Just before Christmas 2014 fellow GreySkies member Martin Mutch, AKA Leica Monochrome Man, let me borrow his XPro1 as a potential replacement digital camera as my GF1 is dropping pictures every now and then which is a problem. It came with the 18mm ƒ2, 35mm ƒ1.4, a Fuji flash and a manual on how to use it (I barely skim-read it).
It was much lighter than it looked. I’d briefly seen and handled one in John Lewis when it first came out but immediately and irrationally hated it when I realised the focusing rings spun to infinity, that was something I hated about the consumer level digital cameras but I’ve mellowed a bit now.
Throughout the time I had the camera I must’ve fiddled around for hours and hours trying to get things close to how I thought I wanted them; I inherited the camera from another person with another way of working so I had to decode their methods and find mine.
Then after watching a video on the XPro1 it slowly dawned on me there were features missing from the XPro1 I had in my hands. Martin’s XPro1 was only on Firmware 2.04, the latest firmware at the time was 3.40 but more on that later.
I didn’t really take any photos of the camera itself but I did take a few horrible looking selfies when I was feeling like utter crap with my no-sleep shoulder/arm/elbow/hand pains, which are finally getting better by the way.
SIDE NOTE: The little Fuji flash that it came with I couldn’t make sense of. It had a dial on top with numbers that I never figured out so I just gave up using it after about a day and used the camera without from then on (despite having a manual I didn’t really read).
First Impressions: AF
The AF wasn’t as bad as I was lead to believe but it wasn’t anywhere near amazing either. It was maybe on par with the 14-42mm on my GF1, at least now after years of abuse, but it was almost completely unusable in low light but again my GF1 struggles as well; I did miss a few photos because of the AF (remember I was still using the camera with firmware 2.04!).
First Impressions: Low Light
Low-light was very (very) impressive especially for someone who couldn’t really go beyond ISO 600 on the GF1 before things got messy. My parents arrived for Christmas and I was outside under street light snapping at 1/125, I was very impressed.
First Impressions: Image Files
The JPEGs with the film simulations I actually didn’t like, the RAW files were pretty good but always seemed to be much darker than the JPEGs when processed by Aperture (yes I’m still using Aperture).
Because the camera was so new in my hand I didn’t yet feel comfortable going fully manual despite the shutter speed/aperture dials mostly because I had no idea where the light meter was on the display(s)! So, since I was mostly going fully auto and the camera was making the exposure decisions I felt the JPEGs looked really flat despite the RAW files looking OK.
One thing I found by accident was you couldn’t shoot into the expanded high ISOs, above 6400, in RAW as it’s some sort of ‘JPEG process only’ mode; it took me a few minutes of head scratching to decode that (I really did skim-read that manual).
First Impressions: Film Simulation Modes
I tried out the Velvia mode but they were way too contrasty and harsh looking so after a while I just stuck with the ‘standard colour film mode’ and due to disk space limitations I disabled RAW until I experimented with an R72 filter, more on that later.
For really low-light stuff I found a lot of weird artefacts around edges of the JPEGs and in some of the shadows, I discovered it was likely the Noise Reduction setting which was set at around +2 but once the ‘NR’ was reduced to 0 I felt happier, I don’t mind a bit of noise here and there.
Next up …. Experimentation | Firmware Upgrade | Other Stuff