Ashok Viswanathan: X-Pro1 and Varnasi on the Ganges, India

I have always wanted to visit Varnasi, a city I heard so much about. Its one of the worlds oldest living cities being over 5000 years old and it looks it. Its also the holiest city on the banks of the Ganges and to die here is to ensure a direct ticket to heaven and freedom from rebirth. Its also a center for spiritual learning and the place where Bhudda delivered his first sermon at Sarnath, just 10 km away.

Varnasi is also on the tourist map for foreigners as well as devout hindus who atleast once in their lifetime want to offer prayers at one of the many temples and ghats that line the banks of the river. A dip in the Ganges is believed to wash away all sins.

Having recently changed systems from a Nikon D100 to the X Pro1, I decided this would be the ideal time to give the camera a try out to see if what I heard about the X Pro was true. Armed with a 18-55mm f/2.8 fuji lens I set about walking the ghats where all the action takes place. Early morning and late afternoon being the best time. Highly recommended is a boat ride down the river which gives some very nice views of the ghats.


The first things I noticed was the light weight. A full day of walking around with the Fuji was a lot easier. The camera is slower to focus than a Nikon despite the software updates but perfectly acceptable for images where there is no high speed motion. The 18-55mm (about 28-80mm in full frame terms) covers the majority of the focal lengths required. However it would have been nice to have a longer zoom to pull in the distant details.

To extend battery life I lower the brightness on the lcd and switch off image review. This ensures the battery lasts most of the day. Sharpness and colour saturation are excellent and the 16MP sensor delivers lovely jpg files straight from the camera. Although the locals are used to tourists, a big cameras still attracts unwanted attention. No one gives the X Pro with its retro looks a second glance and is ideal for street photography.

The photographs here are shot in RAW and processed in Affinity Photo, a recently released software similar to photoshop and available for a very modest one time fee. There is a trial version available. Its fast, easy to learn and delivers excellent images with saturated colours.

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  • Matthew Richards

    I don’t really understand why you make the mistake, at least twice, with the focal length of the lens you reviewed, it leaves readers wondering whether you were discussing the 18-55mm F/2.8-4.0 or the 16-55mm F/2.8. Also unsure of your spelling of the city “Varnasi”, isn’t it Varanasi (वाराणसी), otherwise known as Kashi, Banaras or Benares?