Switching from Nikon to Fuji was very interesting. Had you spoken with my a yr ago I would have told you how well I had bonded with my Nikon equipment and how I would never consider changing. I've used many Nikon cameras and many lenses as well and I find their inventory of gear to be superb. In my mind a lot more flexible and cost effective to Canon.
My opinion of course.
But, there are always technological advances. New Nikons were coming out and new lenses as well. As 2013 had ended and 2014 was about to begin we, as photographers, are often treated to a month or two or down time. I generally take this time to work on my blog, research things on youtube and perhaps get more active in online groups I'm a member of. It was in this time that I started to look into mirrorless. As I had mentioned in a previous post I knew what they were, but had never taken them seriously. But, I had time so I started to research more. To my surprise mirrorless cameras had really started to develop and I was instantly attracted to Fuji with their retro look cameras, small and autofocus! Then I came across articles from Zack Arias, David Hobby, Bert Stephani, and many others. I also found videos on digital rev, who I watch weekly as they do great reviews with a touch of humor. I was intrigued by this new technology and how excited some people were.
Having finished up the yr with some money in the bank I decided to give it a shot. One X-E1, returned and received the X-E2 later and I decided to go all in. Now my whole kit is converted to Fuji. I'm amazed at myself for doing this, but somehow it made and still makes sense.
A few reasons this made sense to me:
- The smaller form factor is just great. I can easily hold the camera with a lens on it in one hand and walk around and not get tired. Previously only with the smallest of lenses could I do this for short periods of time.
- I'm used point and shoot cameras, but had never used an electronic viewfinder. This little screen is amazing showing you true to sensor view. Meaning the image the sensor will capture is what you see. This means that if you take photos in black and white the screen is in black and white, or in sepia , you get the idea. Live histogram appears in the viewfinder, a distance meter, and 100% coverage. There is a lot more to say about the viewfinder, but these are the main points.
- The cool knobs and intelligent button array. Now I can see most of my settings even when the camera is off. Its funny with Nikon I looked at the top screen ALL the time. No screen here, and you know what? I actually don't miss it. I like knowing what aperture I want and exposure compensation with a small twist of a dial.
- The lenses are just superb. The first lens I purchased was the 35mm 1.4 lens. The Nikon equivalent is over $1,200, but the Fuji version is only $699. AND it is super sharp at f1.4. Possibly sharper than the Nikon version. All the lenses are metal, like they should be! There are around a dozen lenses out there now from Fuji with another 6 or so coming out by the end of this year. In addition Zeiss lenses are being made for the Fuji cameras as well. If you don't know about zeiss lenses google them. Very high quality glass.
- High ISO and image quality. Of course anytime you look at buying a new camera you want to make sure you are going to get amazing image quality equal or better to what you are currently using. So this is something I researched a lot. I noticed that the image quality, due to their awesome sensor, was up to par. In addition I was very curious about high ISO performance. I recall being hesitant taking photos over ISO 1600 so I wanted to make sure these cameras would perform well in this area as well. Via samples online I saw that even at ISO 3200 the sensors were producing fantastic images. I couldn't believe it at first, but I was ready to try it out.
- PRICE! At the end of the day making a change has to make financial sense as well. The Fuji's were almost 30-40% cheaper than comparable Nikon DSLRs. Even some of the lenses, which are top notch, were priced extremely well. Even selling my equipment at pre-owned prices I was able to make the conversion and still have a few hundreds dollars left in my wallet.
So I looked at all these things that seemed to make sense to me and made the switch knowing full fell that I had made a commitment.
2 Months with Fuji:
- All the above items still make sense to me and I'm excited to be all Fuji now. I still read reviews, blogs, check to see what's coming out soon and have joined a couple Fuji forums as well. Its a great community out there of people who have converted, added to their kits or are contemplating entering the Fuji world.
- I am seeing the world differently. Yes that might sound crazy, but its true. I am getting more and more used to wider lenses and am learning to take in more information. I've always been a detail, fill the frame, kind of photographer, but these Fujis have me really enjoying the wider perspectives. To me its refreshing exploring wider angles. I'm looking at larger scenes more often and trying to be very aware of what I'm including and what I'm not including. I look for details, but also a secondary or third detail to work with it.
- I'm taking less photos. I see this as a plus. I'm probably going out to take photos a lot more than in the past, but I'm taking less overall photos. I'm taking a couple seconds to pre-frame and to really think about the photo I'm about to take. I was so used to taking three to four photos just to make sure. Now, with the awesome viewfinder, I can see immediately if something isn't right. Meaning I generally take one photo, maybe two at times. Essentially this has cut down my total photos by almost 30%. And I feel like my success ratio has increased as well. At the end of the day I have less throw aways meaning less time sorting through hundreds of photos.
- Getting used to the controls. At first it was so different from Nikon and I was getting annoyed. But, now I use it as intended and do it the Fuji way. By not fighting the controls I'm finding other ways to do things that didn't exist with Nikon. One neat thing is by pressing a job wheel you can zoom in to 100% to make sure what you want is in focus and then another press and you zoom back out. Its so handy, and easy to use. Also, you can operate the full menu of the camera while looking at the viewfinder. This means that when you need to change those harder to find settings you have it all there ready to go. Slowly you start to get muscle memory to the buttons you most use. So over time you just getting faster and faster.
- Its nice to have a smaller camera. I was really close to buying a new camera bag as my smallest old bag was too big! The camera would literally sink to the bottom. But, I found that I can fit two cameras in there and an extra lens if I want. This is my small shoulder bag! I was amazed! I recently took a trip into Boston with both my cameras, two lenses, gloves and a few batteries, no problem. Both of the cameras with lenses weigh less than a big Nikon camera with a long zoom, and take up a lot less room. And, due to this size difference I am more likely to take my camera along with me.
- Learning how it autofocuses. I knew before buying any of these cameras that the autofocus was different and not as snappy as the Nikon DSLRs. I tried the X-E1, but it was way too slow and got frustrating. So, when I picked up the X-E2 I noticed a big improvement. Still not lightning fast, but very responsive. In lower light it is a contrast detect system so you want to look for edges or where two different tones meet to lock focus quicker. With the X-E2 they added phase detection which, in good lighting, is much faster and is what DSLRs use for their focus systems. So its much closer to what I was used to. I also learned about the manual focus assist modes, back button focusing, zone focusing and the focus assist button. Its amazing how many different ways you can achieve focus with these cameras. It seems as you learn it more you find the ones that work best for you.
Honestly I'm really enjoying using Fuji. There are more cameras, lenses and firmware updates in the pipeline. They are a company who stand behind their product and will continue to improve older models even when they are replaced! Recently they put out a firmware update to a 2 yr old camera model where it added some features. So I feel very happy and confident with this system/company. They seem to listen to their customers and want to keep you as a long time customer. And they continue to improve. I highly recommend Fuji to anyone looking for a smaller system, a companion system or if you're curious about mirrorless cameras and don't know where to begin.