The Fujifilm X-Pro1 (some silly thoughts)


The Fujifilm X-Pro1 is a camera you buy with your heart and not your brain. You could get a better performing DSLR for less money – so why get the X-Pro1?

If attraction was only a function of efficacy or efficiency than most of us would feel little attraction for the beautiful things in life. But we do feel attraction for such things and logic or reason has got nothing to do with it.

Some of us want to own beautiful things. Well designed things. Well designed in the sense of aesthetics: shape, colour, size, tactile feel, texture – all the visual elements. It’s nice to hold a beautifully designed object in the hands – no? Have you never marvelled at the shape of a bed-side lamp? Or the design of a plonguer for making coffee? Or the shape and feel of a Pelikan fountain pen? But a camera is not just a lump of material for holding – it is also for using. A camera – such as the X-Pro1, has inside of it, technical wizardry to make Merlin cry. How does it feel to use it?

How does it feel to use it? Notice the italics are on the feel. This is a very personal subjective thing – how you feel about a camera – may be different to how someone else feels about it. What does it mean when I ask ‘how does it feel?’.

Well, how it feels can also be translated to: ‘how do you feel’ when using it? Does it excite you? Does it feel comfortable? Does it make you want to go out there – when you could stay warmer indoors – and take photographs with it? Does the way you feel when using it, impact the type of photographs you take? Does it limit your vision or expand it? Does it get in the way of what you see?

A camera should never get in the way. My Canon 5DMKII does get in the way when I do street photography or travel photography – but it never gets in the way as far as its operational parameters are concerned (i.e. focus speed etc). In fact if it wasn’t for the weight and heft and size of it, I would barely notice it. But isn’t that the thing? If a camera is invisible to you, then it won’t make you feel anything. The Canon does not make me feel much. It works pretty well, is reliable. It neither inspires me nor holds me back. So you have to get that inspiration from somewhere else. Perhaps from existential angst, or some philosophy that allows you to see profundities out there in the world – when others see nothing.

Can a camera help you to see profundities ‘out there’? No, only your mind attached to a rapt eye can see profundities out there. But a camera can make you want to get ‘out there’, and take pictures. A beautiful thing can do that.

If you like beautiful things that is!

Oh you thing of beauty you!

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6 comments

  1. Great post. As I researched this camera, I find that I am reading more from photographers that put emotion in their photos. Less from pixel peepers, comparison junkies and the sort. I’m excited about photography again, and can’t wait to see the world anew. I’ve sold my D7000 system and don’t feel any loss. Again, great post.

  2. Great post indeed. Same here, I’m fairly neutral when it comes to my 5DMKII/5DMKIII, it works great, it’s *reliable*. Using the XPro-1 is a different story, I love it as a well designed object, I have fun using it, some frustrations too, it challenges me to get better photos out of it.

  3. Just bought my X-Pro1 in Tokyo this past Wednesday. The first complaint is that it does not support Lion on the Mac (for raw and video for that matter).

    And the focus is really antiquated. It hunts in not so low light.

    The IQ is superb when you nail the shot – it’s just not anywhere near the ‘nailing’ factor as Nikon.

    As far as giving up your DSLR, that’s a joke. My Nikon D4 is so far superior, the X-Pro1 is a toy of a camera. I agree that no one needs one. I purchased it to carry a camera more often since the Nikon gear is so heavy and I travel often. Perhaps I am the clown….

  4. Secrets

    Hi X Pro 1 lovers & detractors, I read many comments in numerous comments and found the answer to the apparently slow AF. It’s not totally true. In fact I can nail focus with .5-1sec max. Just put on either S or C focus, press confidently and fully down in a single movement. Even though the initial display is out of focus, by the time the next display with shot /s taken, it usually 90%+ sharp for me. What about the other 10%-? very likely my abrupt press or light is way too dim. I am so impressed by the results that I dont see it slower than my D700.

    I use the Ricoh GXR and Sony NEX 5 as well as the XP 1 with 35 lens. All have their strength and weaknesses. Right now, the XP1 is getting almost all my attention. So much so that I have essentially ignored my Nikon DSLRs and Leica Digilux 2. Best low light the XP1 n D700. And here it appears to be THE ONE that I have been looking for. The 35mm lens alone is worth the price of entry. No purple fringing, smearing and a great discrete street camera. Less stealth like than the NEX with it’s smallish 16mm lens and Ricoh GXR with it’s 50mm but very flexible with its Simulated Film bracketing which the other two doesn’t have. Best of all for one who hates post processing, I don’t miss having RAW files. Yet… Expensive? Not really when compared to a comparable (?) Leica system. And I can’t wait to use the M mount adapter. Of course the GXR has the wonderful dedicated M Mount. It has peripheral light and precise color adjustment that neither XP1 nor NEX has. It is not faster than the XP1. The NEX 7 controls may be more assessable than the 5 but the corner issues for wide lenses is putting me off it for now. The tradition
    layout of the XP1 is simply so familiar. Plus it OVF is something no other camera has! The Oly EM 5 is getting all the attention now. Check out the shoot out at Khai’s video and you need little convincing that the XP1 still reigns supreme. The fast 35mm lens with it’s narrow DOF is unbeatable. Micro 4/3 lenses can now go super fast but it’s chip is still smaller. Like they say, the taste of the pudding is in its eating. And for now, the XP 1 is the most delicious dish. Especially for portraits and landscapes. Surely not for fast foodies. That I go to my D700 and D7000. Have fun!

  5. Since using the X Pro 1 my D700 has become a point and shoot camera. I know that I can simply pick up the DSLR, quickly scan the settings then point and shoot. It is so capable that I know with certainty that I will get a passable result and the only mistakes will be my point of view or composition. However I feel now that while it is a most capable machine, a true workhorse – it has no soul.
    The XP1 needs leading, a gentle nudge in the right direction to get the result, but when it does, the results have a quality, almost a feeling, that I haven’t experienced since the advent of digital.
    It makes me slow down and think, an effect akin to using a tripod which slows one down to concentrate on the image rather than the technicalities.

  6. stumbing on this blog few months later… I just decided to hang my FM2 for good after using the x Pro1 just a few days. All this time I was missing the tactile effects of using a camera. I don’t like to take pictures with a push button computer. Feeling the clicks of knobs rotating, and holding a familiar shape made of metal, not rounded molded pasticky looking gizmo. I want to feel the “craft” of taking pictures, take my time composing etc… not for everyone for sure and I will miss the quick snapshots maybe. The feeling I get with the X Pro1 is more like painting rather than making photocopies. Very appropriate post … Thanks for keeping in touch with things that matter. The world is not just about performance and pure efficiency. -s

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