It would appear there has been a party going on for a few years now, and I've totally missed it until very recently. This party is the world of mirrorless camera.
I avoid getting wrapped up in the exciting world of new camera technologies, it’s a slippery slope, and easy to end up spending more time obsessing about the latest camera releases than spending time taking pictures with the camera you have, and in my case I was (and remain) very happy with my Canon 5D MK2.
My Canon still remains a great camera, does everything I want, but sometimes when you have your bag packed with a few EF lenses, filters and a tripod it can start to get a bit heavy. This seemed to be the case on a recent 2 day trip to London, I walked a significant amount of miles in the two days and felt the strain by the time I got home. This started me thinking whether I should look at a lighter option.
It wasn't long before I started looking at mirrorless cameras and started reading reviews on the web. A number of manufacturers seem to get great reviews, but I narrowed the search down to Fujifilm and Olympus. Both manufacturers had cameras that looked and felt right, and after some considerable research my preference went to Fujifilm. The prime reason being low light performance with low noise at high ISO and the X-Pro1 was being offered with two fast lenses for around £650. The Olympus has image stabilization, so even this was a hard choice.
I also found a great little website that enabled you to compare camera and lens sizes, www.camerasize.com, check it out ( http://j.mp/1Goi4aX ).
Both cameras looked great, so after getting the X-Pro1 the first thing I did was take a few pictures of it (possibly a bit sad, but I'll take a picture of anything).
Soon after getting the Fuji we had a family weekend trip to Edinburgh. I'd already played with the Fuji a bit and was happy to leave the 5D at home. The Fuji performed great, a little frustrating that it will only auto bracket to a max of +/- 1 stop, which makes HDR a little fussy, but it's still possible. When zoomed in to 100% the pictures are superb and sharp with the 18mm lens. Also tried some street photography, but initial results were average.
A later trip to a regular haunt of mine at the Shambles in York and once again great night performance, the picture below is tripod mounted at ISO200, but the Fuji preforms incredibly well at high ISO's. So well in fact that for the first time ever I have set my camera to auto ISO with a max set at 1600, it means that I can now happily shot away when the light starts dropping, where I would have normally just put the Canon away.
With just two fixed lenses (18 and 27mm) the Fuji probably won't be my normal landscape camera, but I did take it with me on a trip to Saltwick Bay, nr Whitby. Saltwick Bay is a photographers paradise, plan ahead and make sure the tide will be low during sunset or sunrise and you'll have a wonderful rocky landscape to explore, with Black Nab stack to add some interest and even the ship wreck of the Admiral Von Tromp. After the light had dropped and exposures on the 5D with ISO 100 were becoming very long, I thought I'd take a couple of snaps with the XP1. It seemed to excel in the dark, The combination of ISO 200 and a smaller sensor meaning a smaller aperture still kept everything in focus suddenly meant I could get exposures that took less than a few minutes. Suddenly time flew by and the light was so poor it was a struggle to find my way back to the car (must remember my torch next time).
An advantage of a small frame camera like the Fuji, compared to the full frame Canon, is the cost of filters! There's no longer any need for expensive 100mm filters to cover the front of a 77mm dia lens, I can now use A size filters. But note even with a hard edge A size filter on the 18mm Fuji lens, it still means the edge is very soft. I bought some SRB filters, so far they seem good.
There’s no argument, the X-Pro1 is a bit old in the tooth now, but I didn't need all the fancy features of new cameras, although an articulated screen would have been good.
So the question – did I make the right choice?
Yes, I think I did. I love the compact size and the Fuji will now be the default for trips with the family. The X-Pro1 with the two lenses is great value, both lenses perform well, are sharp and even focus time is good (I don't do sports or any fast moving photography!). There are a few annoying things, the maximum 1 stop bracketing,, the fact multiple exposure is not on the motor drive menu button (you have to delve deep into the menus) and there is no simple IR remote you can use (you need to use a mechanical cable release), but this camera (and I suspect the whole X-system Fuji series) is superb and offers a great alternative to a big SLR.
We are off for a fantastic road trip to California soon, the question is will I just take the XP!?
Keywords - fujifilm, x-pro1, xp1, camera, 18mm, 27mm, deal