The Horseman VCC Pro is an interesting view camera for both medium format and smaller format film and digital backs. I snatched one for a week thanks to the lovely Ms. Nitta, whom I met at this year's CP+. She set me up with Nikon mounted VCC and two large format Rodagon lenses.
Generally I shoot still life with a Sony A7r, and sometimes with a medium format digital back. The A7r is well suited to quickly getting sharp photographs with pretty much any lens/bellows set up. I usually have it paired with some Nikon macro lens or another.
But, since it was connected to the VCC Pro for this cheesy shoot, I had to use something else. The D800 is a bloody pain in the still-life studio, so I opted instead to use my X-Pro 1. Why not the pretty awesome X-T1? Simple. Raw support is still a ways off. And I've had the X-Pro 1 for a year and still not used it in the studio. Why not give it a go?
For its first inning, the X-Pro 1 was attached to an FX-NIK Speed Booster and finally, onto a 1st-gen Nikkor PC Micro 85mm f/2,8 ED. (Incidentally, I will replace this lens with a Horseman LS and 80/4 Rodagon.) The tripod foot at the base of the Speed Booster kept the fragile X-Pro 1 base plate safe, as the Novoflex ASTAT takes care of my A7r.
Here's what the X-Pro did right.
- sharp images even attached to the Speed Booster
- flawless interaction with Flashwaves III radio sync
- damped shutter button travel ensures little camera movement
- good live view performance
- locking focus is relatively simple
- limited to 1/125 manual sync speed since the X-Pro 1 lacks half-stops on its exposure dial
- live view updates very slowly; manual-focus handheld work is rough in a dark studio
- because you can't move the focus box around at 100% magnification with the four-way dial, checking focus takes three or four steps more than it does on D800, A7r, or X-T1
- lack of tilt screen and tethering options induces back pain
I hadn't expected the X-Pro 1 to be even somewhat useful. But it works, albeit, less well than either the X-T1 or the A7r. It isn't a camera I would recommend to someone who primarily wants to shoot still life photography. Its output quality is decent, but the detail of its 16 megapixel sensor is a far cry from what is possible with the A7r. No matter how much I dislike the A7r, I can't decry its output, nor its generally excellent studio ergonomics.
In particular, the X-Pro 1's slow EVF refresh rate makes it next to useless for macro photography in dark studios, especially when attached to adapters or lenses that are prone to flex. The X-T1 does much better in this regard. And having the option to trigger exposure from a sighted remote is invaluable.
As for the VCC Pro, it's a pretty nice piece of equipment. It has a couple of oversights, but if you are looking to get into tilt/shift and macro, the VCC-Pro is far more flexible than a tilt-shift lens setup. It isn't, however, as stable.