X-Pro Tour (part 3)
Final and Best Days in FranceThis is part 3 of my continuing X-Pro Tour of images from my travels, stories behind the photos, and my thoughts and experiences with the Fuji X-Pro2 (I posted Part 1 and Part 2 in May, Here and at the end is a link to Part 4) In the captions I’ll provide the story behind the shot along with technical info (non-tech folks just ignore the part at the end of the captions.)
Au revoir to France for 2016. I was in France close to a month, staying in the same town, in a house in a residential neighborhood. After a couple weeks it became familiar and comfortable. My 3 ½ year old daughter referred to it as “our new home.” I always had my camera on me, no matter where I went. I developed some routines, like going to the bakery every morning for fresh bread and taking my daughter for hot chocolate while I sipped my noissette (espresso with a touch of milk, like a macchiato in Italy). What I like about staying in the same place is that I see things in different ways even if I pass by them every day, like the photo of the windows and clouds (above.)
I find that travel photography is essentially a form of street photography with some landscapes and cityscapes, well on this trip, village-scapes, thrown in. At least that is my approach. In order to communicate the feel of the place I find myself shooting a variety of subjects including people, architecture, slices of life, the villages, etc. By having had my camera with me all the time I feel I was able to capture and communicate my experiences exploring and living day to day in this region of southwestern France.
Enjoy the photos, please feel free to comment or email me with questions/comments. And now for the photographers…
Is the X-Pro2 the Ultimate Travel Camera?
The short answer is yes, it is very close. I don’t think any camera is perfect and it depends on your application. If I were to pick the two best reasons I liked this camera shooting daily for nearly a month of travel in France, they are: 1. It is both a rangefinder and mirrorless camera and pretty damn good at both. 2. It is compact and light enough to wear/carry all the time. These two general aspects go much deeper and there are many more aspects to this camera and its lenses. Overall this is one of the most versatile cameras I’ve ever owned. It’s really nice to have the rangefinder available at any time.
Over the years I got used to autofocus (D)SLRs and moved away from Leica rangefinders, especially for commercial work. Don’t get me wrong, I love the feel of the Leica, the exquisite rendering of their lenses and the rangefinder experience but that is all they do for their hefty price tag. If money were no object then one could own a Leica just for manual focus and the advantages of a rangefinder and have another system such as a DSLR or good mirrorless system. But the X-Pro2 is affordable, versatile and has superb lenses.
All that said, here are the cons of the X-Pro2 and a wish list at the end:
Physical lens designs are inconsistent:
1. Two of my primes (14mm f2.8 and 23mm f1.4) have focus rings I can pull back and instantly switch to manual focus. They also have depth of field scales. I LOVE this! BUT when my 56mm or 35mm primes are mounted I have to remember to take my hand away from the lens, move the focus mode selector to M, then put my hand back to the lens to focus. Side note: As pointed out by reviewers like Sean Reid the distance scales could use more marked increments to be really useful for zone/pre-focusing which is pretty important for this type of camera.
2. No aperture markings on 18-55mm or 55-200mm zooms. Although the aperture rings click they have no endpoints and there are no marked apertures. Because apertures are electronically transmitted you must look in the viewfinder or on the LCD to see where you are on the aperture scale. One would assume that because Fuji’s 2.8 constant aperture zooms have real aperture rings with markings that it may be a price/cost issue yet their most expensive zoom, the 100-400 at $1900, doesn’t have a real aperture ring either.
3. Aperture rings: Except for the 35mm f2.0 aperture rings turn too easily. The 35mm f2.0 has a nice stiff aperture ring so you don’t have to worry about it getting changed inadvertently.
X-Pro2 body niggles:
1. No articulated LCD- This is the most glaring should-be-there omission on the X-Pro2.
2. No focal length parameters for shutter speed when using Auto ISO. I can’t think of a good reason Fuji doesn’t provide a minimum shutter speed based on focal length like every other serious camera on the market. In fact most allow you to bias it on a scale from slow to fast or use some factor of the focal length. The X-Pro2 provides what amounts to a work-around by allowing you 3 different sets of auto-ISO parameters where you can set a minimum shutter speed but then you have to remember to change it when you change lenses or zoom your lens. Also I don’t see why they can’t take a shutter speed parameter setting one step further and provide an option to take into account whether or not a lens has OIS- especially considering very few of their lenses have OIS. Fuji, how about including this with a firmware update?
3. Exposure compensation dial is well placed but a little too loose and can be changed accidentally- It would be nice to see it be a little stiffer.
4. No bulit-in flash. Even if they put a tiny one on it like Sony’s RX cameras, so as not to increase the size of the body, it would be really nice to have for fill flash.
5. Face detection w/eye detect will not work in continuous focus mode but this is when it’s most useful because people tend to move around.
6. AF-L and AE-L are disabled if you have Face detect selected. This just seems silly with no apparent rationale.
7. Eye detection only works on humans- I don’t know the algorithms behind it though I assume the white of the eye is involved- but why shouldn’t eye detection work on animals? Whether it’s your canine pet or wildlife we still want the eyes in focus. OK, maybe this one is nit-picky but just sayin’
I would like to see more compact prime lenses like the 35mm f2.0. Why not a 56mm f1.8 or 2.0? Or a 23mm f2.0? The compact size would allow an unobstructed view through the OVF, especially with wider focal lengths. The X-Pro1 and 2 are pretty bold statements of commitment to the rangefinder experience from Fuji so lenses like this would make good sense.
The X-Pro Tour Continues
I will continue to use the X-Pro2 in other situations and types of shooting. Stay tuned as I will be providing more photography, feedback, and insights.
Joel Wolfson is an internationally published photographer who loves teaching as much as shooting. He shares his 25+ years of experience as a working pro with other photographers and enthusiasts by way of his workshops, 1 on 1 training, webinars, articles, blog and speaking engagements. His technical articles have been translated for use in more than 30 countries yet he is best known for his artistic images of nature’s fleeting moments and unexpected views of everyday places around the globe. He is one of the pioneers of digital photography having conducted digital photography seminars for Apple and other corporations starting in the early 90s. His roster of notable clients includes numerous publications and fortune 500 companies. He currently works with great affiliates like Topaz Labs and Arizona Highways to have more avenues for working with those wanting to pursue their love of photography. His goal is to make learning and improving one’s photography easy, fun and rewarding.