I had been uninspired for the longest time, which to some extent explains the lack of updates here in recent months.
Sometimes, it really does take a new toy to reignite your passion for a hobby.
For me, it’s the Fujifilm X-Pro1 – a camera I had long considered out of my budget (despite my spendthrift tendencies), and with a sluggish AF, didn’t seem to worth the money. But it came into my radar again after I read that the latest firmware version has raised the AF speed to more acceptable levels.
Given that film was getting way too expensive to use, and that I felt the Ricoh GXR system has offered little to look forward to with no new lenses in the horizon, I decided to sell off all my existing camera gear on the local online photography forum Clubsnap to fund my transition to Fujifilm.
And I am so glad I did.
READY FOR PRIMETIME: My fully accessorised Fujifilm X-Pro1.
I chose the 18mm f2 and 60mm f2.4 to replicate my favourite lenses in my Nikon/Ricoh setup. The image quality of the 60mm is just stellar, and I daresay it rivals my Zeiss ZF 100mm f2 Makro-Planar. I intend to use it mainly for portraits, street photography and flowers, just as I did with my first “pro” lens, the Nikon AFS Micro-Nikkor 60mm f2.8. The 18mm, being wider, is great for general photography, and it's quite compact too. It's not as sharp as the 60mm, but sharpness isn't everything.
Well, I couldn't just stop there – the X-Pro1 is such a gorgeous camera and it deserves the right accessories to bring out its best. After endless hours of research online and a trip to the usual camera shops in Singapore, I finally managed to put together my ideal set of accessories for the camera.
My final set-up:
Strap: Artisan & Artist ACAM 301 Silk Cord Strap (link here)
Case: Leicatime custom leather half-case with built-in grip (link here)
Soft Release: From Decamera Consultant (link here)
I wanted a case that can protect the back of the camera – which is the point of having a case in the first place. This is where most of the common options, such as the cases from Gariz and Zelenpol, fail terribly, because they offer zero protection. They are nothing more than fashion accessories!
At the end of the day, the Leicatime cases, while expensive, are possibly the best you can get for the camera. Besides having a back cover, it comes with a built-in grip which greatly enhances the ergonomics of the camera. In addition, you can customise it by choosing the colour, case type (half case or full case) and add on various options such as a battery door and a deluxe strap. The leather smells great too. I went with black because it goes well with the red strap I'd bought.
LUSH LEATHER: Luigi Crescenzi’s hand-made cases are probably the best you can get for your Fujifilm and Leica cameras! If you have already invested so much in your gear, you should not be stingy about getting the best cases for them.
The Artisan and Artist strap looks rather "funny" initially, as it's round and not flat like the straps most shooters are used to. But the design lends itself well to wrapping around the hand, as the product page linked above shows.
And I go around telling people I'm using the same strap as what samurai used to tie their swords to their belts in the Tokugawa period. It’s true!
SAMURAI SILK: Just like the camera, this was made in Japan, which for me is a mark of quality assurance.
I had initially bought a Tom Abrahamsson soft release for the camera, but Mr Philip Tay from Decamera Consultant (from whom I'd bought the A&A strap) pointed out that it was too high for the camera. That was exactly what bothered me about the Tom Abrahamsson – it’s a pretty little nub but it feels a little ill-fitting. The custom-made soft release sold by Mr Tay, however, has a much lower profile, screws in all the way and looks as if it is part of the camera. Mr Tay ships overseas as well, so do contact him if you want to get one! I can’t recommend it enough.
I’ve already brought the camera out a few times, and the image quality has been nothing short of impressive. The hybrid viewfinder – one of the camera’s key selling points – is a joy to use. I even feel a little guilty for not missing my Nikon and Ricoh gear at all.
In addition to the X-Pro1, I’ve also started experimenting with Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 4 and Silver Efex Pro 2 plug-ins. The results have been very encouraging so far. In fact, the photos you see here were taken by a low-end Fujifilm J15fd compact camera, and touched up using Color Efex Pro. I’ve already bought the Nik Software Complete Collection (download version), as it is cheaper than buying the Color Efex and Silver Efex separately, The other products in the package are like a bonus, and I will probably take them for a spin at some point.
Interesting times ahead! I’m headed to Japan for a two-week holiday this weekend, and I can’t wait to take some shots with my latest rig.
THANK YOU, LUIGI