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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?).


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.


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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