Like many photographers, I am an ardent advocate for my Leica M6 rangefinder camera. In my book, it is simply one of the finest tools ever crafted for 35mm film photography. For years, however, I let my M6 and my 24mm and 50mm M-series Leica lenses gather dust because I did not want to spend more than $10,000 on Leica’s digital equivalent–the M9 currently on the market now. Luckily, Fujifilm released the X-Pro 1 to appeal to Leica enthusiasts who are on a slimmer budget. Back in the day, the early 2000s, I would convert my slides to scans and then arduously prepare them. The results were great, but the investment of time proved costly. (Some of my color shots, using Provia 100, are posted on my Vietnam picture page.) Only recently did I decide to make this transition, and I am glad I did.
The X-Pro 1 can allow many adapters for a range of lens, including Leica M-series lenses. Fujifilm’s adapter will set you back about $200; I spent about $90 with a Metabones adapter that works fine. Always busy Aussie photographer and entrepreneur Matt Granger provides a nice overview of how good this marriage of two classic product lines works. Many others have also provided mostly positive reviews of how well the X-Pro 1 functions and how its design features provide an experience that appeals to street photographers and those who relish those Leica M6 moments of transcendence. (My favorite photo storyteller, Sebastiao Salgado, took some of his best photos with Leicas.) This 2012 overview of the retro-looking X-Pro 1 is a must-read if you are now entering this market of wanting to recreate the joy of shooting with your M-series lenses again.
I have not purchased the grip, but most photographers who have tested the X-Pro and shot hundreds of images, like Granger, say this is essential. For now, I am still fine without it.
My experience with the X-Pro 1
My comments right now are limited, given some of the biggest problems that emerged in 2012 have been addressed.
Two years ago, a chorus of professional photographers noticed the poor quality of RAW file conversions from the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 RAF files using Adobe Lightroom. In 2014, Adobe’s version 4.4 of Lightroom addressed these bugs. Prior to that fix, there was a lot of debate whether or not imported RAF files from the X-Pro 1 should be convered to DNG format on Lightroom or whether to just shot in JPEG format with the X-Pro 1.
Like other X-Pro 1 users, I find that the location of the tripod and hotshot mount on the bottom of the camera prevents users from changing batteries and digital cards without unscrewing the mounts first. Some commentators noted that the camera’s battery system runs fast, meaning you should buy some spares. I found that to be the case too on my first outing. Users may wish to adjust the power settings on the menu choices.
Since I am not using the autofocus or continuous autofocus modes for now (S and C), and only using manual focus with my M-series lenses, I found that focus feature using the command dial feature (press in to focus) allowed for small errors. The shop where I purchased my X-Pro 1 (Glazer’s, in Seattle) noted I needed to upload a software patch, which now shows “focus peak highlighting.” Now when I press the command dial, I see glowing white edges on elements in focus. So that problem is resolved.
Here are a few samples showing skin tones from an African American subject and ISO settings from 3200 down to 400. I will provide an update later once I have time to do some more photos. Note, each photo is exported from Lightroom using minimal adjustments to the converted DNG files, at 300 PPI, 1,000 pixels wide.