I had a chance to play with the Fuji X-Pro1 a few weeks ago. My friend and professional photographer Will Crockett was able to lend me one of the models he has to test.
A lot of fun and I’m convinced that after playing with it and having had my Sony A65 for a couple of months, mirrorless cameras are definitely the future of digital photography. Some longer time shooters may have trouble accepting that fact but the fast shutter times, the clean video, the lighter body, etc. will make this technology the standard within the next 5 years.
It took a while to get used to a range finder again. Every time I lifted the damned camera to my eye, I centered it, expecting the viewfinder to be there. Then I had to slide it to the right so I could see through the left-hand sided viewfinder. But that’s where the finder has been on a range finder forever, so I can’t call that a design flow. Nope, just takes some getting used to again.
It does have a couple of weird design issues. The model I shot with had the hand grip accessory. I liked that it gave me a decent hand hold but it covers up the battery/SD slot. So to change the battery or to pull out the memory card, you have to remove the grip. Considering that for people like me who have large hands, the hand grip is more of a necessity than an accessory, this seems like an odd oversight.
It’s also the first time that I’ve encountered a camera where the battery can be put in upside-down. It won’t harm anything if you do, but if you insert a freshly charged battery and the camera doesn’t work, check to make sure you put it in the right side up. If you replace the hand grip before turning the camera back on, it’s one more annoyance to take the grip off again before checking the battery.
Okay, so that’s really it for the negatives.
Let me tell you, it was a joy to shoot with. I loved its light weight body and it was a lot of fun to shoot with primes again. The clarity of the resulting images is fantastic and their art modes are really impressive. For example, back in my film days, I loved Fuji’s Velvia film. I’ve played with some actions and filters in Photoshop that claim to recreate the feeling of Velvia but they always fell short. Since this is a camera from the same company, I had high hopes for their Velvia emulation, and it didn’t disappoint.
A lot of cameras today have black and white or monochrome modes but they are, at best, lacking. The X-Pro1 has several monochrome modes with different color filters. It’s been a while since I was able to appreciate a deep red filter shooting black and white!
I’ve been a RAW shooter since I first started shooting digitally but, with the X-Pro1 I didn’t bother. I was more than happy with the quality of the JPG coming right out of the camera. The only post-production I did on most of the images were small artistic adjustments – virtually no image correction.
So, yeah, I’d buy this camera… if I had the $1700 for the retail price (as of the time I’m writing this). Unfortunately, that price tag puts it out of reach of all but the serious shooters. This is not a camera that someone new to photography is going to spend the money on.