DSLR vs. Fuji XPro1

I figured I would wrap up the week with a couple of crappy pictures as well as a few words of clarification on my personal decisions regarding my choice of DSLR vs. the Fuji X-Pro-1. I just happened to have both the D600 as well as my X100S with me last Sunday. My granddaughter's first trip to the zoo. Also her first merry-go-round ride. Lucky I guess, since a few comments that I dropped both here on the blog as well as someone else's blog generated a flurry of questions this week surrounding the above mentioned choice… I dare say it actually generated some controversy as well.

The operative word I just used - personal - is key. I will not repeat all of my own quirks and hangups that contributed to my final decision on the D600 over the X-Pro-1 in any detail because they are all personal. A fairly important set of subjective criteria in my opinion. Possibly more important than anything you can nail down to some single quantification. Just so you don't have to go hunting for the subjective crap sprinkled all over here's a summary if you care.

  • Size - Smaller but not small enough versus my 2 or 3 prime lens D600 kit to make any difference to me whatsoever.
  • Overall imaging aesthetics from a DOF/focal length/subject distance point of view.
  • The laggy, disconnected, fly-by-wire feeling of the camera versus the fluidity of the D600.

Those are super important to me. For you - umm maybe not so much. Your size threshold for small enough maybe different than mine. The bottom line for me is when faced with a choice between the two over many many months the same exact thing happened over and over and over. I chose a small bag with the D600 and 2 primes instead of the a small bag with the X-Pro-1. So much so that I didn't shoot the X-Pro unless I made a specific point to or I brought both.

Okay enough summary of the important stuff to me. Moving on to the more factual, objective, and quantitative stuff. Actually the stuff that caused a bit of debate (irrational) here and there over the last week. I am not going to try to prove the following list but give me the benefit of the doubt here that I am more correct than way off - okay? My goal is not to criticize or cast disparaging remarks at anyone else's choices nor to in anyway tell you that the Fuji X-pro-1 or X-series in general is a bad camera - that's opposite of what I think. That's why I have spent way too much money of 3 of them over the last year or two.

Here is a random shot of the same scene from the Fuji…

My only goal here is to dispel some of the irrational myths that seem to propagate and magnify in the internet echo chamber. Here goes - no hate please. If you have different findings share them with some context in order to help a few of the 1000 people that asked me that are going through a Fuji v. DSLR decision right now.

  • The Fuji X-Trans does not have some sort of magical dynamic range. It's pretty good - not mind boggling. It's probably not as good as most of the sony APS-C current generation and definitely not in the same league as the D600/D800 class sensors. Can you believe someone was trying to convince me they were better… because of the "DR400" setting??? Can't comment on current Canon sensors - have not shot them extensively but I will bet the Canon 5DIII is in the same ballpark…
  • Color. OOC JPEG Fuji color is noticeably different/better than most other main-stream OOC JPEG. Depends on taste. RAW files… Ummm you have to be kidding me right? No magic color - no way. Hence my inclusion of the two crappy images in the post. No calibrated test. Two shots back to back by accident. One D600 one X-TRANS. Same preset exactly - well as close as I can get - the profiled version of VSCO 400H. As usual the "big" color difference at that point was choice of auto-WB by the respective cameras. Even my coarse match up of the neutrals via a tiny tweak of WB should show that the color is not somehow magical fuji-filmy-goodness. It's RAW it's a blank slate. If I shot a controlled test with a WB target they would be even closer. I am just too lazy to fiddle with the WB to any finer degree - why bother. If these are night and day to you I would suggest some professional help.
  • On the matter of auto WB - winner Nikon. Far far far higher rate of "accurate" choices. You may not want accurate but Nikon and I am sure Canon are probably better at guessing in auto-mode.
  • Metering - as in intelligent multi-segment - you are kidding. Nikon by far. Not that it matters for me most of the time I shoot manual. The fuji may do what you want it to more - which is underexpose. In reality I think all of the intelligent metering is really not that smart. Heck none of them can tell white. They all tend to under-expose. It's just the Fuji is confused a lot more. It also tends to underexpose even more when it's not sure. Not a big deal unless you use OOC JPEG's a lot.
  • High ISO. Most current generation full-frame DSLR's by what could be considered a considerable margin win this. Probably 2 stops at least. When you are shooting on the X-trans sensors compared to say the D600/D800 and seeing all those big numbers like 3200 and 6400 with files that look pretty good realize that you will get the same histogram/mid-tone/shadow density at the same exposure at like 1600 with the D600/D800. I am being kind here. Take a look at the two included shots. Within a hair of overall density. If you go through the EXIF that I included and do the math you will find that I had to take a third of a stop off of the Fuji (see what I mean about confused) and when you add it all up the D600 is actually 2/3 faster = more sensitive at ISO 200. It only gets worse from there at that base ISO for the X-trans cameras. It's not that the Fuji's have "bad" high ISO but it's not magically far far better than current gen APS-C and in no way compares to best of breed current Full-Frame sensors.

I hope not to upset the apple cart for anyone out there too emotionally invested in "magic" color or "magic" dynamic range or "magic" high-iso. I love what Fuji is doing. I love my X100S. They/it are good cameras, they have a viewfinder, the size is going in the right direction, and they blow away the competition with allegedly competitive devices - you know the ones without viewfinders or the ones that let you put gargantuan lenses on tiny little bodies…

Feel free to debate but please add context that people trying to make decisions with their hard-earned cash will find useful. Opinion is certainly welcome as all the more objective stuff was far less important to me than the subjective stuff I summarized first.


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