Nikon to Fujifilm X | One Year After the Switch

This Blog post may surprise a few of my friends and colleagues, as I have not made a big deal of switching to a completely new, (for me), camera system.  I had been a Nikon shooter since a teenager in 1967.  I started with a Nikkormat FS in 1967.  It didn’t have a light meter but it was all I could afford at 15 years of age.  Over the years I acquired a Nikkormat FTn, Nikkormat EL, Nikon F2 Photomic, Nikon D70, Nikon D200, Nikon D3, D3s, and finally the D4.

The Seeds Are Planted

During the spring and summer of 2013 I began an email conversation with a very well known commercial photographer and teacher, Will Crockett.  I read or watched a Blog post of his describing the changes he saw coming in photography.  They centered around mirrorless cameras and their ability to capture stills and video.  I was intrigued by his insights so I emailed him.  We corresponded and discussed the pros and cons of Olympus, Panasonic, and Fujifilm cameras.  I told him I was much more interested in still photography and didn’t really care about video.  He recommended I look into Fuji cameras.  He then offered to loan me one of his Fujifilm X-Pro1’s along with the “kit lens”, (18-55mm f2.8-f4, OIS) and the 60mm f2.4 macro.

©2013 Rick Lewis   X-Pro1, ISO 400, 1/900th @ f8, 18-55mm @20.5mm  Shot as Jpeg
©2013 Rick Lewis X-Pro1, ISO 400, 1/900th @ f8, 18-55mm @20.5mm Shot as Jpeg

I shot several hundred images during that week of shooting with the X-Pro1, including the one above.  I only shot jpegs, no RAW, (RAF).  At that time Lightroom 4.7 was just awful converting Fuji RAW images.  Now, I knew of Fujifilm from the wonderful jpeg machines of their early pro digital cameras, the S3 and S5 Pro.  I had no idea they made this new “X” camera.  While I was not in love with the ergonomics and quirks of handling the X-Pro, I loved the end result; and in such a small, light package.  At the end of the week, I mailed the gear back to Will.  I was still shooting with my Nikon D4 but realized I never took it with me when I left the house.  I looked back and remembered that little X-Pro went with me everywhere.  It was fun again, not hefting the brick of a camera and large glass.

The Switch

I began to, over the next several months, miss the X-Pro1 in my hand.  Even with all the faults, and believe me, there are faults.  I realized the camera made me stop and think about what I was photographing.  It was slow, but, it was more like what I remembered in my earlier days.  It was fun again.  I had always said my D3 and D4 were just outrageously expensive point and shoot cameras.  They are FAST, no doubt, and after initial set up you do just mostly point and fire off frames.  At least I did.

My needs had changed.  I moved to Montgomery, Alabama, from Tampa Florida.  My business was virtually non existent and I really did not need the big cameras and big glass that my Nikon system provided.  I was ready to downsize, and slow down.

In December of 2013 I made the switch.  I sold all of my Nikon gear and started with the Fuji X-E2 camera.  I bought all the Fujinon XF lenses I thought I would need for the new direction my business was taking me.  I bought the X-E2 because it had an updated 16MP sensor and processor and some other features that made it a little more shooter friendly than the aging X-Pro1.  And, there were rumors of a new, updated X-Pro just around the corner.

©2014 Rick Lewis  X-E2  35mm f1.4 lens, ISO 1600 1/200th @f2.8
©2014 Rick Lewis X-E2 35mm f1.4 lens, ISO 1600 1/200th @f2.8
©2014   X-E2  18-55mm @24mm (35mm equiv), ISO 200  10sec @f8
©2014 X-E2 18-55mm @24mm (35mm equiv), ISO 200 10sec @f8

The new and improved X-Pro never made it but Fuji came out with a real winner, the X-T1. That was my next purchase and my second camera body.  It has the same sensor and processor that my X-E2 has so the images look identical.  This was important to me as a professional. The X-E2 would be my backup camera on professional jobs.  I didn’t want different looks to images if I had to switch out cameras in the middle of a shoot.

My Ending Thoughts

I have no regrets in ditching my Nikon gear for the Fuji X system.  Please understand I loved the quality of my Nikon equipment.  I shot Nikon for 47 years and was a member of Nikon Professional Service (NPS).  I would never discourage anyone from buying and using Nikon professional cameras.  I preferred them over Canon for many reasons.  But, my needs changed.

I switched because I didn’t need the fast cameras and lenses, or the bulk, any longer.  I wanted to slow my photography down a notch.  I wanted photography to be fun again.  I switched to Fuji because of the wonderful image quality, the smaller size and weight, and the lenses.  It is a total package for me.  The bonus with mirrorless, is the WYSIWYG function of the EVF.  Now I can see immediately if I need to make a White Balance adjustment before the shutter fires.  I’m getting things right in the the camera and relying less on post.  In fact, I find I use the jpegs instead of the RAW images more than half the time.

I posted more X-E2 images here to show the quality of this little camera.  It’s small and unassuming but produces spectacular images.  Give the Fuji’s a try and you’ll probably be hooked too.

©2014  X-E2  18-55mm @26.5mm (40mm equiv), ISO 6400, 1/25th @f4, handheld w/OIS
©2014 X-E2 18-55mm @26.5mm (40mm equiv), ISO 6400, 1/25th @f4, handheld w/OIS
©2014  X-T1  60mm Macro lens, ISO 400, 1/200th @f4
©2014 Rick Lewis   X-T1 60mm Macro lens (90mm equiv), ISO 400, 1/200th @f4

 

55 thoughts on “Nikon to Fujifilm X | One Year After the Switch

    1. Hey Lori. The X series cameras, for the most part, are a huge step above a point and shoot. Even the X100T is used by many pros to augment the gear they take to shoot a wedding. The 16MP APS-C images can certainly be used for almost any commercial use. They are perfect for personal use as well due to their small size and portability. They are larger than a point and shoot, but, give you many more options as far as lens choice and usability. The high ISO capabilities are simply astonishing considering their size. The shot of the ferris wheel was taken at ISO 6400 at last year’s Alabama National Fair. I think you’ll find a Fuji in your bag if you test drive one. That’s what happened to me:-)

  1. I did, i am & havent looked back. Was always jealous of Leica swine & the bonding they had with their cameras. Never bonded with my Nikons. The results are terrific, they are fun to use and just seem to get out of the way. My colleague Miss D800 was smitten with the XT1 & now has 6 lenses & my other colleague Mr 5Dmk3 has an itchy wallet! Cheers from Oz 😉

        1. Lol! Didnt mean it QUITE like that! Shouldn’t have read that Hunter S Thompson book ;-p Couldn’t imagine the craft without Leica but lottery win required for most of us i think. Rumours of a monochrom x as a possibility have surfaced so hmmm 😉

  2. I’m in the middle of a semi-fear-laden switch from a D3s to the X-T1. It has been challenging to get used to working slower. Sometimes I pick up the D3s and think: man, is this thing ever solidly made, beautifully engineered, and instantly responsive. Would I bitterly regret selling it? Then I glue my eye to the other camera’s EVF and think: could I live without this? Yes — but would I want to? It, and the gratifyingly lower weight, have already spoiled me. After using the X-T1 for only about four days I picked up the D3s and made some stupidly wrong exposures because I’d become spoiled by that EVF (well, so much for being an “advanced amateur”). I e-mailed a professional photographer I know about it, and he replied that the same thing had happened to him. It was on a day he’d taken his X-T1 bodies and his Nikon gear on a job. He thought he’d use the Nikon but used only the X-T1s — not because of the exposure mistake but because he just plain enjoys using the “X” camera more (not to mention the image quality).

    The focus-speed issues and occasional EVF lag (and odd “interference” patterns I sometimes see in the EVF) will surely improve over time…and the D3s will go onto the used market eventually. I’m old enough to realize that no, just switching gear won’t make me a better photographer — years ago I actually used to think so — but I think I’ll have a lot more fun at it.

    1. Mike, thanks for the comment. I loved my D4. It is a fabulous camera and can be used for just about any type of photography you can think of. But for me, it just was no longer necessary. I wasn’t photographing the things I did in the past. I didn’t need the speed and I certainly did not need the weight. The X-T1 and X-E2 I use definitely have limitations that the D4 did not. However, I have always believed that part of photography is knowing the technical limitations of your gear and learning how to work around them.

      I can’t say you won’t regret ditching your D3s, it’s a fabulous camera. I have never regretted my decision. I am achieving the level of excellence in my images with my “X system” that I expect from professional gear. I am slowing down, and, smelling the roses. Something I haven’t done in a long time. It is quite refreshing actually. Good luck with your journey!

      1. Perhaps keeping a bit of the Nikon gear makes sense — for example, the slow-focusing (but sharp) 35-70 zoom with its limited macro ability. Bit of a dinosaur, but an interesting one. Of course it would require an adapter. The thing I _really_ want to keep is the Zoerk close-up equipment (with tilt/swing mechanism) I got for the Nikon. I know there are Nikon-to-“X”-series adapters but I don’t know if that Zoerk gear would work with an adapter. It’d be a shame to have to unload the Zoerk devices (the taking lens is an Apo Rodagon enlarging lens specially adapted for infinity focus and it is quite the glass for this purpose!).

          1. Aside from the 35-70, the only lens I’d consider keeping is one small prime, the 20/2.8. But it was never all that impressive. I’d probably be better off waiting for someone to sell off an old Voigtlander roughly that focal length.

  3. I just received my first Fujifilm X-T1 paired with the XF 23mm f/1.4 R lens and love it… it is taking some getting used to not have the zoom, and I will likely purchase a zoom in the future… but, already, I’m lovin’ it!

    Saludos desde Chile,
    John Bankson

    1. Hey John, take a serious look at the “kit lens”, 18-55mm f2.8-f4 OIS, zoom. It is not on the same level as the new 16-55mm f2.8, but is still a great performer. It is much smaller and lighter than the 16-55mm and 1/2 the price!! Also, I have read nothing but great things about the 18-135mm zoom. Lots to choose from!

      I own the 23mm f1.4 and love it. It is incredibly sharp with lots of contrast. But, I’ve never really been a prime guy. I’m using the 18-55mm, and 10-24mm f4 OIS, for 99% of my work. Happy shooting!

      1. Agreed about the 18-55. I was able to buy it used at the place where I got the X-T1, and at a very rewarding price. It’s tiny and certainly sharp enough for my purposes. Glad I have it. I’m keeping an eye out for used 55-200s (not on eBay…I’m too paranoid about used gear there) — but they’re hard to find. It’d be just great if in the future Fujifilm decides to make a 23 f/2 — less glass to move = faster focusing. And f/2 would be plenty fast for me. In the meantime I don’t complain about the 1.4. : )

        1. Mike, I own the 55-200mm. It is a great lens. The OIS is far better than what was on my Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 VR (I). I might be in the market to sell it though. I’ve only used it once in the past year, if it is even that old. I just don’t shoot that focal length very much. I’ll let you know.

          1. The 55-200 is next on my list. Unless I get tempted by the 35/1.4, it’s the last lens I’d likely need for a while. Then again, once the 1.4X TC appears — imagine pairing that with the 50-140. But then we’re talking both high price and lotsa weight!

  4. Hi Rick a very interesting read thank you! Like you I have been Nikon for years but as the years roll on I am finding my D3s and all the big glass get too much to lug around. My photography has slowed down due to the fact the gear gets left behind when going out due to weight! I would never knock Nikon it has served me so well over the years. I am waiting for delivery of 3 lenses from Fuji to go with the XT1 I have on order also, I then say goodbye to my heavy gear and look forward to getting out more to enjoy my photography one more time. Friends say I am crazy and will regret it. I don’t think so, I am inspired by all the comments I read about Fuji. Thank you again. Graham.

    1. Hi Grahm, thanks for your comment. I agree with you 100%. I can’t knock my D3 or D4 at all. They were great cameras. But I don’t need a camera that can shoot a night football game at 6400 ISO with 3-D tracking any longer. My Fuji’s can photograph just about everything else very well. The digital files are good enough to publish in just about any media I can think of. The difference in image quality between a “full frame” digital camera and a camera with an APS-C sensor is so small these days, it is very difficult to see the difference. One must jump up to medium format to really see a difference, in my opinion.

      I will be willing to bet that you will not regret your decision. Take a look at Thomas Menk’s website and tell me he is missing something:-) Enjoy your new camera!

      1. One of the reasons I didn’t just start trading in Nikon gear for Fuji gear was an upcoming job (I’m not a pro…I just get the occasional “photograhy job” from friends) — a choir concert in terrible lighting…and they do not want flash during the performance. I can understand that, but I thought: how can the X-T1 and its lenses handle that? I already know that it tends to “hunt” for focus under illumination that would _not_ defeat the D3s and its lenses … and as good as the X-T1 is with manual focusing (I can focus manually for the first time in years — that’s really great), again the light levels would defeat me. Then Fate solved that problem by afflicting me with the worst cold I’ve had literally in decades…so now I guess I have no excuse to hang onto the D3s (other than fear :-).

        _Can_ the X-T1 be used successfully if you need to track focus of a moving subject? The Nikon’s 3D focus tracking sure can be replied-upon…

        1. Mike, I have not tested the focus tracking capabilities of the X-T1. From what I’ve read, it is pretty good if the subject is tracking toward you or away from you but spotty if at a diagonal. I just have had no need to try it out.

          1. I have one of those all-about-XT1 e-books whose author says he has very good luck with focus tracking, though the “hit rate” isn’t 100%. There’s apparently a technique to it — you don’t half-press to focus first, he says (others say it as well): You _punch_ the shutter release and hold it down. This is somewhat counter-intuitive (what — you don’t focus _first_) but he says it works well. Depending on whose advice you’re reading AF/single is the way to go…but others say no — use AF/continuous for it. Beats me, yet. (I haven’t had great results with continuous so I stick with either manual focus, or AF/single.)

          2. Mike, I have to admit that is one area I do miss. On my D3 and D4 I always used continuous focus along with back button focus. I never really liked using the shutter button to focus. And, I felt using continuous focus gave me a better “hit” rate. However, I have always said a photographer should know his equipment and concentrate on what the camera does well, avoiding the shortcomings. I’m doing that with my Fuji’s and have no complaints. 🙂 I really have no need, now, for continuous focus.

          3. Rick — I hear ya about the back-button focusing. Fortunately with the v.3 firmware update the X-T1 can swap the purposes of the two back buttons. Now I have the back focus button where I’m used to it even though the label isn’t correct. There is that “pre-focus” setting in the menu that does continuous focusing even when you’re in AF/single mode. I haven’t figured out yet if that’s preferable to AF/continuous for some reason. I haven’t used it enough yet. I’m on the fence about the “Press” versus “Switch” setting for the back focus button. “Switch” is sure handy for locking focus and then you can half-press the shutter release to preview depth of field, but you always gotta remember to press that rear button again to unlock the focus. It could be very handy at times and a nuisance other times. (They do need to have the switch-vs.-press options set separately for the exposure and focus lock, though. I’ve already begged ’em for that. 🙂

  5. Great post!!!

    Myself at the start of 2015, I moved 100% from Canon to Fujifilm.
    Using the X-T1 is a lot of fun….great quality and super light!!

    I also use the X-E1.
    I bought the X100s, but realized that I did not really have use for it..so, I am in the process of selling it to either get a 2nd X-T1 ( or the rumored X-T10 as back-up camera)

  6. Hi Rick:

    I enjoyed reading your blog. I became a Fuji convert when I acquired my X-E2 over a year ago. Like you, my two primary lenses are the 18-55 and 10-24 zooms. I started in photography in 1971 at the tender age of 24. I recently purchased the Fuji X30. It is a wonderful “take anywhere” camera with excellent image quality. Next stop is probably an X Pro2 body when it arrives.

    Doug
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/dworr/

    1. Hey Douglas, I’ve read a lot of great things about the X30 and have seen the images it is capable of. Hard to believe such good images can come from such a small, and relatively inexpensive camera.

  7. I am another Nikon to Fuji switcher! First the X-E2, 18-55 (which I still love), then the 27 & 35 & 55-200. Last month, I found & bought the X-T1 (nice discount), & just ordered the 10-24 lens. The glass is just great! Just so much fun to walk around with a hand strap, & not a sore neck. And, Fuji does such great updates – never had that before!

  8. I thought I was reading my own story. I’m 63, first Nikon was the F2 in 1974 (after a Pentax Spotmatic) and I was a photojournalist shooting Nikons for the next 38 years, ending up with the D600. After retiring and planning trips to Europe I looked for something lighter, but still pro image quality. Bought the X100, added an X-E2 and last year the X-T1. Love the results and love the fact that I can carry the camera around all day long without any fatigue. No regrets at all.

  9. I will never sell my D3S, D3 and D2Xs bodies. 16 lenses from 8mm f2.8 to 800mm f5.6 . I prefer big bodied cameras.:-)

  10. My journey towards the X system began much earlier and rather not straightforward. Back in 2008 at the pinnacle of my photography addiction I was already using a D3 with a complete backpack of trinity F2.8 Nikkor lenses and other goodies. It was at that time I realized the gear was too heavy so I downgraded to a D700. In 2009 my business floundered badly so I had to sell all my gear to keep me above water. It was already back then I knew mirrorless was going to be the next big thing and at the time I bought the new Sony NEX-5. It was a long road and Sony may have been right but I found their implementation to be wrong still holding on to their DSLR line and even protecting it. It was when the Fuji XPRO1 came out that I knew where I had to go. Back then I had a choice between the XPro1 and then newly released X-E1. I chose the latter because I believed EVF is the way of the future and I was correct. Now I have 2 X-T1s bundled with Fujinon fast primes and the 50-140. Most of the time the heavy zoom lens stays home coz’ the primes are so good.

  11. Hey Rick, Good post on the Fuji X system, and I couldn’t agree more. I made the switch back in 2012 from Nikon as well. I started out with the x100, fell in love with it, then sold my Nikon gear and added the X-Pro1 when it was released. I haven’t looked back. My entire website is now dedicated to lighter mobile friendly photography. Funny how a single camera can change so much. by the way, I consider myself from Orlando, Florida now, but I was born in Alabama and lived there until I was 18. No I live in Japan with my wife and daughter. Thanks for sharing.

  12. hi rick,
    greetings from kuala lumpur.
    found your blog from thomas menk scoop it.
    as a fellow fuji user myself for the past 2-3 years (started with the X-E1),
    I can fully empathize why you love your fuji gear so much, they are such amazing little cameras delivering knock out quality images.
    best regards,
    ken

  13. I am fully into Fuji X with an X-T1, X-Pro 1 and my wife has the X-E2. We have most of the important glass too. I was and still am an owner of a Nikon D800E and D7100, once again with all the important glass for capturing wildlife and landscape etc. I can’t imagine my interest in photography being devoid of either Nikon or Fuji X. I’ll keep both, enjoy both and continue having the very best of both worlds.

    Richard

    1. Hey Richard, I can definitely see keeping the Nikon gear for wildlife and landscape, especially if you are printing big. I had to sell my Nikon gear to fund the switch. If I could have afforded to keep the D4 and 24-70mm f2.8, I probably would have.

    1. Hey Charles, I saw that a while back. I was a little surprised he went with Sony at the time but, in the early days they were leading the pack. I think he started with the “A” series. There are quite a few notable pros that now use a mirrorless system. None of them are shooting sports though. 🙂 I just read yesterday Sony will be announcing the A7RII with IBS.

  14. Great article. I haven’t made a full switch from Nikon to Fuji yet, but I use my X-T1 a lot more than my D800. The D800 pairs up better with the Pocket Wizards for portrait work. But the Fuji is a great camera. I also had the Olympus E-M5 for a while, which was faster than the Fuji. Ultimately, I liked the IQ better on the Fuji. I have the 18-55 zoom, 35 1.4 and 55-200mm lenses and they all have great IQ.

    1. Hi Geoff, thanks for the feedback. I’ve read that the X-T1 and Pocket Wizards sometimes have a hard time working together. I have never had an issue using my Paul C. Buff CyberSync (transmitter) on my X-T1 or X-E2. But, it only has 15 channels and may not have the range the Pocket Wizards have. For studio work, or environmental work for that matter, they’ve never let me down. They’re a lot cheaper than PW’s too. 🙂

  15. The issue of slow focussing is a curious one. Last year i did a shoot with the subject in very dim light. My XT1 locked on immediately 80% of the time. My friends camera struggled to lock on at all. A Canon 6D. We both found this to be…..interesting. To say the least.

    1. The only “real” focus issue I have had with the X-T1, or X-E2, is when my subject is very strongly backlit. I’ve had the cameras miss the focus substantially. It would show positive focus lock but the end result would be badly out of focus. I have not tried the tracking focus on the X-T1. My cameras do pretty well in low light too.

      1. One thing that works fine with my X-T1 when trying to photo clouds and I have problems focusing is to change the focus rectangle to its largest setting. Not anything smaller. It focuses dead on with at least this type of backlit objects.

  16. Hi Rick
    Nice review, but I still hesitate between bying an APS-C camera (Fuji XT1) and a full frame camera (Nikon D750).
    Can someone show us two full resolution pictures taken by each camera ? (same focal length, same scene)
    Thanks

    1. Hey Chris. Thanks for the kind words. Your quandary about full frame vs. crop sensor (APS-C) can best be answered here: http://dedpxl.com/crop-or-crap-math-or-moment/

      Trying to decide which camera system to go with based on pixel peeping will not serve you well. Do your research (homework) and make an informed decision based on capabilities, design, cost, and your needs from the system, not what the pixels look like at 100%.

      Start with Zack Arias’ article and go from there.

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