Review: Fuji X Pro 1.
I am very late to the party, but as I’ve just picked myself up a Fuji X Pro 1 - I wanted to part with my thoughts on Fuji’s answer to the prosumer rangefinder.
As a long time 35mm film shooter, I’ve spent more time than I’d care to admit on my thoughts on these digital rangefinder cameras. Shooting during the week on a Canon 5D, I used to really enjoy breaking away from my assignments to shoot film on the weekend. What changed though? Time - I don’t have a lot of spare time. Before I pull my violin out, I do have a good amount of spare time, but I don’t have the spare time for the parts of film photography that used to draw me to it.
Shooting on 35mm is really where a large proportion of my photographic passion stemmed from; I’ve always had a love for the different shooting approach film has. Starting with the moment you select a unique roll to load into your camera; the care taken over each of your 36 exposures - to the time spent in the lab developing, creating contact sheets, and of course, printing… printing lots of enlarged prints.
After six years of doing this (and a 200 page ring binder jammed with negatives), I’m taking all that film has taught me with patiently finding ‘the shot’, and will be translating it to a digital output.
This isn’t to say I won’t shoot film anymore… nor posting about it.
This move has been spearheaded by my trip to Vietnam, that I’m about to embark on - needing something a lot lighter and easygoing than a baggie of film, my in-depth research led me to the X Pro 1, paired with the Fujinon 23mm f/2 WR (35mm equivalent). As opposed to taking a big 5D, or Canon A1 SLR, the Fuji is such a small, discrete, non-threatening camera - so is perfect for street or travel photography. Another reason is my wanting a camera that takes the strong points of a function-led, analogous camera, and simplifies it into a modern body - without too much fuss over megapixels.
Starting with the build quality, the body itself is made of a single piece of machined alloy and is finished with soft grips - giving it a premium, yet rugged feel to it; reminding me of my tank-like 5D. It also feels great in your hands, and is a hell of a load lighter than my trusty 35mm Canon A1. One of the deciding factors on getting this camera, over the myriad of other options (including a lovely Leica), was the need to have a camera that still had dials (you know, those things you adjust to get the exposure you need) over having lots of buttons, and sub-sub menus. Now, the Fuji is still guilty of a sub menu or two, but for the most part, I just focus on the shutter speed dial, the ‘Fn’ (function button) which I have set to ISO, and the aperture ring on the lens.
Having the option to remove lenses was a big stand out factor from the X Pro sister camera, the 100S/T. Having gone with the Fujinon 23mm f/2 WR, I can say that I’m really happy with it. Having a love for all things prime (and usually 50mm), I really like the solid build quality of the lens. Fitted onto the X-mount of the X Pro with its x1.5 crop factor, the lens comfortable sits at 35mm which is great for street-style shooting. It has a really clicky aperture ring, smooth focus ring, and is pretty fast for a mid-range lens.
A big change for me was the EVF (electronic view finder). I really didn’t think I’d get on well with it, but it’s been a real dream to shoot with. I have it set to auto, with the central area as my focus point - allowing me to quickly zone in on my subject before shooting.
Being able to capture to RAW was also a really big factor on me choosing this camera. Out of habit, I shoot a bit fast and dark - so I can later push it up later with the wide latitude that RAW offers me. Via the ‘Q’ menu on the top right of the back, you can create custom setting groups (amazing again). So far, I’ve created two that are 100 ISO for sunny days, and 400 ISO for general usage, with all settings set to baseline. I enjoy shooting with a film mentality of making your chosen ISO work for the environment you’re in - boosting creative problem solving, and adding a bit of realism. For my work, I love a tack-sharp image, but when shooting in the early evening, I like to the challenge of making a shot work.
In short: Even though the body is six years old - it really goes to show that when it comes down to specs, they differences between the X Pro 1 and 2, are so minimal that the £600 for a mint condition used body and lens combo is easily worth it’s weight in gold.