A wedding photographer’s journey of switching from Nikon to FujiFilm
18 months after taking the plunge
How it all began
I started off shooting wedding photography with a Nikon camera and lenses over 15 years ago and never thought that someday I will decide to switch to another make.
In the recent years I also started doing wedding videography, first as a challenge inspired by the many recent amazing films and music videos shot with a photo camera and then because I was asked to assist as second shooter by my videographer friends.
So, after many years of being only a photographer, I became more and more involved in videography projects and needed a versatile camera that is able to tick many and different boxes.
Besides this, I was getting increasingly frustrated with having to carry the very heavy Nikon camera bodies and lenses on the long wedding days that were draining my energy faster and giving me back problems.
For the love of Nikon – what kept me with them for so many years
On the photography side, I had 3 big issues in my mind:
- A friend of mine has affectionately called me a “bokeh whore” for my tendency to shoot as wide open as possible and for loving the creaminess of the background and isolating the subject which the Full Frame system is so good for
- Shooting on high ISO (3200 or more) is perfectly fine with the Full Frame so I was worried that on a crop sensor the image quality will be quite rubbish and grainy
- And last but not least, especially for a documentary wedding photographer like me – the Nikon is brilliant at focusing in low light and getting those natural pictures that perfectly describe the atmosphere of the day
What made me decide to switch to Fuji and that first time I tested it live at a wedding
Being a practical guy, I thought – hey, I will use the Fuji to shoot video and for day time or low light conditions photography I will go back to my trusty Nikon system.
With this in mind, I got the FujiFilm X-T2 kit (with 18-55mm f2.8-4 lens). From the very start, I was so impressed with the quality and the features for the video. Absolutely amazing, years ahead of Nikon in this area!
Encouraged by the initial experience and confident that I was on to a very good thing, I decided to invest more so I bought my second X-T2 body as well as 16mm, 23mm, 56mm and 50-140 lenses and proceeded to shoot my first wedding with FujiFilm.
I was so impressed that I never felt like I was limited in any way by the FujiFilm gear and left the Nikon gear in the bag all the time, even at during the low light and fast-paced reception party.
FujiFilm and the Kaizen productivity philosophy
I admire Fuji very much for improving their cameras through the firmware updates and give them a boost even if the cameras are obsolete or old.
This is completely contrary to what many consumer goods companies are doing and this to me speaks volumes about respecting their clients and their investment in their products.
For instance, Fuji has added 4K filming on the X-Pro2 models 2 years after being released on the market, added 120fps Full HD on the X-T2 and improved the AF function via the firmware for the X-T1 and X-T2.
A professional wedding photographer’s friend or foe – the after sale services
If you’re a professional wedding photographer like me, you know how crucially important to have your gear in tip-top condition during the busy wedding season, therefore I registered with FPS (FujiFilm Professional Services UK).
I had a couple of issues that required me to use the Fuji repair services, one of the camera bodies had overheating issues and on one of the lenses the aperture ring was a bit loose, so having a maximum of 3 days repairing time (with the lens issue the repair was done the same day), I couldn’t be happier!
I was an NPS (Nikon Professional Services) member for many years and have not always been happy with the service provided and had to request a re-do of the repairs as sometimes the problems were not fixed.
More techie stuff about shooting with FujiFilm cameras and lenses
First off, the feel and look of the cameras and lenses is just fantastic. I have made an informal but necessary upgrade to the bodies by the addition of the lady-bug shutter release buttons 🙂
I love the image quality, the skin rendering (no more orange-green-magenta tint).
The high ISO files look amazing, I always hated to shoot on high ISO with Nikon (or Canon) because of artefacts, fake colour noise, loss of dynamic range. But, due to the X-Trans technology that is not the case with Fuji.
The Fuji shot images at high ISO look great: no fake colour, not too many artefacts and it loses way less dynamic range than Nikon or Canon. There is a bit more granulation than a FullFrame DSLR, but it looks way better.
I’m still using Adobe Lightroom for editing, which, for Fuji files, is known that is not the best RAW editor.
A big win for me is that the cameras are so small and silent that many times the guests don’t realize I’m the official photographer so I can get on with my photojournalistic take on the wedding. Just perfect for my style and for getting those real wedding moments ☺
Using the Acros+R film simulation for the Black & White images is a delight. Before, I was using the Nik Silver Efex plugin, but now, I’m just amazed at how beautiful pictures look with this film simulation.
I sometimes miss the bokeh from my trusty Nikon 85mm f1.4 Af-s, and no, you cannot compare that with the FujiFilm 56mm f1.2 (85mm f1.8 FullFrame equivalent) as well as the very accurate focus in low-light from Nikon D750/D4, especially on the AF-C mode.
On AF-S the Fuji it is working great, but on the AF-C there is a lot of room for improvement.
That being said, at least for me, these disadvantages don’t outweigh the big advantages of the Fuji system.
Last September I bought the newly released FujiFilm X-T3. And wow, what an upgrade. I’m so happy that the look of the camera is almost identical with the previous version, but they have improved a lot.
From a better AF to many improvements on the video front, I think this is by far the best (mirrorless) camera out on the market yet considering the quality per pound that you can buy.
Some things that I really needed and were missing on the X-T2 were sorted in the new X-T3 model.
For instance, having a separate menu for video settings & profiles, having the leveling indicator only when needed on just one touch, tally light, possibility to zoom in to check the focus when you record, but, as you can see those are mainly for videographers.
I love the new AF module on X-T3, it is more reliable, more accurate than the previous one and the best thing is that you have the focus sensors all around the frame. You don’t need to reframe again and again, just change the focus point and shoot.
The Auto WB works really well, sometimes in really hard conditions (under multiple types of lighting) Nikon was doing a slightly better job, but not by much.
99% of the time I shoot in manual mode, can’t say how the Auto exposure system works. On a couple of occasions when I did try it, I was very pleased with how it worked.
On my wish list for the next firmware updates
– Change the Area size focus point when filming in AF-C mode.
– Choose the face if you’re using the ‘face detection’ mode. It should come in the next Firmware update
– Show the battery percentage in the display, not only level bars (especially is useful for filming)
– When shooting stills and saving RAW on slot 1, JPG on slot 2, if you take one card out it doesn’t allow you to shoot anymore. On Nikon, the camera will save both files on the card that you have, you don’t need to change the setting.
– Power aperture (at least with certain lenses, Drive-by-Wire aperture ones). Useful when you can assign to shortcuts and you are filming (conditions are changing and you have a smooth transition changing the aperture)
– Viewfinder active for shooting, and LCD active only for playback and settings (like a DSLR). Currently, it is only working for playback, not for the settings also (or Q)
– More options for customizing the function buttons. And customizing them different for film or image.
– And the most important: To be able to film with a backup on Slot 2. Even if it will be a small resolution file (720p), but, just to know that you can have a backup file. Like you have the option for the photography side.
And I would love to see improvements in having:
– Same performance and accuracy on AF-C like you have on AF-S mode.
– Better performance and accuracy on AF-C when shooting sports, dogs, or children running around.
– Less blackout when shooting in Single or Continuous Low. Like you have in Continuous High
And let’s not forget the all-important lenses from FujiFilm
Regarding the lenses, I would love to see an upgrade on the old ones, with an increase in accuracy, speed and especially for the 56mm the aperture ring should be a little less loose.
That being said, the quality of the FujiFilm lenses is spectacular, especially considering the price.
18 months after completely switching to FujiFilm, I’m very happy with my choice.
No regrets at all and if someone were to tell me that a bigger and a more expensive camera is better, I would say what one of my old friends told me many years ago: “You’re taking the picture with your brain, not with the camera”.
The many years doing professional photography have taught me that he was right, a camera is just a tool, learn how to use it properly and how you can compensate any issues.
I would not say that Fuji it has the best system in the world, I’m just saying that I’m really happy with my choice.
Here’s what you can find in my goody bag:
– 2x FujiFilm X-T3 bodies
– FujiFilm X-T2 body
– Fujinon XF 16mm f1.4 R WR
– Fujinon XF 23mm f2 R WR
– Fujinon XF 56mm f1.2 R
– Fujinon XF 18-55mm f2.8-4 R LM OIS
– Fujinon XF 50-140mm f2.8 R LM OIS WR
– Samyang 12mm f2.0
– Nikon 85mm f1.4G Af-s
– Nikon 60mm f2.8G Af-s Macro
– Nikon SB-700 Speedlight – x4 + radio controllers
And here are some images taken in the last year with my FujiFilm X-T2 or X-T3: