Calumet Photographic were recently invited to Japan by Fujifilm to the celebrate 5 years of the X Series range of cameras, along with the official presentation of a new range of products. Principal to the launch was the much anticipated X-Pro2.
Prior to the event itself, we were given the opportunity to acclimatise ourselves to Tokyo and a culture that, even in such a modern city, can be very different to western visitors. Part of this was a taxi ride across the city and a visit to the Tokyo Skytree tower. This popular tourist attraction boasts what is claimed to be the world’s highest observation platform at 634.0 metres (2,080 ft.) and the views are truly spectacular, especially as the weather was unseasonably warm and bright during our stay.
Following on from there was a visit to a popular market and Shinto shrine.
After breakfast at the New Otani hotel overlooking the city centre and some photography in their Japanese Garden it was time for our party to join the many from around the world for the unveiling of the new models at Fujifilm’s Tokyo midtown offices.
One by one all the products were announced in entertaining and informative presentations delivered by Fujifilm X Series Photographers, David Alan Harvey to talk about his experience in using the X-Pro2 and UK Motor Sport photographer Jeff Carter discussing how he used the new XF100-400mm to capture some stunning images of cars at Le Mans. All products were available to handle and there were a number of galleries of photographs that demonstrated the capabilities of all the Fujifilm X Series products. Fuji also has a museum available to the public which I would highly recommend to anyone interested in how cameras have developed through time.
The next day we were all given the opportunity to use the new Fujifilm X-Pro2. Equipped with an 18-55mm lens and two 16GB cards, the X-Pro2 is the first X-series to hold dual card slots. We boarded the futuristic Bullet train bound for the old capital city of Kyoto.
It is over 315 miles from Tokyo, but the journey only takes just around 3 hours and 20 minutes, this was enough time to get to grips with the new camera and understand some of the updated and new features.
Although Kyoto has a modern centre the city feels far more traditionally Japanese than the more westernised Tokyo. This is further reinforced by our visit to Kinkaku-ji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion), a spot that could not be better for testing the new camera.
Being an ex-Leica film rangefinder camera user I thought I would use the optical option of the new hybrid viewfinder, however after initial usage I was surprised to find that my preference was for the electronic one, I think in part because of using the zoom lens. I suspect I would probably change my mind again if I was using a prime lens. Again as a film user the X-Pro2 gave me options to recreate the look and feel of black and white and slide films I’ve used. For the slide option I experimented with ‘Classic Chrome’ this gives a subtle rendition similar to the Kodachrome I used to use.
Fuji have added a new ACROS option to the black and white options, although a good addition I preferred the standard Monochrome setting along with the red filter option. As a Product Manager for Calumet I rarely get the opportunity to spend as much time with the latest cameras as I would like, it was hugely enjoyable to wander around the grounds of the Pavilion using a camera as capable and intuitive as the X-Pro2 I even got to play with some of the fun modes like Toy…
… and partial colour.
Afterwards we visited the traditional Nishiki market. It was here that the X-Pro2 really came into its own, being superbly suited to candid ‘street’ photography. I have to admit that apart from switching to predominately monochrome again I left the exposure, white balance and ISO setting to the camera while I concentrated on the subjects and taking in the unique atmosphere.
After a traditional Japanese meal in the evening, the next day featured more sightseeing in the Kyoto area. We visited Tohaiji Temple, Nara Park and Kasuga Shrine’s open area. You could quite easily spend a day at each of these sites and each location had great opportunities for photographers. Once again the X-Pro2 came into its own in these environments.
All too soon it was time to return to Toyko and a final meal at the hotel’s 360 degree rotating restaurant and reflecting back on this exciting journey and experience.
I would very much like to thank Fujifilm UK for their kind invitation.