A conversation with the X-Pro2

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Fuji X-Pro2, XF 35mm F1.4,  Classic Chrome film simulation (STD).

Olafphoto (O): It’s good to have you here! It’s been a very long wait!

X-Pro2 (X): It took me a while but hey, don’t you think I was worth waiting for?!

O: OK, you got me there but please make sure your next incarnation won’t take that long. Some of us got really impatient.

X: Let me explain. My creators approached the process of designing me a little bit differently from the others. The intention was to create a camera as a photographic tool that is an extension of the photographer: something that doesn’t get in the way of seeing, but complements it. That kind of camera would amplify the soul and spirit of the image. This objective is very difficult to achieve and requires years of planning, collaboration and consultation.

O: Indeed, I was really intrigued by the details David Hobby shared about this very process (see here).

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Fuji X-Pro2, XF 50-140mm F2.8, XF 14mm F2.8,  Velvia film simulation (STD).

X: Many companies put the main emphasis on specifications, pixels, charts and a plethora of other technical goals. As a result, the engineers approached the subject with a purely technical mind-set – the same way as working on a refrigerator or a toaster. But I am much more than just a physical object. The interaction between a photographer and me is often intimate and personal. I have to be an extension of the photographer and become the facilitator of a creative process. So I have to be intuitive and fluid. Most importantly, people need to “feel it” when working with me.  

O: Well said. I admit that these qualities have become the prime reason why Kasia and I are choosing to shoot with you. How did you become such a special tool?

X: The key for my parents was to be close to photographers but not just any photographers. My creators contacted a wide range of photographers and artists who have one thing in common – they are incredibly creative. They go beyond pixels, charts and the Photoshop fixation, so common today. My mothers and fathers interacted with such great photographers as Tomasz Lazar from Poland or Patrick LaRoque from Canada, among many others. My parents listened to them and gathered as much feedback as possible.

O: Could you give us an example?

X: The addition of joystick as a tool for choosing a focal point was the direct result of such cooperation. Placing all the back-buttons on the right side is another example. These solutions make my interaction with the photographer fluid and flawless. After all, we both have the same objective: seeing and creating a unique photograph.

O: I cannot emphasize how much I like using this new addition. In fact, since I started working with the joystick I have had a hard time believing that cameras used to be made without it. Kudos to your parents for such bold thinking.

X: They would be really delighted to hear that.

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Fuji X-Pro2, XF 50-140mm F2.8, Provia film simulation (STD). The image in the middle – 100% crop. Click for a larger view.

O: In fact, I really like your look. You look sexy but solid.

X: I am blushing.

O: You are not too fat or too skinny, not too heavy or light but at the same time you are tough and you are no longer afraid to get wet. This weather sealing is especially important here in Vancouver when it can rain for weeks non-stop!

X: Bring it on! Sorry, I got carried away, please continue.

O: I have small hands but holding you all day is a breeze. This could be the result of your new grip. I also like that you don’t have this branding tattoo on your forehead as many other cameras do. What would your grandma say if she saw you with that?!

X: Grandma might take it but my grandpa would go berserk! I have to admit that I like being a rangefinder.

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Fuji X-Pro2, XF 50-140mm F2.8.

O: Indeed, the rangefinder style of cameras has always fitted with my way of shooting. In general, I don’t want to be perceived as a walking, look-at-me, I-have-so-much-gear-on-me type of zombie. I have always subscribed to the notion that less is more. So while I really enjoyed the beautiful eyes of the Fuji X-T1 (viewfinder), your form is more fitting for the way I interact with my subjects and you.

X: You intrigue me.

O: You see, I believe the starting point of creating a photograph is always a connection. There must be some type of emotional, intellectual, visual or even physical connection to the subject. This connection may not be immediately apparent to the photographer but it develops as s/he engages with the scene. And you help me to make this connection. For example, recently I have been photographing refugees arriving from Syria – many of them kids. The placement of your eye in your small form allows my face to be visible to the people I am photographing. I don’t look like the guy behind the camera but just a friendly person with a camera. In this way I could interact and keep eye contact with those kids.

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Fuji X-Pro2, XF 50-140mm F2.8.

X: I remember. We did some great photography together. I am sure that my wit and speed also played a role.

O: You’re right. Your concentration and focus has made quite a jump compared to your older sibling. Before, I had to wait for you to react – now it is almost instant.

X: I was sick of people whining about my older brother’s capability to focus. Now, no more excuses. By the way, what do you think about my IQ?

O: I’m glad that your IQ is just 24MP. I see so many of your friends walking around with their noses in the air bragging about their 36MP or even 40-plus MP as if it was a sure path to great imagery.

X: By not mentioning Sony you are are trying to be politically correct!

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Fuji X-Pro2, XF 14mm F2.8,  Velvia film simulation (STD).

O: Not at all. I just prefer cameras that have a great IQ. More importantly, I like to shoot with a camera that is “street smart.” After all, the look and feel of the images is much more important to me than the number of pixels. Also I don’t have to worry how to process and store all these huge files. And even if I want to print mural-sized images you proved to me that you can deliver.

X: Did you see the print of the David Alan Harvey image of skateboarders my parents showed at my birth?     

O: Yes, it was huge (no pun intended!). That’s exactly what I am talking about. If I want to print large, you give me adequate files to do so. Much more important to me is that you are such an amazing straight shooter. While many people spend hours in front of the computer obsessing over their RAW files, I like to shoot JPEGs more often than I did with other cameras.

X: Don’t forget about my film simulations!

O: Of course. In fact I am a big fan of your film simulations: Astia, Classic Chrome and Velvia in particular. And I have to admit I am quite intrigued by your latest trick, Acros film emulsion. The look is close to what I like in the B&W imagery but I’ll have to spend more time with you before I can come to a final conclusion.

X: I’m sure you will like it.

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Fuji X-Pro2, XF 50-140mm F2.8, Acros film simulation (A).

O: I had a chance to look at your night vision capabilities and I admit that you impressed me!

X: Are you talking about my ISO?

O: Yes. So far, I have been shooting with the AUTO ISO, MAX 6,400. You changed everything for me. Now I have no problem pushing you into ISO 12,800. In fact, if I attach the XF 35mm F1.4 or the XF 56mm F1.2, we can work in almost total darkness.

X: You’re pulling my leg!

O: Not at all. But don’t worry, I am sure I can find the fly in the soup. Since you insist, I would really like you to be a little simpler. The new menu is a step in the right direction but I do believe that your brain sometimes likes to complicate things too much.

Do you remember your rich friend, Leica? Her menu is so simple and aimed at photographers only. I wish you would forget about video, panoramas and other peripheral functions. Everything that is not essential to crafting a great photograph should go.  

X: Sorry, we haven’t talked too much recently because she [Leica] thinks I’m stealing fans from her. She used to be the centre of attention. I am afraid it’s not the case any more and she is not taking it well.

O: Let’s not go there, then. Do you want me to become another victim of online trolls?

X: You scare me sometimes.

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Fuji X-Pro2, XF 35mm F1.4,  Classic Chrome film simulation (STD).

O: Taking about scary stuff, the lack of dual card slots was one of the greatest flaws in your older sibling, the X-Pro1. As a professional I was always nervous knowing that I had only one card. Now, there’s one less thing to worry about.

X: Maybe you worry too much. You need some R&R.

O: R&R? Photography gives me exactly that. Kasia and I have some fascinating projects in the works and our next travel destinations are truly spectacular. You’ll enjoy it.

X: If it is as good as our last trip to Oregon, I’m all for it.

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Fuji X-Pro2, XF 35mm F1.4,  Velvia film simulation (STD). Click for a larger view.

O: Indeed, shooting ghost towns, stunning landscapes and photographing fascinating people together was such a treat. We captured so much material, which we are going to share over the next few posts. 

X: After all, imagery is all that matters. If you are after tables, charts and Internet (stupid) comparisons, then go somewhere else. However, if you are a creative person, you care about crafting original imagery and you want to take your photography beyond the usual “me too” postcard-sweet-and-pretty – then try me. Also…oops – I am getting low on energy!

Did you remember to charge my extra battery?

O: OH NO! I totally forgot about it!

X: (Sigh) Not again.

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Fuji X-Pro2, XF 35mm F1.4,  Classic Chrome film simulation (STD).

 

 

2016 © Kasia & Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

25 thoughts on “A conversation with the X-Pro2

  1. Great review Olaf, love the classic look of the black and whites. I decided to preorder the xpro 2, been waiting a while to switch to mirrorless from my d800e, I can’t wait. I love all the external controls. I also ordered the 35 and 56mm, is there any other lenses you’d recommend, there’s way too many wide angle choices and not sure if the 90 or 50-140 f2.8 is more useful?

    • Peter,

      Thank you for connecting.

      I would definitely add the XF 14mm F2.8 to your starting set. We have been working with these three lenses (14, 35 & 56) for the last few years – that’s all you need for now. Later, you may decide to add the 90mm to your collection.

      All the best,

      Olaf

  2. What fun! People forget to have fun – I just came from another site where they were fanboys were arguing brands, as if that was a good way to spend time. Anyway, the images are really nice. And I am glad to hear the joystick works as promised, I have been setting my 4-way controllers that way since Fuji took away the need to push another button first every time.

  3. Some of the most impressive images I have seen in any X-pro2 review. Just curious if you have any thoughts about the grain options in Acros?

    • Scott,

      Thanks for your kind words.
      There are two grain options: weak and strong. The weak grain option looks natural, almost film-like. The strong option is not to my liking.

      Regards,

      olaf

  4. Fantastic and witty review, a conservation with your XPro. Ending with “oops – I am getting low on energy”. Priceless

    Well done,
    Guillaume

  5. Olaf, I’m an amateur photographer and have always loved your photos and your emotional connection with them and the subjects. I have a X-Pro2 on pre-order. Did you use a pre-production unit? The IQ is amazing.

    • Andy,

      I appreciate your kind words. It appears that we received a final unit but please don’t take my word for it. I hear from some sources that Fuji is making some last-minute changes.

      One thing for sure, IQ is incredible.

      All the best,

      Olaf

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