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Fujifilm X-Pro1

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Fujifilm X-Pro1 Video Recording

High-definition video capture is pretty much de rigeur in this year's interchangeable-lens cameras, and essentially all the major manufacturers now provide some form of video capture in their compact system cameras. So, too, does the Fujifilm X-Pro1, although its feature-set is rather limited compared to many competitors at its price point. The result is that video feels a little tacked on; it clearly wasn't a primary focus of the design. With that said, we have to be fair: just a couple of years ago, the X-Pro1's video capabilities would've been impressive indeed. It's just a mark of how far the market has come that what so recently would have impressed now feels somewhat dated.

First, the good points: The X-Pro1 offers Full HD recording with stereo audio, and provides for both automatic and manual focus adjustment before and during video capture. You can change the focus mode, aperture, exposure compensation, white balance, and film simulation mode before capture starts, but not during recording. Thanks to its unique hybrid viewfinder, you have a choice of framing videos either on the LCD display, or with the camera to your eye.

So, what's missing? Well, there's no external microphone connectivity, nor any manual control over audio levels, or a wind cut filter function. The X-Pro1 also doesn't offer fully manual exposure control, nor can you adjust the shutter speed or ISO sensitivity for video capture; both are selected automatically. The frame rate cannot be changed, either; it's fixed regardless of resolution. Nor are there any standard-def modes offered, for when you just want a quick throwaway clip with minimal file size. These features are all fairly common at or below this price point. Also, X-mount lenses are all fly-by-wire, and unlike some from rivals, they're not optimized for silent autofocus drive. Additionally, the X-Pro1 doesn't have dedicated movie capture controls, so you must switch drive modes to get from still to movie capture, or vice versa.

Admittedly, we're perhaps being a little hard on the X-Pro1. Although it has enthusiast-level pricing that puts it on par with cameras offering more capable video capture, it doesn't necessarily compete with them directly. Instead, it offers a fairly unique proposition, and one that's more aimed at the still photographer than the videographer. The bottom line is that Fujifilm's X-Pro1 offers a somewhat limited video feature set, but likely enough to suffice for the target customer.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 Basic Video Specs

Fujifilm X-Pro1 Video: Image Size, Frame Rate, and Encoding

The Fujifilm X-Pro1 records at just two different video resolutions: either 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (aka Full HD / 1080p), or 1,280 x 720 pixels (aka 720p), with a fixed capture rate of 24 frames per second. No standard-definition modes are offered. The X-Pro1 records movies in H.264 format with stereo PCM audio, using an MOV container. No spec is provided for the sampling rate, though video players report 16-bit, 48 kHz, 768Kbps stereo audio, regardless of resolution.

The table below shows the specs for various video recording options.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 Video Options
High Profile MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 Format (.MOV files)
Resolution
Frame Rate
Average Bit Rate

1,920 x 1,080
(16:9 aspect ratio)

24 fps (progressive)

12.6 Mbps

1,280 x 720
(16:9 aspect ratio)

24 fps (progressive)

8.4 Mbps

As noted above, the Fujifilm X-Pro1 offers only one video recording format: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264. Compared to the older Motion JPEG formats still used in a few cameras, the X-Pro1's MPEG-4 file format is rather more efficient in its use of memory card space for a given image quality level, but seems to be a bit harder for older computers to read. Continuous movie recording is limited to 29 minutes, regardless of resolution. Fujifilm recommends use of at least a Class 4 Secure Digital card to avoid issues with write speeds during video capture.

Here are some examples of video shot with our sample of the Fujifilm X-Pro1:

Fujifilm X-Pro1: Video Samples
1,920 x 1,080
Progressive, 24 frames per second
Download Original
1,280 x 720
Progressive, 24 frames per second
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
Progressive, 24 frames per second, Provia film simulation
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
Progressive, 24 frames per second, Velvia film simulation
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
Progressive, 24 frames per second, Monochrome film simulation
Download Original

Fujifilm X-Pro1 Video-Mode Focusing

Consumer videographers and some enthusiasts will find the Fujifilm X-Pro1's ability to provide live autofocus during recording very useful indeed. Although pros and many advanced amateurs can "pull focus" (adjust the focus manually) while filming video, and indeed may well prefer to do so, considering focus to be another means of expressing their artistic vision, it's very much a learned skill, and something few people ever manage to do really well. Without live AF, consumers for the most part are reduced to only shooting subjects at a constant distance from the camera, or to having to settle for a lot of poorly-focused video. A lot of video-capable interchangeable-lens cameras are sold to consumers these days, and while having some video capability is certainly better than none, for most consumers to make full use of a video-capable camera it really needs to be able to focus on the fly.

It's great news, then, that the X-Pro1 offers autofocus during video capture, if desired. With that said, it's not the fastest contrast detection system we've seen, and there is some noticeable hunting around the point of focus. Also, although its X-mount is a ground-up design, Fujifilm's engineers don't seem to have particularly had video recording in mind during development. While some lenses for competing new mounts offer essentially silent focus adjustment, there is clear autofocus drive noise from X-mount lenses, and Fujifilm cautions in the user manual that this may be recorded on the audio track. Since X-mount lenses are fly-by-wire, you can't entirely avoid this noise by focusing manually, either. (Although you can adjust focus more slowly, to try and spread the noise out over a longer period, reducing its prominence somewhat.)

Fujifilm X-Pro1 Video Exposure Control

Fujifilm X-Pro1: Aperture Control / Depth-of-Field
Aperture-priority, f/1.4
1,920 x 1,080
Progressive, 24 frames per second
Download Original
Aperture-priority, f/16
1,920 x 1,080
Progressive, 24 frames per second
Download Original

Although many cameras these days offer separate controls for video capture, and allow movie recording from any exposure mode, the X-Pro1 bucks the trend. Instead, video capture is a separate drive mode, accessed by pressing the Drive button on the rear panel. Hence, it takes a moment to switch between still and video capture, or vice versa, making it less simple to grab a spontaneous, unexpected movie. You can program the Function button to directly access movie mode, but you still need to press the shutter button to begin recording.

Two choices of exposure mode are available, and they must be selected before capture starts: either Program, or Aperture-priority. It isn't possible to control shutter speed or ISO sensitivity for videos shot on the X-Pro1. Exposure compensation is available, but must be set before capture starts. Although the camera can adjust the exposure level to account for changes in scene brightness during capture, the videographer cannot intervene to change the compensation bias without stopping first recording.

As well as these variables, you can also adjust the white balance, and access what Fuji refers to as Film Simulation modes before capture commences. These aim to recreate the look of various Fuji film formulations from days gone by, as well as combinations such as black-and-white film with different color filters applied.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 Video: Audio recording

The Fujifilm X-Pro1 can record audio via an internal, stereo microphone, comprised of two separate microphones located on the top of the front panel, flanking the AF assist lamp. (Although we don't have an objective way to test this, the minimal separation compared to that of the stereo mic designs in some competing models seems like it may provide a lesser stereo effect.)

Fujifilm's only published spec for the X-Pro1's audio recording capability simply says "stereo", so we don't officially know the specification employed, although third-party players report 16-bit, 48 kHz, 768 kbps PCM stereo audio. Audio recorded with the camera's internal mic sounded quite clear, but although we do no tests to measure frequency response or sensitivity, we did feel that the X-Pro1's audio lacked presence. We also noticed that there was significant hiss in audio tracks recorded in quiet environments, perhaps a little worse than we've heard on competing models.

The camera's auto-gain system appears to do a good job of adjusting sensitivity as sound levels got louder or softer, with no evident "breathing" in transitions from high to low sound levels.

The X-Pro1 lacks external microphone connectivity, and unusually, doesn't even offer the ability to disable audio capture. Of course, it's a simple matter to strip the audio in post-processing.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 Movie Recording/Playback User Interface

The Fujifilm X-Pro1 makes movie recording simple, once you set the Drive mode to the Movie position: Simply press the shutter button on the X-Pro1's top panel, and the camera will start recording video.

Normally, this is where we'd list the Movie-mode menu items, but the X-Pro1 has no separate movie menu. In fact, the only menu item exclusively related to video recording is the choice of movie resolution (1,920 x 1,080, or 1,280 x 720 pixels), set using the Movie Mode option in the Shooting Mode menu.

Rolling Shutter Artifacts ("Jello Effect")

Fujifilm X-Pro1: Rolling Shutter Artifacts
1,920 x 1,080
Progressive, 24 frames per second
Download Original
1,280 x 720
Progressive, 24 frames per second
Download Original

Essentially every video capable digital SLR/CSC currently on the market exhibits some level of motion-related distortion called rolling shutter artifacts. These are caused because the image data is captured and then read off the chip sequentially by rows, rather than each frame's data being captured all at once. In the case of the Fujifilm X-Pro1, this means that image data for the last row of a given frame is captured and read out around 1/24th second after the data for the top row was captured. The effect on moving objects is like that of a focal plane shutter in an SLR, but more pronounced, because the video frame is read out much more slowly than the slit of a focal plane shutter moves across the sensor.

For a camera that scans video frames vertically (as all do that we're aware of), rolling shutter artifacts will be most noticeable for subjects that are moving rapidly side to side, or when the camera itself is being panned horizontally. Verticals in the scene will appear tilted to the right or left, depending on the direction of camera motion. As an example, consider the case of a camera being panned from left to right, with a flagpole or other vertical object in the middle of the scene when recording for a particular frame begins: If the top of the object was centered horizontally when the first line of the video frame is acquired, by the time the last line of the frame has been captured, the bottom of the object will have shifted to somewhere left of center: As a result, the vertical object would appear to be leaning to the right.

Computer Requirements for Viewing HD Video

A typical computer these days has little trouble dealing with still images, but high-definition video can be another matter. Depending on the file format involved, it can take a pretty beefy computer to handle HD-resolution video playback without stuttering or dropping frames. The MPEG-4 AVC / H.264 image compression used by the Fujifilm X-Pro1 is one of the more compute-intensive formats, and its maximum resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels means there's a LOT of data in each frame to deal with. The net result is that you'll want a fairly recent computer to play the X-Pro1's Full HD video files, and a pretty powerful machine for Full HD video editing.

You can of course view your movies on a high definition TV via the HDMI output (cable optional). If you're still on a standard-def TV, though, you're out of luck, as the X-Pro1 doesn't offer any form of standard-def video output connectivity.