Liverpool Sunrises with the Fuji X-Pro 1
For me, taking the time to watch the sunrise is a spirit-lifting experience in itself. Every day is new, untold and full of possibilities. To be out there facing that iconic view, seeing the day being born out of the darkness and lighting up the city where I’ve spent my entire life is quite an evocative thing to witness.
That said, it’s not always such a calming experience because as the sun rises and its rays dance over the clouds, occasionally, and perhaps only for a few fleeting seconds, the sunlight skims the atmosphere at just the right angles and your eyes are treated to a fantastic explosion of colour. It’s at those times when my sleepy mind is suddenly very alert and I’m most likely darting between two cameras I’ve got set up on tripods making sure their shutters are firing and the exposures are looking good. And when I see those rear LCD previews glowing with same radiance, well, that’s when I don’t mind losing a bit of sleep so much.
My usual kit for these sunrise shoots has been a Nikon D700, Nikon 24-70mm with an assortment of Lee filters (ND grads and a Big Stopper), a Fuji X-Pro 1 with the 35mm and 18-55mm XF lens and B&W 10-stop filter. Let’s not forget the many layers of warm clothing, a flask of something hot and many hours to stand around waiting!
The 4-year old D700 still has a place in my heart despite higher resolution offerings from younger siblings and rivals. It’s reliable and predictable in so much as I know I can get extremely satisfying results from it. Like a faithful old dog who knows where my favourite slippers, newspaper and pipe are.
The Fuji X-Pro 1 on the other hand is still a very new camera, fashioned with classic and retro lines, but underneath its cool, dark exterior lies technology which would make the Borg salivate. The X-Trans sensor is innovative with its lack of anti-aliasing filter and funky colour array filter, but software companies have had decades to perfect their algorithms to render ‘traditional’ Bayer pattern sensor data so it’s no surprise there are still improvements to be had. It’s not all bad news, though, and the X-Pro 1 still has a legion of fans with me being one of them. Personally, I don’t find the raws that bad when processed in Lightroom. Certainly, not as bad as some might claim.
The styling is great, the handling is great, the autofocus is decent for a contrast detection based system, the sensor is relatively huge for such a small body and in my opinion packs just the right number of megapixels (16). Crucially, the lenses are excellent (aherm, Sony) which makes the XF system such a great one. To me, great lenses are the foundation of any system because they’re the pieces of equipment you carry over from one body to the next. The JPG processing in-camera is good, but I’m still going to continue shooting raw because that leaves me the option of processing in-camera afterwards and because I believe raw support will improve.
With all that said, what matters is the end result and whether I like it. I do. Very much so.
All of the above were taken with the X-Pro 1 apart from the last two images which are the same scene taken with the D700 and a screenshot of the two images in Lightroom for comparison.