Call me Mr. X
“I am found again in a vast oasis. I am letter X of the coastal plains.”
I wrote the above quote many, many eons ago in a song called Tropics (available from iTunes for the low, low price of 99 cents! Operators standing by!)… Shameless self-serving and slightly egocentric plug aside, it’s a blurb that’s always stayed with me. I’m not sure why. I even had it obsessively engraved on one of my iPods at some point. I guess it must represent a certain hope of renewal or escape because every time I read it, it conjures up the same image in my mind’s eye: an ocean washing up the shores of some immense, unpopulated desert. Same image, same angle, each and every time.
Today, it’s taken on another meaning altogether: that X stands for X-Series. I now own an X-Pro1.
And the skies parted…
SURPRISE! WELL, MAYBE NOT.
If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time this isn’t very surprising is it? In fact it’s long been absurdly inevitable. And yet I can’t stress how far this is from where I was less than two years ago, pre-X100. How I got from there to here is nothing short of a lesson in disruptive technology and how quickly it can force us to re-evaluate our established views.
You see, I didn’t just buy the camera as a cool add-on to my current gear. The two X cameras are now essentially my main kit. Or at least that’s the general idea, once the learning curve has been properly maneuvered — and my eyes can manage to see something through the EVF… Yeah, more on that one later.
I’ve written more words than I care to count on the X100 and its effect on my life as a photographer. Let’s just say profound isn’t even close to an understatement. Transformative wouldn’t be pushing it. Not only has it made me — for all intents and purposes — jump to an entirely new camera system, it’s also made me eager to shoot new types of subjects and look for other opportunities.
A year later I still feel incredible fondness and excitement when I pick up this little camera. It’s an emotional, albeit irrational bond that simply makes me WANT to shoot and doesn’t show signs of waning. I’d be hard pressed to ask for a better lasting side-effect.
Still, trusting a new system is always scary. I had planned to sell most of my Nikon kit and dive head first, throwing caution to the wind, keeping only complementary glass and getting rid of everything redundant. It was all packed and ready to sell. But after a few days of handwringing and jobs coming up as soon as this weekend… I folded. Insecurity’s a bitch and a hard mistress to shake.
Let’s just say it gives me time to acclimate and test out the camera without a gun to my head.
THROUGH THE LENS
So my Nikon kit hasn’t suffered much and the transition is a pretty mild one. But for the record, these are the lenses I had planned to keep and will likely stick around for the near future: Nikkor 70–200 2.8, Nikkor 10.5 2.8 fisheye and original Lensbaby.
Keeping the telephoto is obvious since there’s nothing to replace it with at the moment (it’s also pretty pricey and a stellar performer). This may eventually change but only time will tell how versatile and useful an X-Mount telephoto zoom lens will be without DSLR speed to back it up. Fine for portraiture, but for something like ballet dancers? I’m unclear right now. It’s also rumored at f4. Meh.
The two other lenses are specialty glass that will potentially migrate to the X-Pro1 via adapter. I know a fisheye sounds incredibly camp but used the right way, I find it to be an invaluable tool. And that old Lensbaby is like a dear, worn out paintbrush. Both offer very specific means of expressing visuals in standout ways. If I can fit them to the X-Pro1 I’ll be that much happier.
So which lenses did I get with the Fuji? Just the 35mm for now. This makes the X100 my 35 equivalent, the X-Pro1 my standard and the Nikon covers telephoto. From what I’ve seen, I expect to be adding the 60mm macro eventually but I’ll be skipping the 18mm. Why? Well, for one thing it’s not a huge leap from the X100’s 23mm. Plus it doesn’t impress me as much. I’d rather wait for the 14mm lens and go ultra-wide (at least as wide as you can with a 1.5 crop factor).
A BLURRY WAY
I barely had time to test the X-Pro1 before the supplied battery ran out, so the actual review will have to wait. But two things have stood out so far:
- It’s not as obvious of a transition from the X100. It’s clearly the same mindset and logic but there are just enough physical changes to warrant some adaptation. Things tend to feel upside down, like a bizarro X100 (!).
- As hinted at the beginning of this post: I. Can’t. See. Anything. Presbyopia + lack of diopter adjustment= bad. Makes the EVF all but unusable. Fortunately Camtec should be receiving Cosina lenses in a couple of weeks. Until then it’s squint city.
Ok, I said two things but there’s a third, very important one: the few quick images I had time to shoot look amazing.
I may have indeed found myself again.
More to come.