Photographers are craftsman, and from time to time we should discuss our tools. Our cameras are simply that, tools to be mastered and used to create. Here goes…
Released in 2012, the Fuji X-Pro 1 along with the Nikon D800 were two of the most anticipated cameras of the year. I bought the D800 right away for client work, and kept a watchful eye on the Fuji. It seemed like a magical combination of quality, size, portability, fun and hotness. Hotness is a technical term. It would also be a massive upgrade over my beloved Panasonic GF1. In December, I finally scooped one up along with the 18mm and 35mm primes lenses.
I want to carry a camera "every day", and the X-Pro 1's portability was a major draw. I can easily pack for a day trip in my Incase Ari bag and comfortably enjoy an entire day's adventure. If I'm out street walking, I'm happy to just take just the camera with only one lens. It's not going to fit in your pocket, but with my Luma Labs Cinch, it's a discrete companion. Compared to a DSLR and a bag with heavy lenses, it's a god send.
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The image quality of the XP1 is terrific. Working with only the JPEGs, the files are workable and quite forgiving. The photos from Cleveland, Louis Kahn's Four Freedoms Park, and Event of a Thread were all shot with the XP1. My hope is that the photos in this article are a good example of the image quality in various settings.
Aesthetically there is no question, this camera is a gem. Functionally, it works very well however there are quirks. I like my cameras to stay out of my way and to operate as simply as possible. For the most part the XP1 does just that. The "Q" & "Fn" buttons (near the shutter) allow you quick access to important options. First quirk, despite being a hefty sized camera, the gripping isn't great. Two handed shooting is great, but try one handed holding and it doesn't work. You have to pinch your fingers to hold on. If you try and take a more substantial grip the roller dial, direction pad, "Q", AND AE/AF-L buttons all seem to get in the way. Looking through numerous reviews, most added the optional grip. This is an additional cost, and you'll lose access to your battery and memory slot. For this camera thats a bad thing. So I purchased a MatchTechnical ThumbsUp grippy thing. This improves the ergonomics greatly.
Lets talk controls for real quick. Lenses with aperture rings, big shutter dial, "Fn" set to ISO and a simple exposure compensation dial. Perfect, straightforward, and appreciated.
One of the big features on the XP1 is the Hybrid Viewfinder. Compose through an optical glass with electronic overlays or through an electric view finder (EVF) which shows you what the lens' sees. I mainly shoot with the EVF. It works very well. A consequence of this is the camera eats batteries. I've purchased three additional batteries. With heavy usage, I could see going through a couple of batteries in one day.
There were a lot of initial complaints about the auto focus performance. My own brief experience with the XP1 before the multiple updates, was that it was certainly slow and very laggy. Fuji has been good about making significant improvements to AF system through software updates. Currently the AF is good, not great. Fairly speedy, not DSLR speed. Sometimes it misses. It's frustrating when it does miss, but quite nice when it locks on. A nice touch is you can set a auto focus point anywhere in the viewfinder, not just a center ring area like most cameras. Moving focus points is not a smooth operation. You can't use the directional pad to just change points like you would on an DSLR, you have to go into AF mode and then make your adjustment. Extremely annoying.
The idea has been floated around for a while about a camera of interchangeable parts from numerous manufactures. This isn't that, not at all, but with any number of adapters you can use lenses from various other manufactures. Say Leica, Nikon, Canon, ALPA etc. I'd like to try my Nikon PC lenses on it.
Speaking of interchangeable parts, the fantastic LEE 4x4 filter system set works like a charm. With the appropriate ring adapter and you're good to do. Recently I've been shooting long exposure landscapes, more on that in a bit.
Lack of RAW support in most processors. Lightroom has ok support, CaptureOne 7 seems to have cracked it, and Aperture has nothing. There are technical issues, I know, but this should be sorted out by now.
The tripod socket and placement of the battery and memory card slot is horrible. If you have a tripod plate on, you can't open the battery/memory card door. Without a plate on, the removal of a memory card is ridiculously awkward.
The 18mm & 35mm come with these great metal hoods. To cap the hoods there are these dinky rubber caps. They fall off a lot, so I wouldn't cap the hoods unless it's in a bag or for storage.
I'll wrap it up. Terrific camera, that produces superb images and is a lot of fun to use. Yes, it has it's quirks but don't we all.