Two Years on a Bike With the Fuji X-Pro1 – Kevin Sparrow

Two Years on a Bike With the Fuji X-Pro1
Words and Photos by Kevin Sparrow

A follow up to: Kevin Sparrow Discusses the Fuji X-Pro1 and Cycling

It has been over two years since I switched over from Canon DSLR to the Fuji X-Pro1 and I haven’t looked back. I’ve traveled all over the world with this camera. I rode from Paris to Lausanne with her slung around my back. I’ve shot photos for commercial clients and for publications. This little camera has more than met my expectations as a professional use camera.

Cornering at speed.

My initial review of the X-pro1 on PINP, I gave a lot of insight on what I liked about the camera and some things that needed improvement, such as focus speed and shutter lag. However, after 2 years and a few firmware updates, a few of these issues have been fixed. Shutter lag and auto-focus speed has improved. It might not have improved enough for some, but for me it was enough to keep it at my side.

Framing

Since Canon and Nikon DSLRs are often the cameras that are associated with professional gigs, I admit that I was a little nervous shooting it for the first Client job. Shooting for yourself and shooting for a client are 2 totally different beasts. Your camera has to perform, and the X-pro1 doesn’t disappoint. Be it a simple product shot or shooting cyclists at high speed, I consistently got the shots I wanted. It took a little while (a few months) to get used to how this camera acts in different situations When I figured it out, it does what I want it to do. Even today, the more I shoot with it the more confident i am with it.

TheRadavist-36

Most of the time when I show up to a shoot or event, I almost instantly get that look from people. The look that says, “where’s the DSLR?”. It’s funny because it actually breaks the ice with conversation if i am doing a portrait shoot or working with one person. I’ve found out that t he X-Pro1 is a camera that actually makes people feel more comfortable and approachable when they getting photos taken of them. It’s really quite nice when you don’t want a posed feel to your photos. Still, most of the time people think I am shooting film.

TheRadavist-35

Like I said, Fuji has released several updates to the firmware, some of which improved the auto-focus. This was a huge deciding factor for many people who I talked too who were thinking about getting it. I’ve come to the conclusion that If auto focus speed is that important then this Fuji model isn’t for you. For me, I have learned to slow things down a little. Instead of relying on technology to do the job for me I tend to use technique. It has actually made me a better photographer. I feel way better about my photos when I get the shot this way rather than relying on 10fps-hope-one-turns-out technique.

Ripping!

The only lenses I’ve been shooting with for 2 years is the 35mm f1.4 and the 18mm f2.0. They have been perfect for what I need but have been thinking about adding the ZEISS Touit 50mm 2.8 to my bag . The glass I have is amazingly sharp and compact. I love the fact that I can travel with this setup in a Lowepro bag the size of a 6-pack of beer. I took a bike trip from Paris to Lausanne for the Cycle Messenger World Championship pre-event, I stuck one lens and a few batteries in a saddle bag. I can ride for days with this slung on my shoulder. I can’t express how much I love the size of this setup, not just for cycling…for everything.

Whip

The images I get from this camera are quite spectacular. I have done several shoots where trade show sized prints were made and I have been able to see them in person. I still can’t get over how nicely the X-trans sensor prints oversized. They are seriously impressive. I cant wait to see the next generation sensors Fuji puts out (Organic?).

Kiss

With all the good things I have to say about the camera there are a few things I get bummed about consistently. Its not weather-proof. I am constantly worried that sweat or some sort of moisture is going to be the death of it. That being said, I have shot with it in a light rain storm and it turned out fine. Its just something I’d rather not think of. My other gripe about the camera is the Q button and drive button positioning. I far too often change a ISO or drive setting in the least opportune moments. One of the biggest reasons why I bought the camera was because of the manual old school controls the last thing I want to do is to go through a menu and figure out how to undo something I accidentally did.

TheRadavist-33

When you purchase a digital camera be prepared to always be chasing technology. Fuji seems to get it. They listen to their customers and continue to improve on the X system cameras. Since my X-Pro1 purchase Fuji has come out with the X-E1, X-E2, X100s, and now the X-T1. All of which I have heard great things about. I just can’t seem to let this one go though. There’s something about this black beauty that has grown on me. The fact that Zeiss has invested in the X system should be a good sign for things to come. As I continue to use the X-pro1 and wait for the next generation X-Pro it continues to be a trustworthy and powerful tool. It is still really fun to shoot with. It’s analog dials, size, convenience and discreetness is why I still call this my main camera.

The Fuji X-Pro1 retails for $900 (body only).
The Fuji 35mm f1.4 lens (50mm equivalent) retails for $599.

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  • sturtlovinggood

    Been looking at one of these X models for a while. These shots look so good, might not be able to put off buying one much longer.

  • Matt Lingo

    Kiiling it! Great photos and write up Kevin.

  • Jamie McKeon

    regarding that film comment, i’ve had some people ask me “is that a leica?”

    it’s a totally different beast.

  • Ramon Jacquez

    #internationalpartydude

  • Locke

    Every relationship has a learning curve.

  • Rustie Kaster

    Useful. Sick. Thanks.

  • Danny Waskiewicz

    Some beautiful images up there. Gotta love a little camera.

  • Jeff Haye

    Great write up! Anyone want to buy a “lightly used” Canon T3i?

  • Guy Levesque

    NICE and great photos. Question for Kevin, do you mostly use the view finder or the screen to shoot? I have the X-10 and it’s hard to know where the focus is in the viewfinder so i’ve ruin some shots because of that and have to use the screen more…

    • http://theradavist.com John Watson

      Kevin probably uses the EVF rather than the screen…

    • Kevin

      Thanks! Yeah, what John said.

  • woof jakarta

    nicely captured :)

  • Morgan Taylor

    This is very cool, thanks for sharing Kevin. When I went from my T1i to my 7D there was still a learning curve to produce images I was happy with, but the end result is more knowledge and more control over my images. I really like what you’re doing with the little Fuji, and your comment about it putting portrait subjects at ease landed well.

    • Kevin

      Thanks Morgan!
      Cheers!

  • Dylan Buffington

    Dude! I have been eyeballing this thing so hard for almost 8 months. Then, you post this only to seal the cap of envy and drive the thirst for Japanese machinery deeper into my soul. Meanwhile, I catch wind that Fuji will push the X-pro2 in september. My heartstrings burn with angst! Do I wait a few months or pull triggers on this bad boy? No more wussyfoot’n around.

    • Eric Baumann

      the beauty of a truly great camera (like the xpro) is that even once its successor arrives, it will still be that same great camera it always was. the best way to figure it out is to I.D. its current shortcomings (AF speed and weather sealing come to mind, things that hopefully fuji will address with the 2) and then decide if those things will be an issue for you. if not, the impending release of the 2 will only make it easier to score a deal on a 1 (which is what i opted for). either way you end up with a great camera!

  • http://www.rideforadream.ca/ Micah

    I have an X100s (essentially the same camera but with a fixed lens), and have had it with me so far for the first month of the Silk Route ride. I can’t overstate how great this is as a riding camera. Only the Yashica T4 has it beat, IMO. But film on a four and a half month trip isn’t really an option…

    Check out some of my pics from my ride so far at http://www.mmarkson.com

  • Jeremy Harris

    Great shots! I too am a cyclist and huge fan of the Fuji cameras. Got the x-Pro1 when it first came out and have shot a ton with it. Recently, the curtain froze up on it. It’s currently with Fuji for a $650 repair. Just to let you know as you may want to have two bodies out on assignment.

    • Kevin

      Good call! Thanks for the tip!

  • http://www.themusette.cc/ theMUSETTE_isw

    Kevin (or anyone else)
    I am just pondering a similar switch. I have a 5D Mark I, yes the old beauty. I have just sold my Leica M6, with much pain as it was my go to machine – ahead of the 5 D – but just could not afford the film and processing costs as an impoverished cycling tour manager and struggling photographer.
    Now, I am nervous. Am I wanting the X Pro1 to fill the Leica void in my life and will it fall between two stools of the 5D Mk I and the M6 and leave me even worse off? Or will it put me in a best of both worlds – my style and technique is honed on film (Olympus OM10), tuned with the M6 film, and frankly I find the 5D pulls me away from how I love shooting.
    The other quandary is the X T1. Now, that is a little too expensive for me. There is a nice deal on the X Pro 1 with two Fuji lenses in the city here which I am pondering. The X T1 would be really stretching my credit card…
    I would be selling the 5D and two lenses to help me get over the line, so it’s not a 5D plus Fuji choice. An either or.

    I am leaning to the X Pro1. Strongly. Any thoughts would be appreciated, from my long winded waffly quandary.

    Thanks Kevin for prompting this quandary!

    Ian

    • Kevin

      Hi Ian,
      I dont regret selling my 7d for this camera. I Really think it will give you the best of both worlds. If you are a film shooter at heart you will love this camera. It really does make you slow down and enjoy photography as a process. I’d say wait a few months though. Ive heard really great things about the X-T1 but the price should drop as the demand slows down. The x-pro1 is great but there is rumors of an X-pro2 coming soon. Even if it does the X-pro1 is still a great camera, just be aware of a new model coming soon. Get at least 2 lenses (35mm and ?) and you will be happy. If you are still unsure you could always rent an X camera and give it a try for a few weeks before you pull the trigger. Good luck! :)

      • http://www.themusette.cc/ theMUSETTE_isw

        Hi Kevin,
        Thanks very much for the reply. Well, I couldn’t wait. There was a nice deal on a kit with the 35mm and the 18mm, one left in store here in Barcelona, so I took the plunge. I did my first street wander last night, which I used to do all the time with the Leica, but rarely if ever with the big 5D mkI. It was great to see my ‘hood again in that light. Through a ‘film’ eye. Same again today and stumbled on a manifestation by taxi drivers, so managed to get in on the act and shoot some of that. I wouldn’t have had the 5D with me while wandering to the bike shop.
        I heard a bit about the imminent Pro2 and saw the X-T1, but this one just seemed to fit me, from your piece above and how it felt in the hand and to the eye.
        So, thanks for prompting this choice. Apart from being a bit broke now, I don’t regret it one bit. And it is just day 1.
        Thanks mate. And, love you work.
        Ian

        • Kevin

          Great news!
          Share your work man! I’d love to see it!

          K

          • http://www.themusette.cc/ theMUSETTE_isw

            http://www.themusette.cc/fuji-x-pro1/
            this is the start Kevin. Not had anything to get my teeth into yet, but hopefully I can pick up where I got to with the Leica and the Canon…don’t see why not, loving the Fuji already.
            Again, thanks for the prompting…I feel reinvigorated.
            Love any feedback!
            Cheers man!

            ian

  • nickruss_1970

    Inspiring post! What bag do you along your x-p1 when cycling?