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This year, retro design is most certainly "in." The satisfaction of fully mechanical control, plus the timeless appearance of 70's-style bodies, equals a very compelling product for photography purists. Olympus got things started with their PEN series, but Fujifilm quickly jumped on the bandwagon with their X100. Fast forward a bit, and this year's two heaviest hitters, Olympus' OM-D E-M5, and Fujifilm's X-Pro1, have finally been reviewed and are ready to go head to head.
Although we detected a tiny bit of artificial edge enhancement in testing, it's hard to overstate the X-Pro1's extreme sharpness with any of the new XF lenses. The X-Pro1 is plainly the sharpest camera we've ever tested, and although the E-M5's kit lens also scored pretty well, there's just no comparing the two in this regard.
Unfortunately for Olympus, the differences don't end there. The X-Pro1's color accuracy is far better than the E-M5's, which only managed a slightly better than average score. Noise reduction is also favors the X-Pro1. While the two cameras produce equivalent noise at low and moderate sensitivities, after ISO 3200 the X-Pro1 is stricken with far less. This one is a no-brainer.
Winner: Fujifilm X-Pro1
Fujifilm's user interface certainly isn't perfect, but is at least better than Olympus' confusing menu layout. On the other hand, the X-Pro1 falls victim to some pretty severe handling issues, thanks to a poorly conceived thumb rest and weak grip. Fuji offers an optional hand grip accessory to ease this problem, but it's only partly useful.
But while handling the X-Pro1 is sometimes unstable, actually operating the camera is a blast. We loved the manual dials for shutter and EV, as well as the manual aperture and focus rings on all three XF lenses. These are all extremely satisfying, and draw you into the shooting experience more than the E-M5 can.
Winner: Fujifilm X-Pro1
Given the vast price gap, it's no surprise the X-Pro1 runs away with this Head to Head. However we do think each camera is priced appropriately. By going with the X-Pro1 you're buying yourself quite a bit more image quality, and the option to shoot with all-mechanical manual control is awesome. That being said, for users who want a similar experience without breaking the bank (as much), the E-M5 is still a fine mirrorless camera. Still, we're giving this match-up to Fuji.
Overall Winner: Fujifilm X-Pro1