Jolly Good Chaps: Fuji's X rig enters the legendary Chap Olympiad
I had it all worked out. I had planned for weeks to go to the Chap Olympiad as a "Summer village fete curate”—you know the thing, black trousers and shirt, pale linen jacket and Panama hat. I even ordered a dog collar for the full effect, and practised for hours in front of a mirror saying, "That's an ecumenical matter." In the event it was the first really hot day for weeks so after a last minute rethink I ended up as a cross between Michael Corleone's dodgy Sicilian uncle and a Peaky Blinder on a Wakes Week break.
My choice of camera was considerably easier. With the Olympiad on Saturday and the Farnborough airshow on Sunday I had a busy weekend in prospect. I worked backwards and had the X-Pro2 and the 100-400mm with the X-E2 already packed and ready to grab and go the next morning so for the trip to London on the Saturday, it was my Billingham Hadley Pro with the X-Pro1 and 35 and 90mm lenses that I slung over my shoulder as I tipped my cap at a jaunty angle and headed to the station.
A note to the uninitiated before I continue. "The Chap" is a magazine that is so quintessentially English that the paper boy has to wear stout brogues and a decent tweed to deliver it. It celebrates a whimsical form of Englishness that in truth never quite existed. Think Terry Thomas, Oliver Reed, Fenella Fielding, Patrick Moore, WG Grace and Biggles at a cocktail party in Singapore, downing Earl Grey gin slings and debating whether Emma Peel or Pussy Galore looked best in a leather catsuit and you have the idea.
The Chap Olympiad is an annual opportunity to dress up and leave the beastly modern world at the gates of Fitzrovia's exclusive Bedford Gardens. Chaps and Chapettes gather to picnic, quaff Pimms and watch the ridiculous antics on the "Field of Dreams". Events range from "Not Playing Tennis" to "Umbrella Jousting" (on "borrowed" Boris bikes) and absolutely anything goes in between.
The 90 was a good choice. It enabled me to isolate the action nicely and provided just enough magnification. With a field of view equivalent to 135mm it is an ideal short telephoto. I could have gone with the 18-135 or even the 50-230 but a zoom just didn't seem in keeping. So primes were the order of the day. I was far from being the only Fuji user—although there wasn't an X-T1 in sight—it was all X-Pros and X-Ms, although I did also spot a Leica or two.
All grand fun. But... I learned an important lesson that day in a leafy London square. The X-Pro1, so long my tool of choice, struggled frustratingly to achieve focus on the action in the dappled light. I found myself missing the moment on a number of occasions whilst I waited for the 90mm to rack in and out in a hunt for focus. I also found myself fumbling with the controls more than once as I clumsily manoeuvred my way around the once-familiar menu structure.
Here's the lesson. Take heed, because it is important. Cameras do not become obsolete. Instead it is our expectations that evolve and, in time, leave them behind. I have been using my X-Pro2 a lot lately, alongside my X-E2 and X100T. They are all much of a muchness in handling with, of course, the X-Pro2 leading, particularly in performance. The X-Pro1 is exactly the same fine camera that it was the day before I opened the box containing my X-Pro2; it still works exactly the same and has the potential to produce the same fine images. Yet it has been eclipsed by its younger sibling through no fault of its own. It really wasn't the camera that let me down that day on the Field of Dreams, it was my higher level of expectation combined with a muscle memory that is now in tune with the X-Pro2 instead. I think that this is an important point. Sometimes it is right to leave the past behind; how ironic that I realised this while myself dressed like something from the 1930s...
My original plan, as I have shared before was always to keep the X-Pro1 as the appropriate backup to the X-Pro2 but in fact I'm finding that in what might be called real world use it is the X-E2 that is filling that niche, much as the X-E1 did when I first acquired the X-Pro1. The E is similar enough to the Pro to complement it, but different enough—in particular in being lighter and more compact—to stand as an effective camera in its own right. I had another plan, part executed via filters, to dedicate the X-Pro1 to infrared use but that is not enough justification to make it worth keeping.
So with regret, the X-Pro1 will be heading to a new home in due course. I appreciate that I won't get much for it, even though it is in mint condition—I am never unduly hard on my kit—but that isn't the point; it's not about the money. You curate a well-made camera, rather than own it and it is your responsibility once done to set it free to bring pleasure to a new owner. That is what I shall shortly do. So for now, enjoy its swansong with the inspired silliness of the Chaps and Chapettes on a sunny day in London Town.