Not to forget that Henri Cartier-Bresson used only one lens.

    Concluding, I’m a bit disappointed by the lack of a full frame sensor. The Fuji X100 also offers an APS-C sensor, the same hybrid viewfinder, same looks and ergonomics, for half the price. It only lacks interchangeable lenses and 1080p video. But whoever finds the need for interchangeable lenses absolutely critical, would rather go for a true rangefinder with Leica M-Mount (Like the new Zeiss Ikon for 1200$, or a Leica M7 for 4000$, or even the M9 if they prefer digital), to use the tremendous range of greit Zeiss and Leica lenses.
    For the prosumers, the X-100 seems perfectly adequate.
    Or, for 100$ you can find the film equivalent of the X-100, the Olympus 35RC, a true 35mm rangefinder (full-frame of course) with a sharp non-interchangeable Zuiko lens. ;)

  • Thermostat9

    I think you are mistaken in that presuming this camera has to be marketed to ‘any serious photographer’.

    It’s probably  a very good camera, but to get rich people to buy it they need to load it with ‘features’ otherwise why would they want to buy it?  So don’t diss the inclusion of image manipulation software.  The people that want to get 1000’s of pin sharp pictures of nothing at all NEED that in order to imagine they can justify spending their money.

    Meanwhile ‘any serious photographer’ will simply not press those buttons will they?

    I have no idea why you imagine that you need a ‘full frame sensor’ though.  Do you think this pictures you could take with it would be that much better? 

  • Thermostat9

    I is being listed in the UK (I guess speculatively) at @£1300 which is $2000.  Usually the US price is somewhat less than ours, so either the UK price is just a translation of the $2000 figure and will rise or the US will get it for $1500 or so.

    I think a body at £1300 (and I’ve read with lenses at £600 each!) is pricing it way too expensive.

  • Marcos

    Strange how, the more men advance in time, the more they miss the old days

  • Aaron

    Are you #$%*@#&$ kidding me? $2000 just for the body of an APS-C size sensor camera? It would be a little more reasonable for a full-frame sensor, but I can go to the store TODAY and pick up an APS-C size sensor camera for around $500. Which one? The one that comes to mind is the one I just purchased — the Pentax K-r. I got it for $550 with a standard 18-50mm kit lens.

    If size is the problem here, get one of the Sony mirrorless cameras, like the Alpha 33, 35, or 55. They also have an APS-C sized sensor and are small like this Fuji camera. The current price of the Alpha 33 at B&H? $480 without lens.

  • Andy Murdock

    Yeah caricaturist, pros only!!! like WS and me, we are pros and don’t need to ask.

  • Mannock

    Here is one serious photographer who will doff all of his D-SLR equipment and use this camera. It helps having five Leica M lenses.

  • Mannock

    I have. I want both.