Fuji X-T3 or Nikon Z 7 | Editorial Stock Photography

Nikon Z7 Mirrorless Camera
Nikon Z 7 Mirrorless Camera  ©Rick Lewis 2019
Fujifilm X-T3 Mirrorless Camera   ©Rick Lewis 2019

It’s been a long time since I last posted.  Lots have been going on though.  I want to give you some thoughts on what has been happening over the last two years.  I am shooting editorial stock images now, for my business, so this post is centered around that genre.

I switched to mirrorless to save on weight and size as I’ve gotten older.  I have not missed my DSLR’s.  When I switched to mirrorless I first went with a complete Fujifilm system, using the X-E2 and X-T1.  I’ve since owned and shot with an X-Pro2 and X-T2.  I briefly went back to Nikon DSLR’s, D750 and then D500, after some disappointment with the Fuji’s.

The X-E2 produced fabulous images but the shutter lag was quite annoying and it was not weather sealed so the sensor became dirty just about on day one.  The X-T1 also produced excellent images since it had the same sensor and processor as the X-E2.  However, I had purchased the X-T1 about two weeks after it’s introduction and the focusing process was terrible.  Later improvements were made but by then I was fed up. The X-Pro2 was a cool camera but I hated the EVF and I never used the optical viewfinder.

So I went back to Nikon DSLR’s but trying the somewhat lighter D750 and then the D500. Long story short, when the Nikon Z 7 came out I bought one through NPS the day they were released.  I needed a smaller, lighter, camera that produced excellent images that  were good enough to license for advertising and editorial use.  I ended up with the “kit” lens, 24-70mm f4 S Nikkor.

Bayou La Batre Alabama Shrimp Boats
Bayou La Batre Shrimp Boats Nikon Z 7 ©Rick Lewis 2019
University of Alabama
University of Alabama Campus Nikon Z 7 ©Rick Lewis 2019

The Nikon Z 7 is just an awesome camera.  Sure there are some things I wish Nikon had incorporated into the camera but still, the camera is a joy to use.  It has a fabulous 45MP sensor which gives me tremendous leverage in taking editorial images.  I frequently can’t get into the exact spot I want to get the shot I want.  Being able to crop into the image to get what I am looking for is a huge benefit.  Nikon has a “DX” crop mode one can switch to which in essence does the cropping for you. That comes in very handy. In essence this converts my 24-70mm f4 S lens into a 24-105mm f4 lens.  The cropped images come in at 20MP which is more than enough for publication.  The image below was shot at the 105mm equivalent focal length.  

Clay County Courthouse Albany Alabama
Clay County Alabama Courthouse ©Rick Lewis 2019

One other thing to say about the Nikon Z 7 is it’s low light, high ISO, ability. Okay, at 45MP it does not hold up to it’s little brother, the 24MP Z 6 at full resolution. However, if you downsize your image to 24MP I don’t think anyone can tell the difference, at high ISO, up to and including 12,800 ISO. Take a look at the following images. All shot over 1600 ISO. Sure they are down-res’d but one rarely needs more than 12MP for print or Web use, which is my primary audience.

USS Drum Submarine
USS Drum Torpedo Room Nikon Z 7 1600 ISO ©2019
Mixing Bowl
Old Alabama Town Nikon Z7 3200 ISO ©Rick Lewis 2019
Destin Fishing Docks
HarborWalk Marina, Destin Florida Nikon Z 7 4000 ISO ©Rick Lewis 2019
Destin Fishing
HarborWalk Marina Destin Florida 9000 ISO ©Rick Lewis 2019

Now, why on earth would I be talking about the Fuji X-T3 in the same breath as the Nikon Z 7?  Good question.  There is something about the Fuji experience that is difficult to pin down.  I love the colors and the choices one has.  I also love the simplicity of the cameras.  On a recent trip to Destin Florida I decided to rent, (Lensrentals.com), a Fujifilm X-T3 with the awesome “kit” lens, (18-55mm f2.8-4 OIS).  I go to the Destin area quite a bit for stock images and I thought I would see what I could get with the new X-T3.  I owned an X-T2 briefly but sold it because I could not trust the focusing system.  Maybe I had a bad unit but it missed a lot of images.  I was constantly getting soft, slightly out of focus images.  I had read the focusing system on the X-T3 was improved so I took it along with me.

I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I noticed the flip out screen was easier to use in the portrait orientation, something my Z 7 doesn’t even offer and a few other minor things that were nice to see.  It seemed more customizable.  It of course is even lighter and smaller than my Z 7 which is not a bad thing.  I shot mostly in RAW + Jpeg in the Astia film simulation, (my favorite).  The following images are mostly RAW conversions in Capture One Pro 12 unless otherwise stated.  Unless otherwise stated they are Astia film simulation.

 

Alys Beach Florida
Alys Beach Florida Color Negative Film Sim ©2019
Pearl Hotel Rosemary Beach Florida
Pearl Hotel Rosemary Beach Florida ©Rick Lewis 2019
Okaloosa Island Florida
Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier at Sunset SOOC Jpeg Astia Film Sim ©Rick Lewis 2019
Deer Lake State Park
Deer Lake State Park Sand Dunes Acros Film Sim ©Rick Lewis 2019
Grayton Beach Florida
Colorful Chairs Grayton Beach Color Negative Film Sim ©Rick Lewis 2019
Hwy 30A Florida
Ice Cream Shop on Hwy 30A ©Rick Lewis 2019

Bottom line, I’m keeping both camera systems (I bought an X-T3 with the kit lens). Weather permitting, I’m traveling to the Alabama gulf coast later in the month to photograph a few places I’ve wanted to get to for a while. I’m taking both the Fuji X-T3 and the Nikon Z 7. I will be renting the awesome 50-140mm f2.8 Fuji lens for the trip. Why not the Nikkor version? Well I want to see what the Fuji can do and it’s almost half the price of a the F-mount 70-200mm f2.8 Nikkor. It’s also half the size and weight! I’ll try to get a blog post up showing the results of my trip.

The Fuji is a joy to use as is the Nikon. But, it’s smaller and lighter and less conspicuous than the Nikon. When I need to shoot in a high ISO or very low (64) ISO I certainly will choose the Z 7. It is just a better choice. But when just walking around to see what I can see, I think the Fuji X-T3 will be my choice. And, it reminds me of my very first SLR, a Nikkormat FTn. [APS-C vs FX (full frame): For my use the only difference I can see at this point is high ISO or very low (64) ISO use. Otherwise, there is no difference.]

Nikkormat FTn
Nikkormat FTn ©Rick Lewis 2019

4 Replies to “Fuji X-T3 or Nikon Z 7 | Editorial Stock Photography”

  1. My first camera was a Nikkormat FTN I have not had the chance to try out the Nikon Z7 but presently using two Fuji XT3 bodies & lenses. I think Fuji finally got it right with the XT3 superb camera. Fuji glass is also very good. Nice read, I will look forward to some follow up reviews from your trip.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Dave. I agree. Fuji got it right with the X-T3. I am looking forward to further improvements through firmware and the X-T4. My hope is they don’t get caught up in the MP hysteria and stick with 26MP for the new model. It is more than enough for 95% of photographers. I’ve never used the Fuji 40-150mm f2.8 lens so I’m very curious and anxious to use it. In my former life (photographer in Tampa FL) my 70-200mm f2.8G was nearly welded onto my Nikon D4. It was my workhorse for my business there. For 98% of what I shoot now, the “kit” 18-55mm is all I need.

  2. I switched to Fuji (after over a decade with Nikon) because I wanted a tool that operated like a camera, not a piece of electronics.

    I found this statement, “When I need to shoot in a high ISO or very low (64) ISO I certainly will choose the Z 7.”, odd. Nighttime sports is one of the few occasions where the arose to shoot high ISO at speed. ISO 12,800, 1/500 sec at f/5.6 was sufficient for my use case. What editorial stock photography scenarios warrant ISO 25,600?

    1. Hi Khürt. Thanks for your insight. I have no scenario in which I would even use ISO 12,800, let alone 25,600, for my stock images. The demands of the quality control (QC) team with the stock agency I license images through pretty much preclude super high ISO images. The one color image of the man hanging up the large fish at the marina was shot at ISO 9000. To get it to pass QC I reduced the image size to 16MP and still had to use noise reduction software. Also, just to get that image I was shooting at 1/160th of a second wide open at f4. The light was awful. He was moving rather fast so I really couldn’t go any lower in shutter speed to go lower on the ISO.

      Now, I have a beautiful print of a rodeo event I shot on a Fuji X-Pro2 shot at ISO 12,800. I used the Fuji 60mm f2.4 lens, wide open, and was shooting at 1/800th of a second to make a meager attempt at freezing action. It printed nicely. But, when viewed at 100% on a computer monitor it was full of luminescence noise. I knew from experience it would print fine in a 15×10″ print, but, I also knew it would never pass QC due to the noise. I have to remember my audience when shooting stock. They are critical art buyers for magazines, Websites and even television.

      I have no problem at all in shooting my X-T3 upto and including 12,800 ISO, if absolutely necessary, for my own use, especially when converting to B&W. For professional use at high ISO, I’ll stick with the Z7 as I stated.

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