I apologise to any brides who may stumble upon this blog post. It’s going to contain some (hopefully) lovely wedding photography but it will also be quite a technical article based on my Fujifilm X-Pro1 Best Settings and also a one year of use review of the camera.
So, a little under a year ago I lucky enough to be given a review copy of the (then new) Fujifilm X-Pro1 by the kind folks at Professional Photographer Magazine. I used it for a couple of weeks in my everyday job as a wedding photographer, took it to a couple of weddings and totally fell in love with the camera.
Like the X100 before it, the X-Pro1 wasn’t perfect, and the auto-focus was a little hit and miss at first glance. However, just like the X100 Fujifilm have diligently updated the firmware for the camera, and that, coupled with a different mindset to using it compared to using a DSLR has allowed the X-Pro1 to become my favourite camera, probably of all time. At the time of writing we are on firmware v 2.03 and really the version 2 update affected the AF substantially so I really would ensure you have the latest firmware to get the most out of the cameras.
I’ve been using the camera now for a year, and I have been asked so many times “how I use it”, “why I use it” and “what settings I use” so I’m hoping to answer all those questions in this blog post. Bear with me, if could be a long one……
I was recently lucky enough to have a quick use of the new X100S and I could immediately see how quick the autofocus was and how much smoother and accurate the manual focus was (especially using focus peek). I have no idea what is in line for the future of the X-Pro1 range but I would hope that Fujifilm continue their fine work with this model and if it inherits the improvements that the X100S has received then it will already be on the right tracks. As it happens, I’ve not used the X100S in anger yet but I hope to be shooting with one very soon. I will, of course, update this section of my blog as soon as I can when I start using it.
My rather battered X100 and X-Pro1 cameras
So, back to the X-Pro1. I wanted to answer the two questions I get asked the most; What are the Fujifilm X-Pro1 Best Settings? and How do I use the camera.
Why do I use the X-Pro1?
Well, I’m hoping this short film clip will answer that question in its own right (turn the sound up, and go full screen if you can):
I recently posted the following image in my Why I Love this Photograph Series and it pretty much symbolises the way I use the camera and why I like using it so much:
One of the points I made about the image was that I didn’t think I’d be able to step into this space, comfortably, with a DSLR.
Another example of this in practice is a bridal prep photo taken using the 18mm lens last year:
I enjoy being able to position myself easily (and “easily” is the key consideration) and get shots that may have been cumbersome using larger equipment. I don’t want to repeat past posts, but feel free to investigate my other X-Pro1 and X100 posts throughout the site.
How do I use the X-Pro1?
I’m asked this question a lot, and partly the answer is in the next section which will show my X-Pro1 Best Settings. The main issue people tend to have with the X-Pro1 is the AF focus speed.
Now, whilst I love this camera I am also fully aware that the AF speed is not on a par with DSLR standard. Maybe one day it will be, but as it stands, the X-Pro1 uses a Contrast Detection AF mechanism (which differs somewhat to the AF systems in most DSLRs). If you understand what contrast AF is, it may help with your focus speed.
Essentially, I have found the best way to use the AF is to look for vertical lines in the subject, or break points. The contrast AF will pick these up quicker than non-contrast scene. Once AF is secured the images are sharp and lock onto the AF point amazingly tight.
If shooting in EVF mode, I always tighten down my AF points too using the the AF button and the scroll wheel:
However, I tend to use Manual Focusing a lot using the X-Pro1. With my DSLRs I’ve become accustomed to using back button focusing and it’s possible to configure the X-Pro1 to emulate (almost) that button configuration. Using this allows me to shoot quicker and more comfortably (I will explain the configuration in the menu settings later).
I tend to shoot in manual mode, setting the shutter speed to 1/125th of a second and operating the ISO (which invariably is set to AUTO6400) via the rocker switch as needed. I prefer to shoot wide open and the lenses I use currently are the 35mm, 18mm and 60mm (in that order).
I tend to wind the strap quite tightly around my wrist to minimise any camera shake and shoot with both eyes open allowing me to see far more of the scene around me.
The X-Pro1 is not a DSLR. It’s not a reactionary camera in that respects for me. Using the camera makes me think more about composition as well as the technical aspects of the image.
X-Pro1 Best Settings
I’m asked this so often; What are the best settings to use on the X-Pro1? Well, the answer of course is “whatever works best for you”. This is my configuration and it’s how I have adapted to shoot with the camera over the year I’ve had it. It works for me. It may work for you but it’s important to experiment with the camera settings and really get used to the way it works. I’m only going to mention settings that are different from the defaults.
ISO – AUTO6400. This does depend on the situation of course, but a lot of my work is inside and this setting works best for me. When I’m outside I tend to lower the range but still use the Auto ISO feature
IMAGE QUALITY – F+RAW. For wedding work I shoot in Fine plus Raw mode. This gives me the advantage of being able to work with the lovely JPGs produced in camera but with a bit of leeway should I need to extensively recover an exposure using the raw file. For personal and street photography I just shoot in Fine jpg mode.
DYNAMIC RANGE – 100%. When not using the AUTO ISO I would set this to Auto.
FILM SIMULATION – MONOCHROME+R for black and whites, PRO Neg. Standard for colour.
WHITE BALANCE – AUTO. Always for me. If I was in a studio situation then I would set white balance manually of course but for documentary wedding photography the AWB does an amazing job out of the box.
SHARPNESS – +1. I like to work with the jpgs and I find the default sharpness to be a tiny bit plasticy.
NOISE REDUCTION – -1. Again, because I work with the JPGs I prefer the noise reduction to be slightly less than the default out of the camera. The images at 6400ISO are mind blowing good and with that in mind, and the JPG configuration this seems to work best for me.
Fn BUTTON – ISO
AE/AF-LOCKE MODE – Switch
AE/AF-LOCK BUTTON – Both AE+AF
This deserves further explanation as in my opinion configuring the camera like this is a bit of a game changer.
Using this configuration I can use the AE-L AF-L button on the back almost like the back-button focusing technique many of us adopt with out DSLRs. For this to work you need to shoot in manual focus (eeek!). The camera is now configured so the AE-L AF-L button activates as a one touch focus – effectively AF. So, the shutter release is now operated the same way, through the release button but the AF has been divorced from that. It means that you can AF using the AE-L AF-L button and use the shutter release to expose the image much quicker (as it’s not trying to focus as well as expose). Clever huh! Try it…..at first it may seem a little alien but with a bit of perseverance it can really pay dividends.
And in terms of performance, I set the camera to operate with POWER SAVE MODE set to Off, QUICK START MODE set to On and SILENT MODE set to On too.
That’s it. That’s Why I use the X-Pro1, How I use it and The X-Pro1 Best Settings (for me).
Well I’m really excited by the way Fujifilm are progressing with the X-Range of cameras. Yes, there are some minor issues but hopefully these will be taken on board by Fujifilm for future releases. In my mind, the perfect camera would be:
– Full Frame
– Dual Card Slots
– Better Weather Sealing
– Better button layout (the AE-L AF-L button is kind of awkward to use).
– Improved AF and MF (we’ve seen a glimpse of this perhaps in the X100s) already.
But don’t let that detract you from what is already a wonderful camera. That’s my utopian wish-list, but as it stands, the camera performs amazingly for me and you really need to use it, get a feel for it and experiment with it. As Zack Arias said – the camera has soul and I really has become my favourite camera and goto camera too.
I’m also excited by the new range of lenses Fujifilm are producing. As it stands I only have the 35, 18mm and 60mm macro and I hope to be able to try out more of the lenses over the coming months. I’m especially interested in the 14mm personally but you can see the X Mount Lens Roadmap for yourself.
As I’ve mentioned before, the ISO capabilities and the beautiful JPGs out of the camera are enough to keep me hooked. I’m pleased that Adobe and Fujifilm are managing to get better support (though still not perfect in my mind) for the sensor in Lightroom for the Raw handling. I would really like to see some lens profiles included in Camera Raw and Lightroom too.
My blog is littered with photos and comments, so please take a look around. I wanted this post to mostly answer the “What’s the X-Pro1 Best Settings” questions.
As always, I’d love it if you could share this post on social media but if you have ay questions please don’t hesitate to use to comments area below. I’ll reply to all that I can.
And I’ll leave you with a snapshot of my little boy putting the world to rights last night: X-Pro1 18mm F/20 @ 6400 ISO