Over the years, I’ve carried my fair share of heavy gear. On backpacking trips, my record is in around 14 pounds of camera gear alone. Though I know folks who’ve carried more than that. Still, my goal is not to have the heaviest load. Especially as I left my 20s, carrying a lot of stuff has become less and less appealing to me. Yet to keep my trusty Canon 6D with me, I always seem like I’m loaded to the max. The Canon 6D is small for a full frame DSLR, but even so, it’s not that small, or light. And the full frame glass that I pair it with is inevitably heavier and bulkier still.
The Internal Debate
I’ve eyed the mirrorless selection for a while now. I even dipped my foot into mirrorless with micro 4/3 cameras like the Olympus OM-D EM5. But it never quite lived up to the mighty Canon 6D. The viewfinder was meh. The image quality was good, but it just couldn’t capture bokeh and subject isolation like my full frame did. The Sony A7’s have always been of interest to me, but the problem is, while you save a little weight in the body, full frame glass is still full frame glass. Sony does have APS-C camera bodies, but the lens selection is more limited and Sony colors are just … not the same as Canon. Canon of course has it’s own mirrorless line, but it’s pretty clear they are not serious about making lenses for their M-series cameras.
Fujifilm has always been an interesting balance to me. I love the manual-centric controls: an aperture ring on the lens, a shutter speed and ISO dial. It allows me to focus on choosing what to control or not control rather than thinking about what “mode” I want to be in for this shot. Their APS-C sensor is even a little bit bigger than the APS-C Canon DSLRs I shot with before going full frame, giving much better bokeh and subject isolation than the micro 4/3 options. And their lenses were in the right spot. Lighter enough to be worth the switch, and almost all of them very high quality.
What I didn’t fully understand, until I started using one, were the Fuji colors. I had always appreciated the Canon colors, but Fujifilm has blown my mind away. So many Fuji photographers have told me they shoot straight JPEGs, and I can understand why. At the moment, I’m shooting RAW+JPEG, and still trying to figure out what exactly my strategy will be moving forward.
Making the Switch
Then, in the first half of 2017, Fujifilm came out with the X-T2 and subsequently put a major promotion on the older X-T1: $500 off for the body or body + lens bundles. So, in May, I traded in a few older Canon lenses that I used primarily for going light with my 6D, and I purchased a Fujifilm X-T1 with 18-55mm. Pretty quickly, I was in love. A couple weeks later I purchased the 55-200mm to pick up the telephoto range, and then a month after that I began trading in Canon gear like mad. Next thing I knew, I had 3 Canon lenses left (35mm, 50mm, and 100mm), and instead all of my gear was Fujifilm. I’ve hung onto my Canon Speedlites, since they still work just fine on manual.
By selling most of my Canon gear on eBay, and strategically buying used gear when I saw it, I was able to make the transition without spending too much more than I made.
So my kit now looked like this:
- Fujifilm X-T1
- Fujifilm X-E1 (backup body)
- Fujifilm XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4
- Fujifilm XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6
- Fujifilm XF 55-200 f/3.5-4.8
- Fujifilm XF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6
- Fujifilm XF 14mm f/2.8
- Fujifilm XF 23mm f/2
- Fujifilm XF 35mm f/2
- Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2
Now, there are more zoom lenses on that list than I had intended. The 100-400 is necessary for my wildlife photography. And the 18-55 is such an amazing optical performer, yet so small and light, it frequently goes with me on hikes. The 55-200 is might lighter telephoto alternative, when I cannot justify the 3-lb 100-400. And the 18-135 is a great all arounder for nasty conditions when I don’t want to be changing lenses, or as an uber light, does all lens.
I am never carrying more than 2 zooms at a time, and often only 1 or none at all. I’ve been slowly shooting more and more with primes as I’ve matured as a photographer, and the switch to Fujifilm has only increased that. The primes are so small and light, carrying 2 or 3 is hardly noticable.
There’s only three pieces of Fujifilm of gear still on my list to buy:
- Fujifilm X-T2
- Fujifilm X100F (or possibly the X70)
- Fujifilm XF 90mm f/2
Though I am interested to hear more opinions about the new 80mm Macro. And I’m looking forward to the ultra wide zoom and prime telephoto coming out next year.
Over the past six months, I’ve found myself shooting Fuji more and more, and I’ve been walking away with amazing shots. When I’m shooting with my X-T1, I never miss my 6D. The only time I feel a longing for my Canon gear is when I see fellow Canon full frame shooters. And I have to ask myself whether I miss it out of nostalgia or as a status symbol, because I know I’m not missing the quality of the images or the quality of the camera. If anything, my X-T1 is better than my 6D, shooting faster and focusing quicker. But when shooting with my 6D, I do find myself missing my Fuji.
|Fuji Colors||Shooting side by side with my X-T1 and 6D, it becomes readily apparent how powerful those Fuji colors are. I often find myself trying to replicate the Fuji colors with my CR2’s and can never quite get all the way there.|
|Live View||Canon has it’s live view, but live view is generally a hobbled experience. Focus is very slow, but the Fuji is different. Focus is fast already on the Fuji, and it doesn’t care whether I’m using the viewfinder or the LCD.|
|Angled LCD||Although it’s not a fully articulating LCD, the up and down angle on the Fuji X-T1 LCD is an extremely useful feature. I can’t tell you how many times I had to throw my DSLR up in the air and guess at the camera angle, or lie down in dirt and mud to get the shot. With the angled LCD, I can go high or go low with a simple flip.|
|Light and Small||With as light and small as the X-T1 and lenses are, it’s far easier to throw a lens into a bag and head out. I was getting to the point where I’d leave my Canon 6D behind just because I didn’t want to have to deal with carrying it. No excuses anymore.|
|Autofocus||The autofocus on the X-T1 is not nearly as strong as the X-T2, but it is stronger than my 6D. Don’t get me wrong, the 6D works fine but I am more likely to get a bird in flight in focus on my X-T1 than on my 6D.|
|Aperture Ring, Shutter Speed and ISO Dials||I love how the Fuji works. It works much more similar thaw my brain works when thinking about a photograph. I simply make a choice to control or not control each element. I can quickly set the aperture, and on my prime lenses, I can even physically see what I’ve set it to. I love that about my Fujifilm primes.|
There is one thing I miss from my Canon: battery life. I used to shoot over a 1,000 images on a battery before it died. Now I generally don’t hit 350. But I carry more batteries now. I can accept that for the weight I save.
I haven’t been able to get myself to give up my last Canon gear. (I’m pretty sure it’ll be an X-T2 I’ll be buying in it’s place.) But, it doesn’t see much use anymore. It did come in handy taking a picture of all my Fuji gear for this post though!
The long and short of it is, I made the switch to a lighter system, and I’m loving every minute of it. This has perhaps been the first big shakeup to my photography since I made the shift to full frame. And other than a little nostalgia and ego, I haven’t looked back. Mirrorless cameras have been quicker to adopt new technologies such as angled LCD screens, and faster phase detection autofocus. The smaller lenses are a joy to shoot with. And I love getting back to the basics of dials and rings to control aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and exposure compensation.