For me the switch was sort of gradual and then bam I put my chips on the table and went all in. To be honest it was very scary. I was going from Nikon gear that had served me very well at many shoots, events and weddings. I had learned everything I knew by using my Nikon. But, I am always interested in learning more. The more I read about mirrorless and full frame cameras and other gear online the more I was curious to know more. At first I felt it was the trendy thing people were doing and later I saw samples and other blogs touting some of the Fujis as the next big thing. Of course I was intrigued.
I started with one Fuji and lens and got to play around a little. I've always been good with menus and electronics so some things I was able to understand, but it was a whole new device. Nothing was where it was on my Nikons and even the viewfinder was more complex and completely different. It was actually scary looking through the viewfinder and trying to get the exposure correctly when it would change on me every time I moved the camera. I was not used to the screen showing me an over or under exposure. Yikes.
The one thing that I felt really comfortable with from the get go was changing of the aperture on the lens directly. In the past I had used lenses that offered that capability as well. And although I understood it I knew that I was in for a whole new experience. And I was excited to know more.
Then I explored some more.
I made sure to read a lot of reviews, tutorials and blogs to gain as much knowledge about the learning curve, quirks and and major differences. The biggest topics related to slow auto focus, tough tracking, and some features that didn't seem quite complete. Battery life seemed to be a major concern as well as a laggy viewfinder. And I read all of this, but I also paid attention to the positives; smaller form factor, fantastic image quality, sharp lenses, more information on the viewfinder and really usable manual focusing modes, etc.
Mostly I was inspired by people like Kevin Mullins, David Hobby and Zack Arias. I saw it as more than just something new and trendy and as really high quality equipment. I continued to read as well as head out and practice with my new Fuji gear.
It was frustrating and something needed to change
I was enjoying the Fuji as it felt like a toy and it was just so different to what i was used to. But, I was starting to get frustrated. Putting files side by side from the Nikon and the Fuji they appeared very different (to me). In lower light the colors really differed. I became more and more concerned that I'd have to find a new way to edit my photos. I thought of events and other weddings and fumbling around editing photos that wouldn't quite match.
The autofocus was slower and the 35mm was much slower to the kit lens. I'm a huge fan of prime lenses so I'm used to photographing with them, but the lenses were slower. This also challenged me and had me doubting my decision.
Lastly, the quickness of operation was frustrating. It was fun to learn and play with the camera, but I was hardly quick enough to trust using it for a payed gig. With practice I was getting faster, but it was like retraining myself how to take photos.
I decided that having both a Fuji camer and NIkon cameras it would actually take me far longer to REALLY GET IT. And most of all the more I used my Fuji camera the more I was comparing it with my Nikon. Even on blogs others were commenting what it supposedly couldn't do so I had my doubts. Could I really learn to use it and produce high quality photography? Would I still enjoy using it once the "newness" factor passed? Would people see me differently using a smaller camera? Lots of questions were circling in my mind.
I went all in and didn't look back
In this short period of time of owning my Fuji and two lenses I saw all the potential of the Fuji. I saw all the new things I could do and knew that with practice I'd be able to master it as I had mastered my Nikon cameras. I was also excited to take part of all the new firmware updates and new gear that would be coming out. So, I made my decision and went all in.
I sold off my two Nikon cameras, my lenses and even one of my bags (too big) and purchased another lens and later on a second camera.
I made it a point to head out regularly to practice and practice some more. With no Nikon camera to fall back upon I knew I had to learn to use these cameras well, and fast. I trained my fingers to search for knobs and not buttons. I began to trust the Aperture Priority mode even though my Nikon brain kept telling me to go full manual. Its funny the stigma you get when you tell someone you don't shoot in full manual. Oh well. I found that many photographers who photographed events with Fujis used the Aperture Priority mode as it made it much quicker to respond. I also found that I could trust the Auto ISO from 200 all the way up to 6400. THAT AMAZED ME.
So I would head out weekly and photograph people, places, landscapes, macros etc.
I also worked on my editing. I found a new way to edit with Lightroom that actually helped refine my images. I embraced the way the files looked and truly appreciated the better White Balance and color rendition in lower light.
I slowly started to see more strengths and different way to "see" a photo. I stopped comparing to my Nikons and began comparing one Fuji lens to the other. I found a good setup for my menus and settings and stuck with it.
Things just got better and better.
As I continued to trust the gear more and more I started taking on clients. I started posting more photos online and getting feedback.
I was getting faster with changing settings and focusing as well. With the purchase of the X-T1 I noticed improvements in the autofocus, an incredible viewfinder and overall ergonomics. Paired with the fantastic 56mm 1.2 lens I knew I had made the right choice.
The short battery life which had me concerned at first was now a teaching tool. It was teaching me to pick my shots more and be smart on when I pressed the shutter. I found that I was taking less photos, but also averaging more keepers. I am always ware of how many photos I have left per battery, but it has made more decisive and I think it has also made me a better photographer.
I am now taking all the tools that make these cameras great and using them every time I take photos. I trust the cameras fully and know their capabilities. And I know that if I take a bad photo its because of my skills as a photographer and not my gear. I continue to practice and head out regularly. And I'm enjoying all of it.
As others have mentioned before taking photos with Fuji is fun. Due to their smaller frame and capabilities it is more likely you'll bring them with you more often than not.
Of course they are not for everyone or for any situation, but this technology continues to improve with each generation. Many are purchasing them to use in addition to their current systems while others are making the switch. I have made the switch and am really enjoying it. I've now photographed several sessions, a baptism and a wedding with my Fuji gear and they have performed very well. And I have a few more weddings coming up to photograph.
- Rent an X-T1 or the X100s and see how you like them. Try out a lens of two and see for yourself how great the optics are.
- The learning curve can be steep, a two day rental won't tell you much and might leave you frustrated. Borrow from a friend if you can.
- Read blogs and websites and mingle with others using the gear for recommendations on how to begin.
- Try not to compare with your current gear. Pretend this is the first camera you have ever used. (Yes that's harder to do than you think)
- If you make a purchase go for a current model as each generation continues to improve over the last and the firmware updates really help. Or, go for a pre-owned model to stay within budget. With all the firmware updates available its hard to make a wrong decision.
- If you are thinking of making a switch make sure they offer the features and lenses you require. Although there are many options there are still a few lenses which are yet to be produced.
- Ask me anything you'd like about my gear or my experience with them.
All photos on my blog posted after February 1st were taken with Fuji gear.
Both photos taken with Fuji cameras.