In our consumer driven world we are constantly bombarded with the latest tech products from camera manufacturers, not that any of us mind I don’t think. I personally can’t wait to see the latest lens or camera reviews from my favorite Youtubers and bloggers. It can however, create a sense of emptiness when we know we aren’t able to afford that latest camera body or f1.x fast lens that we are sure we need to be able to ascend to the next level of photography. Even when we have the good fortune to have a pretty good camera and maybe a couple of lenses, as soon as our favorite manufacturer brings out an upgrade, we can sometime be left feeling inadequate, like if your buddy had just turned up with a new girlfriend who is demonstrably far hotter than yours in both looks and abilities. But as with partners, we can sometimes forget that our current gear was once the subject of our wanton desires too.
The Fujifilm X-Pro1 first came out in March 2012 and was Fujifilm’s flagship for their X-series of cameras. Reviews were mixed but mostly positive. People loved its high ISO performance, its retro looks and handling but disliked its poor low light focusing and some of the buttons are in awkward places (the Q button often gets pressed by accident). For me, having used the X-100T before the X-Pro1 I missed having the many customizable function buttons that were available in the newer cameras. That said, what people loved most about the X-Pro1 was the images that came out of it, not because of the RAW files, but due to the beautiful Jpegs that came in numerous forms. Fuji has a huge reputation from years of producing film, and their considerable knowledge in this was transferred into the unique film simulations of the X series.
Photographers were able to simulate shooting in classics like Velvia and Provia as well as various monochrome styles straight from camera. For those who like to just shoot in Jpeg this provides a whole new layer of creativity for their photographs without having to necessarily relying on photo editing too much. Using the X-Pro1 becomes intuitive after a very short time, and after years of using dslr’s I was surprised how much easier I found it to use. Gone was the finger gymnastics I was used to with my Nikons, the controls came easy to hand during shooting. The classic rangefinder style of the X-Pro1 enables the option of having either an optical or electronic viewfinder which is a useful thing to have for some folks. For me personally I love the electronic viewfinder and its ability to let me see exactly what the shot will look like, and it’s definitely my favorite feature of using mirrorless systems.
A couple of weeks ago I dug my Fujifilm X-Pro1 out of the backup bag where she sits incase my X-T1 suffers a failure. I regularly change the battery out and have a quick test shoot before packing her away again, but this time she stayed out. I realized that I’d not really shot with my old love for almost a year now, and pathetic as it may sound, I kinda felt a bit sorry for her. I’d often thought of selling her off but had resisted, simply because at the heart of it, she’s still a damn fine camera. I remembered how I’d lusted after her in my heady days of switching to a mirrorless system, along with all those secretive nights on the B&H website while my Nikons were in the other room, blissfully unaware of my approaching infidelity. I’d become so sure she’d be mine I even bought her three lenses before we eventually met. I found her through a small ad on Craigslist and when we met it was love at first sight. Our relationship was a happy one in which she fulfilled all my needs and I took care of her as best I could. I’d take her out all the time and we captured some great moments together. However over time my eyes started to stray towards a new model on the block, and she was looking mighty fine indeed. The X-T1 was easy on the eye with her big viewfinder and felt more natual in my hands. She was also capable of giving me so much more in terms of her features, and the addition of a flip screen made her wonderfully flexible. We were able to do so much more together. I soon fell completely for Miss X-T1 and I saw less as less of my old flame.
But the truth is, after spending a couple of weeks back with my old X-Pro1 I see my old faithful provided me with all I ever really needed. After all it comes down to the image doesn't it?. Sure the additional features are nice to have, but they’re mostly for convenience at the end of the day; what counts is how we use what we have to create our art. The X-Pro1 is able to produce beautiful images at, what is now, a bargain price and EBay regularly has them for as little as $400-$500 in good condition. For someone wanting to get into the Fuji X system this is a great way to do it. Combined this with the kit lens (a lovely little lens in its own right), which can be got for as little as $350 or so, and you can get shooting great images for as little as $800 dollars. The X-Pro1 may not be as fast or advanced as the current crop of X series cameras, and will fall even further behind when the next wave of bodies emerge in 2016, but it shouldn’t be discounted as a viable option for taking great photographs. If you’re on a budget and keen to explore the image quality that the Fujifilm X series cameras can produce then this may be worth your time.
Even though I’m in another relationship now, it's still good to know that my X-Pro1 is still available for the occasional booty call.