Around two years ago I decided that it was time for a change. I’d been shooting with various Nikon cameras (D40, D3200, D5300, D7100) over the years, alongside shooting film. I’d also had hands on with many other camera makes and different sensor sizes from micro four-thirds Panasonic cameras through to Nikon, Sony and Canon full-frame cameras. Running a large photography group has also meant I’ve accumulated knowledge of many different cameras, their output and so much more over the years through images and hands-on experience.
I wanted to find a system that would serve me well for years to come, cut down on size and weight and produce exceptional results in all conditions, with the ability to give me all the tools I need to get the images I need. As a sometime semi-professional photographer (I sell my services and images when needed, or when requested, but recently do a lot of educational work for free, helping other photographers), I needed something that the competition just couldn’t supply me.
And so I went Fujifilm…
I had always heard good things about Fujifilm, and they simply checked every box for what I wanted. I looked at the completion, the Nikon Z6, Canon RP and other cameras, and none of them checked as many boxes as Fujfilm. So let’s look at these checkbox’s I had to fill, and see, after two years if they lived up to expectations. Initially, I went for the Fujifilm X-T20 as a taster, and then moved onto arguably the best APS-C camera available, the Fujifilm X-T3.
- Low Light– Let’s get this one out of the way first. My Nikon cameras had always performed well in low light and I know cameras like the Nikon Z6, because of their larger full-frame sensors (and eyeballs) are amazing at low light. I photograph a lot of sunsets and in a lot of dark insides of churches and castles, and the Fujifilm system has never yet let me down. I shoot side by side with friends who use full frame, and I’ve never once had any difficulty in competing or had images that I would be ashamed of showing side by side with theirs. There’s very little noise even at ISO6400, and even images taken at ISO12800 have been great. Usually though, with my F/1.4 and F/1.8 lenses I don’t have to go anywhere near that high an ISO and the camera handles the dark perfectly with no issues.
• Dynamic Range – The great thing with Nikon was the huge amount of dynamic range that these cameras allow you to play with. I was and I am pleased with the dynamic range ability of my Fujifilm cameras. In fact using the DR400 option I’m able to gather even more dynamic range at the cost of being at ISO640, and it is just beautiful to work with.
• ISO Performance – Following on from dynamic range is the all important ISO performance which I’ve already touched on in the low light section. I have had no hesitation in using any ISO with both the X-T20 and X-T3. Gone are the days where I was worried about going over ISO1600 as ISO performance is just that good!
• Colour Science – All the years owning a Nikon, I never liked the way it produced greens, and for that reason alone it meant I would shoot raw even in situations where it wasn’t needed (such as family snaps etc), just so I could bypass that colouring. I looked around at many images from many cameras, and fell in love with Fujifilm’s colour science. Their film simulations are great, and have very unique feels, plus both the jpegs and raw files are a joy to edit.
• Field Of View – I’m not a huge fan of ultra-wide lenses, but I know they have their place. When I was with Nikon I went through a phase of photographing at 10mm (15mm full-frame) and looking back at those images, and others of a similar focal length and field of view, I know I can live happily without a full-frame camera if it was just about this. Currently my widest lens is 15mm (21.5mm full-frame) and that’s perfect. However, going long, the 1.5x crop factor is perfect!
• Frames Per Second – I was always used to shooting at 5-6 frames a second, so going to 14fps and now 30fps has been life-changing. It’s not something I use all the time, but for birds, insects and taking photos of the kids running around etc, it’s a godsend! Coupled with Fuji’s “pre-shot” feature that captures around a second of images in the buffer while your shutter button is half-pressed, it’s elevated photography to a whole new level.
• Auto Focus – It’s no good having so many frames per second if your autofocus is not up to the task, but thankfully the autofocus and options you have for autofocus are excellent. Zone focusing is perfect for capturing birds and action, full-screen tracking works like a dream, face detection is accurate and eye detect since the latest update on the X-T3 is outstanding. Combine this with great performance in lower light and it makes a huge difference. For the first time ever in a camera I’m 100% confident in the autofocus tracking ability at continuous high levels of frame rates, and I can only imagine a Sony camera would be better again if I wasn’t happy with my Fujifilm’s performance for some reason. Having 450 focus points is also game-changing, it means the eye detect has a great hit ratio, not matched by cameras with lesser focus points.
• Size And Weight – I wanted performance and reduced size. The X-T20 was a tiny camera with amazing performance, while the X-T3 is still nice and lightweight. Of course, it’s pointless having a smaller body if your lenses are huge, and thankfully, there’s plenty of smaller sized lenses available making the most of the system.
• Video – Although I don’t shoot much video, I wanted the best video available, and the X-T3 exceeds my expectations, with 4k at 60fps and 10-bit recording with bit rates up to an incredible 400mbps. This is video that cannot be achieved on most full frame cameras, and certainly not without any add-on equipment.
• Extra features – Although not always used, the benefit of features such as focus stacking, various bracketing options not available elsewhere, excellent quality EVF and back screen (the X-T20 had a great EVF, but the X-T3 has one of the best, and biggest EVF’s I’ve ever used), more user definable buttons, more user definable profiles for quick changing scenarios, front and back command dials for quick access, exposure compensation, ISO and Shutter Speed dials all making the experience enjoyable and accessible without digging into the menus.
I love all cameras, and the great thing about choosing Fujifilm is that you’re getting the best of all worlds. I believe if you’re going to get a camera that is going to last you, it needs to have a bit of everything because over time your photography needs change. I started out as almost exclusively a landscape photographer, but after over a decade, the fun has slipped away from that and other things combined with it means I can enjoy just taking photographs.
I shoot in both raw and jpeg, and since moving to Fujifilm I’ve been using the jpegs more than ever before. They are beautiful coming out of camera, and a lot of the time they need just a little tweak at most. The raw files are also fun to edit, with plenty of dynamic range, and with that 26mp X-Trans IV sensor, I have no issue in cropping and keeping detail of the things that I photograph.
Yes, it was a difficult choice choosing between full-frame or staying with APS-C, but I have not regretted that choice at all. In fact, I’ve embraced the format more knowing that the Fujifilm X-T3 can compete head to head with the best full-frame cameras without any feeling of anything missing from the experience and the results.
About the Author
Mark Adams is a documentary photographer, blogger, and writer based in Port Talbot, Wales. On his website One Camera One Lens you’ll find plenty of his photos, as well as interesting articles about photography. Head over to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and follow Mark for more of his work. This article was also published here and shared with permission.