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My Photography with the Fuji X-Pro1
Jim Radcliffe

April 24, 2012

Wow! A camera company that actually
listens to the Camera Enthusiast.

I knew I was in trouble the first time I read the press release about the Fuji X-Pro1 some months ago. I was further convinced I was in trouble when I began to see the output of the X-Pro1 on various photo sites and forums. Then, after actually handling the X-Pro1, I realized that resistance was, in fact, futile.

I thought I might actually get through 2012 without buying another camera but sometimes a product is just too compelling and you have to cave and buy the damn thing. That is what has happened with me and the Fuji X-Pro1. What can I say, life is short, enjoy it while you can.

I ordered the Fuji X-Pro1 along with the 18mm and the 35mm lenses. I will pick up the 60mm in the next month or so. For now, the 18 and 35 should handle most of my needs. Anything requiring a long, wide or tele-zoom will be handled by the Pentax K5 or the Panasonic GH2. Those are my "other tools" for photography at the moment.

Why did I decide to buy the Fuji X-Pro1?

Good question and it is deeply rooted in my personal likes and dislikes when it comes to cameras, their form factor, weight and bulk... not to mention IQ and dynamic range.

First, I like a rangefinder form factor. While the X-Pro1 is NOT a rangefinder it does have the rangefinder form factor. A simple box, no mirror hump, viewfinder on the far left side of the camera, Shutter speed can be selected with controls on top of the camera. The lenses have aperture rings, there is an optical viewfinder and much more.... this is going to be a long First.. so bear with me.

It seems that Leica will never produce a camera in the price bracket of the X-Pro1 that can take advantage of their M glass so the bang for the buck with Fuji vs Leica is just too great to overlook.

One of the things I did not like about the M8 and the M9 is that those two are manual focus only. You know what? I don't want to be forced to use manual focus ALL of the time. I prefer auto focus with the option to focus manually and the Fuji X-Pro1 delivers exactly what I desire in that area.

Auto Focus on the X-Pro1 is not as fast as you will find on high end DSLRs or even top of the line Micro-Four Thirds systems. In low light situations the X-Pro1 focus can be slow. For those coming from a DSLR you may find the AF of the X-Pro1 to be unacceptable, compared to what you are used to. The thing you must remember, the X-Pro1 is not a camera designed for action photographers who need or require near instantaneous focus lock. That is strictly the realm of the DSLR systems. There is a reason you never see a pro-photographer using a rangefinder style camera on the sidelines of sporting events.

I can honestly say that I have not had the X-Pro1 totally miss focus or fail to focus under any reasonable lighting circumstances. That is something I could not say about the Canon 5D or 5D MKII. The bottom line is this, the AF of the X-Pro1 is slower than many cameras you may have owned but my experience is that when it locks focus it is spot on and the resulting image is very sharp.

One more thing about using Auto Focus... I'm not getting any younger and my eyes are much better suited for composition rather than critical manual focus.. so I am more than willing to let the camera focus most of the time and let me spend my time in composition and fine exposure adjustments.

The X-Pro 1 is everything I like about a rangefinder.. without it actually being a rangefinder. It's a small, boxy camera. It's quiet, has three great lenses to start with, it's non-threatening, it has outstanding image quality and dynamic range, terrific high ISO performance, it's black and it's not made by Leica.

I know, I know.....some will say.. "But it's not a Leica!".. to which I respond first by saying.. "So what?" and my second response is.. "Thank heaven it is not made by Leica or none but a few of us could afford the damn thing!" Don't believe me? Read on....

The Leica M9 kit with three similar lenses will cost you about $18,000 instead of the $3,500 the Fuji X-Pro1 will cost you. And while I do not believe the X-Pro1 is a match for the full frame M9 or its successor in every respect, in some ways I think it is better. But I tell you this.. I'll be damned if I believe the performance and output of the M system is $15,000 better than that of the X-Pro1. Don't get me wrong, Leica produces a great camera and their glass is amazing but it's not a camera for those without a great deal of disposable income.

The Fuji X-Pro1 is more like the Leica Digital CL that I have envisioned Leica producing ever since Leica announced the M8. Instead, Leica gave us the X1. A $2,000 point and shoot with a fixed lens.... sorry, but that was just wrong. In my opinion the X-Pro1 is the kind of camera Leica should have been working on. All I can say is that I'm glad Fuji had the vision to see what Leica did not or would not consider producing.

Second, I like to go small with my cameras.. and while the X-Pro1 is not really a small camera, it and the three lenses will make up a very small system comprised of fast glass, easily carried in one small bag, weighing next to nothing by big, honking, DSLR standards.

Third, the high ISO capabilities of the X-Pro1 equal or better than those of my Canon 5D MKII (my former DSLR) and I shoot a lot of low light stuff so the high ISO performance is very welcome in such a small, compact body.

Fourth, I want to support a camera company that listens to photography enthusiasts and is capable of producing a camera the enthusiast can embrace. I want to support a camera company that swims against the tide and is not afraid to be innovative and Fuji has proven they are that company as far as I am concerned.

Fifth, and this is really subjective... it feels great in my hands and the sound of that shutter is delicious... and this camera will never intimidate anyone. That is a big plus!

I did NOT buy the X-Pro1 thinking it would be a great camera for action photography. I knew what I was getting and how I planned to use it. One can certainly shoot action shots with the X-Pro1 but I would say that type of photography is not what this camera was designed for.

I Don't Plan On Doing a Review On The X-Pro1...

I'm not a GearHead or PixelPeeper and therefore I will not delve into all the technical aspects of this camera. The reasons being, [A] I'm not qualified and [B] I have zero interest in a review of that nature. Instead, I will just share my thoughts on the camera as I use it and some of the work I do with it.

If you want that GearHead stuff, you can find it all over the web. To help you on your way, click here and you will be in GearHead Search Heaven.    If, on the other hand, you just want my thoughts and wish to see what I produce with the camera, check back every now and then for my comments and new photos made with the Fuji X-Pro1.

More to come as I use and explore the capabilities of the Fuji X-Pro1.

April 24, 2012 - Firmware Update Installed

I have updated the X-Pro1 with the new firmware for the body and the two lenses I own. the "Lens Chatter" is now completely gone and the battery does seem to last longer.

Some have reported the AF seems faster but I have to say that I had not had the X-Pro1 long enough before I updated the firmware to really tell if there was any difference in AF speed due to the firmware update. Usually, after a firmware update, there are all kinds of perceived improvements (as well as degradation) in camera operation. This is true of all brands.

The most important thing is that after the firmware update the camera is now quiet and functioning as a camera should. Like children, cameras should be seen and not heard.

May 3, 2012 - I Am In Love

I have owned a lot of cameras but I don't believe I was ever in love with any of them. I enjoyed most of them but never felt love for any of them, until now. I can say it now: I love the Fuji X-Pro1. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed using manual controls and using an aperture ring. The X-Pro1 is the first camera I have owned in the last 10 years that truly has amazed me. I am amazed by the quality of the JPGs, I am amazed by the lenses and the sensor but most of all it is the enjoyment I receive from using the camera that amazes me the most.

The Fuji X-Pro1 is not perfect. I wish the auto-focus were faster but that is a small thing compared to everything that is so right about the camera. I simply enjoy using it more than any camera I have owned and that says a lot.

Will you feel the same way? Maybe, maybe not. I can only speak for myself. The Fuji X-Pro1 sounded to good to be true when I read about it, but sometimes a camera actually lives up to the hype... and for me, the X-Pro1 has done just that.

June 7, 2012 - I Don't Have The Words

I just don't have the words to say how impressed I am with the Fuji X-Pro1. The more I use it the better it seems to get. Of course that is not the case. It's me...I am just learning how to better use the camera. I've read so many posts in forums and quick reviews about the "shortcomings" of this camera and I can only suggest that those with an overly negative feeling for this camera have not taken the time to learn how to use it or explore all of its features.

This camera is a keeper and I am all in. I own every lens made for it and find them all to be good if not great. I bought the grip and it made a big difference, at least for me, in the handling of the camera. I do a lot of one handed shooting and the grip really helps.

I can't remember ever being as excited about using a camera in the way that I am about using the X-Pro1. It just works for me. I'm getting better images than ever before and that includes every camera I have ever owned. Yes, the AF could be faster but that is really my only niggle and when I look at the photos this camera is producing, it just doesn't matter.

July 7, 2012 - RAW or Not?

By now we all know that the JPG images from the X-Pro1 are outstanding. They are truly the best JPGs I have ever received from any of the cameras I have owned.

When I was using Canon gear I almost always used the RAW files to get more detail and dynamic range. With the X-Pro1 I'm not yet convinced that going RAW is the best route for every shot. I've been using the provided SilkyPix software as well as LightRoom 4.1 for RAW development and both do a fairly good job but I am not always able to see a great improvement over the out of camera JPG.

Without a doubt the RAW file can produce a superior image (with more effort on my part) but the JPGs are so good I often see no real need to process the RAW file. If I were printing large, I might see some real difference but most of my prints are in the 11 x 14 arena with a few larger every now and then.

There has been lots of grumbling about the lack of RAW support for the X-Pro1, mostly from pros and advanced amateurs who believe that RAW is the only way to go... Meh! It's not that big of a deal to me. I am getting great results from the X-Pro1 with JPG only and I shoot RAW + JPG all the time.

I think the RAW support will come. Lightroom has added support but it's not producing substantially greater results than the JPGs. SilkyPix has a bit of a clunky interface but works well. I am actually more pleased with the results from SilkyPix than Lightroom.

When it comes to adjusting color temperature, lens correction and vignetting, RAW rules.. don't misunderstand me here. I do know all the benefits of RAW development.

For now I will continue to shoot RAW+JPG but the JPGs are so good I only go to the RAW file when I find something in the JPG that might be salvageable in RAW.

Maybe I'm just lazy and find that the RAW development takes too much time for the marginal reward it currently offers over the JPG.


First Day of Shooting with the X-Pro1
April 28, 2012

I did not have a lot of time and I was not able to visit many different locations for my first day of shooting with the X-Pro1 but here is what I have so far and I am very happy with the results. Keep in mind that there is a lot about the operation of this camera that I don't fully understand or know about at this point so with what I have here, from the first day, I feel it can only get better.

 

 

Third Day of Shooting with the X-Pro1
May 1, 2012 - Up before dawn

I took about 15 shots this morning of the sunrise, cloud formations, flora and fauna. Only two looked interesting enough for me to post. Some days are good, some not so much.

I had to shoot the Dandelion again but this time in B&W. This was with the 35mm with the camera set to macro mode..

Second Day of Shooting with the X-Pro1
April 30, 2012

Took a lunch break today and went to the Nature Park not far from my office.. only got a few shots to share. I took the 35mm with me and shot it at ISO 200, mostly wide open or close to it. The X-Pro1 continues to impress. I'm getting shots that surprise me in their color and clarity. I'm beginning to think this camera and the lenses ARE the real deal.

Shooting In a Mall - Shut down by Security

Shooting Trains
Grapevine, Texas - May 12, 2012

Only had a little time today so I visited Grapevine, Texas to shoot some old railroad stuff. I've shot this before with other cameras but wanted to give the X-Pro1 to play. I like shooting old, oxidized metal and nothing offers more color, grunge and decay than old trains and boxcars.

 

Macro Fun - Taken On a Lunch Break
May 14, 2012

Just a quick stroll through a small area of the nearby nature park. Using the 35mm in Macro mode.

Lunch Shots - May 17, 2012
Took my lunch hour and went to Grapevine to see if by chance the old steam locomotive might be accessible for a shot or two. It was my lucky day. On the way out I couldn't resist taking a shot of a flower by the shed that houses the locomotive.


 
The shot above was taken in a very dark shed where they house the locomotive. It was handheld using the 18mm: f/2.8 1/200s ISO 2000    The high ISO capability of this camera is amazing.

A Few From The Weekend - May 19-20, 2012

60mm Arrives - May 22, 2012
My 60mm lens arrived yesterday too late in the day for me to shoot with it so I got up before sunrise this morning to take a few shots with it. I did not attempt any macros.. just short telephoto.




To View The Images
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April 28, 2013 - Zombie

January 15, 2013 - Art Deco Lady

January 14, 2013
Playing with RAW File Converter EX

The above shot was developed using Raw File Converter EX powered by Silky Pix. It seems to do a better job of converting the RAF files than any converter I have tried thus far, lincluding Capeture One Version 7 and ACR.

Night Work - 18-55mm - December 22, 2012
The 18-55mm arrived and I took it out for a little night work. So far I like the 18-55. It is not your normal or average kit lens by any means. The versatility of this lens is worth the cost and the OIS is a nice plus. I did not use a tripod for any of these shots. All were hand held.

 

 

Old & New - December 9, 2012
I've not had a lot of time to get out and shoot but I did steal a few hours over the weekend. A shot of an old gas pump, a brand new highrise, my bench and nature's lines v mans.

      

Moon Shot - November 24, 2012
I've been sick with a cold but could not resist mounting the 500mm Rokkor on the XP1 to take another shot at the moon.

X-Pro1 with the 58mm Rokkor f/1.2
Fuji, Please Give Us Focus Peaking
I wanted to do an available light portrait in B&W for an online forum thread. This is what I came up with. The Minolta Rokkor lenses do a wonderful job. The only problem is my old eyes need assistance in obtaining critical focus, especially when you are dealing with fast glass and a shallow depth of field as in this shot. The X-Pro1 needs Focus Peaking. There are so many great manual focus legacy lenses available for next to nothing... and Fuji does not yet have a full spectrum of lenses. Many, like myself, have opted to use legacy glass to fill the gap. The EVF magnification is good but Focus Peaking would be so much better.

Chinese Lantern Festival - State Fair of Texas
I took these not long ago when I visited the State Fair of Texas. The colors are some of the most vibrant I have ever seen. I did not bump the color saturation at all, this is how it really looked. Anyone who has been to this exhibit will tell you that the colors were simply amazing. All photos were taken with the Fuji 18mm.

 

Rokkor 135mm on the X-Pro1

October 15, 2012 - In the Auto Graveyard
I visited the Auto Graveyard hoping to find something new to photograph and to try out a new way of controlling the light in the interior of some of the old cars. Nothing new and not much luck with the light either. Here's three to view.

September 30, 2012 - In the Rail Yard
What is so special about these photos? Well, two things. First, I found an old Nikon +1 diopter that now makes my X-Pro1 EVF pop as well as allowing me to finally achieve critical focus with some of my legacy glass such as the one I used to shoot these photos. Second, I used the Minolta PG 58mm f/1.2 with a MD to FX adapter to shoot these in manual focus mode. I could not be happier. I have not been able to use this Rokkor lens effectively until I installed the diopter on the X-Pro1.

September 22, 2012
Got up at 4AM to make the trek to Plano, Texas for the Balloon Festival. Should have waited for the PM Balloon Glow and launch as I was shooting into the the rising sun, but all was not lost.

September 19, 2012 - Night Train
It was 10PM at night when I decided to shoot this old locomotive in the dark in Grapevine, Texas. I've shot it during the day and it really looks bad but at night, illuminated by a couple of sodium vapor street lights, it shines.

September 16, 2012 - Crockett, Texas
Visited Crockett, Texas to photograph and old abandoned school.

August 11, 2012 - Red Sky At Morning
I have a love for sunrise. Every single one of them is different and everyone brings another day of life. I prefer sunrise to sunset and on this open field in Texas with a large, single tree in the distance I was able to shoot what I feel was a beautiful scene made even more so by the simplicity of it all.   X-Pro1 and 35mm

August 1, 2012 Moon Shot
Using the 500mm Minolta Mirror Lens & the 135mm

I bought the 500mm Minolta lens a year or so ago to use on my Micro Four Thirds cameras but have not really used it all that much. Tonight (August 1, 2012) there was a clear sky and a beautiful full moon and despite it being way past my bedtime I took this shot.

July 14 - Amarillo, Texas - Road Trip
Took the X-Pro1 with me to Amarillo for a weekend road trip to photograph Cadillac Ranch and Palo Duro Canyon. Below are a few shots from that trip., including my first ever attempt to photograph the night sky with star fields.

Sunset at the drag strip

West Coast Fun With The X-Pro1

Shooting Whatever I Can Find

One More Butterfly
Caught this butterfly inside a trash can at the nature park. The light was interesting so I had to try the shot.. The background is rust seen through semi-transparent plastic trash bag.

I Am An Idiot!
I decided to go shoot the Dallas skyline at dusk and had everything I needed: camera, lenses, memory cards, charged batteries and my tripod. What I didn't have was the mount for the tripod to camera. I did not discover this until I was at the location. The mount was 20 miles away on my K5. So, I had to shoot handheld instead of doing the longer exposures on the tripod at low ISO settings. I had to shoot at 1/30s at ISO 1250 or 1600.


The Blue Hour..


Way past my bedtime..

Fun With a Two Dollar Close-up Lens
The two photos below (butterfly and caterpillar) were taken with the Fuji X-Pro1 and the 35mm plus a $2.00 close-up lens I bought at a photography flea market. It works very well and the cost was next to nothing. They can be had new online from $12 to $50 for a set of three in +2,+3 and +4 strength.


 

 

 

As always.... more to come