There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very, very good,
But when she was bad she was horrid.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The poem sums up the Fujifilm X-Pro1 camera which, in spite of my criticism, is probably the best all around camera on the market today. Sweet as honey. Filled with caveats.
For the first time I took the camera out and shot the streets of Ottawa, a great city for street photography.
First, I took some some shots at 12,800 ISO in completely dark conditions, an underground parking lot. This motorcycle was shot at 125th of a second at about f5.6. The camera was at the Velvia setting, and for colour I plan on using this setting as default (I'm an old Kodachrome user, go figure.) I used the 35mm lens.
I can't think of any camera coming up with such a sharp picture under such conditions. For what it is, it is sharp and detailed. the exposure is great. Remember that this place was practically pitch black. It was fun to shoot. Then the voice of photography critic Kai Wong came to me. Where's the bokeh? Unless you shoot wide open, the bokeh is nonexistent.
The walkers on Sparks Street were interesting. I shot this manually at 125th of a second. The contrast level was high and the camera came through. Kudos.
A homeless gentleman. I shot him in the shade at 800 ISO, 125th of a second. And in spite of the low light, I still overexposed it! Again, the detail is amazing. This was shot with the auto white balance. The auto tends to shoot for blue balance. But talk about crisp.
This is a picture of Dana Pizzolato, Communications Consultant of Models International Management (MIM), Ottawa. This picture was shot in darkness at a whopping 25,600 ISO. Yes, you can see noise. The details and contrast hold up well, though. The X-Pro1 is remarkable dealing with the high ISOs, probably better than any other camera on the market.
Now for the problems. This is an example of the autofocus. It hunts and sometimes misses. The circumstances were dark, in a shaded area and the exposure was the same as that of the homeless gentleman. Not good. It unnerved me for the rest of the day. I wanted to shoot like I was using a Leica rangefinder and that didn't happen.
I tried it with the X-Pro1 in the McDonald's on Rideau Street. (Hell, McDonald's coffee tastes like the stuff I make at home.) I set the AF for the mid right as most traffic was coming from that vantage point. Someone comes by...snap. This was shot at 125th of a second. The focus hunted. It snapped just before perfect focus. Aggravating.
Before I blame the camera and the lens, I can safely blame myself. And here is why. When I shoot, I use contact lenses. The reason for this is that my first and only true weapon of choice for shooting was the Leica M3. Using a Leica M and wearing glasses can be a recipe for disaster. First, to enjoy the truly theatrical splendor of composing with a Leica rangefinder, it is best to have your eye close to the viewfinder. This way you can see people move in and out of the composition lines. For that reason, and for the incredible focusing instrumentation, it leaves the SLR far behind. Wearing glasses keeps the eye at a distance from the viewfinder and you don't get that crucial panorama.
Second, the Leica M can beat any AF if you you know how. When you shoot with an M among your SLR toting cohorts, you feel like Doc Holliday, fast and invincible. You see something, you slam it to your eye, compose, focus...snap. Slam it to your glasses...not good. The viewer on an M is not rubberized. It is metal. As a result, you can tell bespectacled Leica users by the number of horizontal moon crescents on their glasses' right lenses. Using progressive bifocals is a nightmare if you are used to slamming the camera to your face when you shoot, a common occurrence among RF shooters.
So maybe I can adjust the diopter for the X-Pro1. No can do. There is no diopter for the X-Pro1. Yes, Fuji, here is another thing that you can do to improve this marvelous camera. (See the postscript below.)
Bob at The Camera Trading Company found that the lack of diopter was peculiar. However, he did tell me of other diopters to use. Apparently, the removable diopter on the Nikon FM cameras can be used. And they are available quite often on eBay. A great thing to know. Bob showed me his Sony NEX 5n, which has a handy focus peaking system that highlights the focal point much like Photoshop Raw highlights that are too bright. Are you listening, Fuji? This could be a very welcome firmware addition.
In all fairness, however, this picture was shot through a window on a sunny day. The reflection of light could have had play on the photo above. Plus, I was using a UV Haze filter. There is debate about the effects of UV filters on digital cameras, it can affect the sensor reaction and the automatic focusing. Kai Wong produced a youtube clip that addresses the problem and compares the effects of UV and clear glass filters.
This picture of a crane was murder to shoot with the AF. Or so I thought for the instant. The lens was still hunting when the picture was taken. The camera sounded awful, whizzing and buzzing as the shutter clicked and I expected the worst. Instead, I ended up with a sharp picture. And that disturbed me too. The idea of being unsure of the focus is unpleasant and a fine way to develop a stomach ulcer.
6400 ISO. Look at the eye detail!
6400 ISO. The model is Ayesha Eckert.
At 320 ISO
1) Better AF
2) Peak focusing
3) A dedicated removable diopter
4) RAW conversion in Photoshop and Lightroom! (HINT! HINT!)
More wishes on the way.
Now we wait for the Fuji M adaptor. Kipon has one and Novoflex is working on it. The next entry will deal with how the X-Pro1 works with M lenses. Stay tuned.
Comments? Contact me at email@example.com
Postscript: Mark Dalpé of Henry's Cameras in Orleans, Ontario http://www.henrys.com/ made a good point about the diopter dilemma. He told me...
I disagree about the diopters. Building in diopters would have meant a smaller viewfinder (lower magnification) and Fuji not offering diopters makes sense given the number of companies already making diopters for Voigtlander, Contax, Nikon, etc. that'll fit at already inexpensive prices.
Good point. And it also adds to the options.