It has been a couple of weeks I have been able to field test the Fuji X-Pro1, and I am already using it as main camera for our work as London Boudoir Photography. I have been in love with that camera for a long time, and now that I can use it regularly I love its concept even more. I have used a specific word, “concept” as it is very important to understand that the Fuji X-Pro1 is not a DSLR, and if you expect it to behave like one, you will be highly disappointed.
That said, my journey with this camera has been phenomenal so far, with just few hiccups when I expected it to behave like a DLSR.
Lately, I have been looking for a camera that was “less” than my Canon 5DMkII. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean a cheap point and shoot, but a camera that was lighter, less bulky and that would allow me to be more important than the camera itself. When Fabiana had the possibility to have it in her hands, she immediately noticed the difference in weight: its six hundred grams, comprehensive of the lens, were absolutely nothing compared with the almost two kilos of the 5DMkII with a 85mm lens on it. Keep your camera in your hands for hours and hours and you will notice the difference as well!
There is also another huge advantage I have found in the Fuji X-Pro1 and its unobtrusiveness: being a left-eye shooter, I have always given my right eye a minor impact in the way I photograph. Now that I use this camera, which is much smaller than the others, I have moved my right eye in the viewfinder; why? That’s simple; I use my right eye for checking the exposure, locking the focus and framing, but then I switch all my attention to my left eye. That one sees the real photograph I want! I am still a left-eye shooter, but I can now focus all my attention to my subjects with an eye unobstructed by a viewfinder that limits my ability to see the moment.
We specialise in Boudoir Photography, so you have to expect our subjects to be quite intimidated of posing half naked in front of our cameras. A smaller, unobtrusive camera works wonders in lowering the gap and relaxing our customers!
This is an A-M-A-Z-I-N-G thing that the Fuji X-Pro1 allows me to do.
Shooting with my DSLR means that when I have the camera on my eye (the left one), my entire face is covered. My voice comes out muffled from behind it and whoever looks at me sees a huge lens. From a regular person’s perspective, this is intimidating as they have to deal with a machine and not with a human being.
On the contrary, when I shoot with the Fuji X-Pro1, only one of my eyes and part of my right cheek is covered, the rest is all human. My voice is not blocked by something in front of my mouth and my subjects can actually see my eye and my face. They have a relation with me, not with my camera. If you think this can be a minor thing, ask those who feel uncomfortable in front of a camera.
The Fuji X-Pro1 is in that range of cameras that simply is… “less“. It allows Carlo, the photographer, to come out stronger than Carlo, the guy with the huge camera. Following the same reference to Boudoir Photography I wrote few paragraphs up, I can say that allowing our customers to see my face and relate with me more than with my camera has made my job much easier!
Is a Ferrari better than a Fiat 500? I guess you can say it is, but if you are driving in the exceptionally narrow street of Trieste or in the traffic of London, I guess you would rather be behind the wheel of the latter. In the same way, you can say that a last-generation DSLR is better than a Fuji X-Pro1; however, if you reset your expectations and start understanding the pace of the camera, you might reach the conclusion that, if not in rare cases, you will never use all the power of your DSLR as you won’t give the Ferrari’s engine the space to sing its hundreds of horse power.
The Fuji X-Pro1 is not a DSLR, and a comparison between the two is not the best solution. You can compare the Fuji X-Pro1 with other mirrorless, but if you really want to know what to expect while moving from your Canon or Nikon beasts to the small Fuji, then I can easily say that you must be prepared to accept some tradeoffs. The focusing system is the first thing you will see. You won’t get the speed and accuracy of a 5DMkIII, not in a million years. Shooting sport with the Fuji X-Pro1 is like racing on the Monza circuit with the same Fiat 500 we spoke about earlier. There is also an annoying shutter lag I am not used to having in my DSLR.
However, if what you need is to minimise the impact of your camera, if you want to be more “zen” in the way you photograph, more focussed on the subject in front of you, then the Fuji X-Pro1 is an optimal solution. I would say that is like having to pick a car to park in the unbelievably small parking space of Trieste or to dodge the huge London traffic!
One of the points I was skeptical about was the fact that the Fuji X-Pro1 is not a full frame camera. I thought that would have been a huge minus to it. Alas, I was comparing it to a DSLR. The depth of field is not the same as my current 5DMkII, but the quality of the images are absolutely gorgeous. My skepticism was put to silence especially as I use the optical viewfinder to shoot, and so my field view is not limited to a small viewfinder as in the typical non full-frame DSLRs.
Culling the images, Fabiana and I cannot tell the difference between the files coming from our camera and the Fuji X-Pro1. This is by no means a pixel-perfect review, but the images coming out from it are perfect for our customers, so I see no issues with them. Even the large boudoir photography prints comes perfectly with the files from the Fuji X-Pro1, I really have no complaints.
My Canon 5DMkII will still be my companion for all the video part of our work; the Fuji X-Pro1 simply does not play in the same game on that side. All the settings you need and the smoothness while manual focusing an L lens is just miles ahead. The Fuji X-Pro1 has not been built with a manual focus in mind, this is as simple as I can put it.
Another thing I would love to see is a better autofocus. I am not expecting to have a DSLR, but I would still have either more speed or more accuracy in tough situations as while backlighting the subjects.
Last, but not least, I would love the camera to freeze the moment I click the shutter button, but I have learned to live with the short lag…