Fuji X-Pro1 Impressions

Hugo Poon walks us through his first impressions of the Fuji X-Pro1 camera

March 20, 2012

Aminus3 photographer Hugo Poon was given the opportunity to test a pre-release version of the Fuji X-Pro1. The following, are some of Hugo's impressions of Fuji's latest creation, as well as a look into the mind of one of Hong Kong's great street photographers.

When I received a request from Jason from Aminus3 to write a review of the Fuji X-Pro1, I couldn't help thinking to myself, I'm the wrong guy. Although I might be among the first people who had the chance to play with this new camera, I must also be the most non-professional tester in the whole world. I never have the time, or even more important, the interest to dig into technical details of the equipment and do all sorts of detailed tests and comparisons... Taking pictures, my kind of pictures, is more than a hobby, it's a passion or even like an obsession to me and the only thing I care about the camera is how well it can help me achieve this - to capture the moment and document the familiar places that are fast changing and disappearing!   So my first response was that I would not be able to compile any kind of technical review, if that's what they are looking for. Quite to my surprise, Jason replied that my report need not be overly technical or a bunch of numbers and specs - in fact, the more personal the experience the better... Oh I love that, and can't find any reason to refuse any more.

Here's the little story I'd like to share - First impressions of the Fuji X-Pro1. Hope you enjoy :-)

  It's a cool and beautiful Monday morning and also Boxing Day (26 December 2011), when the Product Manager of Fuji Photo Products Co. Ltd. called me up, "I've got something to show you! Do you have time around lunch today?" "So It has arrived. Wasn't it announced only a short while ago?'"I replied calmly.

Have to be honest, I wasn't really unduly excited then, not because I didn't expect this to be a good camera but because I had already been a very happy user of the Fuji X100 for almost a year. I couldn't imagine that the new cam would be too much a difference except it could change lenses… Of course I was wrong!   After we met in a local restaurant, we chose a quiet corner seat. He opened a steel briefcase in which the body together with 3 lenses were neatly packed. As he took out the cam carefully, he kept looking around and stayed exceptionally alert - like we were examining some secret weapon! :-) When I noticed that the model name on the top of the cam was covered with a piece of black tape, I couldn't refrain myself anymore and simply burst into laughter. He stopped me immediately, "We have to do this. This camera doesn't exist yet. You'll have two days to play with it but you must not tell anybody…" "Okay Okay." I said as I turned the cam over and over to examine it in different light and angle; tossed it up lightly to feel its weight. It's well built and nice looking (though I love the classic look of the X100 even more), bulkier but didn't feel too much heavier than the X100.

As mentioned, the last thing I'll do with any new equipment is a detailed test and comparison. Normally an hour or so is all I would take to try out its various modes, settings and image quality. But with the X-Pro1, even less time was spent. After I returned home, just as usual, I took a few shots of the ceiling lamp and my book shelf and copied the pics to the computer. Well it uses the same USB cable as the X100, how convenient. I recall I was pretty laid back until the moment the copying was completed and the file opened. I was immediately stunned and astounded! What amazing super fine details it managed to capture. I got real excited then and just couldn't wait to get some real world shots! But before that, I needed to make a phone call to the Fuji's Manager, "Two days aren't enough. Give me at least one more night please!"

Manual Focus

These neon lights are enchanting but also a difficult subject for the autofocus system. So I always choose for manual focus when photographing such night scenes. Like the X100, when pressing the centre of the command dial the view in the electronic viewfinder (or LCD) will magnify for easy focus check. Unlike the X100, the focus ring feels more responsive and precise. No flares, sharp lines, beautiful details... Got it! Had been struggling to get a shot like this in the past...

The cleaner had finally finished the work of another long day and started packing her stuff. Somehow I could see a touching image the moment she would pass  through the gap between the two trams. Swiftly, F2.8 was chosen, pre-focus set on the rear door of the tram (using the AFL/AEL Button); and as she trudged through I pressed the shutter as gently as possible...

35mm (53mm 135 equivalent)

Have always loved this focal length. To me it re-creates something closest to what our mind's eye see; and here it offers me a framing that's just right!

High ISO

Not too long ago in the days of the S5Pro or compacts like the F200, ISO1600 was real high and was normally treated merely as the last resort. This limit was raised to ISO3200 when shooting with the X100. Impressed by the further improvement in the X-Pro1, I have no hesitation in selecting Auto ISO (3200) as my default. I didn't know (or even care) what ISO the cam had chosen - all I was concerned about was whether I could be quick enough to catch a fleeting scene. The fishing man did walk away just seconds after I took the shot.

So I was getting more confident in its high ISOs. Partly out of curiosity and partly trying to avoid motion blur, I selected ISO6400 manually to take this mid-night shot. Oh modern cameras and sensors are spoiling us.:-)

Dynamic Range (200%)

How lovely to be greeted by some warm afternoon light in a cold winter day. The light was charming but also blinding... couldn't see the face and expressions of this father and daughter; all I could see was a sweet silhouette though that's already mesmerizing me. I'm so glad that I did attempt to take a few shots despite the difficult light. They captured more than I could see. This must be one of my all-time favourites.

2ifc has always been my favourite subject. Its elegant form, patterns, beautiful details... in particular, the fins at the top symbolizing fingers reaching for the sky make it such a unique and compelling architecture. However, it's terribly difficult not to overexpose the white fins if you expose for the main facade of this skyscraper. The new cam did it so easily.

Natural tone & Exquisite Details (auto White Balance, standard color, sharpness and Noise Reduction)

This is simply my favourite favourite, both technically and photographically. Real and unreal, mundane and emotive, banal and evocative...

I discussed why I love this image on my blog page. Click the image to visit the original post and see my response to commenter K@.

How could a man resist such charm! I'm so pleased to be able to document these wonderful works of some unsung artists in tonality and delicacy that are natural and appealing.  

Shallow DOF

Why is a shallow DOF so important to me? Not because the soft background is specially charming but because it helps capture that kind of feel I have in my mind especially when I focus on a particular subject.

How wonderful to have the right tool in my hand when a touching moment capture my mind's eye.

Well, I guess I'll maintain my very first impression - the X-Pro1 is well built and nice looking (though I still prefer the more classic look of the X100), bulkier but not too much heavier than the X100... However, these are of little importance cause it's simply a far more capable and versatile photo taking machine. My only problem is how to squeeze it into my briefcase so that I can carry it with me everyday everywhere. Oh my, one more problem! When I bought the X100 last year, I told my other half that it's my dream camera...   How can I tell her about you Girl please tell me what to do Everything seems right whenever I'm with you So girl won't you tell me how to tell her about you.

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