Since we are just a few months away from the year 2022, please allow me to jump into 2022 instead of 2021. First thing first, yes, you can still use it to shoot. A camera is a camera, it is still capable of doing what it is designed to do. What I cannot answer is whether it is still viable in the year 2022. I do not own the X-Pro1 but I managed to borrow it from a friend for about a month to have a total hands-on experience with this classic rangefinder every day. Why am I using X-Pro1? That’s because I come across friends asking me these questions many times:
“I am on a budget and I am interested to start to learn photography, do you think X-Pro1 is worth getting it?”; or “Is X-Pro1 a usable camera as a second camera system?”.
Unfortunately, I cannot share my opinion with my friends because I do not have one. Hence, I always recommend my friends to rent it from a camera rental store or borrow it from someone who has it for at least a week. And in this one week, he/she has to try to bring it with him/her and do some shoots every day. So that he/she can see what does this camera lacking for his/her shooting preferences.
But now, it is a whole new different story for me.
1. All the shots taken here are shot by me.
2. Most of the shots are slightly edited in Lightroom Classic to my preferences. Otherwise, the shots are straight out of the camera.
3. The opinions are based on my experience. If there is any mistake, please kindly drop me a message and I will gladly make the amendment.
4. I reserve ownership of these images, if you wish to use my images, please notify me.
A little of my Fuji history
My first interchangeable mirrorless camera was the X-T2 and then now X-T3 and X-E3. I have never held an X-Pro1 and shoot the outside world with it. That is why I am lacking experience with the first mirrorless camera from Fujifilm. How is the experience using it in the outside world? I was always told that the first generation was slow and sometimes the focusing can let one person frustrated, and the list goes on. I think this is a good opportunity for me to experience the good and the bad about this classic guy.
Before I start to share, I believe everyone is familiar with the X-Pro1. Thus, other than my experience, I will not share the technical specification.
When I hold this camera, the grip, the touch, and the weight of this camera give me a premium touch. I cannot believe this camera was made 10 years ago and the craftsmanship of this camera still looks amazing today. The dials and buttons feedbacks are great. I know some people do not like the ergonomic of the rangefinder-style camera but I quite like the ergonomic with it. Looking through the optical viewfinder is a joyful experience. It reminds me of the DSLR days but this experience is way better.
Shooting Experience …
For the shooting experience, I think it is good to split into 3 segments, the first is with the first generation Fuji lens and the second is with the Fuji newer generation lenses.
i) With Classic Lens
I have one and only one classic lens and that is XF35mm F1.4. It is one of my most favourite lenses in my whole entire Fujifilm line-up. Needless to say, the combination of both XF35mm F1.4 and the X-Pro 1 is incredibly beautiful and it seems that they are a match made in heaven. From the moment I start to focus on an object, I finally know what do people meant by slow. The focusing really takes a longer time than the current newer Fuji cameras to lock onto the subject. There is some focus hunting. Sometimes I even encounter this during broad daylight, not to mention how bad it can be under challenging light conditions. Despite the worse, I still can bear with it and get the shot I want. Patience is the key.
ii) With Newer Lenses
I have tried with a few newer generation lenses such as XF18mm F1.4, XF23mm F2, XF27mm F2.8 WR, and XF70-300mm F4-5.6. To my surprise, they do not give the same slow focus experience like the XF35mm F1.4 does. But rather, in my opinion, they do give a faster focusing lock and less focus hunting.
I have nothing to gripe about when comes to image quality. Coming out from the X-Trans first-generation CMOS sensor, the result is really impressive. From 100% viewing with the Lightroom Classic, the details are well preserved. Another surprise for me is that the dynamic range is decent too, it is capable of recovering quite an amount of details with the post-processing.
I have a few drawbacks to share but these are based on my own preference and it may not be a drawback for you in your preference.
i) Front Command Dial
What I miss the most is the Front Command Dial and X-Pro 1 do not come with it. I usually use it for changing my exposure compensation and scroll through photos, etc, which I had gotten used to with the newer camera bodies.
ii) Exposure Compensation Dial
In order to use the Front Command Dial, I set this exposure compensation dial to Custom (C). Unfortunately, this camera does not have the C in the dial.
iii) Using Fuji Remote App
Yes. This app gives me minor problems such as unstable network connectivity and file transfer connectivity. But it still comes in handy when I wish to transfer photos from camera to mobile phone and doing shooting via remote control. Since this camera does not come with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth module, that also means I need to go through the old-school way of file transferring.
iv) Focus Peaking
I test the focus peaking with TTArtisan 17mm F1.4 and the result is awesome. There is no complaint about the image quality. The problem that I have is that I am too relying on the “Red” or “Blue” as my focus peaking highlight whereas X-Pro1 only comes with “High” and “Low” options. While it is not something that is not difficult to use, it is just personal preference.
v) The Menu System
The menu system from this rangefinder is not difficult to use, however, the current menu system is way better. I did use the old menu system before with my X10 but I am so used to the current menu that I feel a bit lost to use the old one. Again, this is about adaptability.
vi) The Little Focus Stick
Some people hate it, some people love it and I belong to the latter. In fact, I use it more often than the 4 directional buttons, also known as selector buttons. Whenever I try to navigate the menu system, my thumb will unknowingly move to where the focus stick position is. Then I only realize that this camera does not equip with it when I try to push the “stick”.
vii) The In-Camera Raw Processing
The newer lineup of Fujifilm cameras comes with a good suite of film simulations and basic editing tools to do some simple post-processing or fine-tune your photos, so you can share them with your family and friends immediately.
I love to use this function, especially when I can make some fine adjustments inside the camera during commuting or between breaks. However, the raw processor included in this first generation is rather slow. But if you want to do some simple post-processing in the camera, you can still do it.
It is a good camera with minor drawbacks. 16 megapixels (mp) is certainly enough for the magazine size print and more than enough for your social media sharing. I am totally fine with 16mp as I hardly crop my photos by a lot. So should I get one? Probably not the X-Pro 1. Don’t get me wrong. This camera is still capable of shooting amazing shots. Having said that, I might consider getting a used X-Pro2 instead of X-Pro 1. That is because X-Pro 2 at least eliminates my drawbacks. (Sorry for the disappointment.)
To answer both questions stated in my second paragraph. If you do not mind the drawbacks that I have mentioned, you can get one for your photography learning adventure or for a second camera system. I always prioritize great quality lenses first over the camera body. Hence, pick up one or two good primes lenses (or zoom lens if you prefer) together with this camera.
In My Own Words
The evolution of the technology in the camera industry has been improving from time to time. I always think of the longevity of the camera technologies one can optimize with. When I am purchasing a camera, I will weigh the cost and the longevity for myself. As this X-Pro1 is hitting its 10 years mark in 2022, this also means the technology inside its gut is 10 years old too. I’m not saying this camera cannot be used. But what I am suggesting is that if one person is to invest in a camera system, probably can consider cameras that launch in recent years. At least you can stop “chasing” after a newer camera when you get the more recent one. If brand new is not an option, you can also consider getting the pre-owned newer camera models at a better and affordable price point.
Thank you for reading.
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