Monday, February 20, 2012

Thought Of The Day: Why You Don't Need The Fuji X-Pro1

It is an exciting time to be in the market for a new digital camera. There are a lot of great options that will be on the market very soon. Many people have already pre-ordered.

The Sony NEX-7 has 24 megapixels on an APS-C sized sensor for about $1,300. The Nikon D800 has 36 megapixels on a full-frame sensor for about $3,000. Sigma drastically reduced the price of the SD1, which has (an equivalent) 46 megapixels and no anti-aliasing filter (and no moire distortion) for around $3,300. And the Fuji X-Pro1 has (an equivalent) 20 megapixels and no anti-aliasing filter (and no moire distortion) for around $1,700.

These cameras all produce exceptional images. But you don't need them.

None of these cameras will make you a better photographer, because the camera you use doesn't matter.

You could even use your cell phone.

As Ansel Adams said, "The single most important component of a camera is the 12 inches behind it."

If you have the money laying around, there is certainly no harm in buying new toys. Or if your current camera is obsolete or broken, a month or two from now will be a great time to be in the market.

But not only will these cameras not make you a better photographer, they will soon be yesterday's news, as digital technology changes quickly. Two years from now very few people will be talking about any of these cameras, and ten years from now very few people will be using them.

So while the X-Pro1 or D800 or NEX-7 will certainly be nice to own, you'd be better off spending your time, money and effort doing something that might actually make you a better photographer.

If you haven't read Bruce Barnbaum's exceptional book The Art Of Photography, you need to get it and read it. It's the best money you will spend on photography, and as of this writing it's on sale for $26.43.

Also, the more photographs you take the better of a photographer you will be. There is a lesson to be learned from each click of the shutter. Henri Cartier-Bresson said, "Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst." Not only is that true, but also that your next 10,000 photographs are your second worst. And your next 10,000 photographs are your third worst.

You will do more to improve your photography by going out and making photographs than by the purchase of new equipment. Instead of reading countless product reviews and debating in your mind if you should choose this brand or that brand, this camera or that camera, this lens or that lens--instead of that, you could be out with the equipment you already have and actually improving your skills.

People spend a lot of time and effort debating in their minds--and even posting questions on message boards to complete strangers--trying to decide what they should buy. My best advice is to not buy anything. Or, if you are going to buy a camera, try a Holga 120 film camera or a FED 35mm rangefinder (or something else other than an SLR). Be different. Or, if you are set on buying a new digital camera, go with your first gut instinct. The X-Pro1, NEX-7, D800, SD1--or whatever other camera you are interested in--will be great and will be more than capable.

The less time you spend worrying about what camera you are going to buy is more time that you could spend actually being a photographer.

And that is why you don't need the Fuji X-Pro1.


  1. Agreed that the camera doesn't make the photographer. However, if you're not taking pictures because you've grown tired of lugging around a big DSLR rig, then a lighter weight rig improves your photography - not by virtue of MP or glass, but by virtue of getting you out and shooting where you weren't before - how better to get the next 10,000 photographs?

  2. Steve,
    Thanks for the comment!
    I agree with your statement. I share a Nikon S8100 with my wife. While the sensor is not nearly as good as my DSLR, the fact that it's compact (fits easily in a pocket), there are no lenses and filters to change, and it still has plenty of resolution for 11" x 14" (or 11" x 17") prints, makes it more enjoyable to use.
    Compact and semi-compact cameras will likely be the death of the low-end DSLR (while the D800 will likely be the death of the mid-level DSLR).
    But I do think many people spend way too much time and energy worrying about what equipment they think they should have. They could be creating photographs with that time and energy. If one wants the Fuji X-Pro1, go out and get it! It's a waste reading review after review after review. The camera is great (most are, especially if the cost more than $1,000), so people should stop worrying about it.
    Again, thanks for your comment, Steve!