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A Quick and Dirty Fuji X-Pro2 Review

With M-moun adapater and Leica 21mm Super-Elmar f3.4

Wearing the Leica 21mm Super-Elmar f3.4 via Fuji M-Mount Adapter and Hard Graft strap

Just in case anyone at Fuji is listening, here goes. After a month of shooting with it, I absolutely love this camera. Enough that I’m seriously thinking about selling my Canon 5D3 AND all the L-glass I have (seriously, I really can’t see myself ever using that huge brick again).. So everything being great, let me list my complaints…. so you fix them!

First the issues I have that cannot be addressed via firmware:

AF-L Button Placement
This just sucks. NO WHERE NEAR correct placement. It should be somewhere your thumb naturally lands. I can’t even use back-button focus without practically dropping the camera. Swapping it with AE-L button is hardly any better..
Flimsy Memory Card Door
Build quality on this cam is top notch, but this door is not up to par with the rest. It is creaky under pressure from the shooting hand. Probably only a matter of time before this needs a replacement.

Now the issues that [I hope] can be addressed via firmware:

Battery Life
Come on guys, this is terrible battery life. Do some magic and re-write the code. There has to be some way to make this thing run more efficiently.
Low-Light AF
While the auto-focus is blazing fast in bright situations, it leaves a little to be desired in dimmer environments. I don’t mean dark, just dim and it takes a while to grab and hunts a bit. I’ve seen what Fuji can do via firmware to increase AF performance, so I’m waiting!
Alternative ISO Method
Please allow us to set the ISO without turning the stupid dial!! Any customizable button is fine. Let us just leave the dial on A, and set the ISO via menu.
View Mode Button Customization
I never use either of the Eye Sensor view modes. And I am sick of toggling through them just to switch from LCD to VF.. This is super easy, so please let me select which view modes to cycle through so I can toggle quickly between LCD/VF!
Auto Bright Frame with M-Mount Adapter
Using adapted lenses on this camera is fantastic, but I don’t see why the OVF Bright Frame doesn’t maintain the auto brightness. It takes up a custom button because you have to manually adjust the brightness everytime you go inside/outside..

And now, if you’d like to see some of the stuff I’ve been shooting please check out my Flickr:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/zanderwhite/

crew
watching
texting
hail storm
kiss
cross walk
talk
raining
smoke
xoloitzcuintli - hairless dog
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tomate y tomatillo
selfie
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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*

 

 

Conclusion
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.

*UPDATE*

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 Finepix X100: First Week Review

Dance it Out

Well its been months of waiting, but last week I finally received my Fuji X100.

John Hancock Tower

Chihuly

A fine camera that has a few quirks and glitches (Menu button size, slow auto focus, RAW button programming, film modes switched, startup/write times, battery life, raw flash being stuck in red-eye mode) that you can find well documented across the internet. Hopefully all will be addressed by firmware updates, but for the most part these are vastly overshadowed by the amazing useability of this camera.

Waiting...

After a week plus of shooting I can say this, the only HUGE problem is that it freezes A LOT requiring you to pull the battery. This is a big problem because it causes missed shots or running the battery down by turning off Power Save Mode. My only other issue is that the camera “forgets” certain things (macro mode, focus point size, nd) after power save. Oh, the provided strap SUCKS!

pose

But like I said, the positives far out way the negatives. The build quality is far better than my old D-LUX4, and feels much better than the GF2 (a well-built plastic body). The ISO performance is spectacular. The flash packs the perfect punch. The OVF and EVF are both awesome in their own ways. Video mode is great (could use aperture and manual focus while rolling).

Money Tree

I can’t wait to see what Fuji gives us via firmware (soon please!).

Cannon

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