For the last 6 months I've been working with an established photographer shooting weddings and other events, using my Canon gear to compliment her Nikon kit. After moving over to Fuji for my personal stuff I thought I'd bite the bullet and see how it performed on a working assignment. The gig was he Heart of Melbourne Ball, one of the largest charity events on my city's social calendar, and like most events like this the defining feature was that it was DARK. So I thought I'd share some observations about how the Xpro-1 handled this kind of job.
I took the full X-Pro-1 kit, which consisted of the body, 18mm, 35mm, 60mm and EF-42 flash, all of which fitted nicely into a nice little ThinkTank Retrospective 5 bag. After being used to carrying 8+ kgs of Canon gear to events like this, the 1 kg weight of the kit was amazing. I was able to comfortably walk the even for over 5 hours with no fatigue at all.
As expected, the ISO performance was spectacular, easily keeping up with my partner's D700 all the way through 6400. Like all cameras I had to be careful with the exposure as underexposing really brought the noise out in recovery. White balance was a good as could be expected in the mixed lighting conditions, but the big surprise was that the AUTO correction in Lightroom 4 actually produced some pleasing tones from some very messy conditions.
All the lenses performed well, although there was a bit of hunting compared to my Canon kit. The 60mm REALLY doesn't like backlighting at all, and absolutely refused to lock focus on a number of occasions. Thankfully the 2.0 firmware upgrade has made manual focusing surprisingly good. I also found it was useful to get an approximate focus manually and then lock it in with the AEL button, which avoided the hunting in many instances. I also found the 60mm to be both a little slow and a little short for what I was going for, having been used to shooting with a Canon 135mm f2L. So I will be getting the 56mm 1.4 when it's released, and stepping into the shot more in terms of framing. The 35 and the 18 performed as expected, with the latter faster but a little softer in the corners than the former.
As a diehard OVF proponent, one of the biggest surprises was that I used the EVF almost exclusively. The venue was so dark that it was almost impossible to see what you were looking at through the optical finder, whereas the artificial gain on the EVF made manual focusing a breeze. The lag was a little annoying, but certainly manageable, so I'm thinking the XE-1 might be quite a usable tool. I also loved the instant review in the eyepiece, which I actually miss when I go back to the DSLR from time to time. Battery life was OK, with the first battery lasting around 320 shots with some reviewing. The take from the whole night was around 550 images, with about a 80-85% keeper rate.
As you would expect, there were a lot of other shooters working the event with Canon and Nikon gear, so the little Fuji was a clear departure from the norm. Subject reaction was really interesting, as the camera with flash was too big to be a guest camera, but too small to be a "real" pro camera. The result was that I wasn't hassled as much to take impromptu portraits as normally happens, but by the same token it was a little harder to get people to move when I needed them to move. The camera just doesn't have the "authority" of a large pro DSLR.
Anyway, that's about all I can remember from the night. Sorry for the long post but I've read a few threads lately discussing how an Xpro might cope with a pro gig so I thought I'd chime in. I'll probably post more next week; my first X-pro wedding is coming up on Sunday! I'll finish with a few samples from the night:
Please check out my photos at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/drmark/