A week of “living” with the Fuji X-Pro 1 by CMHHK

Chris (CMHHK) has put down some thoughts after having the Fuji X-Pro 1 for a week and I've included them below.

I've also included the samples again that Chris made available, now expanded. My thanks to Chris for both providing the samples and for writing his thoughts on the camera. As I've written often before, I'm much more inclined to take notice of pieces like this rather than the usual review sites and all their various agendas. Plus Chris has the advantage of working with a production camera.

Please note:- In exactly the same way that all the material I publish here is subject to copyright, this is also the case for Chris's images and text. Please respect this.


 



"I placed a pre-order for the X-Pro 1 with my local camera shop in Hong Kong, my choice being the camera, and both 18mm & 35mm lenses, however on the 1st day of release last week it was all or nothing. All meant the X-Pro 1 body, 18mm, 35mm and 60mm lenses, 3 filters, leather camera case and strap, leather 18mm lens case and camera grip. The total sum of which was considerably more than I had initially intended to spend, however with the components laid out on the counter top and with an appreciative eye for quality a purchase was made. If the touch and feel of the camera and lenses had been lower than my expectation I would have passed on the opportunity.

Now having used the X-Pro 1 for a week I have some thoughts which are worth sharing, I’m not going to comment on image quality. I’ve taken plenty of shots which I have shared via my Flickr page which speak for themselves.

The X-Pro 1 offers three modes of focusing, manual, continuous and single shot. Manual focus is easy to achieve via the lens focus ring, although it has a somewhat remote “fly by wire feel”, and the focus area can be zoomed as an aid, however the focus peaking as seen on the Sony NEX series and Ricoh GXR is not available which is disappointing. The auto focus system comparative to “today’s” cameras is poor, in both modes focusing is slow and sometimes fails to achieve focus. If anyone is considering purchasing a camera for shooting conditions which require, quick and accurate or continuous focusing of moving subjects the X-Pro 1 might not be your 1st choice.

As an M9 owner I was surprised to find the X-Pro 1 to be slightly larger when placed side by side, for me this is acceptable as I find many current cameras including Micro 3/4 too small for anything other than running off a couple of quick shots and the layout of the buttons compromise the useability. The large size begs the question, is there room for a full size sensor?

The layout of the X-Pro 1 buttons is similar to the X100, although far superior in that they have been refined and improved. The most significant is the change from the irritating ring and OK button of the X100 to four directional buttons and a centre OK button, all of which are nicely sized and positive. These buttons form the basis of the menu selection and adjustment. A nice addition is the quick menu button (Q) which offers direct access to a single screen from which a multitude of functions can be adjusted on the fly.

The design of the lens cap is frustrating, I prefer caps which require gripping the full diameter as this gives the best grip and leverage, but Fuji has gone with two clips which require releasing by squeezing together the centre portion of the cap. It’s fiddly, awkward and if like me you have “man” hands it will result in dropped caps, especially on a cold day – don’t even think about gloves! Perhaps the Fuji B team, or perhaps even the Z team were given this design task.

Shooting with the X-Pro 1, its fun and enjoyable and with an all black finish discrete enough to wander around cities without intruding personal space. I found myself predominantly shooting manual with a fixed speed, then playing with aperture and ISO to set the exposure, I never touched the white balance as this seems to be accurate enough when left in auto mode. For the majority of the time I have used the half leather case as this includes a raised grip, or the additional grip simply because I have them. The camera and lens combo is light enough to carry around for long periods of time suspended from the wrist especially as I tend to wind the strap around my hand and use this to pull the camera into my hand.

A fundamental flaw I spotted when first using the camera is the inaccuracy of the electronic horizontal indicator. Surprisingly the indicator induces a two or three degree tilt to images, and a quick check on a level surface showed the indicator to be inaccurate. For me this is annoying as I already have a built in tilt to the left, perhaps Fuji can address this with a firmware upgrade, assuming it’s a calibration issue and common to the camera.

My conclusion? Perhaps I first need to qualify my approach and thinking. I’m not a professional photographer, I don’t directly earn a living through photography, but I do design and manufacture retail products so have an eye and feel for quality and what feels both right and wrong.

As a “photographer” I’m fortunate to own, experiment and sometimes choose to keep cameras/ lenses which I purchase and like. So is the X-Pro 1 a keeper? Yes, but only because I have other cameras which perform far better in the areas where the X-Pro 1 fails which predominately is any form of photography reliant on autofocus capturing a difficult/ moving subject.

For anyone who enjoys shooting stationery objects such as, architecture, documentation, portrait, landscape and kids who sit still, this camera should be one to consider, especially if you have large hands and enjoy a more “manly” and traditional techno styling.

If I were only allowed one camera, it would not be an X-Pro. If I were allowed two cameras, then maybe one would be an X-Pro 1.

Chris"