Which could be quite reasonably followed by- Are you mad? The answers are yes, yes, and sadly yes. But let me explain or, at the very least rationalise, justify and maybe even – who knows – convince. The hows first. The very nice people at Wellington Photographic Supplies in New Zealand’s capital city have bought up a number of X-Pro 1’s from the equally nice people at Fujifilm New Zealand. They are offering a great deal, either body only or paired with the stellar XF 35 mm. I gave WPS a call and was offered an X-Pro 1 body for the equivalent of about $500 U.S. Sold! Great service, arrived next day with a follow up call from WPS to check it had arrived and that I was a happy shopper.
But, apart from the great price, why? I have an X-T1 and an X100S. The X-Pro 2 is just around the corner, probably the corner of the first half of next year, but hey, not that far away. My game plan had been to wait for the Pro 2 and then trade in my X-T1. Don’t get me wrong I do appreciate the X-T. I really do. IQ is a given, focus is fast, and it’s as versatile a tool as most photographers could need. The problem is that I also have the X100S. Brilliant as the EVF in the X-T is, the X100S has me hooked with that rangefinder positioned viewfinder. I rarely use the EVF on the X100S and have to admit I’m not sold on the centre prism-style any more, though that’s something I had never questioned in many years of camera ownership and use. The X100S has led me into a renaissance of street photography. I had long looked at and read about the X-Pro 1, loved its looks and wanted that body style with the ability to use different focal length lenses. Hence the long wait for the Pro 2. But now an X-Pro 1 at a bargain price. Second body for the ‘eventual’ Pro 2, chance to use other lenses than 23mm… and it just looks so, so… so ‘right’. Unboxed, very classy packaging by the way. Fuji have lowered the standard a bit with the presentation of the X-T boxing I think. Latest firmware installed. Well… I had gone through the menus and set up all my preferences, then discovered that the firmware needed updating. No problem. Except it reset all the menus to default settings. Patience Simon. And patience turns out to be very highly rewarded with the X-Pro 1. The XF 35mm is noticeably slower to focus on the X-Pro than the X-T. Don’t get me wrong, not ‘me jogging on a good day compared to Usain Bolt’ slower, but slightly so. I wondered why I couldn’t set the viewfinder review of the image taken to less than 1.5 sec. Truth is the X-Pro needs nearly that long to write the file to a fast memory card! I exaggerate a bit, but again it’s slower than the X-T experience and X100s truth be told.
The shooting experience though was a revelation – for all the right reasons. OVF, balance in the hand (with the 35mm), the way the dials and buttons are in just the right places and with the right amount of resistance and travel. I’m not the first to say this but Fujifilm, why, oh why did you not have an identical four way pad on the X-T (I know the reasons too – but if you get the chance, just pick up an X Pro and click those buttons!). At first I was shooting in aperture priority as I do with the X100S and X-T. Then I switched to manual exposure and suddenly – Woah! The X-Pro felt more right than the X100S and X-T have ever done. Something about the feel in the hands? The aperture ring between the fingers of the left hand, the size and position of the shutter speed dial between those of the right hand? Being able to keep the left eye open while using the OVF and so being able to unconsciously react to the changing light and the way I wanted the image to look? All of these probably, together with whatever magic the X-Pro 1 team at Fujifilm sold their souls to get into this camera. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still impatient for the X-Pro 2. But please, please Fujifilm keep the Pro 1 magic in there. The X-Pro 1 sensor is the first generation X Trans but, yet again, the images it produces were another very positive surprise. A little fine tuning in Iridient Developer and I really can’t say that the X-Trans II sensor is better, in fact maybe there was something in that first version?
Ok, I know the X-Pro 1 isn’t going to be for everyone and neither should it be. It’s not perfect. But I think I’m in love again… at least until the X-Pro 2.
All images © Simon Shaw 2015