Friday, October 5, 2012

Fuji X-Pro1 Hybrid Viewfinder

A lot has been said about the new Fuji X-E1 camera since its release, in comparison to the Fuji X-Pro1. For me the most significant difference is the lack of the ability to switch between optical and electronic viewfinder with the X-E1. The X-E1 has a 'better' EVF and a built-in flash, but neither was of any interest to me. 

I come from a generation of photographers who cut their teeth shooting film, especially with the old Leica M cameras - in particular the M6. I also shot with a Nikon 8008 SLR. They were two very different cameras for very different shooting situations. At the time I was working as a documentary photographer for which the Nikon was indispensable. I learned my craft as a street shooter using the Leica. When I picked up the Nikon I knew I'd be looking through the lens and with the Leica through the rangefinder. 

Starting my digital journey with the Nikon D700 was a natural transition for me, but I found it to be cumbersome for street work. When I got my hands on the XP1, being able to frame the image with the OVF made me realize just how important having that tool enhanced my ability to shoot effective street. I try to compose my shots so that no cropping will be necessary - to get everything in the frame that I want to be there, and nothing that I don't want to be there. But given that street work requires a fast response to capture a quick moment, it's not always possible to frame exactly. Better too much information than not enough. And better to be able to see what's outside the frame lines to decided whether or not to include it in the shot. 

The only time I find myself using the EVF is when I use my m-mount adapter and my Leica lenses. Which is hardly ever. Although I must say that when I got the m-mount adapter I thought I'd be using it a lot more. The Fuji lenses are just so damned good, I'd rather have all the functionality that comes along with them. 

When I saw this shot I was very close to the subjects and I had the 18mm f2 lens on the camera. I had to act quickly or the shot would have evaporated. I wanted to get the woman's hand motion, the expression on the man's face, and the sterile look of the window dummies. Without the ability to see outside the frame in the OVF I would never have been able to get the composition correctly. 

If I ever have some disposable cash, I would seriously consider the X-E1 as a second body on which to use my Fuji glass, but seeing this shot through an EVF from my initial position would have discouraged me from taking the picture.