Towards the end of April, I was informed by my school that I will be sent to Brisbane, Australia for a one week work training attachment in June. I was delighted of the opportunity but at the back of my mind, I was also thinking it would be great if I could bring along a camera and do some street photography. See, I just sold my Nikon camera (owned a Nikon D90 previously) and had been thinking of upgrading to a full-frame, either a Nikon D70o or Canon 5D Mk II. Quite honestly, I could have gone with Nikon D700, used it many times before. Canon 5D Mk II intrigued me as well cos of its superb video function. I had thoughts of pairing the Canon with Sigma 85mm f1.4. You see the price (second hand) of Nikon D700 and Canon 5D Mk II had gone down significantly since the annoucement and sale of Nikon D800(E) and Canon 5D Mk III. I was definitely thinking of full frame. So what sway me? Simply put, Fuji X-Pro1. Before I buy anything relating to photography, I always do my homework. I read up a lot (blogs, youtube, reviews etc) and Fuji X-Pro1 kept coming up. I was initially deterred by the price. I thought (like many others) that it is simply too expensive. It is afterall NOT a full-frame. With that money, I could have afford a second hand full-frame DSLR with a prime lens (50mm f1.4) but am I prepared to bring along a truckload of weight overseas (work/holiday)? The answer turned out to be a definite no, especially when I was informed that I would be required to bring back training materials (books and lots of books).
So now that I thrown out the idea of DSLR, there are still a wide selection of lightweight cameras. Ricoh GXR M-mount looks appealing, its lightweight and when I paired it with Carl Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f1.5, the results were great. I had only one issue with the Ricoh, hated how the EVF unit stuck out of the body. Sony NEX 5N feels too small in my hand, much like a toy and possibly same issue with the EVF (sticking out of body) and I didn’t get to try NEX 7 cos it was sold out on most retail stores I’ve gone to. Finally came along Fuji X-Pro1 and before I could try Olympus OM-D EM5, I fell in love with the X-Pro1 and it became MY CHOICE of travelling camera. Few cameras had that kind of effect on people. Leica M9 along the rest of the Leica film cam are those that people falls in love with. I had been using DSLR all along and I never feel that way towards “them”. When I am using a DSLR, I am always looking out for the next body. They are all big and bulky, whats there to love except the images they produces but with Fuji X-Pro1, much like the effect people had on Leica, you can fall in love with it. The all black body and its retro look mesmerises me. But what suprises me most and perhaps shouldn’t since it is widely talked about, are the images it is capable of producing. I dare say, with a little post-processing, you will not be able to differentiate a X-Pro1 image from a D700/5D Mk II image. And me, I am all about post-processing. Fuji X-Pro1 fits me perfectly.
Title of this blog claims Fuji X-Pro1 as the best travel companion. All the images you see here are taken with X-Pro1 and its X-mount 35mm f1.4 lens, evidence of how good this camera is. I have never shot with a Leica M9 but knowing me, even if I do have a M9, I might be relunctant to bring it overseas (its just too expensive to flung around). So there I was in Brisbane, Australia, in my free time, I would armed myself with this pretty “babe” round my neck and head into the streets on the lookout for a good picture.
One thing I love about Australia is that the people are so secured with themselves, they don’t mind you taking photos of them. As a matter of fact, I had a couple of occasions where people would come up to me and asked me to take their photo which I gladly obliged. I got varied responses from the people on X-Pro1, none of them bad. Some remarked, “WOW, this is a good camera” after they saw the image on the LCD screen. The group of boys in the train (the featured photo) kept saying its a sick camera, old school. They loved the look of it.
I had lots of fun, took lots of beautiful shots. But X-Pro1 is not without its flaws. If you are used to a DSLR, you will notice that X-Pro1’s AF is not as fast as DSLR. That is true. When X-Pro1 gets it right, its just perfect but I do have my fair share of lost moments cos the AF are either too slow to get a “lock on” or in my haste, I shot a blur image instead. However if you are proficient with zone focusing, then perhaps you can work around it by using manual focus on street photography. I shot my pictures mostly on aperture F2 or sometimes F1.4 and let the cam dictate its own shutter speed.
As much as it is a good street photography camera, when using it for portraits, the results are just as pleasing. Personally I like my portraits shots to be on the soft side. Like to take it using aperture f1.4. If the pic is too sharp, I would then post-process it to soften. But as evident in the portraits above, especially with the 35mm f1.4 (comes up to 52mm due crop factor), X-Pro1 makes a good portrait cam too. In part 2 of the blog, will share more of the pictures taken in the night without a flash. If you are not convinced that X-Pro1 makes the travel companion, hopefully by the end of part 2, you will be.