2013: Coyoacán, D.F., Mexico. Fujifilm X-Pro 1, F 35mm F1.4

If it’s not the camera…

Charlene general 20 Comments

I’ve been chatting with various people about the X-Pro 1 a fair bit lately. A lot of this talk revolves around how slow and generally clunky the first X-series flagship was. This is especially momentous considering the slick, blazing beast that is its newest incarnation: the X-Pro 2, a pre-production model of which I have in hand.

I said to a friend the other day that the X-Pro 2 is the best X-series camera I’ve used.

It is, you know, no matter how grouchy I sounded about it in my initial review. It combines the best of Fujifilm’s technology while respecting its short, though significant lineage. It’s having and eating your cake, with champagne thrown in.

All this chat about missing shots and odd results is giving me pangs though. The old X-Pro 1 was a camera I used at a time of of upheaval. It’s not that they’re great pictures, but the abandon that they were made with, has been missing for a while. I’m feeling that gap too much these days.

Monumento a la Revolución, D.F., Mexico, 2013. Fujifilm X-Pro 1, XF 35mm F1.4

Monumento a la Revolución, D.F., Mexico, 2013. Fujifilm X-Pro 1, XF 35mm F1.4

Comments 20

  1. Must admit that Xpro1 is pretty much unique piece of gear. It makes a bond with a photographer no other camera does. At least in my experience. I had no chance to shoot with new one and I do believe that is definitely a step up and forward. I don’t wanna sound like freeky gear addict and let’s not fool ourselves… we all drool over new technologies and camera upgrades but in case of XPro1 it is about personality more then technicality.
    All the best.
    Kind regards from Bosnia

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      Author

      I think also that we work very hard to adapt ourselves to its shortcomings, and make work anyway. It’s not easy, but the effort brings its own particular rewards.

  2. My X-Pro1 is the first camera I’ve owned that I have a real relationship with – most of the time it’s love and respect, sometimes frustration, sometimes it annoys the hell out of me so we have to spend some time apart. But then when we get back together, it’s feels sooo good, like we were meant for each other all along. Sure, it’s a bit slow and showing its age (but then so am I), but I’m not ready to dump it yet and shack up with the gorgeous younger model; we’ve still got plenty more quality time to spend with each other…

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      Author

      Hehehehe, every relationship with something/-one that rewards one for the time, effort and love put in, is special. I’ve been thinking for a while, about how nice it would be to have an X-E1 again…a smaller X-Pro 1. I may eventually capitulate and get my hands on one.

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    I refuse to admit I have a speed problem with the X-Pro1. But I do admit I use way more speed with the X-Pro1 than in the old days with my 4×5 camera.
    Suddenly I feel a bit slow and shaky…

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      Author

      I think, Willem, that speed in digital can’t be helped. I often think that’s the premise of anything digital – to speed up process, production and delivery.

      I’d love to explore large format photography, and the call gets a louder with time. I’ve never shot film, at all, and it makes little sense to start now, since i have no base from which to learn about development and printing. One day though.

      Hehe, get that addiction seen to – or fed, if that’s your fancy!

    2. As with pixels I feel we get at a point where more speed isn’t really a necessity. It’s more a way to keep the market going. Speed is a method to freeze things. The faster the speed the more things stand still 😉

      The thing I miss about my old 4×5 camera is the upside-down image on the ground glass. Nice to check the composition. I wish camera’s had this simple extra to see the image upside down in the EVF or on the LCD.
      Someone should make an app for the iPad that works like that. The iPad as a superflat 8×10 camera.

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      Author

      That’s not a bad idea! I’m sure some genius is working on that already, so maybe you’ll get it sometime soon.

  4. I wonder if an explanation for that earlier “abandon” can be found (at least in part) in the fact that since the X-Pro 1 wasn’t fast, you had to be?

    BTW: I love that image with scowl in the foreground and red balloon in back… such a fine yin and yang.

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      Author

      Yup, most definitely so. I’ve never been particularly fast, but certainly, being more involved in camera wrangling than I would with anything new (and fast and easy) allows me to react more to the peripheral stuff. That image you like so much is a fine example of that.

  5. I think they *are* great images Charlene. I feel the same about my old original X100 – sluggish but I spent so much time taming it and developing routines to get around its failings that I somehow got emotionally attached to it. Now I don’t use that camera any more but all the good memories are still there.

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      Author

      You’ve nailed it. I don’t use the X-Pro 1 anymore either. But I *want* to, you know? I often think that’s half the battle won.

  6. Maybe you should try the X-E2 instead of X-E1. I love using mine with the 35 1.4 and with the new firmware update it is like a new camera. I am sure the X-Pro2 is a great camera but there is just something cozy about using the X-E2 and the 35mm lens. Besides Charlene you make great photos no matter what camera you choose anyway.

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      Author

      I used the X-E2 between June 2014 and March 2015, it’s hands down, my favourite camera body to date. But compared to the X-Pro 1 (and E1), it was a breeze to use. None of this angsting about weird results and such.

  7. I’m languishing around waiting for my pro2 to arrive. Normally I’m working the studio with d800’s or events with the “Beast” d4s. Really looking forward to going back to my roots (so to speak) and doing more street and environmental portraits. Have the xe1 wich I like but don’t exactly love. Tried Leica nice but…hoping the xpro2 is THE one.

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      Author

      I think you might find more to love about the X-Pro 2 than the X-E1. Will keep my fingers crossed for you, Simon!

  8. >> I think, Willem, that speed in digital can’t be helped. I often think that’s the premise of anything digital – to speed up process, production and delivery.

    Charlene: your pictures are wonderful – but you obviously never tried shooting with a Sigma Merrill. 3 seconds to focus. 10-15 seconds to write each image. The images are wonderful as long as you’re shooting at low ISO… It’s sort of like having a Leica-sized camera that shoots with 120 film quality. And the breath-taking speed of 4×5 plate camera.

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      Author

      HAHA! I have heard a thing or two along those lines about the Merrills. It would be fabulous to try one out for a few days. There’d be a different kind of abandon shooting with those, I reckon

  9. I still use a X-Pro1, as amateur city and landscape photographer. I even use it with the original primes. Is it slow? Yes. Does it focus quickly enough for me? Absolutely, partly due to zone focusing. Do the X-Pro1, 18mm and 35mm primes allow me to make the pictures I want? Definitely.

    I know that the X-Pro2 is out, but I still have not found a good reason (except for GAS) why I would need it.

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      Author

      Agreed, Johan. Unless you have specific commercial needs, the X-Pro2 is almost too much tech. I’ve had nothing on me for the last 2 months except a borrowed X-E2, the 35 f2 and the 27 pancake, and all the things it doesn’t do, I find incredibly liberating.

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