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The road to X, migrating from Canon To Fuji

After recently having purchased the Fujifilm X-T1 people have been asking how this camera fits in to my current workflow and why I “suddenly” seem to have changed to the X system.

This wasn’t a wild overnight decision and my road towards the X system actually started a couple of years back and gained momentum last year. So before I’ll write my review of the X-T1 I wanted to give you a brief summary of how I slowly moved towards a Fujifilm X setup.

The road to X

Since 2008 I’ve always been happy shooting with my Canon gear. I shoot with two full frame 5D bodies (a mark III & mark II). I shoot primes only. I’ll always roll with at least these 3 lenses; the 35mm f1.4, the 50mm f1.2 and the 85mm f1.8 or 100mm f2.8 macro.

I specialize in wedding photography so a 70-200mm 2.8 is still my case to cover the ceremony and a 16-35mm for impressive venues or for some close&personal dance floor action.

On the action packed moments of a wedding day I’d carry both camera’s (with grips) and I cram everything else in my shootsac. Yet, for the last 2 years I’ve been shooting 80% of my work with the 5DIII & 50mm f1.2. One body, one lens. I just love that focal length that much. I didn’t bother carrying 2 bodies around my neck, the spare body barely got out of my bag, the 70-200 didn’t see any action.

2011

As much as I lovethe 5DIII & 50mm combination … I started to consider that camera as … “work”.

Early in the year, a camera company that wasn’t really on my radar announced the X100. In love with the design and intrigued by the EVF/OV I preordered one. When I got my hands on her it was love at first sight.

To sum up my time with the X100. I really wanted it to work out between us, but it didn’t. After a short holiday romance with some bad arguments I sold the camera. While image quality was excellent I couldn’t get used to the handling and quirks.


2012

Fuji launched their X-PRO1 but after seeing the steep price card and some of the same user complaints I was never tempted. (see I don’t suffer from GAS syndrome)

2013

2 years after the indrocution of the original X100 Fuji announced the X100s . It seemed that Fuji had really listened to their users. Again I preordered. Everything I didn’t like about the original got fixed and was improved. It still took some practice to get used to it. The X100s still is a photographers camera and has a steeper learning curve than you average entry level dSLR featuring a donkey mode button.

Me and the X100s? We got along.



And while the X100S was intented for personal work rather than commissioned work I started using the X100s as a substitute for my 35mm 1.4.  At receptions, I’d roam the room with that camera. Silent & inconspicuous (until people notice the strange camera and start a conversation). The main question I would get is “what is the difference?”. After 12 hours into the wedding day my answer would be …. the weight.

A couple of weeks after I got my X100s the shutter curtain got stuck and I had to send it back to the factory for repairs. A known issue and Fuji handled it swiftly. To fill the void, I started reading up on the XPROI, a major firmware update was just around the corner. How come so many pro photographers like Zack Arias, laRoque, Bert Stephani were able to make this system work. I knew I should probably wait for the X-PRO2 but I wanted to see for myself. So I got me an XPROI paired with my obvious first choice of lens: the XF35 1.4 (50mm equivalent) and a slightly wider XF18 (27mm) to push myself into trying something different. (35mm never was my favorite)

I figured I’d sell the body and keep the lenses for an X-PRO2 if I didn’t like it. But we never parted. The X-PRO1 was not as sluggish as I thought it would be and it fit so nicely into my hands, much better than the X100s. Even with the EVF and AF slower than the X100s I really started to love this camera and lens. And having some lens options made me start using this camera as a 2nd body.

Admittedly , it took me some time to really get the hang of the X system , I had to change my way of shooting (more about my settings in the next post). Over time I saw my keeper ratio drastically increased. It also got me thinking more about the picture I wanted to make, my ratio with the X system increased while shooting less.

2014

I am now at a point that I feel confident enough shooting the X system on commissioned work, yet the 5DIII is still in my bag because for some things where I feel I can’t rely on the X-PRO1. I was already moving towards a complete X system but Fuji now released the X-T1 and I feel like that camera will be the last push over the edge.

I’m not a collector, so everything piece of gear that doesn’t see action gets booted. I sold all canon gear that I felt was redundant, including my spare body.

2014 will be a transition year. I still have a couple of specific canon lenses that haven’t been replaced yet (wide zoom & macro). Giving up the full frame look still has my scared but I just welcome the thought of having a full kit that fits inside a messenger bag.


The Why

I still haven’t answered my intro question. Why? Because the X system really matured. Because it’s much more compact and weighs significantly less. You don’t stand out from the crowd. (I now don’t mind that uncle bob is sporting a bigger L lens) The lenses are amazingly sharp and the image quality is up to par with the bigger guns out there.


But the most important reason for me is that I simply love holding & shooting these X camera’s and how they helped me rediscover my love for photography in a more pure form.




Note: All images were processed in Lightroom with VSCO presets as a starting point. In a lot of these pictures grain/noise was actually added to fine final image. (I’ll need to tweak my mogrify/export settings. Pictures look oversharpened.)

14 Comments so far  
by The Merket family // Family Session with the Fuji-XT1 | Tom Leuntjens Photography 09.26.14 12:01 pm

[…] XT-1 on all my weddings this year. I didn’t switch to “Fuji” overnight. It was a gradual thing, and it was important to get the feel for the camera’s. A family session is not my usual type […]

by Hans vdC 09.14.14 8:58 am

I recently sold my 5D3 + 24105L + 70200 II simply because it was used way too little. And I hated dragging along the heavy backpack for weddings. Since work is a bit low for the moment (I’m not a professional, merely an advanced amateur shooting SLRs for over 20yrs now), I figured to get by a little with the Sony a6000 + 1670Z + 24Z and RX100M3 and look out for something that can replace my 5D3. The XT1 appeals to me a lot because of the large viewfinder (I love EVF’s) and lens selection. But I’m still a bit reluctant to make the switch, partly because I’m a bit worried it will be too close to the Sony and partly because I still don’t have a chance to use the XT1 extensively without investing a lot of money in it (why not rentals in belgium….). Also read a lot of comments on raw processing in LR, which is my main workflow.

by A wedding with the XT1 | Tom Leuntjens Photography 05.16.14 9:06 pm

[…] my recent blogpost I got a lot of questions about shooting the XT1. Do I shoot the Fuji’s at weddings? Yes. Do I […]

by Mike Croshaw 03.24.14 9:12 am

Good read and mirrors my own experience. I’ve slowly been switching over to this system. I thought I was ready to completely switch last year with the XE-2..but it wasn’t quite there yet. The XT-1 has pushed me over the edge and now the DSLRs have gone.

by Dibo 03.23.14 10:09 am

Each day, I’m getting more in a post-Fuji mode. The X100 and X-Pro1 introduced me in a new photographic area where I started thinking more about framing and taking pictures, but Fuji is very faw away from having the right camera. They conceived a bunch of ‘good-looking old school’ compacts, but they are too much ‘electronic’, the software boys of the R&D dept completely messed up the beautiful story. Just think how you operate your 5D’s before you actually push the shutter button, and what you do with the X-series before getting there, and what can go wrong in that same time. I’ve had so many sessions where I lost a part of the story by ridiculous bugs or very strange behavior. My X-Pro1 doesn’t like flashes, not even the Fuji ones, doesn’t want to fire them, suddenly it does… and again it doesn’t. This kind of story. Unfortunately, there are many quirks like that, because the concept is wrong. Too much FW in between, a firmware that gets replaced every few weeks by another version reacting a bit different. On a shoot out, you don’t want this. I went back to my Nikon Pro cam and boy, I love it. 99.99% of what I do with it is pure confidence, and even the picture quality of the X-Pro1 is not even near to what my D800 does, also that is an exaggeration from people not fully knowing how to deal with software and settings. I really HATE what Fuji has done with this X-trans CFA, it causes so many problems in conversions but a lot of people don’t even seem to care.

by Tom Leuntjens 03.21.14 9:12 pm

Hi Bob, thanks for checking in here. A little bigger yes, I even consider the grip … but that goes against my own reduced weight policy. On the other hand… I don’t like to smell my own arm pits after a long wedding day when I shoot in portrait mode 😉

by Bob 03.21.14 4:23 pm

I am a 70 year old amature. I made the change from Canon to Fujifilm’s X-Pro1 when it first came out. Sold my beloved D2 & 9Ls +. It is the love of the interaction with photography (grew up with Pentax 6X7 and Nikon 35mm shooting fuji film) and the reduced weight that made me do it. I looked at my old files taken on Vieques, the work boats one to two miles out on the York River where I live in Virginia, and the eagles and ospreys flying in and out of the trees on my farm and compared them again this morning against my X-T1 shooting this year at Vieques and here at home. I am constantly amazed at the better color and sharpness. You are right. I miss the 16-35mm wide workhorse and the 400mm macro. Aside from that, I don’t miss a thing with the new X-T1. Sitll have my Pro 1. I only wish Fuji hade made the X-T1 just a little bit larger for my average size hands and put the X-Pro1 buttons on it. I live with but hate those impossible little buttons. But, I won’t give up this camera. I find the improved auto focus a bit screwy in a number of areas, but I got it down so I am getting photos of flying birds better than my old D2 70-300mm L combo. I am happy. Just wish Fuji would come out now with a real macro lens to replace their 60mm “close up” lens.

by Tom Leuntjens 03.21.14 9:09 pm

HI Andrea, I agree with everything you say about the X100s (or other x camera’s). I like the comparison to a Diva 😉 They are not flawless, far from. But I made them work for me. And somehow I stopped minding.

I handle my files in LR5. I use VSCO presets as a base. (grain & sharpening sliders are up a bit) On this post I’ve exported with the mogrify plugin to add the exiff data and uploaded to flickr. (i think it has standard sharpening for screen on the export). My blog takes the images from my flickr account. Somewhere along the way I don’t actually like the sharpening settings. But image rendering is also very browser specific. I have no experience with capture 1 pro.

by Andrea 03.21.14 4:02 pm

I had a near similar experience. I also have had an x100 (day1) and parted with the camera due to the slowish handling. Although I loved it, I couldn’t get around it. Fell in love with the XPro1. Didn’t bought it. Fell in love with the x100s and it took me a year of waiting for the black edition to come out. Now I got me an x100s (black) a month ago.

And while it’s in every sense a better camera than the x100, it still is a Diva. Now I can handle Divas pretty good, since I shoot D800 for a living. But as my main Street camera, it is really slow. Compared to my old and beloved Lumix GX1/20mm combo (which got me very nice images, feel free to see a short slideshow I put together of some Street-Photography of Istanbul: http://youtu.be/APlwMGoNO0M ), this x100s handles more like an classic car. From standby mode to action it takes just a tad too long, so that it will feel slow. The focus is hunting. The lens is very soft wide open. At f2.0 and low ISOs you have a min. shutterspeed of a 1000th – works okay with engaged ND filter but don’t you move from sun into the shadow …

I could go on with so many quirks. But I sum it up saying that It just doesn’t feel responsive. And all the internet hype and huzzay is even more questionable when the RAW files are viewed at 100% but that’s another story…

Having said all that, I will keep the beauty. I like the style of the camera so much and i love the optical viewfinder (although the frame-line is completely inaccurate). I have the 28mm adapter and it’s perfect for getting up close. Than the shuttersound is dead quite. I love to shoot RAW&JPG just to have a black&white viewfinder image. That is the most stellar feature in my opinion.

Just saying.

P.S.: If it happen that you work with Capture1 Pro7 and LR5, it would be very interesting to know some of your developing/sharpening settings…

by Tom Leuntjens 03.21.14 3:49 pm

Thx richard. It is a big leap of faith. Afraid that one day you will find yourself wanting that one lens you sold earlier… While I’m not really emotional about gear (nor a collector) I’ll probably have a good drink before I part with the 5DIII+501.2

by Richard Hurst 03.21.14 3:14 pm

Hi, great read. I currently find myself in a similar situation to yourself. I’m a long time Canon user, currently using the 1DX with 24-70MKII, 70-200MkII and the 17mm TSE. I purchased the X-T1 recently as I fancied a change from Landscape photography and wanted to try more studio and location portrait work and was a bit fed up with the weight of the 1DX. So after having it for a few weeks and purchasing a few lenses for it I’m in love with it and now am considering selling the Canon gear all together and buying a 2nd body and getting some money in the bank for lighting etc. It’s such a scary decision and once made there is no going back.

by The road to X, migrating from Canon To Fuji | Tom Leuntjens › By TOMEN 03.21.14 3:03 pm

[…] See on blog.tomleuntjensphotography.com […]

by Tom Leuntjens 03.21.14 1:34 pm

Agreed, but the XT1 is another step up and I find myself switching to manual focus on occasions where the AF fails? The EVF & focus peak works really well to find your focus.

by steven 03.21.14 9:26 am

Interesting! I still wouldn’t make the switch though. I love the X100S as well but the AF is still too slow/inaccurate for my way of shooting.