Fuji X-Pro1 Review

I’ve had my X-Pro1, along with the XF 35mm & 18mm lenses, for a little over a week now. I’ve taken it though the preliminary testing through a full day’s pro shoot (more on that later)… So let’s just get this out of the way: THIS THING ROCKS.

In order to afford this puppy, I sold my bread ‘n butter 5DMKII rendering an entire kit of L-glass useless. I also got rid of my Fuji X100, which left me without an axe. Needless to say, I was quite anxious for the 2+ months between the CES announcement and US release of the X-Pro1.

During this time I read LOTS of foreign reviews, pre-production tests, and bogus reactions from bloggers and forum trolls. Of these reviews the results were generally positive noting the fantastic image quality, amazing high ISO performance, and build quality. Trending negatives were often focused on price, auto/manual focus, and aperture chatter.

When I finally got the cam and lenses (the 60mm is still backordered) I had a list of things I wanted to confirm, debunk, or return the camera. First I had to charge the battery, OK, I cheated here and stuck in the spare I bought to begin testing! But hell, they’re LI-ion not the old Ni ones that actually have a “memory” anyways. But I digress, back to da bidness…

Aperture Chatter: NON-ISSUE
People have been making a lot of noise over a very subtle, insignificant clicking sound in changing lighting conditions. It is impossible to hear outside, and only audible for the shooter in the quietest situations.

Auto-Focus: Fine / Manual Focus: Bad
Like I said earlier, my two previous cameras were the 5DMKII and the X100, so obviously I’m not shooting sports.  I guess I’m just not very demanding of my AF performance, because a lot of folks are nuts about this. I tend to shoot slowly and deliberately. That said, I’m a pro and require professional results, reliability and speed.

The X-Pro1 & 18mm is much faster than the X100, but the 35mm is only slightly faster. The X-Pro1 tends to be about even with my 5DMKII, which was prone to hunt in low light, but is definitely NOT as fast as the 7D.

The X-Pro1 really looses respect when it comes to manual focus. That said, fly-by-wire isn’t the whole problem. The Canon 85mm f/1.2L is fly-by-wire, and that’s one of the best lenses ever made. The X-Pro1 fails because there is no turning speed/focus throw relationship (let alone adjustment). It’s a crap shoot every time you try to use it. Sometimes it takes 5-7 turns, but others a slight turn will make it jump.

I find MF useful only for macro (of stationary subjects) and for minute zone-focus tweaks (major adjustments made with at AF/AE button).

Price: Whatever
People may scoff at this, but it’s true. Who cares what it costs if it: Does the job? Helps make better photos? Gets out of the way while you concentrate? Everyone answers these differently, but for me the X-Pro1 does it all.

ISO Performance: Best Ever!
Much better at 6400 than the 5DMKII… Hands down. Low light? Bring it on, even without a flash!

AUTO ISO has two major flaws: The user needs to be able to set the Minimum Shutter Speed, and it should go up to 6400 instead of just 3200… Listen up Fuji!

Image Quality: Awesome
I am blown away buy the power of this sensor. The files take whatever I throw at them in post. I am no pixel peeping scientist, but I think the AA filter is a thing of the past. I haven’t seen a trace a moiré. I haven’t gotten much of chance to edit RAW files yet. Adobe doesn’t support the X-Pro1 RAW format yet and SilkyPix is garbage…

Ok, enough of the spec nonsense. This camera is great. Its snappy and discrete. Great for shooting events of any kind. People just don’t react to this cam like a DSLR. Most don’t even know its there. A couple people have even thought I was shooting film. Film is cool, but dead, sorry hipsters…

X-Pro1 as A-Camera: Standing up to the Pressure
Last week I shot PAX East for a big-time game developer. I intended to use the 7D and maybe play with the X-Pro1 a bit after I got the shots I really needed. No way, after an hour of using the Canon, I switched to the Fuji and the 7D hung out in the bag (killing my shoulder) for the rest of the day. The X-Pro1 was perfect in the crowds and no one even batted an eye when I stuck it right in there face. I never realized how intimidating the DSLR w/ zoom lens is until I saw people’s [non] reaction to this camera.

I accidentally shot half the day on RAW only (instead of RAW+JPEG) so I was forced to use the Silkypix RAW converter that comes bundled. This could have been horrible, but I just exported the files as uncompressed TIFFs and finished them off in Lightroom, which actually worked well.

When it came time to work with the JPEGs I noticed the red had gone to an overexposed pinkish, fuchsia hue. This must be due to the in-camera JPEG conversion because the reds were red in the RAW converted TIFFs. Anyways, this seems like an easy firmware fix. I have provided an example, but not a great one (sorry). It is very apparent sometimes, but I’m at work and dont have access to my stuff… *SEE UPDATE BELOW*



I love it, but its not going to cut it on all shoots. I will still be getting a 5DMKIII (when the issues get worked out and when my funds recover). The DSLR is just too fast, too reliable, to versatile to die this easily. Also, the X-Pro1 won’t play nice with zooms and doesn’t have a great flash equivalent to the 580EX, making it hard to use in a photojournalistic way. For weddings I can see it being more appropriate, but again these gigs are usually too important to fool around and the Fuji can slow you down.

But that is EXACTLY what the X-Pro1 is great at: slowing you down to rethink things, and plan it all out instead of just smashing frames at the situation. It’s definitely a niche camera and that’s a good thing. If you are completely happy lugging the DSLR kit around, then great. But it’s nice to just grab a small bag and be done with it without sacrificing quality. My next step is to get a EF-20 flash unit and see what it can do. Maybe then the big boy kit will get even more dusty between big boy gigs.


I mentioned originally that I thought the reds were being terrorized in JPEG conversion and that this might be a firmware bug.

Adam, a faithful reader, brought up the fact that I was using ProNegS and suggested trying Standard/Provia. I did a test for all Film Simulation Modes and compared them together and against a RAW file converted (without editing) in SilkyPix…

What I found is that ProNegS does tend to turn your reds a bit pink, BUT Standard/Provia seems to as well (with a bit of additional saturation & contrast). So, I happily retract my claim that there may be a “bug”…

ProNegH seems to be the winner, with Astia in close second. But all-in-all I just hate shooting JPEG and can’t wait for Adobe to release RAW support!

Thanks, Adam for pointing this out.

Fuji X-Pro1: First 24 Hours

Finally got my new cam… So pumped! It’s a really great camera. So satisfying to use, and just “gets outta the way”, letting you do your thing.

Not even gonna talk about the good and the bad. Leave it to the Queen. Here are some shots from a couple hours of shooting before, after and a few during work today….



city feed

four car garage

new car smell

makin' groceries

cuttin in up

Fall Harvest

Break out the sweaters, it’s that time of year again. Summer’s in the rear-view and winter’s around the bend. But before the changing of the seasonal guard comes nature’s milder side. Like Spring, Fall is a transitional season of fleeting beauty. Like most of New England, the trees are preparing for a long, cold winter. As suddenly as the leaves assume their rusty palettes they fall in a swan song of color until Spring.


Giant Pumpkin

With Fall comes harvest. A years worth of energy stored in one crop. Open the larders and stuff the stores, it’s time to stock up for winter. Harvest brings a plethora of of fine produce to the farmer’s markets and groceries around the northeast. There is no better place to experience this than Beth’s Farm Market in Warren, ME.

McIntosh Apples


Boston’s Newest Photographer

It’s been a long, eventful summer. After the Celtics laid an egg in Game 7, I hopped in my ’94 Nissan pickup and headed north. 1800 miles later and after a brief pit stop on Martha’s Vineyard, I pulled into the dirt driveway of our family’s house on Cross Point Rd. The next 5 weeks would be spent living on my pop’s 27 foot sailboat, working on our property for some cash, and a whole lotta nothin much…


During six months of Federal Unemployment, I realized one thing. Being broke sucks. So I did what any red-blooded 25-year-old would do, got drunk… No seriously, I started thinking of greener grass, the other side, and all that nonsense. I began to think about moving back East, and soon had decided that Boston was the answer. So I popped open the Mactop and got to looking for work in BOS. In a stroke of luck I hit on a listing that seemed perfect, inquired, and had an interview within 24 hours.


After the interview (and another pit stop to the Vineyard) my girl and I packed up the truck and headed back to NOLA. A few days later, all I could do was think about moving. Mentally I was already living in Boston.

Winter Harbor, ME

A week later the phone rang. I got the job! I could hardly believe the words as I told pop and my boys. In two weeks I would be living in Boston working a steady job. I didn’t waste any time. Three days later the truck was packed (for the 3rd time this summer), the tank was full, and I was gone…

Roadtrip TriptychOnce in New England I stopped to see the folks, but within the week I moved into a sublet in Jamaica Plain. I took a few days to learn my route on the Orange line and find the nearest liquor store (“packy” up here). After getting settled (and another trip to the island), I started work at Simply Interactive Inc on Newbury St.

I’ve been here a month now, and I’m loving every minute of it. I miss my southern city and all my friends, but its only bye for now… The girlie is movin up in 2 months!


Whatch out yall, Boston’s got a new photographer!

City Park New Orleans

Now that summer is finally upon us it’s time to get outside. There are two major parks in New Orleans: Audubon and City Park. For comparison’s sake, City Park is much better. Audubon is a beautiful park in uptown New Orleans with many attractions including a golf course, zoo, track, and riverfront chill spot but offers no way to “get away form it all”.  Since Katrina, City Park has lost its golf course, which is now an excellent off-road bike heaven. But without a zoo, golf course, or Mississippi River view City Park offers enough space (second only to Central Park, NY) to lose yourself for hours. And for all you dog lovers, City Park has a brand new dog park!

Somewhere inside of me there is a little country kid from the coast of Maine. Only in City Park can I feel like I’m not in the city for a while. Amidst its many bike/walking trails, winding bayous, and lush gardens are a million spots where you can hang without running into anyone. For those looking for “things” to do, City Park offers Storyland for the kids, Botanical Gardens, and the New Orleans Museum of Art as well as Pan American Stadium, Tad Gormley Stadium, and a running track. If there is one spot that makes City Park special it’s the Peristyle. Like something out of ancient Greece, this temple-like building is a great place to take a few photographs, feed the ducks, or just watch the clouds go by.

iPhone Photography and iPhone 4G Wishlist

When I first got my iPhone 3GS I was utterly disappointed with the camera. Being a photographer, my expectations were not exactly high, but I did expect on having a usable camera in well-lit situations. On first inspection I immediately wrote the “3 megapixel auto-focus camera” off as nothing more than a gimmick. For months I seldom used the camera for more than MMS, which was cool for pranks and what not but nothing worthy of Flickr.

Recently I have been pushing the iPhone further trying to squeeze some quality out of its nanosensor. It actually is quite good if the right tools/technique are used. The trick to the iPhone is holding it steady. Darkroom (free) is a great app that uses the accelerometer to shutter release when the phone is steady. Also know that the iPhone’s shutter fires when you lift off the button not when you press it.

The App Store as many free or cheap apps to post-process your iPhoneography. My favorite is Photogene, which really is the closest thing to Photoshop for the iPhone (sorry Photoshop.com Mobile). Photogene ($1.99) is the one stop shop for exposure levels, RGB levels, crop/straighten, and sharpening. Sharpening is probably the most important aspect to processing iPhone photos. The photos are always soft.

Is the iPhone a toy? Yes and no, it does toy-like things and smart-phone things, but the camera really is a toy. Toy cameras have always been the smallest, cheapest, most quirky cameras around and they produce fantastic one of a kind results. The iPhone is similar to a Holga or Lomo in that you never really know what your going to get. For more creative aspects of iPhoneography check out CameraBag ($1.99), which offers many toy camera filters, Polaroid borders, and other one-touch effects.

The all-in-one app is Best Camera, whose slogan says it all, “The Best Camera is the one thats with you”. The guys at Best Camera hit the nail on the head, the iPhone is excellent for being unnoticed. Paul Strand used to use trick lenses so his subjects didn’t know he was photographing them. Regardless of whether or not this type of photography is exploitative or dishonest the iPhone is perfect for this. Street photography is about timing, confidence, and speed/preparation. The “problem” with street photography is that once your subject sees a camera pointed at them the scene is often lost. The iPhone allows you to snap photos of people unknowingly anywhere. People are so accustomed to seeing iPhones they don’t think twice about it. Best Camera ($2.99) offers exposure filters, creative effects, and crop/border tools.

That said, the iPhone 4G camera should have some obvious additions. I would like to see a quicker controllable shutter, 5 megapixels would be nice, ISO control, and if possible a larger sensor (yeah right). There are other more gimmicky things I don’t really care for. Likely additions are a flash (a sensor that small will always be useless in low-light), auto-focus tracking, or even a front facing camera for video chat, digital zoom (a one way ticket to horrible photos). Who knows? I am looking forward to see what Apple comes up with.

Freelance Photographer on the Road to Homelessness

Unemployment benefits are a good thing. You work a job for 4 years throughout college and graduate, but contrary to popular opinion, a degree is not immediately followed by gainful employment. This situation leaves one option: stick with the mindless 9-5 or 5-close until you can land a job that has thing-one in common with the $50k debt you now carry. That is, until you are canned because of a down economy.

It only takes a few hours before you ask yourself, “Where’s my slice”? Young professionals need to be aware of the programs available to them such as Unemployment Benefits, Federal Student Loan Consolidation,  and recent Health Care reforms. Taxpaying citizens all have the right to take back when necessary. The pennies you get from unemployment hardly compare to the amount of income tax you’ve paid the past four years…

When I was laid off from my day job I had no choice but to file unemployment. Now I have six months to get this photography ship off the ground. Freelance photography is far from “all fun and games”, but it probably is the coolest job around. Come July, if I can’t pay my rent I’ll be headed out to get a dead end job. Until then its GOVT cheese for me. Otherwise I’m sure my degree can get me a hat, horn, and spot on the corner to scream for change. Maybe then some cliché photography student will take pictures of me!