The Fuji XPro-1

I hardly ever: okay then "NEVER" do gear reviews and as such this won't really be one either but more of how and why I decided to join the mirror less party, all be it, decidedly late.

I have (like tons before me) been keeping a close eye on the ups and downs of the XPro-1 it's little brothers and sisters, the X100 and newer X100s and of course the XE 1 since their release.

The Fujifilm XPro-1 has during it's time of release in March 2012 had a few glitches and gremlins under the hood but successive firmware updates have it seems dulled the chatterings and AF worries to a deafening silence. As of writing the current firmware for the XPro-1 stands at version 2.03. Updates too for various lenses are available from the Fuji site.
Rear View. Click to make really big.
So! Why is it I now own one of these camera systems. Well: like I mentioned above Iv'e been doing a lot of reading from day one and in that (almost a year) time I've had a feeling that a lot of what was being said about this little camera reminded me very much of the way we used to shoot. Taking time to compose a shot: waiting for the decisive moment; having to actually think before pressing the button and that really appealed to me.

The question for me was really "could I replace my Nikon DSLR kit with this" totally and shoot a wedding entire with it? I mean to do so would be so advantageous in terms of weight. Dumping everything I have in the bag for a XPro and a couple of lenses. I had to find out and the only way to do that was to get one in my hands and shoot. Because no matter how many times you read a great review like that of Zack Arias who also has a great review of the XPro-1 on Youtube things in the flesh are in my opinion always a little different.

By the time I had actually made up my mind to handle the camera at all the XE-1 had overtaken the XPro-1 in my virtual affections and I set off with my fully loaded credit card to my old local faithful camera store at merchant city cameras in Glasgow Scotland. At the point both camera bodies were placed on the counter side by side it wouldn't have mattered to me if the XE-1 had arrived from 2112 with new alien tech under the hood: it was just way too small for my hands: way too small. The X100 I had already eyeballed and had excluded from any possible purchase. No reflection whatsoever on the camera but it's just too small in my hands. I picked up the XPro-1.

I don't like to draw comparisons (especially to Leica) but this thing feels incredibly like an M Leica and there's just no getting away from it: it really does. the feeling of quality is right there the minute you hold it and to me it felt immediately comfortable. The XE-1 was put to the side.

After about two hours of togger chat with Ian at merchant city cameras on the virtues of this or that lens I opted for the XF 35mm F1.4R with the mind to add the XF 14mm F2.8R at a later date.

At home I carefully unboxed the body and attached the 35mm: filled the battery up with power and added that along with a Sandisk Extreme Pro 8GB card and attached the Fuji Grip. I then checked the firmware was up to date (which it wasn't) and when that was sorted headed out to the street for a test drive.

Now! this takes time. It takes a lot of getting used to and my first impressions as to the possibility of dumping the DSLRs for wedding work was....errr......shaky! The more I used it however the more it sung and before long I was pointing the lens at anything and everything, moving or not, and wondered just how ropey the AF was before the firmware updates because it's not there now. Not in the slightest.

I purposely set out to take at least two dozen shots before chimping at the LCD screen but at number eight or nine I succumbed and zoomed into a random image (I think image number four) and I just couldn't believe how sharp it looked.

Then the colour; it just looked so....errr.......creamy for want of a better description and wished to see it big on my Mac to make sure that what my eyes were telling me was the truth and nothing but the truth!

As it turned out the files looked even better on my Mac and to be completely honest the only thing I had to do to the images was to decide which were to stay in glorious colour and which were to be converted to B&W which I did in Nik Silver FX Pro via Lightroom 4. They were that good.

I've had the system just a little over a week now and I'm beginning to lose weight as it's forcing me to hit the streets and not come back until the sun goes down.

My next wedding shoot is a few weeks away and I will by that time have bought another body and the X 14mm F2.8R. I'm so confident in this system having used it under all sorts of conditions that I'm selling a couple of my DSLRs to fund the purchase. For me if this camera had been weather proof it would be the best camera on the planet. The colour image below is straight out of the camera. Click on any image to make it really big.

Image straight out of the camera.

Update: All the images of the band "Nine Below Zero" playing with Glenn Tilbrook were all shot with the XPro-1 and XF 35mm 1.4 lens.

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