Slowing Down with the Fuji X-Pro 1
My Name is Not Rockefeller
Photos and Text by Craig Litten
I’m a photojournalist by profession, a documentary photographer by choice, and a street photographer in my heart, but before all of that, I just love photography, and l love to take pictures. Enter in the Fuji X-Pro 1. Very recently, less than one month ago, I sold all of my DSLRs, fast glass and long lenses and purchased two Fuji X-Pro 1 bodies, the XF 18mm f/2 (approx. 28mm equivalent) lens, the XF 35mm f/1.4 (approx. 50mm equivalent) lens, and the XF 18-55 zoom lens, and I couldn’t be happier. For nearly two decades I’ve wanted a Leica film body (M6), but in my career as a newspaper photojournalist, and with all of the professional sports I had to cover, I just couldn’t justify the cost. In the late 90s, I bought the amazing Contax G2 and loved it dearly. But as film started to fade and digital started to pick up speed, the M6 dream also faded. I finally sold the Contax in 2005 while it still had value. When Leica released the M8, I realized that the price was significantly higher than the already pricy M6 (the M7 didn’t interest me), and that it was not a full frame sensor (I really wanted a 35mm Summicron), so I lost interest. Then the Leica M9 was announced which caught my attention, but I knew that as a working photographer I could never afford nor justify the cost of one camera and one lens, let alone a complete system. I love Leica, but it simply cannot be warranted in its cost (for me personally), thus it was out of my reach. Leica used to be the camera of the working photojournalist, and many legends of photography have made iconic photographs with them, but the world has changed, and making a living with photography is harder than ever. With amazing new camera technology from the likes of Fuji, Sony, Olympus, etc., working photographers are now using whatever new tools they can afford to get the job done. There was a time in my career that if a photographer showed up for an assignment with anything but a Nikon or a Canon, they were looked at as an amateur, but not anymore.
Don’t Fix What’s Not Broken
One of the big attractions of the Leica, to me, is its simplicity; which is still unbeaten today. I applaud Leica for (mostly) remaining true to its heritage with the digital M cameras, and I hope they always will. No other camera system even comes close to the workmanship, build and materials used on a Leica. If you’ve ever held a Leica lens, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Fuji, analogously, has invented a camera system that gets back to the basics with things like a real shutter speed dial, a real aperture ring and an optical viewfinder. But Fuji also added a real exposure compensation dial that’s even better than the ones on the old Nikon film bodies. Also, the wondrous beauty of Fuji’s hybrid viewfinder, where the user can switch, on the fly, from optical (OVF) to electronic (EVF), is the icing on the cake to me. This camera is a breath of fresh air to photograph with. The buttons are perfectly placed, and because of the manual dials mentioned above, there are not too many of them so the back of the camera doesn’t feel crowded. Today I chose to slow down and shoot just for the sheer joy of it. While photographing with the X-Pro 1, I am able to switch from optical finder, to rear LCD, to electronic viewfinder, to changing the ISO, the aperture, etc., etc. all effortlessly and without a thought. It was so much fun. In fact, it was pure joy. I really haven’t had this much fun shooting with any camera since my Contax G2. Imagine that, a professional photographer actually enjoying shooting when not getting paid to do so. (By the slightest chance if anyone from Fuji happens to read this article, I ask you to PLEASE not change a single thing on the X-Pro 1 camera body with the future X-Pro camera, but instead just install dual, quad-core processors (for a little more speed) and we’re good to go. This camera is that good!
Getting Off the Streets
Finally, we get to the heart of this article, which is really about slowing down, looking around and enjoying the act of photographing. Today I found myself at the world renowned John Ringling (as in Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus) Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida with the intent of viewing the work of photographer Herb Ritts (who was my favorite photographer in the late 80s and early 90s) before the show moved on to a new city. I missed the show, but I was able to spend some peaceful time on the vast acreage where the museum is located. Since it’s not a city, and not the best place for street photography, I decided to just take it easy, slow down and shoot whatever I saw that peaked my interest. The museum acreage is a garden paradise brimming with splendor everywhere you look. Although I teach workshops about street photography, and most of what I shoot for my personal work and book projects involves street photography or street photography techniques in some form or fashion, sometimes I just need to get away from photographing people and recharge my creativity. The property of the Ringling Museum, located on the magnificent Sarasota Bay, is the perfect place to do just that. I also realized that it is alright not to shoot the same thing all the time. Although I’m not really interested in nature or landscape photography, and I despise tripods and recently sold mine, it was fun to look a little closer and photograph bits and pieces of it today. While out on the streets shooting, don’t forget to shoot whatever appeals to you, and remember that your photographs don’t always have to have people in them; it’s OK.
You didn’t really think I’d make a post on Street Photography Workshops without at least one “street photo” in it, did you? I couldn’t resist. I hope you too will slow down, look around, enjoy and photograph all that’s around you.
Fuji X-Pro 1, Fuji X-E1 and Fuji X100s user reviews coming soon!
Note: I borrowed the saying, “My name is not Rockefeller” from photographer Dan Elliott from my interview with him concerning the Leica M9, so I must give Dan, who’s a super funny guy, full credit To read the interview CLICK HERE