If you want to take the best possible pictures in the widest variety of situations, an entry level DSLR with a nice prime normal lense is probably the best value for your money. (A Nikon D3200 and 35mm f1.8 together are under $1000.)
For better optical quality, a full frame (the sensor is the same size as a 35mm piece of film) DSLR like the Nikon D700 (what I normally use) or the new D800 with a fast prime lens is even better. And if you need the fastest possible professional grade DSLR you already know why a Nikon D3X or equivalent is even pricier.
If you just want the best digital compact point and shoot, it’s the Canon S100.
The only camera on the market with great software that is properly connected to the internet in a way that makes sense for consumers is an iPhone with iCloud.
If you are evaluating cameras as commodities, that covers just about everything.
People Who Love Photography
So the Fuji X Pro 1 — technically the FUJIFILM X-Pro1 — and similar small interchangeable lens camera systems occupy a space in between those options.
Smaller and lighter than an SLR without some of the capabilities, but bigger, bulkier and more capable than a compact camera.
It will never fit in a pocket.
And it does. It really does.
The X-Pro 1 is the modern camera for people who love photography.
The Fuji X-Pro1 is an amazing one-of-a-kind camera. It has image quality and lenses more like my LEICA M9 than any DSLR, and it’s smaller and lighter than any DSLR — or LEICA. … The X-Pro1 is probably the best camera ever introduced for actual photographers, as opposed to computer hobbyists or vidiots, in years. The Nikon D800 and Canon 5D Mark III are simply more of the same old thing, while the X-Pro1 is uniquely excellent.
— Ken Rockwell reviewing the X-Pro 1.
Ken Rockwell spends a lot of time time using and reviewing a huge array of equipment — his review is a great read.
Key amazing things about the X-Pro 1:
- Real physical controls
- Outstanding image quality
- Unique hybrid optical/digital viewfinder
- It is a joy to use
Size and Weight
It weighs just under 16oz. It actually looks like it weighs more. It’s lighter than you would think.
It’s too big to ever put in a pocket, but small and light in a bag.
It’s significantly more comfortable to carry around for hours than my Nikon D700 or any serious DSLR today.
This is an all metal camera that was made with an attention to detail.
Although the branding is quite muted the camera boldly claims “made in Japan” on the back.
It is clear that Fuji is immensely proud of the quality, fit and finish of this product. It’s lightweight but solid. It feels like a Japanese manufactured camera.
The X Pro 1 is a camera that allows you to actually control the factors that create a photograph using real physical controls.
There is a real shutter speed dial. The aperture is set on the lens. There is an exposure compensation dial.
These all feel right.
These are things we used to take for granted in cameras — well made physical controls with clear affordances and feedback. And yet it is the exception — not the rule — in cameras regardless of cost today.
I mean that in the best possible way — it looks and feels and operates like a camera — not a beeping electronic gadget.
The camera is too new to have RAW images properly supported in Adobe or Apple products — all photos here were shot as JPEG. Unlike my DSLR, I find shooting JPEG to be fine with this camera.
I have only use the F1.4 35mm lens, which I find to be amazing. It also focuses down amazingly close.
The only lenses available for the camera are 3 fast prime lenses with the new “Fuji X” mount.
I don’t know when the last time anyone released a new camera system where the introductory lenses only consisted of high quality prime lenses but that alone should tell you who this camera was designed for.
You can’t get the camera with some sort of slow zoom kit lens because Fuji doesn’t even make such a thing for it.
This is a brand new camera system. Unlike buying a Canon or Nikon SLR, there are not decades worth of new and used lenses and equipment compatible with it.
Unlike a more traditional camera, it is not as clear this will hold its value over time, or if Fuji will support the x-mount in decades in the way Canon or Nikon has supported their system.
It is, in some sense, a much riskier purchase.
One annoyance was the lens was “loud” — literally, had an excessive chirping while focusing at times. This has been fixed with the latest firmware.
The autofocus is slow compared to most DSLRs, and seems to fail to find focus a little more often than I’m used to. In practice during a day of shooting at a garden, it was not a problem.
(Fuji’s similar previous offering, the Fuji X100 had similar autofocus issues that were improved with firmware over time, so it may get better over time, but it’s impossible to know.)
This is a camera that takes it cues from rangefinder cameras made decades ago. While some may debate the authenticity of this look, I find the aesthetic to be a huge improvement over what is generally sold today in cameras.
A camera like this elicits a different emotional response than a serious modern DSLR. There is something quiet and different about a more subtle rangefinder inspired design, and that’s a huge part of the allure of this camera.
When looking directly at the face of the camera, there is no branding visible. This is rare.
In fact, this may be the best camera you can have around your neck where you don’t have to pay extra to de-brand it.
Per the introduction to this article, on technical commodity value terms, there are probably more practical options for almost all groups of consumers.
The real competition for a camera system like this is the Leica M9, which costs thousands more, or used film rangefinder systems (which still are very pricey.)
If you don’t want or need interchangeable lenses, Fuji’s previously released X100 is a cheaper but similar alternative.
This is a unique camera as of Spring 2012.
Getting pictures of this quality in this form factor — from a camera that looks this good and is such a joy to use — is a wondrous experience.
It’s expensive and quirky, but in my brief time owning it I’ve found it’s an object that will give a lot back to you.