No, I’m not talking about a literal kid, I still feel far too young for all that. What I’m referring to is my new electrical bundle of joy.
Hours.. Days.. Weeks.. Months, it feels like an endless amount of time has passed while I have considered changing my camera gear. I’ve had all sorts of doubts and reservations. Why am I switching? Do I really need a new camera? What camera should I get? Can I afford the costs involved? Well I’m going to answer these questions below, in the hope that you can understand what made it happen, and what I eventually bought.
Why am I switching?
Ultimately we all want to take better photographs. My Canon 5D Mark III had been my work horse for almost 4 years, and it had been a fantastic camera. Honestly it never missed a beat, no matter what I threw at it. As a full frame professional DSLR with 22.3 megapixels it was capable of producing some wonderful images, as well as adapting to all sorts of circumstances. Be it wildlife, motorsport, astro or even good old landscape photography. As someone who shoots landscapes 99% of the time, it has served me well, but it’s also fallen behind the times. With cameras from Nikon and Sony pushing the landscape market so well, you start to notice what you’re missing out on while you faff with filters to avoid over exposing the sky that your counterpart just shot easily without them.
As a professional DSLR it is also a big camera. It’s fine for planting on a tripod and carrying around in a rucksack, but I love to travel, and I love to travel cheaply. This means I don’t pay for hold luggage when I’m off on a city break, preferring to put the £65 towards spending money, and I squeeze as much as possible into my 10kg allowance (thanks Ryanair). When your camera and lens combination is pushing 4kg and, along with filters and a travel tripod, fills half of your rucksack, it starts to get a bit tight and you start hoping they don’t weigh your bag as you pass the gate. After all that fun getting your gear on the plane, you have the next issue when you arrive. The camera is so heavy to have hanging around your neck or off your shoulder, that you end up wishing you’d never brought it along. It inevitably ends up in the backpack and I miss 95% of the shots I could have taken.
Technology has changed, and it has changed a lot. Sometimes you see something when walking with your camera that means you shoot on the fly. You don’t have time for a tripod. Or perhaps you are shooting on the floor, or looking down on the floor. It’s awkward and time consuming to adjust all the knobs and clips on the tripod to get it in position (even more so if the shot is naff afterwards). Times like these require handholding the camera and possibly pushing the ISO to compensate for the lack of light. Two problems with the Canon here. Firstly, the weight of it means it’s hard to hold steady and you need a faster shutter speed to get the shot. This leads onto the second problem. It gets noisy really quickly, at relatively low ISO’s. Perhaps when it was released it was as good as can be, but 5 years on, it’s not the same.
Do I really need a new camera?
This was one of the things that I kept asking myself. Are these minor inconveniences that I can deal with? Should I man up and carry the camera, even if it is a bit heavy and a bit bulky? Who am I to cast off a £2000+ professional camera as no longer what I want. But I kept coming back to the same answers in my head. Technology changes daily. No sooner have we bought our new electrical item than it’s being replaced with a newer, shinier model. I had been using the same camera for 4 years. I’d seen what others were doing with better tech and it never bothered me. I could do the same, albeit a slightly slower way. The camera never prohibited me getting the images I have got.
It took a while to realise what was making me need to change my camera. I realised that I am in fact the one who changed. I no longer choose to arrive at a location an hour before sunset, take 75 photos of the same thing with slightly differing light and then head home to process “the chosen one”. Now I like to wander around, taking photos from various angles and trying new compositions. A lot of these things require the handholding element which I mentioned previously. I also travel a lot more than I ever did before, which has added a new dimension to my work. One thing I never want is my gear to restrict the photos I want to take. Be it a tripod, or filters, or even footwear. This was what made me realise I needed a new camera.
What camera should I get?
There’s an awful lot of choice when it comes to buying a new camera. Much the same as buying a TV, phone or computer. I had to narrow my list of possible candidates down to 2 or 3, and I had to do that quickly.
- Fujifilm X-T1 £850 body only, new
- Fujifilm X-T2 £1399 body only, new
- Fujifilm GFX 50S £5999 body only, new
- Canon 5DS R £2649 body only, new
- Canon 5D Mark IV £3499 body only, new
- Nikon D810 £1850 body only, new
- Sony A7R £999 body only, new
- Sony A7R II £2499 body only, new
I decided almost straight away that I didn’t want, nor need another DSLR. The size and weight of them being much the same as what I already had, plus the cost of either Canon bodies made my eyes water. The cost again was the reason to remove the Fujifilm GFX 50S, though it seems like an awesome camera – it’s also enormous! My list was now down to 4 cameras.
- Fujifilm X-T1
- Fujifilm X-T2
- Sony A7R
- Sony A7R II
Two manufacturers. Two first gen models, and two second gen models. The Sony’s had an instant attraction for me. I could buy an adaptor and use my current lenses on either of these small, powerful bodies. I’d read fantastic things about both of them, but of course my hankering for a new camera made me not want the first gen models. So now I’m down to two options.
- Fujifulm X-T2
- Sony A7R II
Can I afford the costs involved?
In an ideal world cost would never be an issue, I’d have kept my Canon for sentimental reasons and I would buy whatever tickles my fancy. Alas in the real world this doesn’t work out for me, especially as we’re very close to buying our first house.
So the Sony A7R II at £2499 and the Fuji X-T2 at £1399. A huge £1100 difference between them, but the aforementioned lens adaptor for the Sony meaning I could keep my Canon lenses. On the downside the Canon lenses are heavy, which would mean inevitably replacing them with the Sony Zeiss alternatives. The Fuji lenses would need buying to replace the Canon glass straight away.
The Fuji is a lighter camera at approx. 500g, compared to the 625g of the Sony. It’s also bigger. In a lot of respects the Sony is a better camera, it has a huge dynamic range and the large files mean image quality is excellent, as is the potential for cropping images. The Fuji is a much more user friendly camera, with great controls and the colour rendition is fantastic. Comparable lenses are 30% more expensive when buying Sony Zeiss, but the Fuji lenses are fantastically sharp.
The for’s and against’s for both sides really do stack up, and make for some excessive head scratching.
So what did I pick?
After much deliberation and calculating costs I lumped for the Fujifilm X-T2. I decided to pair it with the Fujinon 16-55mm f2.8 lens, which came in at around £2200. I sold all of my Canon items and ended up with a little extra money in the pot. I’m going to buy the Fujinon 50-140mm f2.8 just as soon as we get a house sorted. Until then I’m on watch to make sure I don’t spend any of the house deposit!
I’m sure you want to know how I’m getting on with my new toy, but all good things come to those who wait. Stay tuned for part two of this blog to hear how I’ve got on in my first 6 months of Fuji ownership.
Side by Side – Canon 5D Mark III & Fujifilm X-T2