Fuji X-Pro 1 + M-Mount lenses

For the whole Fuji X-Pro 1 Review and user experience click HERE

Fuji X-Pro 1 Voigtlander 75mm f/2.5 Heliar Kipon LM > FX adapter
Fuji X-Pro 1 Voigtlander 75mm f/2.5 Heliar Kipon LM > FX adapter

THE ADAPTER

At this moment in time the only adapters that I know of are made by Kipon. I got mine via ebay. I have one already for Nikon mount lenses, which was excellent and this one for m-mount lenses is also very good quality. The lenses fits well with no movement and likewise the adapter slots nicely onto the camera and the whole thing feels very secure. 

Also like my Nikon adapter, infinity is infinity. This is very useful, as it allows for accurate zone focusing using the hyperfocal distance with the depth of field markings on the lens. On several occasions yesterday I just set the lens at infinity, confident that what I was photographing would be in focus. 

From my experience with them these Kipon adapters seem every bit as good as Novoflex ones I've bought in the past. They aren't cheap (£60), but then if you are using m-mount lenses, its probably a good idea to get a decent adapter.

THE LENSES

I have two m-mount lenses currently. The recently updated Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2 Nokton and a 75mm  f/2.5 Heliar. This latter lens is an old Voigtlander design and is a screw mount, which I have an m-mount adapter for.

FOCUSING WITH THE LENSES

For anyone who has used MF lenses on the latest Panasonic m4/3 cameras this will seem very familiar as the process is almost exactly the same. There's a thumbwheel on the back of the camera, easily accessible for my thumb while looking through the viewfinder. After setting the camera up for manual focus and turning the SHOOT W/O LENS option to on, pressing this thumbwheel brings up a magnified view. I'm having trouble finding out exactly what this magnification is, but its certainly enough. In good light it works well, but in low light the refresh rate on the EVF is a little slow and there is a fair amount of "smearing" in the viewfinder. However, while not being as clear as a Panasonic EVF, it still works well enough.

There is no focus peaking as with the Sony NEX system, but I haven't found it to be a problem. It even coped with my wearing dark glasses. Non-polaroid, I should mention, as my polarised glasses turn the EVF completely black.

I often had the aperture set to f/8 and f/11 and I was still able to focus accurately on the 35mm lens, without having to open the lens up to get precise focus. The 75mm lens, with its more limited depth of field was really easy to focus at all apertures. I was also able to focus without using the magnificaton on the 75mm lens, though the 35mm was somewhat more difficult.

Without the focus peaking of the Sony NEX-7, NEX-5n, its somewhat slower, but as I said almost exactly the same as the Panasonic system and somewhat better and less fiddly than that on the Olympus Pens.

Fuji X-Pro 1 Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2 Nokton
Fuji X-Pro 1 Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2 Nokton

PLEASE NOTE:- All of the samples in this post are available as full-size samples by clicking on them > flickr > Actions > View all sizes > Original. I am happy for you to view these images, but would remind you that they are copyright and would ask you to respect that.

USING THE X-PRO 1 AS A MANUAL FOCUS CAMERA

All of a sudden this is a different camera or me. All the clicking, clattering and grinding of the AF system goes away. Suddenly you realise that the shutter is actually very quiet. Not as quiet as the X100, but still not intrusive. My 35mm lens is also much heavier than any of the Fuji native lenses and the camera has a very solid feel with it fitted. This is very different to the feel of the X100.

In fact the whole outfit feels very "Leicaesque". It reminded me very much of using cameras like the M8 and M9. I know its just psychological, but with these metal lenses on the camera, the body suddenly developed more "gravitas", but thats just me!!

I indicated yesterday that I enjoyed shooting like this, and that was certainly the case. In a previous post I wrote about using my Nikon mount Voigtlander 20mm and how easy that was. This is similar. I personally enjoy this simplified approach and its going to be how I mostly use the camera.

Its a very personal view, but my X-PRO 1 has changed from being a flawed camera that I struggle to make do what I want, into a nicely balanced picture taking machine that I feel completely in control of. I really do have a problem with noisy cameras. I dislike them. The X-PRO 1 is the most persistantly noisy I've ever used, and the AF grinding makes me think that its going to self-destruct any minute! Using these MF lenses I feel like a photographer again, instead of a technician.

I also love the fact that I do everything through the viewfinder. I compose, focus, change settings and check my results through the EVF. I had the screen turned off throughout most of yesterdays shooting, which considering the poor battery life is useful.

The camera mostly handles very well with these lenses. However I have ordered the grip, which is due to arrive today. I found that using handgrips on both of my Leicas gave me better handling on those cameras. I don't particularly like the "neither one thing or the other" feel of the X-PRO 1 as it is, but I didn't have any particular problems.

THE RESULTS

I'm going to go through some of these pictures individually.

Fuji X-Pro 1 Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2 Nokton
Fuji X-Pro 1 Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2 Nokton

I had the camera set on ISO 320 the whole time. Now I can't tell the difference between this and ISO 200. In fact up to about ISO 640, the images are still amazingly clean. Because there's no IS available, I wanted fast shutter speeds and the smallest aperture I could get. This was taken at f/8 I think and was focused on infinity. This allowed me to keep the boater sharp. If you look at the full size file you will see that the writing on the lock gate is slightly out of focus. 

Fuji X-Pro 1 Voigtlander 75mm f/2.5 Heliar
Fuji X-Pro 1 Voigtlander 75mm f/2.5 Heliar

This is the 75mm at f/4.The bokeh on some Voigtlander lenses is not the "creamiest" but still nice enough.

Fuji X-Pro 1 Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2 Nokton
Fuji X-Pro 1 Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2 Nokton

This shot was taken wide open at f/1.2 on the 35mm lens. If you look at the full size version you will see that very little of it is in sharp focus. However, I discovered that the X-PRO 1 does an amazing thing. On the out of camera jpgs. it "cleans up" CA from non-native lenses. This 35mm lens is very prone to CA and fringing wide open, but as you can see there's none here. We are all aware that in many circumstances, manufacturers use the cameras firmware / software to "correct" lenses, but that is usually with lenses that the camera can "see". However what seems to be happening with the Fuji is that it is making these CA "corrections" on the image itself. Both of these Voigtlanders show both CA and fringing at wide apertures on other cameras, but not here. If it is the case that the Fuji cleans up the image itself rather than applies some kind of preset to a particular lens, then that is a very significant and very useful development.

Fuji X-Pro 1 Voigtlander 75mm f/2.5 Heliar
Fuji X-Pro 1 Voigtlander 75mm f/2.5 Heliar

This was a shot focused without using the magnification and I took quite a few "duck bothering" pictures. Most were successful.

Fuji X-Pro 1 Voigtlander 75mm f/2.5 Heliar
Fuji X-Pro 1 Voigtlander 75mm f/2.5 Heliar

Its in these telephoto shots where the Fuji scores over the Leica rangefinder system. With a Leica its really difficult to see if you have focus when the subject is some distance away. If you have a lens with proper infinity focus then its no problem. I had an old Leica 135mm which didn't and it was very tricky to use.

Fuji X-Pro 1 Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2 Nokton Kipon LM > FX adapter
Fuji X-Pro 1 Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2

Fuji X-Pro 1 Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2 Nokton Kipon LM > FX adapter
Fuji X-Pro 1 Voigtlander 35mm f/1.2

These last two are from raw files. The top one has one of the Velvia presets applied in Silkypix. Its a bit over the top even for me! And of course it looks nothing like Velvia. I'm currently engaged in scanning a lot of Velvia transparencies, so I know what it looks like. It isn't this!

The bottom picture shows just how well these files upsize. This is upsized to 60MB or about 20MP. 

THE BOTTOM LINE

For me this was just what I'm looking for. I enjoyed the process and the results are very good indeed. Chris (CMHHK) has reported some softness in the jpgs. from some of his Leica lenses and I guess it may depend on what you use. Certainly I have no complaints about these two Voigtlander m-mounts, or indeed the 20mm Nikon f-mount lens I used before. I enjoy using the camera a lot more, and though there isn't much improvement using the Voigtlander 35mm over the native 35mm Fuji lens, there is some, and thats worth it for me.

Finally a contentious point. When people were comparing this cameras results to those from a Leica M9, I was somewhat skeptical, and to be honest couldn't see how that could be possible. Steve Huff in his review of the X PRO 1 is very definite that the Fuji can't equal the M9 in terms of image quality. While I take his point, these judgements are based on either jpgs. or an ACR (M9) v Silkypix (XP1) comparison. I'm not sure this is a way to actually make that comparison. Certainly my Leica M9 shots processed in Photoshop are (slightly) sharper than what I can get out of the XP1 + Silkypix. But since I can't use Photoshop for the Fuji shots I don't know what they are capable of. 

However what I can say is that I think I prefer the results from the Fuji. They are certainly sharp enough (somewhat of an understatement!) but the real advantage is that they are free from any type of noise or colour distortions. And this applies to the jpgs. which are far and away the best I've ever seen straight out of a camera. Add in the ISO bonus from the Fuji and I have no reason to change my opinion when I first got this camera that this is the best image quality I have ever seen. 

Anyway, have a look at the full size samples and see what you think.

By the way for anyone who is planning to shoot with alternative and/or legacy lenses on an X-PRO 1, I've started a group for that over on flickr.

Its at:- http://www.flickr.com/groups/1933080@N21/ I'd be happy to see you and your pictures there.

N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) below.

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