I finally had a chance to put my new Fuji X-Pro 1 through the paces at a concert when I shot ukulele extraordinaire, Jake Shimabukuro, at Havana in New Hope, PA. So, how did it turn out? Read my full treatise after the jump.
So, where do I start? Well, if you’ve been a follower on my Facebook page, you’ll know that I had recently undergone somewhat of a camera “mid-life crisis”. I had been a dedicated DSLR user ever since owning a Canon 20D… it was a time not too long ago, but still way before every soccer mom and their uncle owned a DSLR. At the time, these cameras felt special… intended for select individuals who understood the technical aspects of photography and learned it the right way (rather than the pop-up flash, “green square” shooting set). Call me a purist or a snob, or what have you… whatever. Fast forward to 2012 and I have just recently expunged my entire collection of DSLR gear along with all of the L-lens phallic symbolism associated with it. Replacing it… a Fuji X-Pro 1 plus 2 prime lenses (and that’s it). In my opinion, yes, the camera is quirky and relatively difficult to use… but, honestly, I have zero regrets so far.
A Fuji X-Pro 1 for shooting live music? Certainly, I must be smoking crack, right? But, alas, I am not smoking crack. The universal expectation of shooting live music in a small club is that the lighting will be undoubtedly shitty. That is a fact. What it demands is fast glass, accurate AF, and acceptable high-ISO performance. Fast glass – check… I shot with a 35mm f/1.4 and a 18mm f/2. No problems in that department. I’ve never been a fan of the 50mm focal length (that’s what the 35mm translates to with the X-Pro 1′s 1.5 crop factor), but I’m in love with this lens. The 18mm (27mm equivalent) is nice and snappy. I initially thought that I would prefer the 18 over the 35 (from a historical focal length preference standpoint), but the 35 is a GEM! Secondly, regarding the AF… yes, that’s what I used (no MF necessary). Center-point focus with AF-S and spot-metering using the EVF, to be specific. For such tight quarters, where DOF is shallow and focus is critical, EVF was just the way to go. AF speed was not lightning quick (an accepted common criticism of this camera), but it was way more accurate than any DSLR I’ve ever used. And, finally, high ISO noise… what high ISO noise? I’m talking modern full-frame camera high-ISO performance here.
Now, for the shortcomings… EVF lag was annoying. The EVF briefly freezes up when acquiring focus. In my opinion, this is the most annoying thing about this camera. Using the OVF could have been an option, but (again) you can never be 100% sure if you’re achieving critical focus at such wide apertures unless you use the EVF. This makes focusing on overly-mobile subjects challenging. In terms of other shortcomings, I can deal with them. For small clubs, it doesn’t get much better than this for me. It reminds me of when I used to shoot at clubs with my Leica M4 (snob alert!).
So, would this camera work at larger concert venues? Well, I probably wouldn’t show up in a large stadium pit with this camera, but that’s probably the only caveat; however, I just might give it a shot anyway. Besides, 3-song limit stadium shooting is lame anyway. Well, not really, but that’s what I like to tell myself these days. Check this out, pixel peepers – Flickr. Also, check out the rest of my photos on Examiner.com.