May 262014
 

NY with Fuji X Pro1

By Pieter Vermeulen

Hi Steve,

Long time reader from The Netherlands here, and I wanted to share some pictures.

After years of shooting with my Canon 5D and other big camera’s I bought a Leica M8.2 a little over a year ago along with two nice Elmarit lenses. In the end, it wasn’t for me. I loved shooting with and getting that Leica feeling, but the ISO performances were so bad that I could not justify it. Thought of buying a M9 instead, but even for the extra money I could not just do it. I also bought the Fuji X100S when it came out and loved it. I did sell it after 2 months because the fixed focal length wasn’t for me. So I sold everything and bought the Fuji X Pro 1 with the 18mm 2.0 and the 35mm 1.4. Fell in love with it. Wasn’t the Leica M but it was what I was looking for.

So when I went to New York for the first time in my life (actually flying for the first time in my life after being scared of flying my entire life) I brought the X Pro. One day… I will go back to Leica… but for now… the Fuji helped in capturing the people of New York. Just wanted to share!

Greetings
Pieter Vermeulen

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Mar 082014
 

User report: My Fuji X-Pro 1

By Liandro Siringoringo

Dear Steve,

First of all, thank you very much for this opportunity Steve, much appreciate, and let’s cut to the chase :D

My name is Liandro and I’m from Indonesia. It’s been a year now, my journey with the X-Pro1, my very first camera and the one that I decided to start to learn with and I must say, it’s a rough, long and windy road. Oh and I bought this camera in Melbourne with a whopping $300 discount by that time so lot of my photos will be around Melbourne.

I started out with loving it (since it’s my first camera) and the hating it because all the flaws. Luckily though, several weeks after that the firmware update came and voila, the focusing got better a notch and it’s enjoyable in some way but still..with the hate feelings lurking just right around the corner.

“In the Afternoon, Melbourne”

In The Afternoon

I shot the photo above and many other photos mainly using spot metering. This one with a voigtlander 15mm f/4.5 @f/8 if I’m not mistaken. The spot metering(which later I change to average) sometimes confuses me as a beginner because it gives me a blown out highlights or just a very dark shadows area and it’s really a learning curve for me.

What made me chose the Fuji is because the layout and handling is so direct. You can see the aperture, shutter speed, exp comp straight away without have to guess which dial control which. And it’s small, even though it’s not as small as other MFT camera, but still.

Without the mirror it really does give us a way to try old lenses which has its own magic.

“Chef’s prep time @GAZI Restaurant, Melbourne”

Chefs Prep Time GAZI Restaurant Melbourne

I took the shot above with an old Fujinon EBC 50mm f/1.4 @f/2 and even though without the focus peaking, I can focus manually just fine and manage to get the chef’s eyes sharp. The EVF really helps and I really love how Fuji came up up with a solution, a Hybrid viewfinder. IMHO, it’s brilliant.

Here are some other shot of the chefs..

“Simon Moss – Owner and Head Chef of Sapore at St. Kilda”

Simon Moss Owner of Sapore

 “Simon Moss trusty right hand, Chef Dario”

Trusty Right Hand Chef Dario

One thing also, I’m not to knowledgeable in data processing and technical stuff about camera but the RAW files from Fuji is pretty cool. The range that you can play with (if you got the exposure right or slightly right) is very broad. You can save some blown highlight at some point like I did on the image below

 “Playing with fire, Literally”

Playing with fire literally

I got the exposure wrong on the image above but I can save it somehow even though it’s not perfect but it’ll do for me.

Later on I change my metering to average and follow some of the setting for the RAW files such as, color -2, highlight -2, shadow -2, from a discussion with my friend’s experience and from the Fuji forum. It really helps us with the handling of the RAW files.

Oh, The average metering really helps me to get a good exposure for my architectural photos and others but then again this is not scientific, it’s just my personal experience.

“HQ, Bandung, Indonesia”

HQ_Bandung-Indonesia

“Inception”

Inception

 “To The Other Side”

To The Other Side

Love the weight of it and the size, it makes you just want to go out with it everyday.

“Eternal Beauty” (One of my personal project)

Eternal Beauty

Hmm..Until now it’s still a love-hate relationship with my X-Pro1 and it’s still an on-going learning of photography (which probably never ends) for me. There are a lot of things I would like to suggest to Fuji to change and improve but I think others already covered it up. Well I hope you guys and Steve enjoy my user report. It might not be technical but it’s my experience gradually understanding the system and changing the setting through out my learning curve.

Oh almost forgot, feel free to visit my Flickr account

http://www.flickr.com/photos/liandrosiringoringo/

I am welcome to any critics if that can help me grow to be a better photographer. Along with this goodbye, I want to share the rest of photos I had taken with the X-Pro1

Again, thank you very much Steve for this opportunity, best of luck and stay healthy. God bless

Kind regards,

Liandro N. I. Siringoringo

 

“Grande” Voigt 15mm f/4.5 @8

 Grande

“In Need of Lights” Fujinon EBC 50mm f/1.4 @1.4

In Need of Lights 

“GAME ON!”

 Game On

“Voigtlander 15mm f/4.5″

 Voigtlander 15mm

“White Converse”

 White Converse

“Stacked Rectangles”

Stacked Rectangles 

“Sheets of Paper”

 Sheets of Paper

“Holmesglen Share House, Melbourne”

Holmesglen Share House 

“Every Girl’s Dream”

 Every Girl Dream

“Bold”

 Bold

“Framing”

 Framing

“Quiet Time”

Quiet Time 

“Le French Connection”

Le French Connection

Feb 262014
 

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Varanasi with the Fuji X-Pro 1

By Sebastien Bey-Haut

I just came back from a photo trip in Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh, India) and would like to share a few shots of this incredible city. Varanasi (or Banaras) is one of the holiest cities of the Hindu religion. It’s mostly known for its Ghats on the banks of the Ganga river.

Varanasi is said to be older than history, and frankly speaking it seems true. Going there is like entering another time dimension. It’s the dirtiest but also the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen.

To give you an idea of the local mood the nice guy with the skull is an Aghori Kapalik baba, a member of an Hindu sect known to eat pieces of human bodies found in the Ganga. The “fire shot” has been taken at Manikarnika, the most important “open air cremation” Ghat of India.

You should however not be afraid by these disturbing aspects of the city; these traditions are part of its magic. Going there is actually quite safe, precautions should of course be taken in terms of health (drinking a glass of Ganga water might not be a good idea), but no particular violence is to be feared.

For a photo trip the best would be to hire a local “unofficial” guide (there are a lot of them close to Manikarnika) and ask them to show you the “real” Varanasi (meaning the narrow streets of the old city and the less touristic places). The official guides will be reluctant to take you out of the main touristic route.

One last advice: let your Berluti at home and bring shoes you are comfortable to make (very) dirty, the streets are full of animal and human fluids and materials of any sorts…

In terms of gear I used exclusively my X-Pro1 and Zeiss Touit 32mm (because I stupidly forgot my 18mm home). I used it in the simplest way: OVF, center focusing, no picture preview on the OVF. A good trick is to use the OVF on the “wide angle”: With the 50mm equivalent it allows seeing a lot of what is outside of the frame and thus taking your shot at the right moment.

The only Fuji quirk is the poor raw handling in lightroom, is thus used only neutral jpegs (everything like color, noise, sharpness at middle or low) and then post processed them with the Nik Collection and Lightroom.

The most difficult thing has been to select only a few shots for Steve, many more (including baba portraits, night shots, and shots of the small villages on the other side of the Ganga) are available on my 500px page, please take a look at it.

I’m also considering to sell some high quality baryta prints of the best shots, please do not hesitate to send me an email to discuss it further (sebks @ hotmail.com)

Best regards,

Seb

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Feb 202014
 

Shooting with Fuji

By Olaf Sztaba

It is not common in the days of big egos and anonymous message boards that a great photographer and hugely popular blogger stands back and allows other photographers to share their work on his own website. I applaud you for such a generous approach.

This is our first submission to your website, so a few words about our philosophy. We believe that as we have all been taking photographs for over 100 years, we are experienced enough to go beyond portraits and landscapes to take photography into the artistic realm. Capturing the emotions you feel as you look at people and landscapes is another level of photography, as is capturing the essence of a person or landscape.

Having said that, we put a lot of effort into the visual and emotional quality of the photograph; only after that do we strive for technical perfection. Our photo trips usually take us into unknown and forgotten places, some of which may seem obscure and rusty at first sight but somehow they interest us more than what’s new and pretty. I had my first camera at the age of four and ever since my eyes have been searching for the perfect composition, light and subject. My wife Kasia and I are based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

We are currently shooting with the Fuji X-Pro1, Fuji X100S cameras and Fujinon XF lenses, which fit our style of photography well. With the basic gauges at our fingers, we can focus on what’s important: our subject, emotions, visuals and light. We believe that every photographer has special needs and preferences, so I don’t want this post to be about equipment.

After all, a strong, artistically beautiful image, even if it is technically imperfect, will always triumph over a technically perfect but dull image.

Thank you for the opportunity.

Olaf & Kasia Sztaba

www.olafphotoblog.com

www.olafphoto.squarespace.com

 

Image #1: Fuji X100S

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Image #2: Fuji X100

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Image #3: Fuji X-Pro1 & XF 14mm F2.8

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Image #4: Fuji X100S

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Image #5: Fuji X-Pro1 & XF 14mm F2.8

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Image #6: Fuji X-Pro1 & XF 14mm F2.8

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Image #7: Fuji X-Pro1 & XF 14mm F2.8

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Sep 302013
 

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Traveling to the USA with a Fuji X-Pro 1

by Axel Friberg

Dear Steve,

I hoped you enjoyed your stay in Ireland! Dublin is one of my personal favorites.

I am a Swedish photographer based in Uppsala, north of Stockholm. This summer I have been lucky enough to travel for 5 weeks to the US, France and the west coast of Sweden thanks to hospitable friends. I would like to share my pictures with you and your readers. They are all taken with the Fuji X-Pro1 and 35mm f/1.4.

Picture 1. Nantucket Island, USA. Street shooting. Man with yellow phone and matching car

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Picture 2. North Haven, Long Island, USA. Walking up towards an empty plot of land with beautiful trees.

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Picture 3. North Haven, Long Island, USA. On the empty plot of land.

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Picture 4. Tribecca, New York, USA. Street shooting the police who stopped in front of me to yell at a biker.

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Picture 5. Central Park, New York, USA. Street shooting very talented musicians.

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Picture 6. Grand Central Terminal, New York, USA. Shooting the crowd passing by. Notice the woman in white?

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Picture 7. Nordkoster, Sweden. Girls on swings.

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Picture 8. Fayence, France. Street shooting in the village after thunderstorm. Reflections in water, upside-down.

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Picture 9. Fayence, France. Street shooting in the village after thunderstorm.

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Picture 10. Uppsala, Sweden. Shooting an event on a Fraternity/Sorority which houses in a beautiful building from the 17:th century.

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I recently read your thoughts on the new Fujifilm X-A1 and your take on the X-trans sensor, or the lack thereof. After shooting with the X-Pro1 for little over a year, I dare say I have some experience with the sensor. And I agree with you! In fact, I dislike the way my OOC files turn out. It is not uncommon that the pictures look kind of smeared. Especially soft objects, like leaves or skin, despite being in perfect focus. However, I have always found it to work well as a monochrome camera. I am huge B&W fan.

For a long time, I did some “pixel peeping”, or at least kind of; 100% zoom to check that I nailed focus etc. I’m not a rich guy, and when I put over 2’000 USD last year on the camera and lens, knowingly sacrificing AF-speed for IQ, I was kind of expecting greatness. At first, I felt a tad disappointed. Now, a year later, I have stopped the intense pixel peeping and focus on the final image.

What I have learned is that despite the Fuji X-cameras takes a dull OOC picture, one can achieve great results with some post processing. Just like the Leica MM OOC files. Since the camera does a fine job handling mid-high ISO, you can give your images a pretty damn impressive DR in PP, when lifting shadows for example. (However, I would personally set the ISO to a maximum of 3200 in a dark room. It can handle 6400 without a problem in perfect light, but I often shoot in a non-controlled environment.) I really like what you can do with the files in PP! The files can get that deep, rich look; see the picture of the cops? Hugely improved with 15 second PP! The Fuji is not as good as a full frame camera, like the Leica M typ 240, of course, but it gives you good value in terms of IQ! Another problem I used to have with the X-Pro1, which I know you have mentioned on the blog, is that it does not handle well in full sun. With some minor PP, I have been able to get rid of this problem. (I use Lightroom 5).

Since the release of the Olympus OM-D EM-1 however, I have been thinking of switching systems. I might get the mark 2 version in the future. The only thing that would make me want to keep investing in Fuji glass instead of selling would be if Fuji released an IC with in-body IS, like the Olympus OMD, or the Panasonic GX-7, AF-speed even faster than the X100S and an EVF on-pair with the EM-1. I feel that I miss too many shots right now. However, I appreciate the fact that Fuji often try to improve the current line up with firmware updates. When we finally got focus peaking, MF went much faster and easier than before.

Another camera that will probably peak my interest is the upcoming Canon 7D mk ii. I have seen great portraits with Canons APS-C sensor cameras paired with the 85mm f/1.8 (about 135mm equivalent). Furthermore, it’s bound to be a fantastic camera for bird photography. For portability, which is why I got the X-Pro1, I’d switch to the Ricoh GR. I used to prefer 50mm to any other focal length, but lately I have been studying William Klein and fallen in love with the 24-35mm range.

Keep up the good work!

Sep 182013
 

Around the world with the Fuji X-Pro 1 by Nate Robert

Hey Steve!

In December last year, I sent you a bunch of photos from the streets
of Iran
, all taken using the Fuji X-Pro 1 with the 18mm lens. I
thought your readers may like an update, as my journey around the
world with one camera and one lens has now passed the 400 day mark –
I’m still going strong and not slowing down – I’ve done 17 countries
in the last month.

I recently spent some time in an unrecognised breakaway territory deep
in Eastern Europe, known as “Transnistria”. After a brutal war of
independence in the early 90’s, the region is now doing its own thing
– due in large part to the Russian military that maintains a presence
on the ground. It was an incredibly interesting place to visit,
especially on Independence Day – held annually on the 2nd September.

Apart from an extremely Soviet-esque military parade, other highlights
included a parade of available brides, plenty of BBQ, and Vodka
flowing freely. It’s a hard place to explain, and I’m not sure my
photos do anything more than seed further confusion about
Transnistria.

In any case, despite being tempted by full frame in the Leica range, I
have stuck with the Fuji and the 18mm for quite some time now. It’s
something I recommend everyone doing at least once in their
photographic life. As time passes, I get to know the capabilities of
the camera, and the lens, in great detail. I’ve used this combo for
street photography, landscapes, and architectural shots. Of course,
the Fuji does have it’s “quirks”, but let’s face it – all camera’s do.
Is any camera really perfect?

Keep up the great work, and I will check in again next time I have
something interesting to share. Iran, Transistria, who knows where I
will end up next. If any of your readers would like to follow my
indefinite  journey, I think they would find it interesting – one
lens, one camera, one world. I’m blogging as I go.

Keep on doing your thing Steve, we all appreciate it.

Nate Robert

http://www.yomadic.com/transnistria/

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Aug 032013
 

USER REPORT: Shooting Birds With The Fuji X-Pro 1

By Gareth Brough

So there I am, on a small Island off the coast of Pembrokeshire, Wales (UK) surrounded by lots of other photographers with serious kit – we are talking big heavy gear for some ‘proper’ wildlife shooting – and I am lying on the ground with a Fuji X-Pro 1 and the 35mm F1.4 lens. Surely I don’t expect to be able to photograph birds with this tinny little camera/ lens combo? Well, actually I do. There is a bird on the Island called a Puffin, they are rather odd-looking, live in underground burrows and seemingly have no fear of humans, so if you sit and wait, they will come to you.

Taking the Fuji X-Pro 1 on a trip like this may seem like a gamble, after all the autofocus is not exactly cutting edge (more about that later), but the positives outweigh the negatives. I have used and owned cameras for many years – from medium format (Hassleblad / Mamiya 7 / Pentax) to the big Canon and Nikon digital beasts, all had one thing in common, WEIGHT! My last DSLR was the Nikon D700, which I used to carry around with tilt & shift lenses and an 80-200 f2.8 AFS, and I found (as Steve has said many times) that I would leave my kit at home on more occasions that not as I just couldn’t be bothered lugging it arround. So I made the decision about a year ago to get rid of all my gear and switch to a camera that I might actually enjoy using. I looked at all the cameras on offer (I wish the Sony RX1 had been around), nearly bought a Leica M8 but got the jitters due to my experiences focusing the rangefinder on the Mamiya 7, and finally bought the Fuji. I loved their collaboration with Hassleblad on the XPan and thought this camera could just answer most of my needs.

Walking around an Island all day with a heavy backpack = my idea of hell, so a Fuji X-Pro 1 and the LEE Filters RF75 kit snuggled into a Billingham Hadley Pro was just the ticket, and there was room for my Leica binoculars. For general scenic shots the Fuji is perfect, you can take your time to compose – add action to the mix and the Fuji can struggle. The autofocus on this camera does not keep up with anything that is fast moving (like birds) so you have to think of other strategies to get the shot. I spent some time watching what the birds were doing, how they moved, where they stayed still for a brief moment and then, when I was crouched into the right position, I started to fire away. If you are used to the precision of DSLR focusing then the wishy focus on the Fuji may come as a shock, the focus area, to me, is too large, making it easy to miss critical focus on an eye, but again, go slowly and you can get results.

I like the fact that the Fuji is a camera that you need to spend time with, learn how to get the most from it – it can frustrate and please in equal measure, but for me, it is a camera I always have around, and that outweighs any issues. Plus, Fuji does seem to listen to customers and gives us treats in firmware updates (focus peaking coming soon).

It seems you can’t talk about Fuji without mentioning post processing, so for anyone interested, I shoot RAW, process my files through RPP (Mac only) to 16bit Tiffs, and then bring them into Lightroom for final processing. I would love for this to be a one stage process, but I am not happy with what I get out of Lightroom from the RAW files on Fuji at the moment.

I would urge anyone reading to go try something a little different with their kit, do something unexpected and you may be surprised by the results and learn something new about your camera.

All photos : Fuji X-Pro 1, 35mm F1.4 lens, LEE Filters RF75 System with .6 grad filter

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Jul 012013
 

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

May 282013
 

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Fuji X-Pro 1 and the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5

by Jim Gamblin

(From Steve: The brand new redesigned Nokton 1.5 in M mount will be released in 2-4 weeks, check it out)

Hello again! This review or rather my impressions of the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 has been a long time in the making. The reason for this, is that in truth I am not yet done. Thus there will be a second part to this review, in the form of comparisons with two other 50mm lenses.

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First just this lens. I am not going to go into the history of Voigtlander. Just to say that the Voigtlander lenses are made today in Japan at Cosina. The same place many of the Zeiss lenses are made.

The Fujinon 35mm f/1.4 is currently the only Fuji lens that I have. It is optically a wonderful lens and for the most part a joy to use. However I needed something longer in focal length. My original choice was going to be the Fujinon 60mm f/2.4. However after trying it in a store I was put off by the terrible AF. Not only slow, but would not lock on once in roughly 20 tries.

On my Nikon D3 my most used lens is the 85mm AF-D f/1.4. So I thought I would try a 50mm, which would give me a 75mm equivalent AOV, close to the D3 ~ 85mm combo. First I put my Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 AI-S lens to work. But that lens is front heavy and puts the camera out of balance. At this point I had decided that I should investigate getting M mount style lenses in lieu of the larger SLR lenses.

The first M mount lens that I had acquired was the Voigtlander 75mm f/2.5 Color~Heliar and have been very happy with it. Great for portraits with it’s lower contrast. But for two people or in cramped quarters it became a little to long on the X-P 1 (equivalent 112mm). Thus I went back to the idea of a fast 50mm M mount lens.

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With a Leica Summilux ASPH being completely out of the question, I began my research. Which is where I found this review on Steve Huff’s site: http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2010/02/04/voigtlander-nokton-50-1-5-lens-review-by-james-klotz/. Very impressive. Also Sean Reid had many good things about the lens.

Unfortunately this lens has been out of production for a while. (***note a new version of the Nokton f/1.5, is to be released this summer 2013). The current 50mm Nokton is a massive (in size) f/1.1 and has not been as well received. Like many others, I am on a size reduction program, thus this lens did not interest me. Carl Zeiss makes two fifty M mounts. The Sonnar f/1.5 and the Planar f/2. Both small and highly regarded and were both appealing to me. After reading many reviews on all three, I kept going back to the two reviews on the Nokton and decided that was the lens for me. Missed two on ebay as “auctions”, but then found another on ebay as a “Buy Now” from an antique store in Australia. Being a little nervous about buying a photographic lens from an antique dealer, I finally sucked it up and took a chance. Despite my early misgivings, it would appear that I was lucky and got a good copy. Apparently news on the internet is that Cosina Voigtlander lenses suffer from quality control and not all lenses are created equal.

This version like my Color~Heliar is the older LTM screw mount. So an adapter is needed first to convert it to the M mount. These cost about €50. It is a simple ring that just screws on to the lens mount and barely makes any difference in size, weight or appearance. Mine is made by Voigtlander and is specially made for the 50 and 75mm lenses.

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The lens is similar in look and construction to the Color~Heliar 75mm. And it just looks right on the X-Pro 1. All metal with DOF markings (though these marking more apply to a 35mm size frame). It has a nice heft to it without being too heavy about 250 grams roughly half a pound. Front thread is 52mm. Half stop clicks after f/2. The clicks don’t feel really precise, but definitely not sloppy either. Close focus is a bit much at .90 meter. The focus ring has a nice feel to it and goes from close to infinity in half a turn. I am a fan of the knurled focus ring. Another item I am a fan of is the lens cap. It has a velvety lining and slips over the lens shade and sits there very snug. Speaking of the lens shade, one must remove it to put on or take off a filter. Not a big hassle, but something worth noting.

Over all I am quite pleased with this lens, especially considering the cost. In the second part of this review will be comparisons with two other fifties, nothing exotic just close in price range. So until then I will skip the inevitable bokeh speak.

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When using the Nokton with the X-Pro 1, it of course must be focused in EVF mode. Having mostly used SLR’s for the better part of my career, I am not used to zone focusing. So in using this lens with the XP1, it is a slower more deliberate action. Focus peaking would of course help tremendously and like many I keep hoping to see it appear on whatever upcoming firmware. Also irritating is that Fuji files do not have the aperture setting in the EXIF of third-party lenses. However I have not experienced any problems in focusing and much of the time I do not need to use the magnifier. Have not missed focus on that many shots, except of course trying to capture fast action.

As noted earlier close focus is a distant .90 meter, which is a little disappointing. However back when Nikon use to be more considerate to their customers, they made a large selection of their lenses with a 52mm front thread and as it so happens the Nokton also has a 52mm front thread. Low and behold I found an unused set of Vivitar close-up filters tucked away in an old filter case of mine. I remember buying these before I got the 55mm f/3.5 macro lens. Using them will give the photographer a limited focus range. i.e. a #1 ~ 50cm to 110cm (19.5 to 43 inches), a #2 ~ 40cm to 60cm (16 to 23.5 inches) and a #4 ~ 24cm to 36cm (9.5 to 14 inches). Here are a couple of examples. Dark day today even at less than a meter form a large window, so I had to use ISO 2500 at f/5.6.

The #4 from 28cm (11 inches)

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The #2 from 52cm (20.5 inches)

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The #1 from 65 cm ( 25.6 inches)

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The Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/3.5 mounted on the Fuji X-Pro1 

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For comparison the Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/3.5. This lens would be better for more serious macro work and also has the benefit of full range. But then again the Nikkor cannot give you f/1.5.

The #2 at f/1.5

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For the time being I plan to keep this lens. If however the newly announced Fujinon 56mm is at least as sharp and has AF as fast as the Fuji 35mm, then maybe the Nokton will be replaced. We shall wait and see. One thing I know for certain is, the more I use the XP1 the more I love it, regardless of what lens.

The different moods created by this lens. Thank you for stopping by.

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Jan 292013
 

The Metabones Speed Booster adapter: A COLUMBUS EGG by Daniele Cametti Aspri

Daniele Cametti Aspri – Website is HERE, Flickr is HERE

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Some days ago, reading a blog on the net my attention was captured by an advertisement on a new Metabones adapter for Fuji Film/Leica R: the Speed Booster.

I’m an happy Fuji film Xpro 1 user and I love experimenting with all my cameras with hybrid adaper Vs everything. I also I’ve used a Linhof Master teknica with a Canon 5dMKII and a sliding graflok adapter od the same adapter with a 1960 Speedgraphic press camera powered by a 1940 Kodak Aereo Ektar, but this is another story.

So I love shooting with this little piece of jewelry (the XPro 1) because it is little and practical like a Leica and has a great sensor. But I don’t love the lens and on the other hand is an APS-C size and I love full frame.

I’m always searching for a unique mood so I tried different options. Leica M lens are wonderful but very expensive, Leica R are more affordable and I have a little collection of them that I use with my Canon Mark III. So what? The sensor size. I’m always wondering when Fuji will make a full size version of the X1 Pro. You could tell me why don’t you buy an M9 or wait for an M (type 240). Yes of course, but. The price of combination body/lens is to high and I love shooting at night. So the M9 is not an option.

Telling the truth I ‘m waiting to see the new M. Leica R lens, High ISO, Video and is a Leica. Ohhh what a dream!!!

But last night when I saw the Metabones Speed Booster ad everything was so clear. It is a Columbus egg!

If you cannot have a full sensor size why don’t you reduce the image circle of a full frame lens to an aps c size sensor? The effects are terrific!!! So take the best sensor and the best (affordable) lens togheter this way and you have a definitive piece of hardware. And more… You have one more stop of light too and you have reduced any aberration the lens eventually had. Yes, you read well.

I don’t want to be more technical. I just show you the results of a shooting on Friday night with some musicians friends of mine. Starring a Fuji Film XPro 1, a Metabones Speed Booster, 1 leica R Elmarit 19 /2.8, 1 Summicron 35/2, 1 Summicron 50/2 and 1 Summicron 90/2

Enjoy pictures, they spoke themselves

P.S. By the way, on Sunday I went to the seaside with my dog Dolly my Fuji Film X1 Pro, a Leica R Elmarit 19/f2.8, a Leica R Summicron 35/2 and the Metabones Speed Booster. Ops, there was my girlfriend too.These are the last 4 images.

 

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Apr 272012
 

More Fun Comparisons – Fuji X-Pro 1 vs Olympus OM-D vs Sony NEX-7 – JPEG

NOTE - For those who decide to NOT read the text in this article and then send me messages about how I know nothing or I know nothing about different focal lengths and effects on the output…then I suggest you read this article instead of just looking at the images. This was NOT a test to show each camera with a same lens, as that would be impossible as you can not shoot the same lenses on each camera. This was not and is not a scientific test AT ALL. In fact, I was showing the differences in focal lengths and sensor sizes and the effects they have on the images, and this was just to show what you would get with each of these combos in the same situations. Those who are new here do not realize that this is how I have been doing things for 3 years, so I forgive you :) – But please read before making nonsense comments and personal attacks as those will be moderated. Thank you!

I know you guys LOVE these crazy comparisons..and some of you get all up in a roar over them but that doesn’t mean I am not going to post more! Today I was out and about with the OM-D, X-Pro 1 and NEX-7. Now, I could not use the same lenses on all of these so I used what I had on hand.

These comparisons are not really meant to show anything but how each camera renders JPEGS as well as the differences between the sensor sizes (Micro 4/3 and APS-C). With the OM-D you get the most Depth Of Field due to the sensor size being the smallest of the three. This can be a blessing to some, and a curse to those who love the creamy dreamy look that a fast lens and big sensor gives to you. It can be a blessing because cameras with smaller sensors focus faster and seem to be more accurate with the AF as well. You also usually get sharper images as everything is in focus (well, when using wide lenses especially).

I have been shooting all of these cameras quite a bit lately trying to see which one I really truly like the best. They all have their pros and cons of course, but all are capable of producing lovely images. Olympus has their own unique color rendering as does Fuji and Sony. Which do you prefer?

The images below were all shot as JPEG..I did NOT shoot RAW because there is still no Adobe RAW support for the Fuji or Olympus, so keep in mind what you see below is JPEG output. Untouched, unedited. Just resized. Each camera was set to Aperture Priority and as always, for these fun JPEG comparisons I let the camera choose exposure. ISO was set to the base ISO on each camera. This is NOT an ISO test or a scientific test. It’s to show how each camera, with said lens, will output a JPEG. It shows DOF differences, color differences and also shows how sharp these lenses are.

I plan on doing RAW comparisons soon as well, so there will be a part 2. I will also have comparisons in my OM-D review, which will be up fairly soon I hope.

Enjoy this fun JPEG comparison!

1st the OM-D E-M5 and the 12mm f.2 at f/5.6 – click image for larger- This came closest to the real color during the “Golden Hour”

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Now the Fuji X-Pro 1 with the 35 at f/5.6 – the color signature is much different from the Olympus and has less DOF due  to sensor size and focal length being much longer

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Now the Sony with the Zeiss 24 at f/5.6 – Focal Equivalent of this one is 35mm

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Now the OM-D at f/2.8 – pretty sharp JPEG output. Nice rich colors as well

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Now the Fuji with the 25 at 2.8

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and the Sony with the Zeiss at 2.8

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OM-D at f/4 with the 12mm

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and the Fuji at f/4 with the 35

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Another one with the Fuji and OM-D. The Sony shot was corrupted on my SD card for this one so could not include it.

The OM-D with the 12 at f/2.8 – straight from camera JPEG – This is a 24mm equivalent so you will get much deeper DOF than the Fuji with the 35mm

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and the Fuji at 2.8 with the 35mm – straight form camera JPEG

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I saw this scene in the harsh sun and figured it may make a good shot for Dynamic Range. Again, my Sony shot was corrupted (due to an OLD worn out SD card that I need to replace) 

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So take this as nothing more than JPEGS shot with each camera and their respective lenses. Out of the three, the most joyful and fun to shoot was the Olympus. I also enjoyed the Fuji as the AF was fine in this bright light so I had no problems with it. The Sony was also fast and easy to shoot. Any of these mirrorless cameras can give you great results, and when you learn the camera you can do just about anything with them. I am looking forward to taking them on vacation with me next week. I will also bring one of them with me to Berlin for the Leica event on May 10th (in addition to my Leica). Not sure which one yet :)

As always, thanks for reading. If anyone would like to see a specific test or comparison with these three cameras just let me know! I will do my best to oblige.

Steve

Apr 232012
 

OM-D E-M5 greater Dynamic Range than the X-Pro 1? Plus 1st quick snaps…

You guys know I do not do “technical” tests with charts but some enjoy this scientific look into cameras and sensors. I have been shooting with the OM-D E-M5 for a few days now and absolutely love it. Without a doubt it is my top mirrorless choice right now. Above the Fuji, Sony and others. Why is this? Well, not only for its design, build, size, color, sharpness, high ISO performance and speed and responsiveness but also due to the lenses available. It also doesn’t hurt that tech radar.com just tested it and showed that using RAW, it outclasses the NEX-7 and Fuji X-Pro in Dynamic Range. IN fact, they say it measures better than any compact to date.

This test is from techrader.com and their OM-D review

Yes, Micro 4/3 has matured. I have been seeing great results in every area just shooting JPEG with the E-M5 and even the video is spectacular. So with the E-M5 I have been able to shoot JPEG in good light, low light, high ISO, bright light and low ISO and get superb results, great detail and sharpness and that Olympus color signature. Love it.

My early thoughts? It is fast, accurate, highly capable, and doesn’t really give up much of anything to the NEX or Fuji besides if you shoot at super high ISO’s like 6400 or 12,800 (then the Fuji beats it no question). Shallow DOF is attainable with the 45 1.8 and the soon to come 75 1.8 should be even better but you will still get a more creamy shallow look from cameras with larger sensors. So far the low light performance has exceeded my expectations as has the 5 Axis IS (which is sooo good for video..and no more “jello” effect). I would use this in pro situations due to the speed, accuracy, IQ and ISO performance. DR seems great as well, and is confirmed by the techradar report. More to come.

My review will be here soon, but do take a look at the results from tech radar.com   on this little jewel of a camera. Below are just a few fun snaps that I took this weekend while around town, nothing special but it does show that this camera is a big step up from previous PEN cameras in regards to low light and IQ. Clicking an image will make it larger and the EXIF is embedded in each photo. Again, this is NOT my review – I will be posting that soon-ish and it will be very detailed. I have a couple of trips planned where I will be taking the E-M5 with  me so I plan on giving it a real workout.

remember to click the images for larger view!

12mm at f/2 – OOC JPEG

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12mm at f.2 – ISO 1600 – OOC JPEG – sharp, detailed and noise is NOT offensive at all

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45 1.8 at 1.8 – ISO 400 – OOC JPEG

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45 1.8 at 1.8 – ISO 1000

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45 1.8 at ISO 1600 – OOC JPEG

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My beautiful fiancé with the 12 at f/2 – ISO 1600 – Was walking with low shutter speed so there is motion blur, this is not mis-focus (which has yet to happen with this camera)

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12mm f/2 – iso 200 – the color and detail of OOC JPEGS is great. Can’t wait for RAW support from Adobe.

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and something that was not attainable before…usable ISO 6400 – The X-Pro 1 does even better at 6400 but the OM-D is not too far behind. 

Remember, these were just quick snaps and all are JPEGS from the camera. I have yet to prices any RAW files.

Apr 042012
 

The Fuji X-Pro 1 Review

by Steve Huff

Well here we are and I have now had the Fuji X-Pro 1 in my hands for a little while and I am ready to let you all know how I feel about it! First off, let me say that this is the camera I have been waiting for with the kind of excitement that only comes around once a year or so, much like a 7 year old on Christmas morning. When Fed Ex came and the driver resembled Santa Clause I knew there was something special in that big brown box.

The last time I was this excited about a camera release was with last years Fuji X100, which I adored but at the same time, found frustrating on many occasions. You can read my X100 review HERE and see how much I loved that camera. I no longer have an X100 but still have a soft spot for it. On several occasions I even had the $200 overpriced black edition in my shopping cart because even though it is NOT a Leica (In case you did not know, I love my Leica) I felt a connection to it. The image quality, the feel, the small size and the hybrid EVF/OVF…it all brought me back to the basics of photography even though it was a bit more technical than a basic Leica M. What I mean by that is that it did not have the Zen like simplicity of an M.

But we can not deny the fact that the little X100 was the big camera hit of last year and when it arrived it was sold out for months. Prices on Amazon were jacked up and people were paying $1600 for the standard X100 kit and yes, even at that price they would sell out within a day or so. One of the reasons for this was that Fuji did a super job with the marketing and hype for that camera and with the huge success of the X100 they decided to keep the X train rolling full steam ahead. Even though MANY of the X100 users were having the “sticky aperture blade” issues with the cameras, Fuji started to work on a new higher end version. Yes, Fuji started working on the “top secret” X-Pro 1 and the internet buzz was insane for months about it.

ISO 1000 – Fuji X-Pro 1

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Leica Is In Trouble? Well, not really…

I sat there and thought “Uh Oh” – Leica is in trouble. There it was…Fuji was set to release a PRO version of the X100 with interchangeable FAST lenses at 1/4 the price of a 3 year old M9. They even designed it like a black Leica M with that awesome retro look and feel. If Fuji could pull off a nice solid body, fast AF and rock solid reliability…then yes, I feared Leica would lose some sales to Fuji. Why wouldn’t they? There are so many people that would LOVE a Leica M9 but refuse to pay the $7000 body cost and even more for lenses. Some refuse to pay that price and some simply can’t. But with a camera like the X-Pro 1 at 1/4 the cost, it is now possible to get a Leica look-a-like and fast primes that give superb image quality. Fuji knew this so they targeted this camera system at those people.

In my honest opinion they are not trying to beat the M9 as the X-Pro 1 simply does not, but many of us who can not buy an M9 WILL think about the X-Pro and a few M9 users will buy one as well to play with. For Fuji it seems like a win/win.

So now that I have been shooting with this “X-Pro 1″ for a while, what do I think? Well, read on to find out my thoughts as I share my real world results about the build and feel, use, and image quality of the camera. I will say right now the main competitor to this camera is not the Leica M9 but rather the Sony NEX-7 and even the new Olympus OM-D. I will tell you all up front RIGHT NOW that this is not an M9 nor is it even remotely similar in operation. It feels nothing like an M9, shoots nothing like an M9 and the quality in not equal to an M9. The only area where this beats an M9 is in high ISO, and in this area it slaughters the M, kicks it while it’s down and stomps it before it kicks it across the street. In other areas like build, use, feel, manual focus, simplicity and image quality, the Leica wins. Period.

There, I said it. I am sure Fuji fans will call me a Leica fanboy but the fact is that there is still nothing like shooting an M. Unless you shot one, owned one and used one with great Leica glass you wouldn’t understand. Then again, do I feel the M9 is worth $7k? No, not in 2012. Do I feel the Fuji X-Pro 1 is worth $1699? No. I feel the X-Pro 1 should have come in at $1399 for the body only because as it is, this camera will cost you $3300 with all three lenses. Add the grip and extra battery and you are at about $3500. That’s a lot of cash for just about anyone.

Then again, if image quality is your #1 priority, then the X-Pro 1 may just be worth the $1699 body only cost as the IQ is SUPERB for a crop sensor APS-C camera. Probably some of the best IQ I have seen from any mirrorless to date. Due to lack of AA filter, the images that come from this sensor pop with detail and sharpness. Add to that the Fuji colors and you have a fantastic camera for image quality. Again, it is much like the X100 but you gain the advantage of the faster and different focal length lenses.

The 35 1.4 at ISO 1250 at night

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A Video Overview of the Fuji X-Pro 1

In case some of you missed it, below is my video showing the X-Pro 1 body, lenses, and the menu system of the camera. It is a long video but if you want to see everything about it, take a look below.

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The Fuji X-Pro 1 – What is so “Pro” about it?

The Fuji X-Pro 1 is a step up from the X100 in a few ways but in reality, the image quality is VERY similar and the usability is about exactly the same. I have shot both cameras in real world use and have to say that the cameras feel the same when shooting. What I mean by that is, both are on the slower side when compared to what is out there today in this class of camera (NEX, Micro 4/3). The reason this camera is more advanced and desirable than the X100 is that you can not only use the new Fuji X lenses like the 18 f/2, the 35 1.4 and the 60 2.4 macro but you can also shoot Leica glass with an adapter. So this camera is like an X100 on steroids as it is bigger, badder, and yes, much more versatile. It is also much more expensive and has  the same size sensor and the same overall IQ traits.

The X-Pro has a 16 MegaPixel sensor, a 3″ LCD, the same Hybrid Viewfinder as the X100, Dust Shaker sensor cleaning and HD video capability. So what you get over the smaller and cheaper X100 is IC lens capability, a higher MegaPixel sensor, a slightly larger LCD display (2.8″ vs 3″) and higher ISO capability (12,800 max on the X100 and 25,600 for the X-Pro). 

After shooting with the X-Pro 1 for a while it felt JUST LIKE shooting an X100 but with different focal lengths. I have to say that I have found some quirks with it that I was disappointed with but at the same  time, much like the X100, the image quality that comes out of this camera is amazing. The colors and the look and the feel are all very “Fuji”. Yes, Fuji has their own look which is a bit on the brighter side, very poppy colors, and very sharp (with the 35 1.4 and 60 macro). I found the camera tended to overexpose when shooting in Aperture priority mode so I ended up using some Exposure Compensation to dial it down.

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The signature Fuji “Velvia” colors – Both shots below were taken with the 60 Macro at 2.4

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As with the X100, this review is all about the Photos and the Usability, so let’s get to it!

This beautiful X-Pro 1 is a camera I have been waiting for, drooling over and looking forward to with HIGH expectations. I mean, Fuji had the experience from the X100 so surely they would make this one as a statement piece. The Focus would be fast, the build would be solid, the lenses would be superb and sharp with creamy bokeh and the camera would not hang up, freeze or hunt for focus…right?

Well, that is what I had HOPED FOR and on some of those the camera delivered and in other ways it did not. I will now go over the usual suspects. The AF speed, HIGH ISO, Build and Feel, etc.

BUILD AND FEEL

The X-Pro 1 is MUCH lighter than many of you think it is. When you pick it up the 1st thing you think is “Wow, that is much lighter than I thought it was going to be”. In fact, my 1st impression was “man, this feels cheap”. BUT I remember the X100 was also lightweight, as is the Leica X1 (even more so) and even the new X2. So you really can not judge a camera on it’s weight though I must admit,  a camera that feels like a solid slab does give you a feeling of confidence.

When you pick up a Leica M9 you think “Wow, this feels NICE”. When you pick up a Sony NEX-7 you think “This feels about right”. When you pick up an Olympus E-P3 or upcoming OM-D you think “Wow, this is heftier than I thought”. So we have super light cameras that perform just as well as the heavy ones. Weight is not really tied together with IQ.

With that said, the X-Pro 1 is lightweight but at the same time doesn’t wear out your hand or wrist. I shot it for hours one night and had no issues. The body and lenses are very light weight. In fact, one thing I was disappointed in was the build of the 18mm f/2 lens. It is so light weight it feels like it is made of all plastic. I wish Fuji would have made the lenses a little but more substantial. At $600 a pop, it seems they should be a bit more solid.

So the body is light, the lenses are light…but how do they FEEL when you are using the camera? The good news is that when shooting in real life situations the camera feels great in the hand, ESPECIALLY with the added grip. The grip that Fuji sells is Leica M9 like and at $100 or so it makes the camera feel even better when holding it. If you buy an X-pro 1, I highly recommend the grip. With the grip added I had zero issues with the feel of this camera.

The X-Pro 1 at ISO 400 – Low light, movement, she saw the camera and gave a quick smile – this was snapped just before that smile though

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Careful with your thumb!

While shooting in Las Vegas for my Vegas weekend get together I realized my thumb had been moving the Exposure Compensation button so many of my shots were underexposed a bit. Could have been my fault for not paying attention but still, it happened. The buttons on the back of the camera are a HUGE improvement over the X100. They are bigger and easier to use. I never had an issue with pressing the wrong buttons so I appreciate what Fuji did here.

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The dancing “Hello Kitty” – X-Pro 1 and 35 1.4 wide open at IDO 400

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The Auto Focus Speed – The “X-Slow 1″?

So while in Vegas testing the camera some of the guys I was with were talking about the speed of the camera and how slow it was with focus. One guy nicknamed it “The X-Slow 1″ and we all laughed. The fact is that the auto focus of this camera is on the slower side. When in low light it can be VERY frustrating. I had MANY misses, many hunting moments and a few hits. I missed MANY shots due to the slow focus in evening light around 6-7PM when using the 35 1.4. The 18mm f/2 is faster but you do not always want to shoot with a 24mm equivilant lens.

So bottom line? The X-Pro 1 AF speed is decent in good light, fast in full sun, and slow/hunting in lower light. To me, it felt just like shooting with an X100. It may be a tad faster but if so it is not by much. UPDATE: Turn OFF Power Save mode for faster AF.  When I did this, it was not as slow. Also, I am not saying this camera has the slowest AF ever, just that it is slow when compared to current cameras that are out now. 

I was disappointed in the fact that Fuji could not get the AF speed to be as fast as cameras like the Olympus E-P3 or even the super fast Nikon V1.  Not sure why this is but if I were the head honcho at Fuji I would sit down and test this product and say “NOT GOOD ENOUGH”! Don’t get me wrong, in good sunlight the focusing is pretty good. It’s quick. It is not lightning fast but it is more than acceptable. BUT, when the lights start getting low, and I am talking evening light or indoor light the AF hunts and sometimes misses. To be fair, the NEX-7 has also missed quite a bit for me in low light as well.

Still, why is it that Fuji can nail everything else – The design, the hype, the packaging (which is GORGEOUS, see my video above) and the whole concept but when it comes to AF it is the one thing that makes the camera feel sluggish. With the little Olympus E-P3 I had no problem raising the camera and firing away with AF, and it never missed. The high ISO suffered in low light though, so I guess it is a trade off. All I know is I look forward to the day when Fuji releases and X-Pro 3 or 4 with super fast AF :)

Spotted this kid in his stroller chilling out and his brother laughing. I quickly knelt down a bit and tried to AF and it missed the 1st two attempts. I did get this shot on the 3rd try, which was the best anyway due to the reaction on the face of the brother. He made that face because he knew I was taking the shot as I was down there for so long :) This was shot with the 18 at f/2.

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High ISO Performance and Black & White

WOWZERS! This is a high ISO street shooters dream. Yes, I said STREET SHOOTERS DREAM. How so Steve? If the AF is slow in low light, how am I supposed to capture those quick moments?

Easy! Slap this baby in to manual focus and set your distance using the distance scale (zone focus) and you will be good to go. THIS IS a great street camera IF you set to manual focus and use ZONE focusing! For example…let’s say you are walking down the street at night, and you are looking for moments to capture. You can set the camera to manual focus using the handy switch on the front, set your distance to anywhere between 6-10 feet and when you see something just lift and shoot, or shoot from the hip. I had no issues shooting at ISO 1600-6400, and if shooting black and white, ISO 6400 is NOT a problem. I also tried shooting the street with AF and it was a no go. I always missed the shots as the AF hunted way too much. So if you want to shoot this on the street effectively, use zone focusing.

Also, just an FYI, I could Manual Focus my Leica M faster than I can Auto Focus the X-Pro 1 in lower light street shooting. 

Below are some higher ISO examples when shooting in Black and White. Noise is not a problem. At all.

The next three images are all ISO 6400, JPEG – you can click them for a larger version

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High ISO Color – The real test of high ISO

When shooting high ISO color the X-Pro also does a great job, again, keeping in mind that the AF is slow and hunts WHEN shooting LOW LIGHT images. With that, I found the X-Pro 1 to beat just about any mirrorless right now when it comes to high ISO with the Sony NEX-5n and Pentax K-01 hot on its heels. Still, who shoots over ISO 1600 anyway? If I owned the X-Pro I guess I would do so in Black and White after seeing my results but how about with color? Not bad! Well, really…some of the best high ISO around these days of ANY Mirrorless camera. I could use 3200 in color no problem. Click any image for larger version.

ISO 3200 – one lamp in the room – shot in Vegas in the confessional room of the “Real World Suite”  during the Vegas weekend. 35 1.4 – at 1.4

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ISO 640 – 35 1.4 at 1.4

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ISO 1000 – 35 1.4 at 1.4

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ISO 2000 with the 18mm at f/2

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ISO 1600 indoors – after three tries (to nail focus)

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and below, ISO 1250

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Quirks of the X-Pro 1 – Grrrrrr

Starting up slowwwwwwww if you use bridge and photoshop…

As with the X100, there are quirks with the X-Pro 1 and I hope that Fuji will release new Firmware as they did with the X100 to make the shooting experience better and better. One problem I had with the X100 that 90% of shooters DID NOT is the slow startup issue. My X100 and X-Pro 1 takes about 20-30 seconds to start up. If you buy one, yours probably will not so why does mine? Well, it seems this camera has the same bug that the X100 has/had.

When I shoot for my reviews I do NOT use Lightroom or Aperture. I only use those programs for my personal images so I can catalog and store them. My review images do NOT get saved as they are review images and are forever documented and placed on this website. I do not need to save the tens of thousands of RAW image files from my review samples so I go old school. I use Adobe Bridge and Photoshop with Adobe Camera Raw. THIS is a problem when shooting with an X100 or an X-Pro 1, at least when using my mac (all I use).

The problem is this: If I shoot 100 images on the X camera and then put this SD card into my iMac or Macbook Pro and grab images off of them by browsing the card with Adobe Bridge it somehow creates an issue. If I take this card and put it back in the camera, I have to wait 20-30 seconds for it to start up. The camera turns on but the display is frozen and nothing can be done until it fully boots up. When it does, I have to format immediately or else this will happen every time the camera wakes up or powers on. I have never ever experienced this with ANY other camera and this was one of the reasons I ended up getting frustrated with the X100. Sadly, the X-Pro 1 does the same thing.

Sure, I can just use Lightroom, which obviously doest have this effect on the SD card but the problem should not be there to begin with. 98% of you will never see this issue.

Random freeze ups..

Another quirk I found was that the camera froze up on me twice while shooting in Vegas. I had to remove the battery twice to get the camera to power up. Not sure what this was about but it happened twice, which was irritating. To remain fair and balanced, my $7000 Leica has done this on several occasions over the years so it is not just a Fuji problem.

Overexposure…

I found that this camera tends to overexpose. If I shoot one image with the X-Pro and the 35 1.4 and one with the Sony NEX-7 I find the Sony UNDEREXPOSES a tad and the Fuji OVEREXPOSES. You may have seen many overly bright Fuji samples on the internet over the past few weeks. This is because many of us early X-Pro 1 users are shooting JPEGS because RAW support is not here yet. In standard JPEG mode, shooting with standard evaluative metering, the Fuji errs on the side of OVEREXPOSURE. I dialed in some negative exposure compensation to help combat this. The cool thing is that it is easy to fix with the direct EC dial on the top. Also, shooting RAW will help with this as well.

So yes, the X-Pro 1 has quirks. It is not a fast as lightning pick up and shoot effortlessly type of camera. It is a thinking mans camera that excels at one thing. Image Quality.

As with all of the images in this review, this is an OOC JPEG. Velvia mode rocks and is one reason I love these Fuji’s so much in regards to IQ. Shot out of my windshield on my way back to Phoenix from Las Vegas with the 35 1.4 at f/5.6. Click image for larger view.

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Abstract Color with the 35 1.4

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The X-Pro 1 Launch Lenses – Which one(s) to get?

The Fuji X-Pro 1 shipped with THREE FAST PRIMES. YES, FAST PRIMES! No Zooms. Fuji listened to the enthusiasts with this one. Unlike Sony who seems to concentrate on slow Zooms for the most part Fuji came right out of the gate with three lenses that all LOOKED great on paper. But how are they in real use? Which one is THE lens to get?

1. The Fuji 60 f/2.4 Xf Macro Lens – Buy/Order here at B&H Photo.

Fuji shipped me the camera and ALL three lenses to evaluate but a few days after they did so I received an e-mail saying I had to send the 60mm Macro back to them as it was a pre-production copy. Now, I admit I did try out the 60 and found it to have amazing image quality. Razor sharp and great color. BUT, it did miss focus MANY times. I knew I would focus on one center point and it just wouldn’t or couldn’t do it. So maybe this is why Fuji have taken this lens back. It also seems it will not be shipping for 3-4 weeks while the other two ARE shipping so I think Fuji found an issue with the 60. But IQ wise, when I did get it to lock focus, it was superb.

I posted a couple of shots near the top of this review with the 60 but here is one more. I believe I used manual focus for this one and focused on the teeny leaf. Click image for larger view. This was wide open at 2.4 and as with all images here, a JPEG. Keep in mind that Fuji told me this was a pre-production copy so do not judge this lens by what I said here (AF speed and accuracy I am sure will be much better in the final version)

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2. The 18mm f/2  – Buy here at B&H Photo

The 18mm is so small and so light that it almost feels hollow. At $599 it is priced a little on the steep side I feel, but it IS a wide angle 27mm equivalent and f/2, so that is a GOOD thing. THIS is the fastest focusing AF lens of the bunch and if you are just planning on shooting this lens then the AF worries are not a big deal. I found it focused fast, locked on and gave good results. This lens is not the last word in “wow factor”  but if I were to buy an X-Pro 1 system I would probably pick this lens up so I could have a wide angle that didn’t cost me nearly $4k (Leica).

I did not do any scientific tests but I found no issues with this lens. Click on the images below to see them larger and in much better quality.

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3. The 35 1.4 XF Lens – Buy this lens at B&H Photo HERE

Ahhh! This, yes THIS is THE lens to get with the X-Pro system. A 35mm 1.4 lens at $599 that performs GREAT. At 1.4 the rendering is very very nice. Creamy, great look and color and a fast aperture that will get you the most from the camera in low light. The ONLY issue with this lens is the AF speed can be hit or miss depending on the light available. If you are in lower light then it is slow going. Do not expect to lift and fire away all fast and quick. If you are in full sun, then yes, but low light, no. With that said, the X-Pro 1 and ALL lenses are much quicker to AF than the old Leica X1, which is VERY VERY slow with AF. There are still people who ADORE the X1 so to some, AF speed is not that big of a deal.

Even with the slower speed, if you do buy the X-Pro 1 then this is a must own lens as you will get the best IQ from it.

I did notice this lens, much like the $5000 Leica 35 Summilux ASPH will show some CA in some situations.

Below: Example of CA

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Shooting Leica Lenses on the X-Pro 1

NOTE: I will be doing the Leica lens test on the X-Pro 1 in a future update!

Yes, you can shoot Leica M glass on the X-Pro 1. All you need is an adapter and you can attach your beloved Summilux or Summicron lenses (or ANY M glass like Zeiss, Voigtlander, etc) and use Manual Focus to shoot. The big bummer here though is that Fuji did not include any kind of focus peaking like we get on the Sony NEX series and Ricoh GXR series. You can magnify the screen but that is a pain in my ass because you only see a super magnified portion of your subject and it is impossible to frame and focus at the same time. I feel Fuji should have put in focus peaking and have a feeling that shooting manual glass on this camera will be more of a pain than pleasure. On the Sony NEX-7 I LOVE shooting with the Leica glass as the EVF and Focus Peaking rocks.

I have not yet tried the Fuji with Leica glass as I still do not have an adapter (I DO NOT use Ebay or Paypal, so makes it tough). If anyone can sell me one, I would love to buy one from you or even borrow. I plan on doing a full article later and add to this review when I have had time to shoot Leica on this camera. So look for that in a future update. One thing to also note is that the X-Pro 1 does NOT have any kind of image stabilization and the upcoming Olympus OM-D will have a groundbreaking 5 Axis IS that is said to be pretty damn good.

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Cool things about the X-Pro 1 – Just like its baby brother

The X-Pro 1 has the same cool features as the X100. Things like the film stock settings (Astia, Provia, Velvia, etc) panorama shooting and HD video. I will not go into details on those two things here as I already wrote about these things in the X100 review (see it here) but I do enjoy the film presets greatly. I find the Velvia setting to be superb and is the one I like to use the most. Others like the Pro Neg or the Astia settings. All are good. Below you can see the differences in the film stock settings.

X-Pro 1 Film Simulation Samples

Provia

Astia

Velvia

Pro Neg Hi

Pro Neg

B&W

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Compared to the Sony NEX-7

Another hot camera that is available now is the Sony NEX-7. The NEX was another one of those HOT and exciting cameras that arrived MONTHS late so now it is competing with these new cameras arriving on the scene. No dount about it, the NEX-7 is a great camera. It is small, it is quick, it takes GREAT video (though seems to overheat), and the Zeiss 24 1.8 lens Sony released with it is fantastic. The problems with the NEX series is that there is a lack of GREAT lenses, sort of. The Zeiss 24 1.8 is great, the Sony 50 1.8 is very very good. But other than that, the rest of the lineup is good but not great and not able to get the most from the camera sensor.

In regards to speed, usability and fun factor…for me, the NEX-7 takes the nod. The Focus Peaking with Leica glass works REALLY well and images I take with the Leica 35 Summilux rock. There is depth and detail there that is, at times, jaw dropping. So the NEX needs good glass to get the most from it and it is an absolute JOY to shoot manual focus RF lenses with it.  The NEX-7 comes in at $1198 for the Body Only, about $500 less than the Fuji X-Pro 1. So what do we gain in the X-Pro 1 over the Sony? Better high ISO, more flashy color and brighter out of camera images. We also get a full size camera body and smallish lenses. The NEX gives us a small body with large lenses.

If you want to shoot Leica glass, the Sony wins just due to the peaking feature which makes MF a breeze. If you want old school charm and better out of camera JPEG image quality, the Fuji wins. But is it worth $500 more? Not really. I feel the Fuji is a bit overpriced and should have come in at around $1399. That is just my opinion though and to many the $1700 asking price is well worth it. I can manual focus a Leica lens on the NEX quicker than the Fuji can Auto Focus with it’s 35mm.

One thing to know though is that the Fuji shoots like a camera. The Sony shoots more like a computer due to it’s complex nature and menus but also has the Tri Navi controls going for it and once you set it up to your liking it is a breeze to pick up and shoot, especially with old manual glass. To some, the design and feel makes the Fuji a better choice. When it comes to speed though, the NEX wins.

Below is a full size out of camera shot from the Fuji and Sony. The Fuji had the 35 1.4 mounted and the Sony had the Leica 35 Summilux APSH II mounted. Both lenses were set at f/4. Keep in mind the Fuji setup is $2200, the Sony with Leica over $6000! The fuji IQ holds up well to the Leica/Sony combo using just the Fuji 35 1.4 lens.

Fuji X-Pro 1 with the 35 1.4 at f/4 ($2200 Combo) – click image for full out of camera file – focus was on the “644” on the camera.

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The Sony NEX-7 with the Leica 35 Summilux ASPH II at f/4 ($6200 combo) – click image for full 24 Megapixel file – focus was on the “644” on the camera.

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and one more comparison.. 1st the Fuji at 1.4 with the 35 (click it for larger)

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and  the Sony with the Leica 35mm at 1.4 – both are JPEGS out of the camera to be fair to the Fuji (NO Raw converter at the time of this writing)

One more…

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Compared to the X100

The X100 is smaller, and more compact and just as beautiful and with the latest firmware, the AF is even faster than the X-Pro 1. If you do not mind being stuck with ONLY a 35mm f/2 lens (I feel this is a good thing) then the X100 is a DAMN good camera. At $1199 for a full camera and lens vs $1699 for a body only, you will have to decide if you want the interchangeable lens capability. EIther one you choose will give you the same image quality with the X-Pro 1 delivering even better high ISO. With the new firmware out for the 100, I am tempted to buy one again instead of this X-Pro 1. In black, even though it will cost an extra $200 over the same compatible silver setup. Black is just so damn sexy with these types of camera designs!

Pro’s and Con’s of  the Fuji X-pro 1

Pros

  • It is light and the design is retro cool
  • All black, stealth
  • There is a 35 1.4 available and it is VERY good.
  • Keeps the same look and feel of the X100 with gorgeous Fuji colors
  • Sharp detailed images that can pop when shot wide open with the 35
  • HIGH ISO is amazing, especially with B&W shooting
  • Zone focusing is easy to set up and use for street so makes for a great street shooter in manual focus mode.
  • The packaging is awesome :)
  • Fuji has a rep for putting out firmware updates so improvements can be made to the speed
  • Some of the best JPEG’s ever to come out of a camera
  • Has the good Fuji Dynamic Range just like the X100
  • Has the same OVF/EVF of the X100 – and this is good.
  • Again, image quality is gorgeous!

Cons

  • Slow AF and overall slow performance, MAINLY in low light – had many misses at dusk on the street with AF
  • Slow start up bug still here (in certain circumstances)
  • The 18mm lens is so light, it almost feels made of plastic
  • Manual Focus is still slow and is the same as the X100 MF
  • Price. $3500 for the complete system. $1700 for the body only.
  • The lenses do the “rattlesnake shake” when out in daylight (noisy clicks while not using it)
  • X100 now has faster AF than the X-Pro 1
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My final words on the X-Pro 1 – Who is it for and will I buy one?

So far, to this point I have written 5,744 words in this review. Pretty short for a major review but I tried to not drag it out and repeat things that I already talked about in the Fuji X100 review. Many of the features of the X100 are in the X-Pro 1 and the image quality and overall usability is about the same. If you liked the X100 you will really like the X-Pro 1. It does allow you more creativity than the X100 due to the ability to change lenses and even shoot with M glass but at the same time do not expect huge speed increases with this “pro” model. In fact, just think about it as you are shooting an X100 with different lenses and better high ISO.

The X-Pro 1 for me is a mixed bag. I LOVE AND ADORE it for what it is and the images it can pump out, but the speed and usability kind of knocks it down just a bit for me. I WANT TO LOVE this camera and I just really LIKE IT, though I like it quite a bit because like I said, the Fuji files have a way of putting out incredible results and remember, EVERY image here was shot in JPEG mode as RAW support is not available at the time of this writing. The image quality will only get better.

So who would want an X-Pro 1?

  • Someone who wants to shoot JPEGS. The Out of camera JPEGS are very beautiful.
  • Someone who wants to shoot Black and White – B&W even at ISO 6400 is GREAT. Rich B&W files here.
  • Someone who doesn’t want to shoot FAST and doesn’t mind slow and steady photography.
  • Someone who wants to shoot landscape.
  • Someone who doesn’t want to spend several thousand more on a Leica M9 but wants a “Rangefinder Styled” camera.
  • Someone who owns an X100 and wants to have the ability to change lenses and have even improved high ISO.
  • Someone who enjoys shooting people/portraits or landscape
  • Someone who wants to shoot street using Zone Focusing

So who would NOT want an X-Pro 1?

  • If you own a Leica M9 and have been spoiled by the usability and file quality then you may not enjoy the slowness of the X-Pro 1
  • If you are used to speedy DSLR’s and expect lightning speed
  • If you don’t’ want to spend over $2k for a camera and lens
  • Those who shoot sports, action or wildlife
  • Video enthusiasts – other cameras in this class have better video capabilities

Basically the Fuji X-Pro 1 is a camera capable of putting out SUPERB IMAGE QUALITY. To many, this is all they need to hear. When you nail it you will be rewarded with beautiful color, depth and sharpness. The 35 1.4 lens is THE lens to get so if you do order the body, make sure you order this lens with it. JUST BE AWARE that in LOW LIGHT, as in indoors or outside even that the focus will hunt some and occasionally NOT lock on. I feel Fuji will be able to improve this with a Firmware update just as they did with the X100, which users are reporting is now MUCH faster and MUCH more accurate. In fact, I am confident Fuji will do this. You can also turn on the AF assist which helps lock focus quicker. Also, keeping the power save mode to OFF is said to increase AF speed, which I confirmed does indeed do so.

I have TWO X-Pro 1’s here that I pre-ordered and both have arrived. I have not yet decided if I should keep one or return them both before I even open them. The one I have been shooting with came from Fuji direct as a review sample. So I actually have THREE here! If it was not for the new OM-D coming in the next couple of weeks and the new Leica announcement on May 10th I would probably keep one for sure but as of today I am not 100% sure. I do love the EVF/OVF which is the same one used in the X100. These days, for me, an VF of some sort is a MUST.

I love the IQ I get from it, more so than most cameras I have shot with lately, well, really…any camera that has come out in the past year or so. It is HIGHLY capable in every area of IQ. Good light, low light, B&W and High ISO. It has an APS-C sized sensor so the IQ WILL be better than the OM-D but I have a feeling that the Olympus will kind of have it all. Speed, IQ, IS, Weather Sealing, Great video. I can not keep ALL cameras and I own the NEX-7 as well but the Fuji’s always tug at my heart a bit as they have a little bit of soul and magic. I just wish Fuji would get the quirkiness taken care of!

If you want great IQ, RF style and fast primes and have $2000-$3000 to spend, the X-Pro 1 may be the camera for you. With the 35 1.4 it is 1/4 the cost of a Leica M9 body with better high ISO capabilities. You be the judge. If you own an X-Pro 1 or have shot with one feel free to comment and let me know YOUR thoughts. One thing is for certain, this camera has image quality that will make you smile every time you view your images :)

UPDATE: I did shoot with the camera using “Power Save ON” and “Power ave OFF” and I did see an AF speed increase with this set to OFF. After shooting in my house at 6400 ISO with the Power Save off, I actually am more happy with the speed. Still doesn’t explain my freeze ups and other quirks but the more you use this camera the more you like it. Again, those damn beautiful Fuji files are sort of addicting :) 

 

Where to Buy the Fuji X-Pro 1?

You can buy the Fuji X-Pro 1 body at B&H Photo or Amazon

You can buy the 35 1.4 at B&H Photo or Amazon

You can buy the 18 f/2 at B&H Photo or Amazon

You can buy the 60 f/2.4 at B&H Photo or Amazon

You can also RENT the X-Pro 1 at LensRentals.com HERE! They are the best rental shop, period!

I will leave you with even more images from the X-Pro 1…Enjoy!

Fuji X-Pro 1 Accessories

The strap I used on the Fuji, which is VERY comfy is the Street Strap. Very light, soft and recommended. You can see it on Amazon HERE

Also, I highly recommend the Grip if you are going to decide to buy an X-Pro 1. It dramatically helps the feel of the camera and makes it much more comfortable to shoot.

 

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Mar 072012
 

Hi Steve,

I’m an aspiring social documentary photographer and wanted to share 3 images with you from a personal project that I’ve been working on for a year and a half now. I met Krystal Whitaker when she was 17-years old and had already been homeless several times in her young life. What drew me to her was the quiet presence and strength that she has, despite having experienced hardships that I never will and would not wish on anyone.

Starting in 2010 I documented her pregnancy, the birth of her daughter, and her eventual departure from Missouri. She’s now returned to the town where I live and I’ve resumed my coverage of her life as a young mother.

Three images can never sum up her life or fully show the strength that she possesses.I have an extended portrayal of my time with her on my website, although it too is inadequate in capturing the complexity of her life. Currently I’m working with audio and video to try and give a better sense of who she is as a person.

I’m only at the beginning of what I hope will be a life-long project. My goal is to photograph her at least once every year no matter where either of us live. I believe every human being has a story worth telling. I’m humbled that Krystal has let me into her life as a photographer and I will continue to make images as long as she allows me to.

The three images I have submitted might also be of interest to you and your readers because they were all taken with the new Fuji X-Pro 1 and 2 of the 3 new lenses (the 18mm and 35mm). I purchased the camera and lenses from Japan in case anyone is wondering how I got ahold of them.

Lastly, I don’t want to turn this into a review but I know people are anxious to hear about the gear. I’m not a reviewer, a pixel peeper, or even much of a gear head but I really love this camera in the short time I’ve had it. Previously I shot with the Leica M9 and M-glass for nearly two years (virtually every photo on my website was taken with the Leica) and I have to say I prefer the file quality of the little Fuji hands down. Yes, the build quality is nowhere near the Leica but what I really care most about is the file that comes out of the camera. Things are outstanding all the way up to ISO 6400 and all three lenses are a joy to use. Things are sharp, sharp, sharp! Autofocus is a mixed bag but I’m learning how it functions and am coping. For the images I make it works. Manual focus isn’t useable in my opinion and I don’t plan on messing with it (yes, I’m sad about that having come from the joy of using M lenses). I’m sure Leica will answer with something amazing but for now my Fuji set-up fits my budget and allows me to make the images that I want with my 3 favorite focal lengths (28, 50, and 90). Is it perfect? Nope. But unless I win the lottery I doubt I’m going to be tempted by another set of gear anytime soon.

 

Image #1: Krystal Whitaker smoking a Newport cigarette outside of a friends apartment.

Settings: Fuji X-Pro 1. 35mm lens, f/5.6, 1/500th, ISO 800.

 

Image #2: Nearly 1-year old, Kyah Whitaker looks for her mother.

Settings: Fuji X-Pro 1. 18mm lens, f/2.0, 1/60th, ISO 200.

Image #3: Krystal and Kyah leaving to eat dinner with friends.

Settings: Fuji X-Pro 1. 18mm lens, f/2.0, 1/60th, ISO 400.

 

 

Thanks for taking a look!

Jon Cook

www.jonathancookphotography.com


Feb 262012
 

Did you pre-order one of the new cameras? If so, which one?

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