Letter From Japan

0 by Patrick La Roque
January 15, 2016 at 9:58 am  •  Posted in News & Events by  •  0 Comments

© Patrick La Roque

© Patrick La Roque

Dear Photo Life readers,

Let’s lay the cards on the table right now: I’m not impartial. I’m a Canadian Fujifilm X-Photographer covering the 5-year anniversary of the X-Series event in Tokyo, surrounded by friends and photographers I’ve admired for years. A kid in a candy store essentially. And Japan? Well, I get to tick another item off my bucket list. So forget the 17-hour flight, the crazy jet lag, this is a jolt to the system through and through. I’m in serious overdrive mode and won’t even pretend to be objective or conceal my involvement; it wouldn’t be honest.

Right now I’m sitting in my hotel room in Roppongi, desperately trying to summarize this day for you without rehashing what’s already out there. But let’s do a quick recap to set things up. Five years ago Fujifilm launched the X100, and this camera—based on a return to manual controls, a rangefinder design—took everyone by surprise. In fact I believe it took the company itself by surprise because while it was far from perfect, it started something. And it made a lot of photographers (including myself) extremely curious about the new mirrorless technology it was based on. Fast forward to today: the X Series has grown into an entire system of lenses, bodies and peripherals, with a lot of photographers leaving their former allegiances behind to embrace it, either as a replacement or an adjunct.

Today was a celebration.

Tokyo Midtown. X-Pro2, 1/300 at f/1.2, ISO 200. © Patrick La Roque

Tokyo Midtown. X-Pro2, 1/300 at f/1.2, ISO 200. © Patrick La Roque

Entry Hall. X-Pro2, 1/300 at f/1.2 at ISO 200. © Patrick La Roque

Entry Hall. X-Pro2, 1/300 at f/1.2 at ISO 200. © Patrick La Roque

Held at Fujifilm Plaza in Tokyo Midtown, the event started off with the usual history lessons about the company and its goals, how imaging is still to this day in its DNA. Then there was a recap of how the X-Series came about. And then out came the big guns: the long-awaited X-Pro2. Every party needs a cake, right? This is the brand new flagship camera, and while its looks remain the same, it has had a complete overhaul in terms of technology: a new 24-MP sensor, new X-Processor Pro, etc., along with tons of refinements. (Disclaimer: I’ve been shooting with a prototype since early November.)

Fuji4 (1)

David Alan Harvey. X-Pro2, 1/160 at f/1.2, ISO 400. © Patrick La Roque

Taking the stage to talk about the X-Pro2 was special guest and Magnum photographer David Alan Harvey. Yes, the big guns. He was then followed by UK racing photographer Jeff Carter.

The company also had a slew of other announcements: a brand new smaller version of the X100T called the X70, the X-E2S, an upcoming flash system, and a long telephoto lens—the XF 100-400.

The new tech. X-Pro2, 1/240 at f/2, ISO 200. © Patrick La Roque

The new tech. X-Pro2, 1/240 at f/2, ISO 200. © Patrick La Roque

The talks wrapped up around 3 p.m., and we were invited to move into the Touch & Try area, where everyone got to play with the shiny new toys. As part of these celebrations, 100 photographers were also provided with pre-production X-Pro2 cameras and submitted images to be featured in a special gallery space that will be up for the week-long festivities, showing off the imaging capabilities of the new flagship system.

The Gallery. X100T, 1/125 at f/2, ISO 500. © Patrick La Roque

The Gallery. X100T, 1/125 at f/2, ISO 500. © Patrick La Roque

Mask and floor plan. X100T, 1/125 at f/2, ISO 400. © Patrick La Roque

Mask and floor plan. X100T, 1/125 at f/2, ISO 400. © Patrick La Roque

The night’s not over, and tomorrow I’m off to a factory tour in Sendai. Stories of bullet trains and assembly lines soon to come.Until then: Oyasuminasai.

Continue to Part 2 here.

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