Fuji X-pro1 for wedding photographers

Updated 4/2/14 Scroll down to the end to see my opinion on the Fuji X-Pro1 after two years.

As a documentary wedding photographer I don’t want to work with big cameras with equally big lenses that shout “photographer” for that reason I switched from Canon 1D series cameras to the 5D a number of years ago, but even the 5D is on the large size compared to Fuji X series cameras. The shutter is also loud and intrusive on the Canon 5DII and I often curse it during quiet parts of the wedding ceremony, although the 5D3 and 6D have introduced a “silent shutter” it is still anything but silent. Then along came the Fuji X100 with it’s almost totally silent shutter and retro styling, I loved the X100 from the start and have used mine at every wedding. The X100 has a 35mm equivalent lens and I longed for a 50mm equivalent Fuji X200 as the 50mm is my favourite wedding lens, instead Fujifilm gave us the X-Pro1 with interchangeable lenses including a 35mm F1.4 which is the equivalent of a 50mm F1.4 on the Fuji APS-C sensor. The question is would I love the X-Pro1 as much as my X100?

When the camera first arrived in March 2012 with firmware 1.0 it was almost there but had a few annoying niggles which included a geiger counter sound from the aperture opening and closing as it constantly adjusted to the light.  I had a wedding the following week and decided to take the X-Pro1 along to try it out, I got the camera out for the bridal preps and the clicking aperture drove me crazy. In a quiet room it was very audible.  Later in the day with some ambient noise the clicking wasn’t an issue and I started to enjoy working with the camera, I drove home from the wedding with mixed thoughts but once I had seen the image quality I decided to keep the X-Pro1 and email Fujifilm to ask if they had a fix in the pipeline for the aperture noise.  Fujifilm told me they were aware of the issue and were looking into ways around it, a firmware update in late April 2012 completely stopped the chattering and I was left wondering why Fujifilm released the camera without fixing this first.

Above: 100 percent crop from the Fuji X-Pro1 with 35mm F1.4 lens

With the chattering aperture fixed I started to really enjoy the camera.  Image quality is superb and the 35mm F1.4 is the sharpest lens I own, beating even my Canon L series glass.   The above photograph is a 100 percent crop of the original. The sun was low in the sky just behind the tree, there is no sign of flare and the 100 percent crop shows just how good the 35mm F1.4 lens is (200 ISO, 1/500th at F4), these are out of camera jpgs.   High ISO results are very impressive and I have to say the camera is as good if not better than a Canon 5DmkII at 3200 ISO and 6400 ISO.  The X-Pro1 will shoot at 12500 ISO and 25000 ISO in jepg although the files start to show a fair bit of noise and loss of fine detail, I probably wouldn’t use anything higher than 6400 ISO for wedding photography.

The question most photographers ask is what the auto focus is like on the Fuji X-Pro1.  With the latest firmware as of February 2014 the auto focus is good and I have no complaints, it isn’t as fast as a DSLR like the Canon 5DmkIII but it is good enough for wedding photography or street photography.  Even in low light the focussing is much improved with the latest firmware. The photograph below was in very low light, evening guests arrived by boat and are lit by the light coming out of windows in a building to the right of the scene, there was also an uplighter under a tree to the right. The exposure time was 1/50th at F1.4 on 6400iso which gives an idea of how dark it was, I couldn’t see much through the optical viewfinder.  The X-Pro1 locked focus in a fraction of a second, about the same amount of time it took my Canon 5DmkII with a 16-35mm F2.8 zoom lens to focus.  The X-Pro1 image from this is superior to that from the 5DmkII.

Fuji X-Pro1 at 6400iso

Above: 6400 iso, 1/50th at F1.4

So what’s the X-Pro1 like as a wedding camera?  Pretty good actually and it’s so nice to work with a camera that isn’t a heavy brick.  I can’t see myself ditching my DSLR in favour of working with just a couple of Fuji X-Pro1′s at the moment, but that doesn’t mean the camera doesn’t have it’s place at a wedding. I now tend to photograph the bridal preps with a Fuji X100 and Fuji X-Pro1, the preps are often in a small room and I find big cameras can be intimidating for the bride. I have no use for long lenses during the bridal preps so a 35mm and 50mm lens work fine for me.  During the ceremony I might work with the Fuji and a Canon 6D with a 70-200mm F2.8, then after the ceremony I’d be happy to go back to using just the Fuji X-Pro1.

Fuji X-Pro1 sample image

Above : 35mm F1.4 lens at F2.8. I was keen to see how the camera would cope with the pattern on the bridesmaid’s blouse (right) as the lack of an anti-aliasing filter could result in moiré. As you can see this was not an issue at all.

Fuji X-pro1 wedding photography

Above: Lighting at this venue is very tricky, there are no windows to light the couple and most of the light is coming from the windows in the background.  2500 ISO 1/50th second at F2.8 using the 35mm F1.4 lens.

In summary the Fuji X-Pro1 seems to suffer from a few niggling issues just like the Fuji X100.  Image quality is as good as the Canon 5DII, but the camera lags behind in other areas and I wouldn’t want to use it as my only wedding camera. Working with small lightweight cameras is hugely appealing to me as heavy cameras make my back ache after a ten hour wedding, as a documentary wedding photographer I’m also always trying to capture the moment without the subject becoming camera aware, this is sometimes a challenge when working with a large L series Canon lens. I find people largely ignore a small camera as it feels less intimidating.

update 16th May 2012 

I have now had my Fuji X-pro1 for almost two months and have had a chance to use it at several weddings. The camera does have a few negative points.  Firstly the battery life is dreadful, I use the optical viewfinder only and occasionally preview the images on the LCD to check the exposure as I’m shooting in Jpg until Lightroom supports the raw files.  I find I get around 150 shots out of a fully charged battery, you certainly need to buy several spare batteries for a full day of shooting.  Printed images from the X-Pro1 really stand out as being very sharp when using the 35mm F1.4 lens, this really is a fantastic quality lens for the money and I have to say it’s better than many of my Canon L series lenses that cost around 2.5 times more.

update 26th September 2012

Fujifilm have released Firmware 2.0 with the promise of faster auto focus, better manual focus and twice as fast processing and saving of the images to the SD card.  I tried out the camera with the new firmware on two weddings last weekend and am very pleased with improvements. Auto focus is now much quicker in low light, manual focussing is hugely improved and the files write much faster to the SD card.  The only things left for Fuji to fix are the inability to select a minimum shutter speed when using auto ISO and the framelines with the 35mm F1.4 lens are still widely inaccurate.  I had considered buying a couple of Canon 5DmkIII cameras to replace my Canon 5DmkII’s, but the high iso performance of the X-Pro1 and the image quality of the files are so good that I’m going to invest in the new lenses coming out for the X-Pro1 instead.  For now I will continue to use the X-Pro1 alongside my 5DII’s, with rumours of a Fuji X-Pro2 coming out in 2013 it might be that eventually documentary wedding photographers can ditch heavy DSLR cameras for good.

 

Above: 6400iso on the Fuji X-Pro1 using the 35mm F1.4 lens at F1.4.   Image quality at 6400iso is superb and even at 100 percent the image has very little noise and is very sharp (saving for web has reduced the sharpness of the image, but believe me it is pin sharp).

 

Above:  The X-Pro1 is a great camera for bridal preps due to it’s small size and quiet shutter.

Above: Images like this are difficult to frame with the optical viewfinder due to parallax,  the viewfinder sees a slightly different angle to the lens.I switched to the electronic finder to ensure the couple appeared in the gaps. 35mm lens at F1.4.

Above: The quiet shutter allows you to photograph very quiet parts of the ceremony.

xpro-1 wedding photography

Update after two years of using the Fuji X-Pro1 for wedding photography

Next month I will have owned the Fuji X-Pro1 for two years, in that time I have photographed around 70 weddings with the camera. A number of photographers have asked me for an update on my thoughts about using the X-Pro1.

The camera is now available with two lenses for a real bargain price of under £1000, even if the X-Pro2 was launched tomorrow I’d still recommend buying the X-Pro1 at this price. Fujifilm have shown they don’t abandon users of their cameras after a few months, instead they still support the cameras with firmware updates as was the case with the original X100 after the X100S was launched. This is pretty much unheard of in the photographic industry and Fujifilm should be congratulated.  I have no issues to report with my X-Pro1, I haven’t had any problems with it and the camera and lenses have stood up well to continuous professional use.  Fujifilm have launched a number of new lenses and the future of the X system looks very exciting.

I will update further with some new images in the next couple of days.

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[...] Fuji X-pro1 for wedding photographers [...]

Steve - March 28, 2012 - 9:55 am

I’m very interested in this camera, I didn’t get the x100 due to the fixed lens. Will be interested to see some photographs from the xpro1.

radar - April 5, 2012 - 3:56 pm

Hi,

I simply like all your comments about this camera. Altough there are some issues, I am gonna buy it soon. There is one question about music you have chosen on the slideshow page, can you tell us about.

Thank you for great articles, my best regards.

Paul Donovan - April 5, 2012 - 5:56 pm

Thanks for this very useful review Simon. I have been very pleased with my x100 and have been looking forward to your opinons on the X pro1

Branko Collin - April 6, 2012 - 7:28 am

Apparently the EOS 5d mk III has a ‘silent’ shutter mode that makes a quieter sound (at the cost of a lower burst rate). Youtube has some sample clips.

steven - April 6, 2012 - 10:10 am

thanks for a very insightful review… I too am interested in the X-Pro 1 for it’s discreet size. I feel this could really help at weddings. For the time being I will stick with the Canon 5Dmk2 but perhaps once these niggles are resolved I might add one to the bag.

Andy Rapkins - May 3, 2012 - 3:51 pm

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the X-Pro1. Ties up very much with my own experience of using it at weddings. Before launch I’d thought (hoped) that a dual X-Pro setup might be a viable replacement for the two D700s I currently use. Whilst there is no doubt the image quality is as good as if not better from the X-Pro, the niggles and differences in use have so far made me think that a complete replacement of the Nikons isn’t viable. But, it most definitely has a place in my camera bag and like you Simon, I’ve found that bridal preparations are an ideal time to use it. Also, it’s enabled me to be super-subtle in some very small churches where the old DSLR shutter slaps would have likely got some stern looks from the priest.

Again, thanks for sharing. Looking forward to following your progress with the camera more.

David - May 16, 2012 - 2:56 pm

Great images Simon. I’m seriously tempted by the Fuji and seeing these images has pretty much made my mind up. Like you I want a small camera for shooting discreetly.

Rob Klein - May 19, 2012 - 2:17 am

Hey Simon,
I enjoyed reading your take on the Fuji X-Pro1 and X100. I have the Pro and an X10, which I use as my walk-around, but, as of late, have been using it to supplement my X-Pro1 stuff at concerts where I am shooting from the pit. I cover entertainment in the Boston area primarily for AP and was tired of dragging the heavy Canon 7D’s and lenses into venues where the shooting areas were narrow and hard to maneuver within. The 18 and the 35 are great on the X-Pro1 to give me the feel of the show and the X10 gets me close on the performers for anything that I need like that. The X10 does exhibit a bit more noise however, but if I keep it around 800-1250, things look pretty good. The images from the X-Pro1, however are nothing short of stunning. I do have occasional focus issues, too, but I don’t think that I have ever owned a camera that I loved more and thus the quirks are things that I live with and rarely give a second thought about. Three weeks ago I shot a wedding with the X-Pro1 and my Canon 7D with the 70-200. I was happy to put the Canon down and shoot the post wedding stuff with the X-Pro1, which, like you, I also used for the shots before the ceremony including the formals of the bride, groom and families. The results overall, were fabulous and the unobtrusive nature of the camera let me get shots that otherwise would have looked too posed. I am curious about the lenses to come and also what improvements will be coming in firmware. Fuji is a strange company, but they have produced a hell of a camera in my opinion.

Per - May 30, 2012 - 6:06 am

You guys DO know that 5d mkII has a silent shutter mode in liveview right?? I use in the church and it is pretty quiet.

peter silvia - June 6, 2012 - 11:03 pm

Nice seeing these images. Reminds me of the “Leica” days of shooting weddings. Very unobtrusive approach.

Peter Redhead - November 30, 2012 - 11:12 pm

Thanks for writing a great review. I have just purchased my X-Pro1 and am looking forward to using extensively next year for my weddings. Initial thoughts are mixed, I too love the form of the camera it feels great in you hands and with a little practice I have got to grips with setting up and controlling it. My biggest concern right now is the responsiveness of the camera in changing situations. T

In your experience how have you countered the is slight delay between half pressing the shutter to focus, locking and capturing the shot especially with slowly moving subjects etc?

All the best

Sergio Sorrentino - July 19, 2013 - 10:51 pm

Hello Simon,
first of all I like your wedding images.
I’m a wedding photojournalist based in Italy. I use to shoot weddings with 5DII+35L and 1DII+70-200.
I would like to replace the 1D (too much loud shutter sound and too heavy and big for a wedding reportage) with an X-Pro1.
I have read your review which I found really detailed and clear.
I would like to know how is your actual feedback after another season of weddings.
Thanks
Sergio

David West - January 28, 2014 - 10:13 pm

Hi Simon.
I’m Primarily a canon shooter, Mark 3 which I love but that and the L series glass isn’t a light option and takes it toll on my back and shoulders after a hard summer, I’m seriously thinking of getting myself a x-1 pro and see how it go’s what would you say your percentage was of Fuji vs canon images in a wedding?

Simon Atkins - January 29, 2014 - 6:30 pm

Hi David, I will be rewriting this feature in the coming weeks now that I have had the camera for almost two years.

Around one third of my images from a wedding are taken on the X-Pro1. The camera has its strengths and weaknesses and I wouldn’t want to photograph the entire wedding with it, my major gripe is the focussing still isn’t quick enough for certain parts of the day.

Simon Dewey - February 13, 2014 - 9:28 am

This is a great article, Simon. I think a lot of us using the camera would love to shoot the whole wedding with it, but don’t feel it’s quite there yet. Really looking forward to see what Fuji have up their sleeves for the next generation, especially the ‘organic sensor’ information that has been gradually seeping out.

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