Friday, November 23, 2012

Fujifilm X Pro 1

They say there's no such thing as a perfect camera but that doesnt stop me or anyone else looking for it. My latest find try is the X Pro 1 from Fuji. About a year ago, I dipped my toe in the Fuji camera pool and bought the Fuji X10, which I've enjoyed using and has been in my pocket on many trips. If sometimes I get lucky with an image that I want to submit to the library I work with (more about that to come in another blog being planned), I cant because the files really aren't big enough.
So I bought the X Pro 1 with a 35mm 1.4 lens (50mm equivalent), along with a FREE 18mm (equivalent to 35mm) and I took it with me on a recent trip to France to shoot some food and some landscapes. I went with my friend photographer Jonathan Lovekin and made this portrait of him on a walk one afternoon.

I'm not much of a technoid so I'm not going to talk about the specs here, there are other people around doing those kinds of reviews very well so I'll just be talking about what the experience of using it to take pictures. It has a lovely feel and is very simply laid out, so easy to use quickly and instinctively. I like having the exposure compensation dial right by my thumb.  I also like having the choice between the optical viewfinder and the more accurate digital viewfinder. It reminds me a lot of the Contax G2, except that the auto focus on the X pro is more reliable. There's no question about the quality (over 16mp) - Oh and it's certainly lighter than my Nikon D3X! 

The images are sharp and with lovely tonal range and when Sometimes I feel like not having to make decisions about lenses, camera bodies filters etc etc and just concentrate on looking around me, the Fuji feels like the kind of camera that will just work. I suppose rather like the idea of picking up a Leica and a 35mm lens, it allows the simplicity of looking, composing in either viewfinder and then 'click'. 

When the mood takes you to photograph, the first thing to engage is a sense of wonder at the possibilities for photographs everywhere. A sure fire way to inhibit this is to start packing camera equipment just in case!  My recommendation for a good 'sense-of-aesthetics' work-out and a sharpening of the composing 'eye' is to decide on one camera and a prime lens and work with that. Making decisions about WHAT to photograph rather than HOW.

The one techinical thing I would like to mention is this. I had some issues when I came back processing the RAW files. I started in CS5 Camera RAW in Bridge and found a uniform dot pattern all over the images so we upgraded to CS6 for full compatibility in the hope that this might help.

 Once processed in Camera Raw CS6, the resulting tiffs had been given a mosaic or painterly effect. Many people we found online also had the same problem, so we got in touch with Fuji.  They advised us to download Silkypix from the CD (or online). To work on a RAW file in Photoshop, you need to open them IN Silkypix. The interface is quite basic but its generally quite disappointing to have to get used to a new piece of software just to process RAW files just from this camera. The files are converted into either Tiff or Jpeg, you can't convert them into a more standard raw file, which is a pity. In my opinion his first stage of the editing process is a time consuming and doesn't allow for the full RAW capability of the files. I will keep on using this until Adobe come up with something better.

A few negative points.
The battery is not as good as anything I've used from Canon or Nikon but is much better than the X10. I would recommend you buy a spare if you are going to use this camera to shoot continually for several hours. I wouldn't recommend this camera if shooting video is important to you either.