In order, from left to right: Nikon FE, Fujifilm X-Pro 1
I'm a Fujifilm X-Pro 1 user. I'm also a Canon P and Olympus Trip 35 user. The Olumpus really is small. The Canon is about the same size as the Fujifilm. Today's Fujifilm X supporter loves to hate SLR cameras.
"Smaller is better" and "SLRs are big" and "prisms suck" and "humping sucks" and so on are slung around at Fujifilm fan sites.
I wonder if that crowd have ever used an SLR from, say, the 1970's or 80's. The Fujifilm X-Pro 1 happens to be the same size as my Nikon FE, a regular-sized SLR camera. In fact, it is an SLR camera that was never considered that compact or small. People who valued compact cameras turned it down in favour of other cameras, like the Nikon EM.
Today's 'compact' is pretty much yesterday's 'normal'. Reminds me of cars. Yeah, there are few things to get out of the way. First, the mounting flanges between SLRs and other cameras are quite different. Today's mirrorless cameras typically sport flanges with fillm-to metal distances that measure in the teens and low twenties (mm). And SLR humps do stick up a bit. But the FE's shoulder height is lower than the X-Pro 1's even with buttons sprigging from the top. Minus the mounting flange, the body is also thinner. If the FE had as chintzy a viewfinder as the D5000 or X-Pro 1, it could be much smaller again. But it wasn't built to be tiny. It was built to do the majority of what Nikon's professional line could do, but in a more manageable package.
Kind of like the Nikon Df... except that the Df is a monster.
In order, from left to right: Nikon FE, Fujifilm X-Pro 1, Nikon D5000
So what do Fujifilm fans mean when they think 'SLR'? The above image illustrates exactly what they think. They think small SLRs are like the above D5000. Forgetful brains think today's SLR epitomises the SLR en total. Even Nikon's smallest contemporary D3x00 is bigger than the FE and X-Pro 1.
The D800 is the FE's market equivalent: same juxtaposition to the top models, similar build quality, and on and on. It is of course, much, much larger. The trend to biggun up started after Japanese makers started dumping electronics into every nook and cranny they could. The more the merrier. The more complicated the better. The thicker the manual the better.
Today's SLRs aren't merely huge. They are confoundingly difficult to use. Simple people like me prefer simple devices. That is why I find the Leica M9 so refreshing to shoot. It is pure shooting: few and simple controls; only the necessities made it in. Everything else is out. Shoot and shoot again. It's a pleasure.
Fujifilm's X-Pro 1 harnesses some of that classic look. But its soul is something else. Its soul is crammed as much as is possible with electronic everything. It is nearly as complicated to operate as a contemporary SLR. And like car windows that go down only when you've got the key in, that all-electronic interfaces can be ridiculously obtuse. I love the X-Pro 1 but mainly as an idea or signpost. I hope that cameras will become simple and compact again, with focus on the OVF and precise lens action, not gizmos upon gizmos and a thirty-layered system menu.
The X-Pro 1's electronics slow it down. For everything beside the advancing of film, it takes longer to frame, focus, and shoot a single image than the Nikon FE or Canon P. Or, than any other mechanical 35mm film camera, ever. it is also much larger than most consumer SLR cameras were prior to their Japanification.
In order, from left to right: Fujifilm X-Pro 1, Leica M9. (NOTE: with the same Leica lens mounted, the X-Pro 1 and its adapter are larger than the M9. The combo is not, however, heavier than the Leica.)
But I love the X-Pro 1. I do. (And I must continue to remind myself of that as again that magnification function fails to trigger, as the camera again stalls, as again I'm met with an almost unusably choppy EVF.) It's the only non-Leica digital camera that is remotely fun to use. If only it had a good EVF or picture-in-picture focus assist functionality from the OVF, it would rock. That is, if it didn't stall, or go mum when I'm trying to magnify the view. If only it was better, I could imagine that with a good 35mm lens on its front it would sort of disappear. But it doesn't.
And this isn't the article for that. This article is just a size comparison between it and some favourites and the awful Nikon D5000.
BTW, these quick photos were taken with the not-at-all-fun-to-shoot-with Sony a7r. It takes lovely images. Everything else is completely Japanified.
In order, from left to right: Nikon FE, Leica M9