Fujifilm X-Pro1 / by lukeleenz

20140326-3242 How much do I love you With so much love, I bought this camera twice. I sold it twice. The first time I sold this camera, I thought I was better than that. Then I realised, I wasn't. It's the second time I sold it, I'm in love with someone else now. So, this is to tribute my love towards Fujifilm X-Pro1.

The camera It's brilliant. It's quite big for a snap camera, but it's not as heavy. It's got great controls, but it's not really a one-hand controllable camera. It has a great optical viewfinder, but I stopped using it almost straight after I got this camera. It has awesome dial controls, but they're a little too easy to turn and number of times you have to check if the EV dial hasn't been moved. Or if you're using manual shutter speed, you have to check you are still in that same speed.


Focusing Focusing is uber slow, but it captures true. Once you figure out how contrast detection works, you know when it's in focus and when it's not. Plus the latest firmware fixed a lot of focusing accuracy & speed issues. It's super quiet. Most of the time in the wedding or travelling, people usually don't realise they're being photographed. But it's much louder than X100s. Doesn't come even close to being silent. Just much quieter than DSLRs. Now we even have focus peaking which helps so much in manual focusing. But it's peaking colour is limited to white. I mean... white is the hardest colour to do focus peaking, out of all colours, it had to be white... Why?


Image Processing Just lovely. Dynamic range is great, maybe not the best in DR100 mode, but renders beautifully. Recently, I realised how beautiful photos can be when they're blown out or blacked out. It's just different image and we don't have to have all details. Photo is not a science. I love how X-Pro1 performs in black and white. I don't do SOOC black and white though. I have had many cameras before and Fujifilm does the best black and white rendering. The biggest reason is, because X-Trans sensor is somewhat different, when the image is converted to black and white, it has this grain like noise when pushed left and right. Feels very much analogue. It's not film-like. No I don't believe so. But it's very analogue-like. Feels like you can mimic most B&W films with the photo.


Colour is beautiful, too. I've also recently learnt the lesson. Colour accuracy really doesn't mean anything. I asked myself, why am I taking photo? The biggest reason would be memory. I want to keep the part of the memory and look back at it again. Like this rainbow I found at home. I photographed it. Funny, I don't remember the colour of the rainbow now. But I know it was rainbow and I know it was rather pleasant. I look back at this photo and remember how I felt then. The colour is just right enough for me to look back and remember perfectly how I felt. I think that's what should be colour accuracy. Since I realised that, I no more care about white balance accuracy or colour reproduction accuracy. I am not a commercial product photographer who should always bring correct colour on the screen. I'm a documentary photographer who captures the visuals to remember.

I look at the photo and I remember. Yeah, that's what it was. And I am satisfied.


Travel I have one regret. I never really have taken this camera for a trip. Maybe couple of short ones, but not a trip that I would really put this to a test. Now I know what it's capable of, I regret that. Everybody who reviewed this camera says that, it slows you down. Well, that is completely true. You spray and pray with this camera, you will never get an answer for your pray. Continuous drive mode is fast at 6FPS, but once it hits its buffer, which doesn't take long, it will basically freeze until it's done with saving images. During the weddings, it feels like forever. Instead, you calculate before the shot. You visualise your image before you take it. You know what lens you have on it so you frame it before you shoot. Then you bring the camera to your eye level and make your imagination come true. At first, it feels so hard. But just like when you were riding the bike for the first time. It gets easier over time. Later on, it becomes a second nature. You know what you will shoot before you shoot. Only if it focuses as you wanted. Aha.


Noise It's quite surprising. X-Pro1 does not have AA filter and thanks to X-Trans sensor, no moire. Good. But holding that sharpness, usually comes with more noise, or at least significant noise. But the sensor and processor holds well. I'm not saying there's no noise. When ISO goes up, so does the noise. I won't say it's a film like noise. No such thing I believe. No matter how it mimics, it will always be a digital noise. The point I think is, how small is the noise grain and how much colour noise. First of all, not much colour noise. Not unless you push the "already limit-reached over the top high ISO" image. Even at ISO 6400, noise is still quite pleasant with not much colour noise. Second, Noise grain is usually quite small. Probably why people are saying it's film-like. I've seen film. I don't think it's anything like film. I think it feels rather smooth noise grain. Pleasant to eyes because the grain is so small, you still see fine details. This, probably up to ISO 3200, would be true. There is also one more matter about Fujifilm ISO. People say their ISO is somehow not accurate. I don't really care much as long as I can use it in certain conditions. And certain conditions I had no problems, so I am fine.


Weddings Biggest question I had for myself. Is it good enough for weddings? After using it for about half a dozen weddings, I'd say Yes, but maybe as a backup is more appropriate. Focusing is big issue of all. It's gotten so much better. Before the firmware update, I had to trash about 1/3 of the images from wedding because they were out of focus. Slow focusing is one thing but accuracy was just not there. Since the firmware fix, focusing is faster and more accurate. But that doesn't mean it doesn't hunt. If there isn't enough contrast, it will hunt and won't focus. You have to find a work around and do it quickly. Switching between single AF to MF has to be quick and precise. Continuous AF is a joke. I don't know why it's even there. I never used it. It kills battery so fast because it pre-focuses all the time even when shutter is not half-pressed, and it only works with centre focus point. What a joke. Manual focusing is so much easier with focus peaking present, but it's not perfect either. You can still miss focus if you don't look carefully and find the exact middle ground of the peaked edges, otherwise you may end up with the edge of DOF. But, creamy image processing is the key. If you nail the focus, if you nail the exposure, then it's so hard to beat the quality. It's warm, it's creamy, it's smooth and it's sharp. I don't know it's just all that.


Landscape It's brilliant. With L plate attached, I enjoyed so much with X-Pro1 shooting landscapes. It's a beautiful kit. But of course, comes with few downsides. Design. I feel like it's meant to be on hand, not on tripod. I don't know why. It's just me though. People feel different things different ways. I feel range finder style cameras are meant to be shot on hand, not on tripod for some reason. Maybe because many documentary photographers used to use range finders? Megapixels. I know megapixel is overrated. I used to go out with 4mp digital camera to take landscape. So how can a 16mp camera be bad? Well, to be honest, it's more than enough. But the time changes and technology is getting more advanced. Is 16mp good enough to compete others? No. 16mp image cannot come even close to 36mp image. It's like when we used to debate the quality of mp3 files. When I was listening to the music before mp3 was announced, I was listening to WAV file that was reduced down to 2-3mb. Quality was worse than the tape. I used to record the music straight to cassette tape from PC and listen. Then mp3 was introduced and music quality suddenly got so much better. Then the debate started that 128k mp3 is so low quality. Then there were 320k mp3 files, uncompressed WAV files, and these days? FLAC and DSD and such that provides super high quality music that not all music players will be able to even handle. So, yeah. Time changes and the technology advances. 16mp is getting outdated. Current technology is just that much better and no matter the photographers are happy now or not, it will be advanced in the future. Fujifilm X cameras won't be 16mp forever. I used to say 4mp was more than enough for a camera. Only a year later, I was using 8mp camera. 36mp may feel too much at the moment. Wait till 46mp, 50mp cameras come and 36mp may sound not so much. For landscape, more mp the better. We need more details and more dynamic range than 16mp can provide. Not because X-Pro1 doesn't provide enough, only because there is now more out there.


Will I buy again? If I can, yes. First reason, design. It'll be super hard to beat the design of X-Pro1. So classic looking with hybrid viewfinder that we can actually use. A mixture of retro and modern design blended together. You don't see that often. See how miserable Nikon Df failed in that. Second reason, quality. I still love every bit of the image quality. Every time after the shooting, I think Yeah, the new X-T1 is better, and then I open up the files and I cannot even tell which is from which. Not saying X-T1 hasn't advanced, but that X-Pro1 image quality was just that good, enough to be used even in current days. Third reason, why not? It'll be even cheaper if I buy again.

Why did I get rid of it, twice? First reason, focus. I know how to work with it now. But it still sucks. Firmware upgrade pretty much changed the camera focusing, but still sucks. Continuous AF on X-Pro1 will forever be a joke. Second reason, size. X-T1 is smaller than this. And packs more punch. Dang. Third reason, flash sync. The limitation in syncing flash. (sync speed 1/180s, no flash sync unless shooting in Single Drive mode) This is the biggest bummer for me. If this gets fixed in firmware upgrade, I will seriously be considering buying back. Fourth reason, time. It's just time to move on. I thought I would hold on to this one forever. But time changes and well.... I already got another camera coming so I gotta empty the shelf before it arrives.

Sorry X-Pro1. I still love you.



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