USER REPORT: My Journey to the Fuji X-Pro 1 by Christina Davis

User Report: My Journey to the Fuji X-Pro 1 by Christina Davis

Hi Steve,

I’ve been a reader for a little over a year now and have found your site to be a wonderful resource as well as a bad, bad enabler! I guess I’d fall under the category of MWAC: two kids (15 and 12) and camera as traveling companions – even to the grocery store. The problem is, my dslr was just too big. I have attempted to simplify in the past couple of years. When I upgraded to the 5DMIII, I did not upgrade my PS or LR. I went back to editing jpeg files and discovered no difference in the results. I even picked up a 40mm pancake lens in an effort to lighten the load; however, that dslr is just too much camera to carry around in my bag and to take on outings and trips.

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I have been challenging myself to spend each summer with a small camera. Last summer, thanks to your blog, it was the Sony RX100. It was OK, but obviously didn’t come close to the dslr in quality. Last fall I read on your blog about the Fuji X100. I picked one up and took one step closer to finding the right fit and the image quality was more on par with what I was after. I should admit right here at I have some level of GAS. I just love cameras, handling cameras and making photographs, ever since I was a kid and my mom was constantly yelling at me, “Don’t waste the film!”

Well, that Fuji X100 is quite a camera, but then I read Amy Medina’s contribution on your site about how she picked up the Fuji X-E1. I was sold. I got the kit with the zoom lens. Only…I didn’t mesh with that camera or the lens. Both were great, don’t get me wrong, but that “feel” wasn’t there and I have to say I really was bothered with not having an OVF.

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After a couple of months and more reading on your site, and with summer getting closer and the kids being out of school soon, I caved to the camera which had been calling to me for months. I tried to ignore it. I told myself it was too expensive and I shouldn’t spend the money. I told myself it will be replaced pretty soon with a newer model. I just couldn’t resist any longer. I now have a Fuji XPro1. I paired it with the 18mm lens in the hopes of getting a do-it-all combination which is light and flexible. I have to say, I haven’t been disappointed.

A couple of weeks back I took the kids on a little mini vacation to San Diego. This was the first time I was able to really play with the camera, using it in all types of settings and situations. I really enjoy how it handles, I like the light weight of it and the image quality is closest to my dslr of any of the small cameras I have used. It’s a perfect “throw-and-go” camera for my purposes.

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What I found particularly pleasing is the image quality straight out of the camera. I shoot in jpeg on this camera as well and find that these files need so much less editing than those from the 5DMIII; maybe just a little crop here and there, maybe a very slight adjustment to add tone when necessary and some very light sharpening and that’s it! The only thing I do with any detail in PS would be B&W conversions. I just don’t care too much for the B&W files from the camera. I probably just need more practice.

Since I do really love the Canon 40mm pancake lens and find it to be the perfect focal length, I am anxiously awaiting Fuji’s 27mm pancake lens. I would like to see it out before summer is over, so I can use it, as well as the 18mm, on our outings.

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Thanks for letting me share and thank you for providing such an interesting and fun resource which really demonstrates what these little cameras can offer. I think that these days there is too much emphasis on dslrs and the “big brands”. The cameras you discuss on your site are really fantastic and offer up such versatility which was really enjoyed by people (and those masters of photography) in years gone by.

Christina Davis

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42 thoughts on “USER REPORT: My Journey to the Fuji X-Pro 1 by Christina Davis

  1. Really enjoyed this read. Great snapshots as well Christina.

    What I really think is the essence to the X-Pro1 is said spot on by Richard Smith:

    “Over the history of this product, Fujifilm has managed to transform the X Pro 1, through software, in a profound way. I don’t recall any series of firmware upgrades, offered by any manufacturer that has so completely transformed a piece of electronics or a camera.”

    The X-Pro1 at launch was mediocre at best, but as of July 2013, this camera (which I own and love, so excuse my bias) is the best kit I have ever owned.

    /Jonas

    1. BTW, I love your use of the term “snapshots”! That word has turned into a dirty one in photography circles in recent years. I feel there is nothing belittling or less in meaning and content about a snapshot as opposed to a “portrait” or “photograph”. Those “snapshots” are the most important and valuable historical documents we have in our own homes. Unless folks commit to printing out all those snaps, there will be very little left to inherit by today’s kids.

      1. I wholeheartedly agree. Not every street photograph or portrait needs thorough analysis and thought. Snapshots are usually pictures of our loved ones, and our love towards these people usually transcends the medium, and makes for great expressive imagery! So trust me when I say, that I meant the word “snapshots” in its most positive and flattering way.

        1. Yes!! When looking at those photos of years of by, its the “snapshots’ which really are compelling and draw a viewer in. They manage to capture that “moment”, and are, like you say, “…great expressive imagery” – made even more so when found in a box or album, rather than in online form.

          1. I fully agree with the first response. I’m 73 yo and when i carried my Nikon System I was carrying almost 40 pounds of weight. Granted I do miss my f2.8 zooms, but not their weight. My entire X Pro 1 system, covering the same range as my Nikon sysem weights less then 10 pounds. It not only is a great system, takes fabulous pictures but is also a back saver. Many people don’t want to change, and that is fine, but many of us see advantages of a lighter system.

  2. Great to read of so many folks and their various routes to their desired cameras. I, too, am on a journey as I try to redefine my direction with the downturn in the newspaper/media industry. In a late career, I spent 10 years as a shooter for a little weekly and used my SLR/DSLR gear extensively. For that effort, those cameras were perfect. My current cameras were also my cameras for five of those 10 years – a pair of Nikon D2H bodies and assortment of fast zooms. Perfect cameras for me to shoot sports, features, spot news, just about anything. But now I am going in a different direction and feel smaller, quieter cameras are the best way to go. I tried going with primes with my D2H bodies but the body size makes them so noticeable. I thought about the Oly PEN cameras but did not want to go to that small a sensor. Read the reviews on the X-Pro and tried it out at the local camera shop but the lack of a variable diopter put me off. Thought about the X-E1 but was put off by its lower construction. Then read about the X100S. Variable diopter, focus peaking, digital split image, EVF/OVF hybrid VF, APS-C size sensor, no anti-alias filter, etc. Pre-ordered it and have been having a ball with it.

    BUT (and isn’t there always one!), I would like some additional lens capability. Now with the new update to the X-P1 with focus peaking, I am thinking I will just add a diopter correction. Looking toward the 1.4/35mm and probably a legacy 85mm Zeiss or 90mm Leica lens for some reach.

    That being said, I shall miss my Nikons. Not so much because of their capabilities but because of what I did with them. Between images published in my former newspaper to images that went on billboards for commercial clients, they never failed me. With noise reduction software (I use Nik Dfine), IQ even at ISO1600 was publishable. Even today, I do not mind the weight and they would work fine for IQ for the work/personal assignments I want to do but the capabilities (fast AF, great tracking AF, 8fps) of the machines are more than I need. Plus, on a mental level, a change to different equipment will help me focus my efforts to produce a body of work that is on a different level and intended for a different audience.

    I just hope I find a good home for my DSLR gear. Thanks for telling us your journey and KEEP ON SHOOTING!!!

    1. My daughter has a Canon Rebel dslr, but she doesn’t like its size. She was using her phone so much to take photos, but then she would never save or print those – and some were really good! I passed her my Fuji X100. I notice that she carries that with her all the time now. Her results are really good, too. I am thinking about getting her the new X-M1, as it has the Wi-Fi transfer built it. She can have a great photo to keep and print and then transfer it to her phone to play with and share with her friends.

      BTW, with each passing week, I think less and less of my own Canon equipment. I’m not getting rid of it any time soon, but I don’t feel I am losing any quality at all with the XP1.

  3. You know I was intrest in the 27mm Pancake too. That would make my fastest Fuji lens my 60mm F2.4.
    I thought I would like the new Zeiss (no Carl) F1.8. But it looks like the 35 F1.4 is just as good. It is so easy to make sharp lens that are like this lens. Any good lens maker can do it. Small elemnts. And “Normal” focal lenght.

  4. You can get a corrective lens to adjust the eyesight, so saying it is useless is a little extreme maybe?

  5. Nice post and pics. For me the X-Pro 1 fails due to the fact it has no eye diopter (a very strange omission). Thus it is useless if you do not have good eyesight.

    1. Like with Leica Ms. Just by the correct diopter, like I had to for my Nikkormat. Just a few bucks.

      Just think of cameras and their short comings. A few bucks for something that fits to the eye piece.

  6. What a super Mom!
    I kind of went through the same route in some way. I first got hold of Xpro1 with the three primes. I guess I never feel comfortable and therefore I ditch it and get Canon 5D mk II, then 6D. I am now back to XE1 with 18-55, what a refreshing change to be back to Fuji camp. DSLR days are over for me. I do keep a used, mint 50D with me without a len!
    I kind of now miss the Xpro1!!?? The OVF??? I am trying to hold myself up, attempting to pick one used up when Xpro2 comes out. If there is one thing I do not like Xpro1, is the lack of diopler adjustment. I know you can get correction lens but it never beat the stepless adjustment on the Xe1. I am also waiting early for the 27mm and with that, I am going to kill off my desire on X100s. I can’t wait to see the update next month, where focus peaking of somesort will be added! Thank you Fuji! I sometimes wonder, with all these update on firmware, how fast will Fuji run out of their manual discription!! Do they plan to update it somehow on the website? I for sure, will get the 55-200, this to me, will fill out the lens gap as compared with a DSLR. So tempted to jump on Xpro1!!!!

  7. Thanks for sharing your excellent images and narrative. The X Pro-1 keeps beckoning me, too, especially with the announcement of the 27mm pancake lens. I have been using my Canon 40mm 2.8 STM on 5D, 1D Mark II N, and 40D cameras, and especially like the quite natural (to me) field of view on the full-frame 5D. The Canon pancake did prompt me to put a Fuji X acquisition on hold, but the upcoming 27mm Fuji will equalize the lens factor, tilting the overall size/handiness equation in favor of the X-Pro.

  8. Great pictures Christina . I like the colors wow natural ,yummy 🙂 .Leica cameras can´t reproduce that colors just check the m240 the jpeg files, they need to be fixed to obtain a good result

    For that reason and for better price i think Fuji is the new leica ! 🙂

  9. I am totally with you on Mirrorless. For a while I owned a Sony A850 and NEX7, but the big DSLR is history and the NEX is here to stay.

    1. I think my Fuji X-Pro 1 is a superb camera, but I do love my Sony A850 and the beautiful full frame files it produces. A simple camera for still photography, and will become (A900/850) a Sony classic in the future – not to be seen again from Sony unfortunately.

  10. Nice photos. Nice article. But I do have a few things to get off my chest. None is directed at you specifically. It seems the reoccurring theme with a lot of these articles is to complain about the dslr size and weight followed by an epiphany to go mirrorless. Can’t help to think of the old saying pertaining to birds on a wire. I certainly do not know you so I take you at your word. I have multiple cameras. Small and light Sony RX100 to big and bulky Fuji GSW690 and many more in between. My choice of cameras has never been influenced by weight or size. All this to say that DSLR are probably the most versatile cameras in the market and they seem to be the whipping boys on this site. There is almost nothing they can’t do. There is a reason why those who make a living taking photos shoot SLR’s. When I decide on a camera it’s based on what I want to shoot and the mood I’m in. At times I feel rangefinder like so I shoot with an M3. At other times I shoot digital. Other times when light is very predictable and I want to get the most resolution I shoot Fuji MFT. Other times I want to shoot slide and lately I’ve been loving Ektar and Contax G2 combo. If I find myself complaining about the size and weight of an SLR in the future I will either write a retraction or eat my spinach. 🙂

    1. Some just do not like the bulk, weight and size of a DSLR and 80% of Mirrorless cameras can do just what most DSLR’s do, some even better depending on what you choose on each side. Ive made a great living with photography without touching a DSLR. It’s all whatever floats your boat. When someone says they were sick of the DSLR size and weight, they mean it. They are not saying it to bash DSLR’s but they are saying it because they really are tired of it! Some love to shoot their DSLRs and huge lenses. Other prefer small and sleek with the same quality. For example, an Olympus OM-D can do anything an APS-C DSLR can do, and in some cases better than those DSLR’s that are much larger and heavier. Just shoot what you like and what brings a smile to your face.

      1. Dead right about being tired of weight & bulk Steve. Even with an MF film camera you can still get something that collapses down and fits in a small bag like a Plaubel Makina or a Mamiya 6.

        I can easily fit my Mamiya 6 and a Leica or Fuji X-Pro 1 + everything I need for a day inside a compact Billingham Hadley Small.

        Weight loss is fantastic, even with gear! 🙂

      2. I am absolutely in love with the X100. But the other day, I picked up my friend’s D7000. It had been over a year since I had touched a DSLR, and I quickly remembered how much I had given up in terms of AF and lens compatibility. The biggest thing I have missed is focusing through an optical viewfinder. Using that D7000 was like going on a date with an ex-girlfriend that I still had feelings for, hahaha.

        So do I regret downsizing? Not a bit. My X100 goes with me everywhere, and because of that, I get great shots. I never want to leave it at home, which is something I could never say about a DSLR. I don’t make my living with a camera. I’m a hobbyist who just likes to have a good camera with me to capture great shots when I see them.

    2. I understand exactly what you are saying and I used to think the same way, myself; however, with age comes change. If I was to go by your little picture by your post, you look to be a fairly young fellow. A few years ago, I had no issue with carrying around a dslr and 70-200 lens all day. Now, even with a small lens on the dslr, my back and neck start to bother me. Throw in a purse (being a lady and all…) loaded up with all my “lady things”, not to mention my kids’ junk and then toss a camera and a lens or two on top of it all and it is just too much to drag around for a day at the beach, going to a fair, etc. Plus, it is fun to not be so conspicuous – you can get away with more. I accompanied my daughter when she was 13 (she was a 9th grader at the time) to her first Warped Tour. (PSA – Warped Tour is a great day for kids/teens – don’t hesitate if your kids want to go.) I had a small camera and had a lot of fun moving through the crowds taking photos of the kids and what they were up to. I wouldn’t want to tote around $5,000 worth of equipment to something like that, or to, say, the U.S. Open Surfing Competition (Yes, the older gentlemen are all on the pier with their big gear, but they don’t move a lot through the crowds of people). A smaller camera is less noticed by people out and about and easier to handle (think sand, water, kids running wild, etc.). I just am in pursuit of something which is small and light yet capable of giving me excellent (dslr-like) results.

      1. I’m 43. I can appreciate what you are saying. Perhaps I was cranky earlier. When I initially read the title I said to myself behold another DSLR is to heavy story. I have Fuji x1000s, D600, M3,G2, sony Rx100 and a few MFT’s along with F5 and OM-1. All this to say ill shot with anything and they all have there place. If I want to shoot slide I shoot my F5 cause the metering is impeccable. When I’m in a zen like mood the M3 works best cause it slows me down. Can’t shoot little league with x100 or rx100 but they are great in a bag and ready pull out quickly, etc. I find at times people become tribal and dogmatic with this sort of stuff. Whether its film vs digital. iPhone vs android, etc etc. My approach is just enjoy it all. There is a place for SLR’s. They are extremely versatile and are essentially one stop shop.

        1. You are right about the “tribal” nonsense. I see that in one of the popular women’s photography sites – which I won’t name – but starts with the sound of a shutter and ends with “moms”. If you don’t shoot with a dslr and a 24-70 or 50 lens, you can’t get a worthy shot. They don’t entertain any other equipment but what is considered standard pro gear. I just find it fun to try to stretch myself and see what these other cameras can produce. It’s fun and the results are excellent….and “fun” is the key, I believe. It it’s not fun, why do it?

        2. I would say that lots of the articles about having smaller cameras are people that only have one camera. Sure having a range of cameras is great if you can put that much money into your hobby, but not everyone can.

    3. Different cameras styles/bodies have their place. DSLRs are robust in terms of build, performance, ergonomics and options (lenses, flashes, etc.).

      The smaller ILCs give you much of the image quality (if not all or more) of DSLRs, less of the AF performance and reduced ergonomics (in my opinion), and a lot less mass and bulk. They also afford one a bit more of an inconspicuous presence in social environments.

      I have a variety of cameras and the DSLR is used less and less. Other than sports and wildlife it sits on the shelf with my film cameras.

  11. Great choice! The XP-1 is the top of its game and with new firmware in July it will get even more productive. It just takes a few days of practice and you never go back to your DSLR.
    Keep working on your B&W in camera settings or in RAW adj. in camera also. It can produce some stunning pictures. One more thing– don’t forget to try some HD filter shots with the timer on the camera.
    Enjoy!

      1. I meant to say try out an ND filter with long exposure settings with your XP-1
        flixelpix.com also look @ www tomen.de greta XP-1 web site

  12. Great post but i’m on a journey in the other direction going from the OMD to the Nikon D600. Full frame goodness coupled with some of Nikons earlier smaller primes. Heck its larger but hey none of these are pockatable. What is great though is just getting out and doing it just spent a few days in London and joined in with the paparazi and got some great shots of some stars. GAS well that’s me all over too but with Ebay about its not as painful when I need to trade in lol.

    1. I always limit myself – if I have more than a couple of cameras, I always sell off the extra. I won’t be selling my 5DMIII any time soon, but it sure doesn’t get much use any more!

  13. Excellent. I went a similar route Christina. I moved to mirrorless format with a Fuji X-E1 but the AF was slow. After multiple recommendations, I chose to sell it and buy an OM-D. While for many the camera might be solid, I have observed I really do not belong to the crowd. The IQ was just okay and I hated the noise in High ISOs, something I never had issues with the Fuji. Plus, it missed the DoF by a mile.
    After only 2 months of OM-D, I sold it again, and moved back to the Fuji X, this time an X Pro 1. I don’t think I am going back, and now with the upcoming 3.0 firmware, it just got new life and faster AF with legacy lenses

    1. I, too, am looking forward to that update coming at the end of the month. I handled the Olympus OM-D and it just never felt right to me. I don’t know what it was, but something about the look of the Fuji cameras compelled me to ask the guy at the store to let me have a look. I never purchased straight away, but just handling them made a great enough impression – along with everything I read – to push me to go this route. I just should have gotten the X-Pro1 from the get-go.

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