The Big Fuji Blog. (Q&A)
Fuji asked me a couple of questions about what I think of the Fuji Film X-Pro.
This is an edited down copy of the questions and answers I sent back to them – Please note that this has been edited and was written almost 2 years ago at this point. I have updated with some new a more current images though.
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I have tried to keep this as full as possible but I have had to edit for the public a little bit, and this was written quite a while ago, but, I think it makes interesting reading still.
What style of photography do you specialise in & What style of photography have you been using the X-Pro1 for?
Fashion based portraiture & Landscapes.
Before the X-Pro came along I was pretty much a full frame SLR based photographer. The X-Pro cam along and totally changed my workflow as a photographer. It is now my ‘go to’ camera for pretty much every time I go out the door. I have used the camera in both a hobby for and a work tool.
What equipment do you usually shoot on and how has the X-Pro1 been a useful addition and/or replacement to your regular kit?
Full Frame DSLR / Canon & Nikon / MF – Pentax 645d / Ricoh GR
The X-pro has proved to be an extremely useful camera in many unforeseen and novel ways. The X-Pro1 has not become a replacement for other cameras but an addition giving me more flexibility and range in my work. As a working photographer, I had lost much of the joy of photography years ago. Photos began to have values and only were taken to provide income. Long gone were the days that I would take a camera out on a walk in case I saw something fun or take a camera to a friends house. A camera had become a work tool. The X-Pro1 had changed that for me. The styling of the camera was chic enough to not be ‘geeky’ yet the sensor and optics provided me with enough to shoot in a way I could use for my work. Being able to use the camera as a working tool and a ‘day to day’ camera, in my eyes, it the biggest selling point of the camera. The X-Pro1 had reopened up the joy of photography and letting me more flexible as to when and where I could take a camera.
Have you used any Fujifilm products before and if so which?
Early digital camera and film stock – but nothing of major note. I was aware of the brand and the heritage. I was close to getting the FujiFilm S5 over the D200 once. We then as a family had a couple of digital compacts and a Bridge camera. I guess when I think back, I have in some way or another been using and around Fuji Film from the very start.
How did you find the feel and weight of the X-Pro1 and its lenses?
Nice solid size and build, the new pancake lens will be a great step forward as then you can fit the camera with a lens into a jacket pocket. I had taken the camera to a couple of formal events and it would have been nice for the camera to of been a little sleeker at times. I guess now, you have brought out the 27mm, you have solved this problem for many.
A nice camera should have a nice weight to it giving a solid feel and reducing camera shake. The camera has a nice balance with all the lenses (18, 35 and 60mm). The X100s is another amazing well-balanced camera. I find the others in the range a little light and unbalanced with the 60mm on the camera.
What did you think of the layout of the Q and Fn buttons? Did you think these were appropriately placed?
Great placement and usability, placed very well for my hands and usage. I use the camera with my left eye. I could use the function buttons while holding the camera to my eye giving fast control of the camera.
What do you find the benefits to be of the hybrid viewfinder to your shooting style?
I have used the camera in many conditions and using the viewfinder is very natural to me. Due to a lack of battery life, when shooting all day, I would use non of the LCD modes to save battery power. Having an in camera B&W preview was very useful to me to work out exposure levels. Shooting though a viewfinder, I find is the best way to get a nice composition and focus lock. The viewfinder is one of the strongest elements of the X-Pro.
Did you find the menus easy to navigate?
Very much so, however, I am very well used to working with new cameras. The Q menu function had pretty much every thing needed. However, there is nothing on silent shooting mode to tell you that you will not be able to use the flash or sync to a flash using a hot shoe. This took a while to understand after seeing the small icon. The colour systems on the menu are a little dull and bland. Going though photos was hard, but this maybe more due to processing rather than the menus. Moving the focus point around could be easier to press when using the camera at eye level. The button is located in a hard to reach area when using the camera.
How do the lenses compare to lenses on other systems you have used?
Compared to other CSC cameras they are class leading. The fast primes were a great range to start the growing range with, the recently added lenses are continuing to show that Fujinon are among the finest lens makers in the world. I have extensively tested the 3 primes and the mid zoom since the date of realise and not one has had a single problem. The 18mm lens had been dropped and still worked a treat. Very well made, study and robust. Super sharp & clear. Contrast is great. Since the updated firmware all the lenses have been faster and more usable with the longer focal lengths being of a much noted improvement. The only thing to make a not of is that it would of been nice to have a metal lens hood for the 18-55 f4.
How did you find the speed and accuracy of the auto focus?
When the X-pro first came to the market, this was the problem with the camera. It was pretty bad and hard to use. It is the one of the cameras let downs along with battery life and speed of reading and writing to the card. Many photos back focused and slipped.
During a shoot in Times Square the focus was so as it was trying to lock on, we scrapped that shot and moved on. Having to focus lock after every frame when shooting in single frame mode was also a nightmare. Having to wait between each frame is just not good enough for a camera at this costing. To get around this, always having the camera in manual and using the focus button to pull auto focus when needed was the fastest way to work around this. It would be nice to also have a selection of focus point sizes / weights. When shooting fine depth of field, the box is to large for the user to understand what the camera is going to focus on, even more so when shooting at 2.8 on the 60mm lens.
After the upgrade to the firmware, the camera was a vastly improved unit. Giving a higher, faster more confident focus lock. The lack of the camera holding focus after a shot was still a disappointment though. Having a half press focus hold and shoot system would be a great advantage to the system overall. The continued updates and introduction of focus peaking was wonderful and helpful.
Focus peaking – Great addition but needs to be finer when working at f2.8 on any lens – esp the 60mm. It is still easy to get an out of focus shot when the camera is telling you it is in focus.
Were you using a flash with the X-Pro1 and if so did this work well for your shooting style?
I did like the flash. ( Fuji EF-X20). It gave a look that is of the retro styling of the camera. Having the flash close to the lens did inevitable cause some “red eye” but the flash mode did help.The guide number of 20 was powerful and bright enough to use in a creative way. I have also been using the X-Pro1 in the studio sync’d with my studio flash set up with great results. The PC-Sync port was great to see and has helped in a few times of need. The fact that silent mode turns off the hotshoe and PC-Sync is odd for a camera that has no built-in flash, but I guess this is due to the fact the firmware is shared among cameras.
What are your thoughts on the image quality in comparison to other systems you have used?
Image Quality is very good and colour rendition is also very good. Images are sharp and have a nice tonal range. Comparing like for like in sensor size the files are great to work with. I would say class leading in many respects and above average in others. The X-Trans sensor provides a wonderful image for editing and great pixel density & contrast.
Would you be confident to submit images taken on the X-Pro1 for commercial work?
I have used them for both weddings and commercial work. Clients have never questioned the images and delighted with the images. So far the biggest I have printed was 20″x 18″. Clients love the images. Below is a cover shot on the X-Pro for a photo Magazine.
Did you find the manual controls useful and easy to use?
Overall yes, However the manual focus was far to slow and unresponsive. The ability to change the direction of the focus movement was unneeded and would have been better served having the ability to change how sensitive the system is. The dials work flawlessly and have been problem free despite heavy usage and dusty environments.
How would you change the X-Pro1 to make it more suitable for you?
Even after the upgrade, an overall focus / focus lock system would be great to see. A way to use the leather holder and have access to the battery and card holder. An eye cup which has a better seal to the eye. An improved battery life. More connectivity & GPS. Higher resolution and larger screen. Setting up video modes and more video capability. For example, a full manual mode in video. FPS etc. Dual SD card slots and a faster read write system / processes. External input for audio. Full commander mode for flash usage.
How did you think the camera performed shooting at high ISO?
If you are shooting high ISO, you are more than likely shooting at night, so a better focus system will help all round. ISO performance is great and provides confidence to the photographer.
What did you think of the manual aperture control?
I love the on-lens control. A nice sleek design that is usable, retro and stylish.
Have you used the video function on the X-Pro1 and if so do you have any comments on its functionality?
The video is great, clean and the on board mic is great. However, a wider range of video formats would be nice. Being able to choose from NTSC or PAL, and a choice in frame rates would be great too. Having a 50fps setting would be nice also. Having direct output and microphone inputs would also be cheap to add and give better, wider use to the customer. Having the tripod mount in the centre of the camera would also be a wise idea. When the camera is currently mounted it can not be moved while mounted without giving a strange parallax movement due to the odd mounting positions. Full manual video modes.
Which lens do you think you would have the most use for?
35mm f1.4 – All round usage . A great lens with a fast speed.
Which lenses would you hope Fujifilm will produce for the X-Pro1?
After looking at the new lens list, most them are due for release. It seems all the bases are covered.
Are there any features you expected to see on the X-Pro1 which weren’t there?
Wider range of video options, better designed dial, Mic input. When you hold down the shooting button half way after taking a shot, it should of held focus to enable faster shooting without having to wait for the camera to re-focus
What kind of photographer would you recommend the X-Pro1 to?
Every level of photographer could and would enjoy this camera.
Do you have any further comments which you would like to pass on to Fujifilm?
Overall, I have loved using the X-Pro1 camera system. Particularly enjoying the creative freedom and using the camera to shoot in a new creative style. Using DSLR cameras we can fall into the trap of shooting super sharp, crisp photographs. Somehow the X-Pro1 does remind use that content is very important still. I have been using a long time now and I have I have noted a change in my style when using the camera. I find my self shooting in a much more relaxed artistic direction.
The X-Pro1 has not replaced another camera in my camera bag but I now have a dedicated X-Pro1 bag as I would never want to be caught out on a job or holiday / event without it (if only the battery life was better). I do not think I have left my house without the X-Pro1 since it has been with me.
There are some elements of the camera that still, even after the great firmware update that need to be addressed in my eyes. Some of them are still linked to the focus systems. In the next 24 months, I think that the camera race will all be focused around the focus systems on the cameras. Canon have really set a high bench mark with the 5D Mark3 and the 6d has an even better system. I personally have had many problems with the Nikon D800. I am sure Fuji have been aware of talk on many forums about the focus system on the X-Pro1, both before and after the update. In my eyes there are a few small ideas and tweaks that can be worked in to continue to solve these problems.
Battery life was a big worry for me when travelling with the X-Pro1, I now never leave the house with less than 2 charged batteries. Having a way to charge via USB would be great and mean that the mobile phone power packs such as the Anker Astro 1300 could be used to charge and power the camera.
The X-Pro1 is not the female friendly, maybe a range of slight colour additions might be good at opening up the appeal to a wider market at a small cost.
The RAF file now being supported by Adobe is a great advantage, as the FUJI software is not up to par with Lightroom or other programs as far as work flow systems go
I have not used , nor see the use for the in camera photobook modes or print order modes. I am not sure these functions match the high end user who will use the camera. There are other functions that could be added for the user though. Like being able to add ratings and marks that will show in Adobe Bridge or Lightroom for example.
The Film Simulation mode are wonderful but also quite unprintable and not useable when shooting with a Lightroom workflow and shooting in RAW. When shooting in JPEG mode the Film modes are great as they are formed as part of the JPEG file and not a sidecar file. When shooting in RAW / RAF modes, the Film Simulation information is added on using a side-car file in the RAF file, Lightroom strips the file of this information when loaded into Lightroom. This can be set to not do this, but then it will also not do this for all other files and cameras used. The problem is that I want to have the RAW files with this added info from the X-Pro but not from another DSLR. So a compromise has to be formed and that means loosing the ability to shoot RAF + Film Simulation modes which is a shame. If Fuji used DNG files I think this could solve this problem, but this would have to be looked into. If the Film simulation data could be created as an adjustment layer of sorts. This would be fantastic. Almost like a PSD file ( Layer Stack )
There is a growing trend of people wanting to edit photos on an iPad or tablet using apps such as SnapSeed or Instagram Having an Export via bluetooth button or function where the camera limits the file to 1000px wide and can send / email / export the file to a device for app based editing. I know some brands such as Nikon and Samsung have Android based cameras, but I feel being able to just shoot and export is the better way, keeping the camera as a camera. Maybe even a FujiFilm App that used the Film Simulation modes and layer based editing would be another great idea. This app could also be used to remote control the camera in some conditions. I would love to be able to use the Film simulation modes in a post process element.