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Why I Chose To Move from Canon and Buy the Fujifilm X-T1

The impressive New Sarawak State Legislative Assembly Building - Kuching

I own the Fujifilm X-T1 and I love it. It’s got a lot going for it. When people ask me whether they should buy one, I say “Fo sure”.

Are you sitting there thinking about the new camera you want? Have you seen all the nice new shiny toys that your friends have and wanted something just like it?

I’m sure you have. So have I if I’m being honest. Before I got the X-T1 I wanted that new Canon 5D. That all changed though once I bought my Fuji X-T1 and went out with it. I’ll be honest, I’ve not looked back since; my gear envy has been satisfied, at least for now.

All I hear is Fuji this, Fuji that. Where the Fuji at?

Fujifilm X-T1 SOOC - Cruising Along in a Motorboat - Tang Clan Jetty, Penang - Malaysia
Cruising Along in a Motorboat – Tang Clan Jetty, Penang – Malaysia

Why Should You Buy a New Camera

I want to be clear about something, though, being the center of attention is not a good reason to buy new equipment regardless of the brand you decide to buy. If you buy new gear it should be for one of two reasons:

  1. You’ve outgrown your camera’s functionalities and it’s limiting your abilities to capture photographs you want.
  2. Your camera is simply not functioning and its reached the end of its long and illustrious life.

I’m sure that there will be some people out there who could probably name another 10 reasons why it’s vital to upgrade your camera equipment, but for me, the two above are the ones that I have lived by.

I don’t have an unlimited budget and living in Ethiopia I can’t order a new camera on Amazon and have it on my doorstep within a day. So how did I go about making my decision?

Understanding Your Photography Needs

Understanding what you like to take photographs of, is something we all struggle to do and it takes the time to understand your style.

Personally, I’m still trying to figure this out.

But while I fully develop that style, I like to take pictures of people (family mostly), nature and landscapes.

I personally needed to make sure that whatever camera I chose, I could take pictures of my brother’s kids, carry around a decent system while traveling and have a camera that offered me enough features and lenses to take my landscapes with.

Simple right? Well, it is and it isn’t because while trying to make these decisions you are constantly wanting the “baddest camera” ever made.

Fujifilm X-T1 SOOC - Funky Rocks in Bako National Park, Sarawak-Malaysia
Funky Rocks in Bako National Park, Sarawak-Malaysia

The Canon Conundrum

I thought of sticking to Canon ecosystem because I have always used them and I love how straight forward and usable they are.

The natural upgrade from the Canon 550D that I used seemed to be the Canon 7D MkII. My cousin had one with him when he visited Ethiopia one Christmas and I really enjoyed using it. Plus, being a crop sensor I would have been able to use my existing lenses without a fuss.

I checked the reviews on DP Review, where I go for a lot of my camera research, and saw that the image quality was virtually the same. Sure there were some marked improvements in build quality, performance etc… but in reality, I saw this as simply paying for a “raincoat” for my existing body.

The next consideration was to fully upgrade my whole kit and go full frame with the Canon 5D MkIII. The Canon 6D, despite being a full-frame, never really entered the picture as I figured if I was going to go full-frame might as well do it right.

The 5D Dream

The 5D was my dream camera. The one I would drool over when I saw my friends using it.

All the pros seemed to use this kit and they were taking all kinds of amazing pictures with it and it is probably one of the most successful products in the market. A couple of my friends had one and they would be kind enough let me use it now and then when they were feeling generous.

I loved it. It made me feel like I belonged to the fraternity of photographers.

But then, I also realized that this baby is a huge beast. Sexy, but big.

I’m no slouch and I would like to think of myself as relatively strong, but a body that of about 1.5 kg with a basic kit lens was going to be an issue, especially as I had begun to think that my Canon 550D with lenses and tripod were already too heavy.

If I wanted to feel free and able to simply grab my camera and leave the house, this was not going to be the answer.

Mirrorless and the Promise of Light-Weight Systems

Enough said! Mirrorless systems are small and light!

Again, it’s not like I owned a heavy camera, to begin with. Before the Fuji X-T1, I was using the Canon 550d (Rebel XTi) with the Sigma 18-200mm zoom and the excellent Canon 10-22 USM wide angle but this and my tripod were enough to make me rethink whether or not I really needed anything but a lighter system.

Naturally, as we all do, we look towards the people we admire and want to emulate. A couple of the photographers that I enjoy to follow and learn from (Trey Ratcliff, Karen Hutton, Brian Matiash, Elia Locardi amongst many others) had all recently moved into the mirrorless world and they were using either the Sony or the Fuji systems.

These were the only two brands that I really considered when moving to mirrorless. So once the decision to move to mirrorless was taken, why choose the Fuji over another system?

Fujifilm X-T1 SOOC - A portrait of a construction site worker
A portrait of a construction site worker

What Can You Afford?

That’s right, I am not a rich man and I didn’t have the budget to buy into the Sony system. They are awesome cameras and the promise of full frame in the mirrorless body is really interesting.

After all, I was still thinking that a full frame body was the logical progression in my photography journey. But these cameras are not cheap at $3,000 for the body alone, was too much of a stretch for me at that time (probably still now).

Not only that, there were not many native lenses (at the time when I was making my decision) available for this beauty and when you consider buying a new camera you need to think about the full kit you are looking to build.

I would need to be buying some expensive glass to fill out my needs.

Looking at my existing kit and what I would want to own when moving to mirrorless, I priced out the Sony lenses.

For me, a good kit would contain at least a generalist zoom like the Sony – FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens and a wide angle like the Sony – Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS which would have been another significant cost at about $3,000.

Sony Total Cost ~ $6,000

And now the Fuji

When I thought of the Fuji back then I considered it the next best thing on the menu. You know that backup choice just in case what you originally wanted isn’t available. The choice that once you have it, you totally forget about your first choice because this one is just so good.

Not to mention the fact that this baby is considerably cheaper than the Sony. At the time that I bought it, the body and the X-T1 and FUJINON XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR Lens were on sale for $1,000.

This was a bargain in my eyes. I was not only going to be ditching the weight but I was moving into a weatherproofed body at a fraction of the cost I had originally thought I would be able to.

On top of that, take a wide array of available lenses at very reasonable prices and you are onto a winner. In addition to the lens that was in the kit, I wanted to purchase a wide angle option of the XF 10-24mm f/4 R OIS is only $999

Fuji Total Cost ~ $2,000

In Conclusion – the X-T1

I’ve told you how I chose this camera, but what is it about the X-T1 that I love so much. Well, there are a lot of things, but I’ve summed it up into the following reasons.

Makes You Feel Awesome

There’s no other way to describe it. It’s got this sense of raw emotion and connectedness to it. I know it’s probably because it looks nostalgic and it’s got all kinds or knobs that twist and turn. That is exactly why it’s so cool.

It slows you down and makes you think a bit more about what you are shooting. To me, that is valuable. It means I’m not trigger happy. Before I take that picture I have to move stuff around and think about what I want to do. I have to physically look at the camera and make some decisions.

To me, that is a valuable delay and one that makes me feel awesomely useful.

Great Image Quality

Yes, the X-T1 only has 16MP but to be honest that has never been an issue for me. The pictures I get out of this camera are fine for what I need it to do. I can take great pictures and print them large enough to enjoy on my wall or post online. Fast autofocus, low light capabilities, and fantastic film simulations are just some of the joys of this camera.

Fujifilm X-T1 SOOC - Portrait of Selome at the Tea Factory, Mahe - Seychelles
Portrait of Selome – Tea Factory, Mahe – Seychelles

All of the images in this post, except for the featured image, are SOOC with absolutely no post-processing done. They are dope ain’t they?

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