New system in my bag

August 14, 2014  •  9 Comments
So after using Leica digital M system since it became available with first M8 model and raving about it any chance I had (see my previous post here on that subject), I woke up one day and had a "brain fart": why am I paying every few years for a rangefinder digital body so much money only to sell it 3 years after for a fraction of purchase cost (pure reality of shooting digital with any system. Basically using a computer with a lens mount. Not much, not less...)?

Problem IS that Leica digital rangefinder loses value percentage wise far more than some other digital cameras, as they are overpriced to begin with (I have no idea what is going on but just check out the used prices on the net on year old M240s...). 

Lenses are a different story: Leica glass IS an investment. You can not go wrong with good (and desirable) Leica M lens. Over the years I acquired all lenses that I needed to complete the system. But, amount of money invested became crazy high... After all I am professional photographer, not wealthy collector. I got tired of dropping a big bag of cash every 3 years for a new Leica M body...
Something had to change!

It did. I sold off all my Leica gear, with in months. Return of cash was as expected and satisfying. But, now I needed a new "smallish" in size system that I can carry with me but still capable of producing great quality. 

After researching and trying different options, I decided on Fuji X system.


1) because I knew Fuji from my Hasselblad xPan days (this 35mm panoramic camera was produced by Fuji including 3 great lenses). And I LOVED IT.

2) because I read so much positive stuff about X glass.

3) because hybrid viewfinder of xpro1 (even it's old camera for today's digital age)

4) because how X cameras are designed (retro styling with "knobs") and built (metal. As little plastic as possible).

5) because of the cost.

6) because full line of prime lenses (no interest in zooms).

7) because I don't care how big (or small) the X camera sensor is and that shallow depth of field is not "Holly Grail" of photography art ( keep in mind that 35mm cinematography Academy Ratio format that has been in use for decades in Hollywood, Bollywood and the rest of the film world IS ALMOST THE SAME SIZE AS APS-C sensor size).

So what I did, I traded one medium priced (I said ONE) Leica tele lens that was not selling fast enough for Fuji X-pro1 and two prime lenses (14mm/2.8 and 35mm/1.4) and some essential accessories... Basically got the core of my new system for a great deal. Two lenses are equivalent of my usual focal lengths (21mm and 50mm). Getting used to field of view with new Fuji X glass was no brainier. Quality is there and then some! I have to say, I don't miss Leica glass...

Now, getting used to navigating X-pro1 menus and different buttons (on the back) was and still is an issue (from time to time). Leica has solved this much nicer and simpler. BUT having a exposure compensation dial on top of the camera IS a great feature. 

Viewfinder, even being  "so old" is another feature I like about this Fuji. No more clunky external viewfinders for my Wide angle work. And if precise framing is needed, switching to EVF is under the finger. How great is that?! My style of shooting does not require fast pace-action and reaction so all technical "imperfection" of EVF are not of much concern. 

Focusing speed with Fuji is great comparing to manual focusing with Leica M. I have more "hits" than before, and having a subject in focus by pressing shutter button while looking thru optical viewfinder is really great (and not possible with M). I can say, after few months of using Fuji I am getting more consistent result regarding focus than I even get with my Nikon D800. This Fuji really "looks up" in focus even with fast 35mm lens (normal field of view) full open @1.4... 

I took the camera with me to a few shoots so far, ranging from my son's birthday party, documentary/event assignments (for MINI Canada) to model shoots and even a Family trip to Europe (see sample pictures accompanying this story, all done with one X-Pro1 body and two primes). I even "tested" the quality and robustness of the system by banging it to the ground on the cobblestone of Belgrade's main square due to lousy Fuji strap getting loose (now gone and replaced by sexy and slick SAILORSTRAP  from Warsaw). I am very satisfied with results. Files are exactly what I expected. Handling in Lightroom and applying my usual VSCO treatment is very nice. With these 2 prime lenses I find less "issues" to deal with in post than with Nikon's "holly trinity" zooms (12-24/24-70/70-200) that I use as well. Go figure! Did I say how sharp the images are? 

As my primary photography income in past few years is stock photography, Fuji X system with it's 16mp of resolution still produces files equivalent of "XL" size for stock market. Not D800 territory but still very acceptable. Remind you, many of my great sellers were captured with Leica M8 that is even less resolution. As far as megapixel "lust" goes, I kinda came to conclusion that 22-24 mp is ideal size for what I want and do. I had at one point or other, Canon 5D MKII and Leica M240 and those kind of file sizes were ideal (for me). Sure, my current X system camera is not there but still very satisfactory (there is rumor going on on the net as I am writing this in August 2014.  that next generation of Fuji X will be just that- 24mp). Even when next generation arrives, I am sure the X camera that I use now will stay in my bag as a back up and not get sold. Extra body is extra body. And to go back to what I previous mentioned, I will not feel guilty owning an extra body considering how "cheap" I got it. 

A bit more about great Fuji X line of lenses. To rephrase a thought that I read recently: Fuji started this line of lenses for the sensor they had in front of them. These lenses work great in the environment they are made for. What ever "magic" Fuji put in technology of these cameras and lenses, results are amazing. I have no need or desire to use any other brand or type of lenses with my X-pro1 (even Zeiss Touit line, and I am a "Zeiss fan", and honestly I don't like the design of Zeiss lenses for X system) I have no need to experiment with "heritage" manual lenses of any kind. I want the auto focus on my (hybrid) rangefinder camera! I want auto focus because it works great (for what I do). In past few months I did not even have a need to manually override the auto focus (not possible on X lenses) so that is not a shortcoming for me in practice. On the other hand I love the feel of X lenses: all metal to the touch. Retro styling, and easy mounting. And then when you hold one, it's light. How? I have no idea, but the quality is there, so who cares. Yes, filter sizes are all over the map with X lenses. But, being a photographer for last 25+ years, I can always find a filter of particular diameter in my bottom drawer... Again, no issue. 

I am missing lens or two in my set. Don't get me wrong. I will not be getting any zooms for this system. I want small sized glass on X body. Small and as fast as possible. So, I am looking at that 56mm/1.2. That is next on my list. Final one will be 23mm/1.4. That's it. Set will be completed. 

At the end, I'm looking forward to this fall and Photokina. New cameras from Fuji are coming. Even new lens or two. My biggest wish for the future of Fuji mirrorless system would be that somehow X line "gets stretched" in to PANORAMIC FORMAT (Digital xPan). What? A man can dream!
 Fuji is doing the right thing. They listen. And they deliver. I have no regrets adopting Fuji X system as my "mobile kit". It's not perfect but what system is? I enjoy using it. More important, I enjoy the results. Even with APS-C sensor and all... Yup, I am a convert. Now where is that X-Pro2 ?...

Since this is my blog on my home page, I am giving my self the right on shameless plug directed at Fuji Canada: I am available any time to take any of your great X gear for a test drive... Thank You.


Great story(non-registered)
I just love it and I can say the same for me moving from Canon to Fuji.
Great article, thanks :-)
Andreas Staba, Germany(non-registered)
Your article comes from the bottom of my heart !
Great pictures !
I really liked the the images of the model with tattoos.
May I ask you which VSCO presets you used
Jorge Ledesma(non-registered)
Congratulations, the X systems is simply a joy to use. Looking forward to your upcoming frames.

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