Thursday, April 5, 2012

Fuji X-Pro 1 First Impressions

 If you want an unbiased review of this camera, you came to the wrong place. For that you should go to DP Review. I want to love this camera. Right out of the box I was impressed with the size and weight of the body. After lugging around a Nikon D700 with a 24-70 f2.8 zoom lens for several years, the Fuji felt like an air filled balloon. After I sorted through all the papers, I checked a few settings in the user manual, set the camera up to shoot RAW + JPG and went out for some test shots. I did the first set of test shots just to check the jpg engine in the Fuji camera for comparison. Unfortunately, Adobe has not yet caught up with the new camera releases so my usual RAW processor, Lightroom, would not accept the new format. The software that comes packaged with the camera is not compatible with the latest Mac OS - Lion - so I downloaded the SilkyPix Pro RAW processor for the one month free trial. This is definitely not the most intuitive software to work with, at least not for my occidental mind. But for basic processing it gets the job done.

The first of these two images is the jpg generated by the camera:

The next image is the result of the RAW file processed in SilkyPix - with no adjustments, saved as a tif and resized for this blog.

My monitor is calibrated regularly. If you are looking at these images on an uncalibrated monitor the results you see will most likely not be the same. The differences are obvious to me. The blue sky, the red in the flag, the green in the grass and the color of the bricks are much more realistic in the second image. As for resolution, to my eye the second image is crisper and has more presence. That's not to say the first image is garbage. It's certainly usable, especially if the ultimate end is a b/w conversion. 

I have a decided prejudice in generating images. If storage space is an issue, then jpg's are definitely more efficient, but nowadays storage is really cheap. Why shoot an image with a technically advanced camera that is designed to maximize the amount and quality of information, and then throw away one third of the data when you download the image to your computer? That's what jpg compression does. Or if you are working with a smaller camera or a smaller sensor, you already have a handicap because of the reduced size.  Once the jpg is generated, any digital manipulation on the image from that point on is going to be pixel bending to pixels that are already bent right out of the camera. The Fuji has a 16mp highly advanced sensor that was designed to maximize resolution and fidelity. That's what I shelled out $2.3k for. I want every last bit of data to work with when I process my pictures.