If you’ve been a long time reader of this blog then you’ll know that I had a love hate relationship with the Fuji X-Pro1. I was discussing this topic with a friend recently. You see, I bought an X-Pro1 a while ago but I eventually ended up selling it as the bugs in the camera were driving me mad. I’ve already written about it and I don’t want to go over all that again, but anyway, I think in some ways, some people misunderstood my position. I loved the images you could produce with the camera. They had a unique look to them. Punchy colours and rich sharp contrasty images. There was something unique about it and I still look back at the shots I took while I had it and I still marvel at the quality. But the combination of buggy firmware, overall camera lag and terrible raw processing led me to draw a line under my experiences and move on. I never hated the X-Pro1, but for the type of photography I was using it for I needed something that was responsive and predictable, and the X-Pro1 for me, at the time wasn’t it.
Anyway, Fuji have now released a new X camera, the X-E1, and in my opinion it looks like it addresses several of the failings of the original. First of all, they’ve done away with the optical viewfinder and replaced it with a full EVF. I couldn’t applaud this decision more. I know this is heresy to some X-Pro1 fans, but for me, the hybrid viewfinder on the X-Pro1 was a bit of a gimmick (cue hate mail along the lines of…”How dare you, you’re not a real photographer….it’s the photographer that takes the picture not the camera… which is ironic because I’m attacking you for not liking the key feature of my favourite camera…..you’re photography sucks….. blah blah blah etc”). It works well on the X100 because it’s a fixed lens, but on the X-Pro1 it was widely inaccurate, and on the 60mm kind of sucks. The frame lines were at best a rough guess as to where you wanted to shoot, and if you were focussing on something closer than a few meters, it was ridiculously off. Considering the advances in EVF technology, and considering they seem to be using the same excellent viewfinder from the Sony Nex7 this is a great improvement. It also means they can make the camera smaller and lighter. It also means it will work much better with zoom lenses.
Speaking of zoom lenses they also showed off the new “kit” lens which looks like an excellent lens for an entry level lens. Mind you the price tag is not that of an entry level lens, but anyway. I’ll be interested to see the reviews of that when it comes out. They’ve also addressed the shutter lag and focus speed, at least in the specifications, so that will also be interested to see in real life.
The other news out of fuji of course is the announced firmware update for the X-Pro1. The obvious issue this addresses is the focus speed, but they also mentioned write times and the other pain in the ass with the x-pro1, the zoom when manually focussing. The X-Pro1 zooms in to a barely useable 10X when using manual focus assist. They’ve now added a 3X option as well. All of this looks good on paper, but I’ll be interested to hear the reviews once it comes out for real.
Someone asked me recently if I regretted selling the X-Pro1. In some ways I suppose I do a little. There is something about the images from the X-Pro1 that evokes an emotional response. The pictures aren’t technically perfect, but the combination of excellent glass and fuji colours creates a unique image that provokes an emotional response in even the most mundane of subjects. I don’t think it was the wrong thing to do. I needed a small camera for a project and at the time the X-Pro1 wasn’t cutting it for me. I would have liked to keep it and continue to try and get around the bugs and wait for the firmware updates, but it was a lot of money to invest. I know there are lots of photographers out there who love the camera and think it’s the best camera ever invented, but I still feel like it was a beta release. Hopefully the X-E1 will be more of a 1.0 type product rather than a beta, and I hope the the firmware updates to the X-Pro1 will improve the experience of that.
Now if Adobe would just fix the damn raw processing…..