About Thomas Fitzgerald

Thomas is a professional fine art photographer and writer specialising in photography related instructional books as well as travel writing and street photography. 

A Walk In The Dublin Docklands (And More Thoughts on the X-Pro1)

river liffey My journey of exploration with the X-Pro 1 continued on Saturday, when we finally got a break in the weather. I wanted to do something different so I headed to the Docklands area of Dublin which is a relatively new quarter of the city. Well, it's not new in that it's always been there, but it saw substantial re-development during the boom times and parts of it don't look like Dublin at all. I headed out early in the morning to catch the best of the light, and to try and get some good shots in before it got too busy. Luckily that part of the city is relatively quiet.

I'm still getting used to shooting with the X-Pro1 and I'm discovering that there is quite a learning curve to getting the best from this camera. While I got some really nice photos that morning, the experience was quite frustrating at times. The X-Pro1 seems to be a camera of contradictions. On the one hand you have this beautifully built body, with controls designed for photographers to get the best from it, but on the inside you have what has to be one of the worst firmwares I've ever experienced with a modern digital camera. Let me recount a few of the things that happened during the few hours I was walking around….

First of all, it locked up twice. Once, while taking a panorama, I couldn't get back out of the mode, and had to turn the camera off. The second time, I turned it on, and nothing happened. I waited for a minute and finally the screen came on. No idea what was going on there. And then there's the occasional lag. Lots of people have reported on this, and it doesn't sound too bad until you experience it. It's as if the camera is trying to do too much, and you have to wait for it to catch up. The display gets sluggish, focussing takes a second to kick in. Sometimes you press the shutter and it stops and thinks, and then takes the shot. People think this is a focussing issue, but it's not, because if you switch to manual focus it still does it. It's very buggy. Hopefully they will fix it with future firmware updates, but for now, it's really let down by the onboard software.

Then there's the buffer. I made the mistake of taking a three shot auto exposure bracket at one point. That was a mistake. It took somewhere between 30 seconds to a minute before I could use the camera again, because you can't do anything else while it's writing the three shots to the card. Funnily enough, you could probably do it manually without the same problem. In fairness I was shooting raw, but still!

The other big issue is the fact that it tends to blow out the highlights even when it really shouldn't. I've tried the various combinations of highlight tone options, but still, you have to be really careful. And often it's not obvious on the LCD either. On top of that, I still find that the camera consistently over exposes. Both of these issues are far worse in RAW. Hopefully this will be mitigated when Lightroom gets support. In fact the RAW issue is a real pain. I thought I had a good workflow worked out for processing with the supplied silkypix derived Raw Converter, but that seemed to be adding too much noise to the images, so I ended up having to do these twice. On the positive side, you can recover an impressive amount of information from the highlights, so again, an issue that may be moot when Adobe get support for it. Yes, I could shoot JPEGs but you really do loose quality that way. I know the JPEGs out of the X-Pro1 are pretty good, and I know the whole RAW/JPEG argument could start a huge debate which I don't want to get into here but in my opinion, even with the workflow issue, the RAW files are so much better than the JPEGs it's worth the hassle.

Oh, and one other thing. The battery life is terrible. It was dead after about three hours shooting. Actually, probably not even that, more like 2 hours 40 minutes, as I stopped for coffee at one point.

Anyway, many of the people who have the X-Pro 1 and have written about it have all said that there is a learning curve to getting the best from it (and to be fair, this is the same with any camera), and I put down my frustrations to needing more time to get the hang of it. I was disappointed after this shoot, but I'm not giving up and I'm willing to accept that many of the issues may just be my own lack of experience with the camera. I really don't want to say anything bad about the X-Pro1 because I know that people are so passionate about it, but I don't want to blindly say it's the best thing ever either just for the sake of it. I'm still working on a full review and I want to make sure I'm fully used to it before I rush to any judgements. Again, I'm not saying it's bad, I'm just saying, that there are issues with it, and you need to be aware of that.

Anyway, enough talk of problems, on with the pictures….


I believe this is the very definition of targeted advertising. Is it cruel to find this funny...in a "seriously?" kind of way?


I'm sure there's something to be said for an old pirate like sailing ship parked outside the Citi bank building. Just sayin'


Obligatory graffiti shot.


The old and the new. Somehow I think the old will outlast the new too. Hey, that almost rhymes!


I have to say, this really is a beautiful bridge.


Gratuitous camera tilting.


The national conference centre. Also an impressive building. It's pretty slick inside it too.


Another bridge shot. If you look carefully you can see the traditional Irish summer on the horizon.


I probably should have read the plaque so I could tell you who this was. Oh well.


A mixture of apartments and offices. It's very quiet around here, and yet everything looks occupied, so I guess people just don't get up early on a saturday in this part of the city.


An old chimney that is protected from demolition, so they had to build around it.


Ok Architects, now you're just getting weird.


Ooooo, mirrors


This used to be called the "Grand Canal Theatre" and then Bord Gáis sponsored it. Kind of a ridiculous name now if you ask me (and most other people in the country). Most people still refer to it as the Grand Canal Theatre.


It is an impressive building though. Very modern all together! Shame about the ugly parking entrance stuck out in front of it (that wire mesh thingey)


It's like a design contest that got out of hand.


The "Dock" part of grand canal dock. Although, technically I think grand canal dock is through that little bridge. Not sure. It really doesn't look like Dublin here though.


More apartments and offices. That white cubey building seems to be empty....so that was money well spent.

DSCF1331 2

It's all very continental !


People on a bike tour gather in a less that safe spot for a conflab



I'm not following you, honestly


We just happen to be going in the same direction !


Nice cafe !


You know the way the X-Pro 1 is not supposed to suffer from Moire? Look closely…..

Screen Shot 2012 05 14 at 17 41 33


Ok, that's if for now. If I put many more pictures in here the page will never load. Part two tomorrow!!!



A Walk In The Docklands Part 2

Fire and Light

Fire and Light