How to get the most out of your Fuji X Pro1 for street photography

How to get the most out of your Fuji X Pro1 for street photography

Fuji X Pro1, 18mm f2.0, ISO800, 1/400, f11

David looked at his watch and realized he had about an hour until his bus arrived. He scanned his surroundings and observed passengers rushing across the platform, the scene was engulfed in yellow light from the setting sun. With a smile on his face he guessed the color temperature, ISO value, shutter speed, aperture value and reached into his backpack. He took pride in guessing the correct settings, a habit acquired back in the film days. He felt good, in the zone, or like his girlfriend used to say, he was in “modus invisibilis”. He instinctively surveyed the area as he slowly stood up, turned on the camera, set the shutter to 1/125, the aperture to 8 without ever taking his eyes off a target he spotted across the platform. Then he disappeared into the crowd. More after the break

Of course David wasn’t always so smooth, missed shots all the time, learned the hard way. “Keep the eyes on your surroundings not the camera” a famous photographer once told him. “know your camera like a blind man knows his universe”.

Fuji X Pro1, 18mm f2.0, ISO2500, 1/250, f8
Fuji X Pro1, 18mm f2.0, ISO640, 1/125, f2.0
Fuji X Pro1, 18mm f2.0, ISO800, 1/250, f2.0

The Fuji X Pro1 is one of those cameras capable of producing stunning results with little preparation.

Hyper focal and zone focus/OVF shooting:

50% of my street shots have been captured with the 18mm in hyperfocal or zone focus in mf mode . The X Pro1 implements a very useful depth of field scale, however, there is one problem: the focusing ring doesn’t offer enough resistance to stay in place, for example, you see something, raise the camera to your eye, accidentally move the focusing ring and miss the shot. There is an easy, elegant solution for this problem: Place a black rubber band between the aperture ring and the focusing ring, slightly overlapping the focusing ring, just make sure you can still turn it. That’s it. This firms things up considerably. See the image below:

Shutter lag in manual focus mode:
this problem could easily get fixed with the next firmware upgrade.
Even in mf and full manual exposure mode, Fuji lenses assume a resting position until the shutter is half pressed. This causes significant shutter lag. Take the Sony Nex 7 for example, it lacks a manual focusing/DOF scale, however, once you focus, set aperture and shutter speed, the lens stays in the prefocused position and holds the selected aperture value. There is practically no shutter lag with this setting. Once I spot a subject or scene, I half press and hold the shutter button until I am ready to take the picture. This eliminates shutter lag completely, if I miss the shot I can’t blame the camera. ;)

Street photography in af mode:

Things are a little more complicated, especially if you are trying to capture moving subjects, the keeper rate will be low (~30~50%) since there is no way to avoid shutter lag, af works best for anticipated shots, mentally precompose, move the focus point into position before you reach the subject, if centered, continuous af works, though I prefer single af most of the time. Turn image review off, this will speed things up a notch and for framing accuracy, switch to EVF.

A few things to remember before setting out:
A) fully charged battery and a spare in a place you can get to within seconds
B) a formatted, empty high speed memory card in the camera
C) check out the classics, Robert Frank, Lee Freedlander, Gary Winogrand, Joel Meyerowitz to mention a few.

If you find this article inspiring, please consider helping me maintaining this blog by purchasing your gear through my product links to Adorama and B&H. It will cost you nothing and allows me to keep adding! Or consider making a direct donation using PayPal, thank you!

24 thoughts on “How to get the most out of your Fuji X Pro1 for street photography

  1. mike.kobal Post author

    Hey John, one is a snapshot,w/o focus scale/coupling and discontinued, the newer version has a focusing ring/scale and is coupled (Leica)

  2. John Smith

    Sorry to get back to you about the f4 25mm Voigtlander. Honestly, I didn’t know that there were two different lenses. I think that it is the standard. I will research. What is the difference?

  3. mike.kobal Post author

    Chris, that is correct, there is no shutter lag with 3rd party lenses. My impression shooting native Fuji lenses is very positive so far, great optical performance and well made (on par with sony’s CZ24mm) Fuji could fix the shutter lag issue with a firmware upgrade, check out the latest firmware Fuji posted, looks like you can dial in the frame lines for the optical viewfinder with 3rd party lenses -between 18 and 60mm

  4. Chris K.

    Mike, regarding shutter lag, I’m assuming there is no lag when using third-party (Leica/Voigt/etc) lenses that lack AF.

    I am disappointed to hear how mediocre/poor the Fuji lenses are, but I have mostly been considering the Fuji for working with M mount lenses anyways. (Although the Olympus is more tempting with the IIS and I doubt the OVF of the Fuji will be helpful with much more than their lenses.)

  5. Patrick

    great style and well thought ideas. I always love to look at photos taken this way, but since I’m a fan of shallower DOF in the street sujet (and so I love the XF35/1.4 wide open), I tried it the (hard) “AF-way”:

    works for me, with a little practice and pre-thinking of course. the X-Pro1’s AF really isn’t that “worst in the world” system, some reviews/blogs suggest it to be. it’s just much slower than any other current mirrorless camera or DSLR. the AF-performance actually reminds me of the good old Olympus PEN E-P1. it wasn’t fast either, but there are thousands of great pictures shot with it, and many photographers still shoot and love this camera. nobody cares about its AF-performance…

  6. mike.kobal Post author

    @Jerry, you are mistaken. Fuji lenses assume a resting position regardless of focus mode and EVF/OVF settings. Every time we take a picture, the lens has to snap into position since it doesn’t remember the prefocused distance, this causes enough of a delay to miss shots. Not a problem with 3rd party mf Leica or Voigtlander lenses.

  7. Jerry Prince

    @Chrisk – no there is no shutter lag when shutting manual. even if the EVF has switched off if you are using EVF. just press the trigger all the way. or better yet zone focus and use OVF Manual.

  8. Cheryl Rose

    I wonder if Fujifilm would care to comment on the colorful
    Rubber bands gracing their fine new lenses advertising
    Free of Charge LENS CREEP. My point was that good photographers
    Use their tools to Extreme anyway … Why start with a problem.
    I will be asking the folks at Keeble and Schucat Palo Alto
    Later today

  9. mike.kobal Post author

    glad to hear you found it useful, John, thanks for the link! Which 25mm f4 are you using, the snapshot or the standard?

  10. Pingback: Using the Fuji X Pro 1 for street photography – Part I |

  11. Alessandro

    yes, you have the same me opinion about the camera. We hope that Fuji will solve some problems with the next update. Congratulations for nice shot. What setting use on you X1? The colors of your shot are very cool.
    Ale , Italy

  12. Pingback: Mirrorless Rumors | Blog | Mirrorless news roundup...(with Fuji RAW conversion tests).

  13. Pingback: Fuji X reviews roundup! | Fuji Rumors

  14. Ian

    Thanks for posting your images as well as the tips. I really like the shot of child on the subway. I have found the xp1 the most inspiring piece of photo equipment I have owned in a long time. It gets out of the way, and the images continue to astound me and most importantly challenge me to do better. Wait…even more importantly, I carry the camera almost always now.

    As far as the rubberband fix- Cheryl, that is a well worn path, usually thrown on a zoom to keep the zoom from shifting. I’ve seen photogs with lenses worth far in excess of an XP1 with those bright colored “cause bracelets” (ie livestrong, etc) on the barrel.

    Someone has even gone so far as to sell specific bands. (

    Oops, I guess I missed that opportunity.

  15. John Smith

    Thank you so much for the tips. I did some street shots using the X-Pro1 in Toronto last week. I could have used your article then. Manul focusing with the Fujinon 35 f1.4 is a task in itself. I used a Voigtlander 25mm f4 Color Skopar, a 50 Summacron and a 90mm f2.8 Tele-Elmarit and found manual focusing was surprisingly easy. One or two more updates and the X-Pro1 will be the M3 of our generation.

    Oh yes, here are a few of the Toronto shots…

  16. mike.kobal Post author

    thanks for your comment, Cheryl! You can still do that with the Fuji, throw it around a little:) Winogrand also mentioned 2k of developed rolls and another 2k to go. If you shoot a lot and take the current retail price of $4.75 per 135/36 Fuji Neopan for example, 2.5k sure looks like a pretty good deal

  17. Cheryl Rose

    $2,500.00 for a mirror less street shooting camera and lens
    and I have to put a rubberband on it to make it work right.
    That is hilarious. I watched the Winogrand documentary
    And saw how he threw his Leica into a file cabinet with the
    Strap all wrapped around it and chucked the film rolls in on top unmarked.

    I don’t know..

  18. mike.kobal Post author

    Thanks for taking the time to post and pointing this out Chris! Corrected. I use it all the time during video and of course it works just as well for stills, just have to remember to press the toggle button and refocus after turning the camera off and on again. Unfortunately on the Xpro1 there is still shutter lag in full manual mode since the lens barrel, regardless of settings, always retracts to a resting position.
    (FWIW, I still love my Nex 7, but the XPro1 hits my nostalgic nerve)

  19. Chris K.

    Huh, weird suggestions for street photography. The X-Pro1 has the definite advantage of physical dials for ISO, shutter speed, and aperture so you can set these somewhat by feel and set them without having to turn the camera on. But the less capable EVF means using the viewfinder for manual focus will be challenging.

    If you shoot completely manual (aperture, shutter speed, ISO) is there shutter lag?

    Regarding the NEX-7, the comment that you have to dig in the menu to switch AF/MF is completely inaccurate. See the AF/MF (& AEL) button just to the left of that evil video button? You can configure it to “press and hold” or “toggle” modes. I find this immensely useful in shooting macro and telephoto work (and most of my street photography is with Voigtlander lenses so no AF anyways.) My Voigtlander lenses have depth of field scales that work just fine. (Sorry if I sound like a NEX-7 fanboy, just pointing out inaccuracies/misconceptions in the article. Lovely photos, and I keep hemming and hawing on getting a X Pro1 so am always interested in comparisons.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>