fuji x-pro 1 for a traveling dad

the extension to the photographic soul

The nervous system is wired through repetitive learned behaviour. It branches out to multiple series and complex integration of skills that become a muscle memory.

The simple task of bending an extremity to a finer tuned pincer grasp- is how I associate my passion and journey in photography. There are thousands of automated camera system out there that conveniently gather information for you, drive you to push a single button and collect astounding results of images. Sharp and sterile look of the modern camera system to the very accurate color and corrected white balance. The immaculate autofocus system that is rapidly improving- outperforming its competitors by the year. Leaving our pockets empty the more.

I somehow lost passion in photography ironically as I accumulated the latest and greatest gear (full frame canon cameras with multiple legendary L lenses). It became a habit of collecting thousands of images by the end of the day. The joy in making photographs was distorted in my mind as I saw it deliberately marketed to buy the newest gear out to fully engage yourself in creating photographs. The task of editing photos in post exhausted my joy in the process. I was too focused in the convenience of it and soon lost the interest in creating. It became merely a task.

film photography and rekindling the passion to create

After five years into photography I became fascinated in film photography. It brought back the spark and joy I was looking for. The process of loading film, advancing the lever, adjusting exposure through the manual dials, manually focusing in the optical view finder and waiting for the right moment to fire the shutter- simultaneously framing what I believed the perfect shot (as I perceived it to be) in the anticipation of the right moment as the subject filled the frame (my want to be Henri Cartier-Bresson moment). That was the first part in the three part process in the world of film photography.

The second step was developing the film. This was such engaging and fun process that I pushed myself to learned the alternative process of developing film in a coffee emulsion soup through the use of alternative ingredients found in the kitchen (caffenol C as it gained its popularity during that time period).

The third and final step was preparing the negatives for scanning and having to wait for it to hang dry in the bathroom for a day. There your 24 or 12 frame roll can then be scanned in the flatbed scanner and finally do simple post like cropping, contrast correction and exposure. It sounds like a daunting task. Methodically and routinely exercising the process all over again for the next batch of film. I zoned out in my makeshift ‘bathroom-darkroom’ and into my element of creating ‘magic’. It felt like opening presents on Christmas day as the anticipation culminated in mixing chemicals with the silver halide. My passion restored in the joy and the process of creating photographs.

The alternative to the creative process

NOLA 2021, carrying the X-pro 1 in the streets the whole day without any issue

Fast forward to having two young children in the house and playing with harmful chemicals was not an option. So the patterson tank and the chemical fixer went into hibernation. In the dark, the chemicals sealed in brown container, away from children in hiatus until then.

I had to find an alternative to integrating my passion in creating photography while perfecting the balancing act of becoming a full fledged father. It seemed impossible.

Becoming a father and a cult following

Until one day after many research online I found the best alternative feel to film photography process in the digital age. I found my way in the deepest of the rabbit hole and came to a conclusion as I debated within myself for days end research. Hence the birth of my most adored digital camera. The fuji X-Pro 1.

It is only fitting to make an article all about this camera. A perfect way to commemorate its tenth year of existence. A homage to a camera incredibly built for the joy of pursuing the purest process. Its flaws and inconvenience, its very weakness that separated this camera from any other- has become its most adored around the world and in the small niche of enthusiast like myself. Simplicity, limitation- Creativity.

The fuji xpro 1 has a continued cult following as the organic color science within its sensor is comparable to a 35 film if not a medium format image color output and dynamic. It is up for many deliberate debates but I adore the vivid color that comes out from this system. Very similar to my equivalent love for the original canon 5d classic.

The fuji xpro-1 with the voking 25 1.7, 7 artisan 35 1.2, and adapted canon 50 1.8 lens

Why then the fuji xpro 1 over the canon 5d or any DSLR?

The first reason: Its portability. Having to have children, portability is everything. You can wear this camera all day and not feel its weight around your neck. One less weight off your load and more extra mile of exploring the world.

Reason no. 2: its form, its look. It makes you want to pick it up all day any day. And I have a pile of camera(s) from film to canon system at home. It is important to feel inspired to carry a camera and create photographs than having it collecting dust at home.

Reason 3: The OVF. If given the chance I would have chosen a second career and pursued school to become a journalist (although I love my current job, I continue to daydream about being one). There is that fire deep inside of me that burn to tell stories. The more candid, the better. Its hybrid optical view finder, though not a true rangefinder, fulfills that gap and provide a real time view of your subject without the void a single lens reflex camera bring. It becomes an extension to the process of documenting without the disconnect to your subject.

Reason 4: The option in mounting manual lens. Prime manual lens(es) to be exact. They are small, sharp, and make for a great light weight alternative. The benefit of having to feel the process in creating the photograph is what drives me to continue to enjoy photography. 

The fifth and final reason: its limitations coupled with old adapted manual prime lens bring character to your images, spark creativity and a reminiscent to shooting film camera with the advantage of an instant photograph to view. A win-win situation for both the purest and digital junky.

Is the xpro-1 fitting for you?

I have grown to love the xpro 1 as I continue to integrate the camera as an extension to myself and create a process embedded in muscle memory. Children are hard to photograph in their element but also bring out the most candid of a memory to hold. This camera requires a lot of patience and practice, but bring out wonderful photographs when handled right. It is not for everyone.

If you are not ready for the full film photography process in the digital age and want to find an alternative portable camera that has the same benifit to the hybrid rangefinder feel, then you should consider the fuji x100 series. Review on my fuji x100f soon to follow. 

The fuji x20 and fuji x100 F side by side

But for now you should continue to pursue your love in photography and not fall into the gear acquisition syndrome (GAS) like I did. My only advice is to focus on making those memories and telling stories in your photographs. I hope this article made sense and helped you in choosing your future travel camera.


Today I continue to feel like opening presents all over again on Christmas day as I create photos in the hybrid rangefinder shooting style the camera is capable of. Manually selecting exposure, framing in the OVF and firing the shutter, minus the lcd chimping- is quite liberating and incredibly fun! If I had the extra money I would buy my second fuji X-Pro 1 in a heart beat. It is that good and inspiring.

Sample photos

A happy ten years to the best camera ever made. This system has happily traveled with my family along many countries internationally. It continues to be a favorite light and portable gear I carry.

Thank you for the coffee. Till next time!

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