I've read a lot of for and against for the new mirror less technology this year but having only jumped on board myself a few months ago I've held off on making any sort of post on my thoughts so far, I'm not going to do a review, that's been done far better than I could but having been asked by a few people I thought it was worth a post giving my personal experience with the lovely little camera.
OK so there is no doubt that the Fuji is a beauty, I love the look of film cameras over DSLR and this has that, although I wished it had some silver like the 100S but that's cosmetics!! I deliberated for ages over getting this, reading about them, looking at the work that others were producing with them, I love the look of film but the costs and wait for developing wasn't something I wanted to get back into and a photographer friend described the images out of the X-Pro as looking something between digital and medium format… I thought, right, now you have my attention, he was right, I couldn't agree more with that description. Now for total honesty here, on first couple of uses I seriously thought I'd made a huge mistake buying this thing, I could not nail focus, it wasn't responding the way I was used to, it all just felt so wrong BUT I wanted to love this camera and I kept playing around with it, the settings, the way I shot, I read others experiences, what worked for them and I tried things out and got more comfortable with the whole experience. First off, if you're reading this and having problems then forget for a moment that it's digital, get yourself in the mindset that you're shooting film, slow down, don't try and shoot at the same rate you would shoot a DSLR, you'll be majorly disappointed!! I wished I'd done that, I was so caught up in having my first new camera since my shiny new 5D MkII that I was running out half cocked as they say and lining myself up for a big fall… which I duly got!
Fast forward to now and I did fall in love with the Fuji and the exceptional glass that I purchased alongside it, has it replaced my Canon? No, but then I didn't really expect it to either, I wanted the Fuji for location work first and foremost and then as a day to day carry about, weekends away etc., what I actually got was much more because yes, I prefer it for natural light work over my Canon but I also prefer it in some scenarios for studio black and white work and as a result I am shooting far more personal work, still with models but in more of an old school film style which I absolutely love. The Fuji isn't perfect but then neither is my DSLR, it's slower, less forgiving of any camera shake, it's not going to give me that same pin sharp reliable image that my Canon does 99% of the time, when shooting models it's sharper close in than it is at a distance, now it could partly be me as well but I'm not being critical here, just giving my experience and you know what? I like that, it adds to that 'film look', the dynamic range in natural light destroys the Canon… look at this image in harsh sunlight, on the Canon I'd have had to recover the shadow areas to look like this…
…with the Fuji there was no need, there was far more detail in the shadows straight from camera, I shot in similar light with the Canon recently and the shadow areas were almost black in some shots. I've colour toned this image but the colour from the Fuji was very true to the colours in the real world, great saturation and tones throughout by just using auto white balance. Now this is in contrast to my colour experience under studio lit conditions with strobes, I struggle to get a good
constant white balance even using a grey card, no biggie as in studio I have the Canon anyway but it would be nice to have that same near perfect colour I get under strobes from the Canon without correcting the RAW file in Capture One. Black and white on the other hand I really like the Fuji in studio when I know I want just black and white images, again I get that film look. The other downside in the studio is the lack of tethered shooting support but for what I shoot with it right now it's not a big deal, in the future if I wanted to shoot a client job then I'd likely be forced to use the Canon as clients generally want to see the results coming up on screen, though in the studio it's unlikely I'd use use the Fuji for a client job anyway… at least at this current time, though I know photographers such as Alex Lambrechts who have done so very successfully and clients are fine with untethered shoots.
So in conclusion, before this turns into War and Peace, here's some good and not so good things that I've found personally, bearing in mind that I'm still quite new to the X system and that overall I can definitely say that I will be keeping the camera and investing in the X system going forward! I may give the new X-T 1 a go but have a feeling I will wait for the next X camera, X-Pro 2????
What I love about the Fuji:
It looks like film
Beautiful in natural light giving great colour and tones
Great black and white (which I shoot a lot!)
Amazing dynamic range
The design and look of the camera
Image preview in EVF after taking shot
Fuji themselves as a company and having met and remained in touch with Katie from Fuji UK I get the feeling that they actually give a crap about us as users and listen to the feedback
Not so good (but not enough to turn me off!)
Can miss focus more than DSLR (this could be user error too though)
No tethered shooting
Colours under studio flash not so good (in my experience)
A little slow compared to DSLR meaning I can sometimes miss a shot
Seems less sharp at distance compared to close in when shooting people, this is also a good thing at times though as I think it adds to the film look, sometimes I really don't want that pixel perfect sharpness anyway
Contrast detection AF only, this has been changed on the XT to a hybrid AF
No dedicated back button focus, though there is a work around of sorts that I've adopted but again I believe this is included now on the XT
So there you have it, my thoughts, my experiences and my opinions… for those that have said this is a photographer's camera, I wholeheartedly agree and understand that statement, it's a camera that has character, like film cameras before it, if you want to fire of frames like a machine gun and hope one or two are good then this is not the system for you, if you want to fall in love with the art again then get one! I'll close with some X-Pro shots from the past few months… enjoy!
All images ©Brian Rolfe 2014