Fujifilm X-Pro1, The Travel Photographer’s Dream And The Cure For Your Back Troubles

By September 2, 2013Fujifilm X-Pro1, RTW, Travel
man running dusty road patagonia
Fujifilm X-Pro1

My fantastic battle scarred Fujifilm X-Pro1

A father and son team at the Mercado Municipal, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Fujifilm XF 18mm

A father and son team at the Mercado Municipal, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Fujifilm XF 18mm

Before the X-Pro1

In photography, I’m a firm believer in the mushy lump (i.e., the photographer) behind the camera rather than the fanciness of the kit he is shooting with. Great results can be had by just about camera these days but one of the most common questions I get from you guys is regarding my camera gear and workflow for the photos on Handcarry Only. So, instead of replying to each person by email, I figured I might as well write a post about it.

The days of chunky black cameras

For the longest time, since I first started ‘serious’ photography (meaning: photography as more than a means to ‘prove’ my participation in various events and holidays), I had been shooting with a SLR camera. First, the Canon 50E (yes, it shoots film), then the digital Canon 10D, Canon 5D and finally, the Canon 5D mark II. I have always appreciated the vast range of lenses available, the good ergonomics, and most of all, the image quality from these big, black, chunky metal boxes. Nevermind that I would often have red welts on my shoulders from lugging these anchors and their requisite variety of (equally heavy) lenses around whilst travelling. One had to suffer for his art right?

Enter the Fujifilm X-Pro1

When I made the decision to go on sabbatical in 2012 to travel to Africa and South America, I started to think long and hard about my willingness to carry my 5D mark II and L lenses on what would be a backpacking trip, probably one involving numerous journeys in sometimes more than a little dodgy buses and nights in hostel dormitories. Also, the sheer weight of the metal and glass, hauled over long distances by foot, might actually do more than a bit to detract from the enjoyment of the trip. With that in mind, and the then recent release of the Fujifilm X-Pro1, I ended up selling my Canon 5D mark II and getting the Fuji. The X-Pro1 promised a DSLR equivalent image quality, with a minimal weight penalty. The fantastic Fujinon primes that launched with the X-Pro1 sealed the deal.

I went ahead and bought all three of the initial prime lenses, the XF 18mm f2, the XF 35mm f1.4 and the XF 60mm f2.4 to go with my new Fujifilm X-Pro1, giving me the full frame equivalent focal lengths of 27mm, 52.5mm and 90mm. I would have loved a 35mm equivalent but as of now (April 2013), the 23mm from Fujifilm has yet to be released.

Lens cap? What lens cap?

The X-Pro1 and all 3 lenses fit in a beautiful Billingham Hadley Pro with room to spare (for extra batteries, maps, a water bottle, passport, mobile phone, wallet and various other unidentified crumpled pieces of paper which have lingered in the pockets for far too long. I have dispensed with the fiddly lens caps on the 3 Fuji lenses, using only the lens hoods and B+W UV filters for protection.

Post Production Workflow

For a good number of months since I first got the X-Pro1, I shot in jpeg only as my image editor of choice, Aperture, did not support Fujifilm RAF files. At some point, I got tired of waiting and switched to Adobe Lightroom, which despite initial quality concerns with the RAW conversion, supported the RAF files produced by the X-Pro1. By all accounts, Adobe have since improved the quality of the RAW conversions, although I don’t pixel peep enough to notice the difference, but I’ll just take the word of the internet tech experts for it.

I use VSCO Film presets to treat most of the images, as I like the softer, more organic look it affords the digital images, not quite the same but reminiscent of my days shooting film with my favourite stocks like Fujifilm Reala, Provia 100, Velvia 50, NPH 400, Neopan 1600 and Kodak 100VS and Portra series of films. I usually tweak the settings a bit to taste and level out horizons but generally don’t spend too much time post processing the images.

I believe in ruthless culling of photos, only the relevant ones that tell the story of the destination or my experiences in the place get online. I hate viewing all 534 of someones vacation photos and try my utmost not to put Handcarry Only readers through the ordeal.

Let me know if you’d like to know anything else in the comments below and I’ll be glad to share.

Man running a small fish and chips joint in Ladybrand, South Africa. Fujifilm XF 35mm

Chap running a small fish and chips joint in Ladybrand, South Africa. Fujifilm XF 35mm

Puerto Madero from the ferry to Uruguay, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Fujifilm XF 35mm

Puerto Madero from the ferry to Uruguay, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Fujifilm XF 35mm

two men eating messily in santiago chile. Fujifilm XF 60mm

Lunchtime messiness. Santiago, Chile. Fujifilm XF 60mm

The curious and distinctive shape of the baobab tree is unmistakeable. Botswana. Fujifilm XF18mm

The curious and distinctive shape of the baobab tree is unmistakeable. Botswana. Fujifilm XF18mm

I left my job as an advertising Creative Director in August 2012 to travel Africa and South America for a year with my wife, documenting these beautiful places with my Fuji X-Pro1. View the rest of my RTW adventures on Handcarry Only and follow me on my journey by subscribing/following/bookmarking.


  • Inspiring images. I love the colours in the first one featuring the fruit stand.

    • Thank you Mat! Brazil has got to be one of the most colourful countries I’ve ever visited, both the people and the place!

  • Adrian – I will echo your sentiments regarding the xpro1. Since getting mine it has definitely been liberating weight-wise. And compared to the xe1, feels much more solidly built – like it could actually survive a year’s worth of constant travel as a primary camera.

    Still learning the nuances but achieving some spectacular images and bokeh with the 35mm as you have. It appears to really to do its best when shooting manual rather than letting the iso and/or shutter speed be controlled by fuji. I tend to also shoot more with the efv rather than the ofv at this point – may be a trust issue and learning curve on my part.

    I also concur with your thoughts about the lens caps – crap! I tend to be even more minimalistic and shoot without hoods and enjoy the flares I get sometimes. But I am in search of a reasonable after market cap… let me know if you have any recommendations.

    I had to chuckle regarding your insights about VSCO presets. They appear to be the hottest thing yet to be widely discovered. I have been using them (numbers 2-4 presets) over the last several months and they have definitely cut down my PS time. However, I find myself making 6 virtual copies with different vintage film settings and my tweaking of the same image! It is too much fun to see sometimes the looks you can create with VSCO. I am definitely not out to create “a look” that I would call my own as there is such a wide range in what you can do and it really depends on my mood and the image I am working on.

    I shot last weekend mostly in jpeg at a music festival in the Rift Valley here in Kenya and realized that despite what everyone says about the fuji jpeg software engine, it just doesn’t give you the processing flexibility that I crave with raw – so I am sticking with raw only for now as well.

    Will keep you updated with trips to Zanzibar and back to the Masai Mara later this month on how the fuji does. But when it comes to the animals, I am going to continue with my faster nikon and longer lenses.

    Cheers from Nairobi ~ Jeff

    • Hi there Jeff,

      I’m really jealous of the fact that you’re in Nairobi, I miss Africa so much! Not sure what it is about the continent, with its troubles and challenges, somehow, it still gets under your skin and you’re addicted!

      I exclusively use the EVF only as I don’t trust the OVF, I would hate to go home thinking I got to shot but ended up focusing on the wrong area of the frame. Regarding lens caps, I use the hood as a protection mainly, it has the added benefit of reducing flare but its there primarily so I don’t kill my lenses it the camera goes bumping into walls etc.

      I would love to see your photos from your Zanzibar and Masai Mara shoots, sounds incredible indeed!


  • Naser


    Thank you for sharing your nice and colorful pictures. Regarding lens caps, I am using Canon caps and fitting much better.

    • Hi Naser, thanks for the tip, I’ll go dig up some of my old Canon lens caps and see if they fit! But I’ve gotten so used to having them without caps that there’s a good chance I’ll just leave it that way anyway 🙂

  • Roland Dobbins

    I’ve found Op/Tech Hood Hats to be infinitely superior to front lens caps:


    My problem with my X-Pro 1 XF lenses is that the rear lens caps are useless, simply won’t stay on the lenses. So, I’m worried about them coming loose and getting scratches on the rear elements of my lenses.

    • Thanks for the link Roland, I’ll definitely look into it. Although after a year of rough and tumble travel, I find the capless, the lenses are still ok, just a bit dusty occasionally. All the Fuji lens caps, front and back, are a bit useless.

  • Jay

    What do you do with the photos that don’t make it online

    • Hi Jay, there’s a huge stash of photos on my hard drives, including typical holiday grinning shots! 🙂 Any ideas as to what to do with them?