Fuji X-Pro 1 - A cut price Leica?

Fuji X-Pro 1 18mm lens
Fuji X-Pro 1 18mm lens

After going out cycling the previous day wearing a fleece, yesterday I put on my shorts and sunglasses and drove down to Stratford-upon-Avon with the air conditioning on. Yes summer in the UK has finally arrived! Since buying the Fuji X-Pro1 and Olympus OM-D E-M5 I have had little chance to use either in bright sunny conditions. Yesterday saw the start of a period of weather that should allow me to see what they can do.

The first camera I took out was the Fuji, with 18mm and 60mm lenses.

Fuji X-Pro 1 18mm lens
Fuji X-Pro 1 18mm lens

Fuji X-Pro 1 60mm lens
Fuji X-Pro 1 60mm lens

Fuji X-Pro 1 18mm lens
Fuji X-Pro 1 18mm lens

Fuji X-Pro 1 60mm lens
Fuji X-Pro 1 60mm lens

Fuji X-Pro 1 18mm lens
Fuji X-Pro 1 18mm lens

Fuji X-Pro 1 18mm lens
Fuji X-Pro 1 18mm lens

Despite the tardy nature of the AF, I really enjoy using the X-Pro 1. In answer to the question at the top of the page, yes I do think its a cut-price Leica, but there is nothing wrong with that. In operation the camera feels very much like the M8's and M9 I had. I also tend to use it in much the same way. However there is one huge difference. I'm not hanging on to it like grim death!!

When I had the M9 particularly, I was always very concerned about dropping it, loosing it or having it stolen. Just my neurosis I guess, but this tended to get in the way of using it. The Fuji X-pro 1 is not cheap, but compare the body and lens prices to their Leica equivalents and you get some idea of what is involved here. The X-Pro 1 and three lenses cost me about £2500 and an M9 + equivalent lenses i.e. 28mm f/2, 50mm f/1.4 and 90mmm f/2.5 costs just under £12,000. 

Now my record of dropping cameras in the sea, onto pavements and down mountain roads, and banging lenses on rocks and posts is not particularly good!. For the most part when I sell gear on it is in mint condition, but occasionally in my quest for the right composition I can get myself into some difficult situations. One of the reasons that I found the M9 restricting was that I tended to work with it in safe conditions only, and also had a habit of hiding it whenever anyone who looked remotely like a mugger approached me. Crazy, since most prospective camera thiefs wouldn't know what it is, and are probably looking for Nikons and Canons anyway. However I did find it an issue. Plus having once dropped my first M8 and smashed the screen, I do have experience of Leica disasters. That was taken care of by Leicas unconditional guarantee, but when my 1-year accidental damage cover ran out on the M9, I did become uncomfortably wary.

Besides, the X-Pro 1 has several advantages. Firstly, despite the slow AF its a lot faster than the M9 (which has none). Secondly, its usable in virtually any light. Thirdly, you can use macro and telephoto lenses on it and Fourthly (so far) it doesn't generate vast numbers of dust spots on the sensor. Add in no moire, clean accurate colours, no luminance noise, no "rangefinder experience" (much overated as far as I'm concerned) choice of viewfinders, live view (and different to the M9 a screen you can actually make things out on) and video and to my mind I have a much more usable camera. Are the results as sharp? - well no they aren't, but that is probably the only advantage I see in owning a Leica these days. I would say that this difference isn't that great anyway, as far as I'm concerned. 

A final point is where the two companies are headed. The Leica Monochrom is not a development I see as useful. An overpriced M9 edition for black and white snobs is not something I hoped to see. Personally, developing a screen thats actually useful, making the frame lines accurate, adding weather sealing and improving high ISO colour performance are the priorities I would see for the M digital series. Coming up with a niche camera for a tiny fraction of the photographic community is a distraction, as I see it. I know Leica go their own way, but for a brief while they seemed to connect with a large number of photographers when the M9 came out, but now they seem to be returning to planet Leica, and I think I will leave them to it. 

So at the moment I've having a good time with the X-Pro 1. This was only the second time I've got to use the 18mm and 60mm lenses. I particularly like the 60mm, and used it for most of the time yesterday. It does seem that it has the fastest AF of the three lenses, though to be honest, the light was so bright yesterday, both lenses performed very well, with (reasonably) quick and accurate AF.

Fuji X-Pro 1 60mm lens
Fuji X-Pro 1 60mm lens
"I know, I know"

Fuji X-Pro 1 60mm lens
Fuji X-Pro 1 60mm lens
Only in Stratford, an ice cream van with a William Shakespeare sonnet on the side!

Fuji X-Pro 1 60mm lens
Fuji X-Pro 1 60mm lens
KIndle, Mobile Phone and "Good God, books!!!"

Fuji X-Pro 1 60mm lens
Fuji X-Pro 1 60mm lens
Bench by Allen Jones?

Today I'm planning on using the OM-D, so it will be interesting to see the difference.

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