Continuing the blog serialisation of my popular X-Pro1 lust/hate/love story:
Part Fifteen: The X-Pro Series: What’s it even for?
We’ve covered a lot haven’t we?
I started out by speaking about desire for a camera, and how thinking cameras are the be all and end all isn’t always smart.
I wasn’t happy with the X-Pro1 and I ended up chasing other solutions, until I stumbled upon what it was that I actually liked and wanted. Which was what I started with! Funny how that happens in life huh?
Once I was settled with the camera, the geek in me wanted to understand the camera as much as possible, so I wrote pages about Dynamic Range settings, and Jpeg Settings, as well as looking at the SOOC Jpegs as imaging solution.
Most recently, I even gave the X-Pro1 it’s rightly deserved identity when compared to Leica’s incomparable M.
On the various forums etc, people still pop up considering to buy the X-Pro1. Generally (and very shrewdly) they ask if it’s a good idea. People often (correctly) advise about the slow auto focus (and we looked at dealing with AF here) and also offer perfectly reasonable advice along the lines of what the X-Pro1 is NOT good for;
‘The X-Pro1 is a great camera, as long as you don’t need Tracking AF/a speedy camera’ etc
Very, very true.
So that’s what it’s NOT for.
But what is it for? I mean if you go to a restaurant; and they come to take your order, you don’t say “well, I don’t want pork, or chicken or steak” and see what food you get. You have to know what you want.
And with a quirky camera like the X-Pro1, I think it pays to know what you do want, not what you don’t want.
So, the X-Pro1…
What is it for? Let’s a take a look.
Well to be honest, the easiest way for me to answer that, would be to direct you to my blog! It’s linked on every page of the X-Pro1 article. But doesn’t get anywhere near the hits that this story does – you’re a fickle lot 🙂
For me the X-Pro1 and the 3 original prime lenses represents a decently sized, relatively light weight, street, documentary and reportage package. Of course it can do a macro or a portrait or even a landscape too!
But for me, my tastes, my usage patterns and what I like to shoot, street/doc/rep is what I use it for.
I find the hybrid viewfinder, the compactness of the original primes and the ‘it doesn’t look like a SLR’ nature of the X-Pro1 works for me, works for where I like to take it and the slower more methodical nature of the X-Pro1 suits my modus operandi.
That’s not to say that it couldn’t be used in other environments, of course it can – I’m not trying to make a definitive statement here, and I think that the majority of photographical bottlenecks are caused by the fleshy part behind the camera, not the equipment itself! (That said of course, certain assignments need certain equipment)
I very much enjoy documenting my environment and capturing the things I see. I love to get an idea for a shot, then head out later to try and make it a reality.
Here are some X-Pro1 shots, all taken with the 3 original primes and a few words to describe, how I personally found that the X-Pro1 helped get the shot. (which of course undoubtedly could of been achieved with another camera, but that’s not really the point!)
Let’s start with a very recent one!
Once I’d identified a scene that I thought had potential, I manually set focus, I switched to the OVF, and waited to see who would come along. Arguably my 2 subjects are so buried in their umbrellas that I could of been standing there with a MF digital back on a tower crane like tripod (!) without them seeing, but the point is, you can hide that you have a camera fairly easily with a X-Pro1, and I find the OVF gives you a little more breathing space in terms of timing.
The XF18 gets a lot of stick… it’s true, it’s not that sharp and has quite a lot of distortion (which the camera [and your raw convertor – probably] corrects) and the 18mm end of the XF18-55 is better. But the XF18 makes the X-Pro1, very small, even more discrete, and it focuses very close! When you want to get a lot in the scene, it’s a good choice in my opinion.
In fact, lets have another XF18mm shot!
Another thing with the XF18, is that if you set it to (say) F5.6, you can easily get a colossal DOF. Do this in MF mode and you can pretty much leave that focus setting on the camera all day, leave it in OVF mode and just think about the shot.
The X-Pro1 and the Xf18 offer a way to capture moments without influencing them. A combination of a discrete camera and wide, close focusing lens present interesting opportunities
Another lens that’s not always very well received is the XF60. Not as fast as the 56, not as sharp as the 56… yeah well, not as big and heavy as the 56 and not as expensive either! But mainly the 60 gets (quite rightly to be fair) stick for being very, very slow to focus… I know I’m a broken record… always repeating… manual focus in the EVF, switch to the zero lag OVF, prime the shutter with a half press, and anticipate the moment. Suddenly the 60 works!
If the 18 lets you get physically close, then the X-Pro1 and the XF60 lets you hang back a bit, still be discrete and still be close to the subject.
My personal favourite XF lens is the XF35. It’s sharp. It’s fast. But it also has a way of rendering images that make one (well me at least) reach for superlatives like ‘glow’ ‘pop’ ‘3D’ – I know it’s all subjective. But still, makes me happy!
The X-Pro1 and the XF35 are like salt and vinegar, (or maybe even Lennon and McCartney) they just work together so well. Optically and physically they balance one another so well.
When I pick up my X-Pro1, 9 times out of 10, it has the 35 on it!
Camera usage is pretty personal, most cameras can get most shots…
But for me the X-Pro1, and the 3 original primes are a compact (yes the X-Pro1 is quite big, but the 3 original primes are quite small) system than can be easily carried around in order to record and document what you see.
This system works well for me in that capacity, and the years that have passed since it was launched have not dulled the X-Pro1’s ability to capture the world.
It’s good to own a camera that you feel compelled to carry with you, because sometimes you get to see scenes that are just somehow visually perfect, and when you have a camera that you love to use with you, capturing these scenes becomes pure joy!
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