Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Walk About With The FujiFilm X Pro-1

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy (Shooting From The Hip/Crop)
Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy (Shot Thru The Viewfinder)

Well, I've had the FujiFilm X Pro-1 equipped with a Fuji 18mm f2.0 lens for about 48 hours, and I thought I'd jot my initial impressions down in a brief blog post. First off, I only skimmed the manual very quickly so don't expect any in-depth review. These are merely impressions from using it during a walk about on 14th Street in New York City, then a few moments in Washington Square. Some of the photographs were made shooting from the hip, while others were made by peering through the viewfinder.

Interestingly, I had a conversation with a photographer in Washington Square who asked me if it was a Leica. It certainly looks quite similar, but it's not a Leica in more ways than one.  Superficially-speaking, the Fuji X Pro-1 has much more to offer in terms of digital enhancements than the M9. Apart from its auto-focus, it has a plethora of options that purists may not particularly find useful...its shutter is softer and much more discreet than the's much lighter but is still a handful...its lenses are also much lighter than those made by Leica or Voigtlander.

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy (Shot From The Hip)
Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy (Cropped. Shot From The Hip)
I had no difficulty whatsoever in adapting the X Pro-1 to my style of shooting from the hip. It's as unobtrusive as the M9, and the success rate is much higher with it than with the M9 because of its auto focus, which I chose to keep on single shot mode.

It seems to have a number of (possibly irritating) quirks, but I'll have to work with it a few more days before deciding if these are really camera quirks or whether they are caused by my inexperience.

As for the quality of its images. There's no question the quality of images made with an M9 equipped with Leica glass is really stellar, and their "feel" is different...I guess that's the renowned "Leica feel". The images from the X-Pro 1 are excellent, but they're more akin to the images by the Canon 5D Mark II (as an example). The images I've captured so far are very impressive in terms of quality especially from a crop sensor APS-C camera, but they can't be mistaken for images made with an M9.

Once again, this is not a scientific analysis nor an in depth review at all...just an initial impression when using the X Pro-1 and looking at the images I got from using it for a couple of hours. I did not intentionally choose specific scenes, but did what I usually do when I have my M9 around my neck.

What I didn't particularly like is that the X Pro-1 has the tendency of overexposing, so I dialed down by as much as half a stop and sometimes by 3/4 of a stop. And, there's isn't Lightroom or Photoshop RAW support for it yet.

I have found that I am shooting more and more wide angle, so the 18mm f2.0 lens is just perfect. It's perhaps early to say, but so far I like that lens a's fast and accurate.

As I said, this blog post is only partially peeling away the first layer of the X-Pro 1 "onion".

I've been asked what will I do now with the M9.  Already! I'm not a Leica fan-boy nor a X Pro-1 fan-boy either, so my answer is simple...I wil continue to use it along with the X-Pro 1. I can easily see myself using both in Vietnam and Thailand in the coming few months.

As I'm fond of saying....cameras are nothing but tools for the photographer. Exactly like a claw and ball-peen hammers are tools for carpenters who use them for different jobs...the M9 and the X Pro-1 will be used for different styles of photography. When everything is spot on, the Leica excels. Otherwise, it's not a forgiving tool. In contrast, I think the X Pro-1 will be much more forgiving.

More to come next week.

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