I Switched to Fuji 18 Months Ago and Haven’t Looked Back

I Switched to Fuji 18 Months Ago and Haven’t Looked Back

I’m not a trend-setter. I’m 31, pudgy, married, and writing this from my modest ranch hidden among 5000 other modest ranches in a suburb about 90 minutes outside of New York City. I shop at Big Y, buy my clothes at Khol’s, and look forward to Sunday Night Football every Fall. I’m also not really a trend-follower. Ultimately, I spend my time under-the-radar, paying my taxes, and mulching my lawn. Which makes my switch from Nikon to Fuji pretty remarkable. 

My current Fuji wedding kit. (lighting not shown)

“I Been a Long Time Leavin’...”

I started with Nikon in 2004 when I took a job shooting as a freelance photojournalist for a local newspaper in my home state. I was a Canon shooter, until my editor gave me the code to access the lens closet at the paper. There stood before me an entire utility closet of Nikon glass. Nearly a hundred lenses, and I could use any one I wanted… provided I had a Nikon body. I sold my Canon and bought a Nikon D100 the very next day.

I didn’t put much more thought into switching, and I stayed with Nikon for another decade. When I started shooting weddings I added a D80 into my bag, and off I went. Here’s a list of the Nikon bodies I’ve owned and worked with over the years (not necessarily in order):

  • D100
  • D200
  • D40x
  • D80
  • D300
  • D300s           
  • D3
  • D3s
  • D4
  • D4s 
  • D700
  • D750 
  • D800
  • D810

I’ve put about 1.4 million clicks of the shutter through my various Nikon bodies over the years, and I’ve owned all the glass you could imagine to go with them. I know the Nikon system inside and out.


"...But I'll Be a Long Time Gone."

I didn’t leave Nikon for Fuji because Nikon had suddenly started making poor-quality products. Except for the notorious banding issue on the 750 (which I was lucky enough to experience twice, on two different bodies at the same wedding), I never really had a problem with my Nikon gear. The lens lineup was great, I had a collection of Sb-910 flashes that I still love to this day, and Nikon cameras just seemed to work.

Then one day a friend of mine brought over his Fuji Xpro-1. What was this small, strange looking, Leica-esque camera he just placed in my hands? I borrowed it for a couple of days and I fell in love. It was weird and new, as clunky as it was nostalgic, and it threw me right back to the days of firing off Portra 160 when I was a kid. I wanted in.

If you know me personally, you know that once I decide that I’m doing something, I do it at 150% until it’s done. I did the same thing with switching from DSLR to mirrorless. Within four months of picking up my first Fuji I owned an entire system, backups included, and switched to shooting my weddings with my new kit full time. 

iPhone photo of the vendor table at my last wedding.

It’s Not Just About Specs

There are lots of tangible, calculable reasons why switching to mirrorless makes sense for a wedding shooter. The weight and size of the gear notwithstanding, the image quality, colors, and ability of these cameras and lenses to focus wide open is outstanding. There are also lots of reasons to not switch. The lack of a solid, well-integrated flash and lighting system being the big one. However, I switched because it changed the way I feel about photography.

Something about this kit, some indefinable quality that can’t be measured or described has reinvigorated me as a creative professional. It’s put the spark back in my work that I haven’t felt in years. I shoot a lot of weddings… probably more in a year than most do in three or four. So if you want to tell me I was burning myself out I probably can’t argue too much. This Fuji system has changed everything for me.

The first wedding I shot on a Fuji I found myself caring more about my composition than ever before. It slowed me down. I went from shooting an average of 3500 images per wedding to about 1200. I was more in tune with the pace of the day, and I felt seamlessly intertwined with the cadence of each wedding than I had ever felt before. 

I also shed all of my gear. No more big bags, no more lens belts, or duel-shouldered straps. I’ve actually never owned a lens longer than an 85, but the idea of dropping all that bulky, clunky equipment is what did it for me. I finally felt like I could get the images I envisioned. Why did it take a switch to mirrorless for this to happen? 

I have no idea.

What is an Artist?

Someone in the Fstoppers boards once told me they likened the use of the word “artist” as a descriptor of oneself to using the word “master.” I decided to start referring to myself as a creative professional instead. The Fuji system has pushed me closer to truly being the artist that I want to be than any other change or integration to my workflow. 

“The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do.” - Andy Warhol

We are tasked, as photographers, with this enormous challenge of capturing the subjects we shoot as they truly are. We have to create a timeless and honest representation of that moment that will withstand time, life, and death. For me, the switch to mirrorless helped me reunite with the passion I started with when I shot my first wedding nearly 300 weddings ago.

I remember that feeling, when I opened the lens closet at the struggling newspaper. Beat up and blemished lenses that, if they themselves could talk, would pen a million different stories told by all the photographers who had come and gone before me. I was like a kid in a candy store. There was no assignment I couldn't tackle with this kind of equipment. For the first time in my young career I really believed I could do this.

I felt that same rush of excitement and determination the first time I picked up that Fuji. That’s why I switched, and that’s why I have never looked back.

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71 Comments

Tony Psaltis's picture

Thanks for sharing this great post, Eric. I think you captured the essence of Fuji-X system and why so many professional photographers have made the switch are not looking back either.

Question: Which do you find most use for in your wedding photography? 23 or 27?

Markus G's picture

Hi Tony. Thanks for the read and the comment.

I find myself using the 23 f1.4 almost exclusively over the 27. I keep that little 27 in the bag because it's super lightweight and really small. It makes me feel even less obtrusive when I'm photographing candids (specifically during the cocktail hour, which is when I use it most often.)

There's a big price different between the two, but the 27 only opens as wide as 2.8 and I like shooting at 1.4 on the 23. With all that said, that 27 is a killer walk-around lens, especially for the size.

Hans Rosemond's picture

Nice! I do miss my fuji system greatly. Does anyone have experience tethering the XT2?

Markus G's picture

A good friend of mine has a busy studio and he shoots with some Fuji gear (combined with an 810). I believe he tethers with an eye-fi card. I should reach out to him and see if he could do a guest post on how he shoots with his mirrorless kit in-studio.

Hans Rosemond's picture

Im pretty sure I would shoot myself in the face if I had to use an eye-fi to tether. That said, if he can make it work and not be an exercise in masochism i'd love to hear his approach!

JUSTIN SISSON's picture

There still isn't a tethering system that works for pro's. I own a Fuji XT2 and I can tell you it's not worth tethering with. Because fuji failed me with this, I recently purchased a canon set up for some of my studio work. I waited 1.5 years and just grew tired of waiting.

Garrett Reid's picture

I'm working on a studio project with a XT2 and shooting tethered using the Fujifilm X Aquire plugin and Capture One's Hot Folder function. Works like a charm. You can't get a preview of the image the camera is seeing on your computer but the transfer of the image once it's taken is quick. Check out this post I found about it:

http://www.laroquephoto.com/blog/2017/3/1/speed-tethering-fujifilm-acquire

Hans Rosemond's picture

Thanks! Ill have a look!

Jaleel King's picture

They recently updated the FW for better tethering. I haven't used it myself, yet, but here's a video showing it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykxNaTXFPqA

I'm sure you can find more info on it yourself. They also just released a new FW 2.0 which adds a lot of nice features and tweaks.

Ett Venter's picture

I shoot tethered with the X-T2. No issues. I did need to buy a $29 plugin to make it happen, but I bough that ages ago for the X-T1 and it still works on the X-T2 no problem.

Christian Hartmann's picture

Would love to switch but don't trust the video-capabilities yet. Any experience with that?

David Mawson's picture

The main video site I follow is eoshd; the site owner is an excellent videographer and the XT2 is about his highest rated camera for tripod and monopod use. But unless you can afford and XT2 and booster grip, then I'd look at Panasonic rather than Fuji.

Markus G's picture

With the limited amount of video I've done, I agree with David below... the XT2 would be the body for video. I would say at 99% of the weddings I shoot where the videographer is on a mirrorless system he's using a Sony rig. They are crazy good in low light, plus the Fuji lens lineup doesn't have a lot that has built in IS.

I will say that the 4k stuff I pull out of my XT2 for real estate walk-through work is really nice. I don't use it for more than that, so I wouldn't be the best to talk about it.

Adrian Pocea's picture

I can't believe that Fstoppers put up such an article...Who cares? What is the relevance that you are a pudgy man that shops at Kohl's? What is the relevance of everything you said here, except for advertising a brand? Why do we care about your personal experience versus other thousands of photographers that use some other systems? How is this article supposed to enrich my knowledge or will yo do photography if i am a Canon shooter? That is supposed to make me switch tomorrow? Cause i will get who knows what special feeling of being more "artistic" if i use Fuji? Let aside that in subtly show off at one point stating that you shoot weddings in one year like others in four years, i really don't find any useful information in this article. Sad. I am sick and tired of articles, videos on youtube where all kind of so called photographers or videographers tell about themselves "i switched and never looked back". Good for you, who cares? You think that other people stopped using their systems all of a sudden just cause you switched? Let's head to 500 px now, and see how many awesome pictures are taken with Fuji versus Canon or Nikon. You wanna bet? How are the other guys doing, how come they find motivation without switching systems. I am one hair away from unsubscribing from this site ( not that anybody would care) if they come up with kind of articles again

michael buehrle's picture

he shops at Big Y too.

Markus G's picture

Occasionally, when my wife want's something really specific, I'll even venture into the local Stop & Shop. I like to get crazy.

Christopher Nolan's picture

oh my god you are so angry, ........ take a breath, calm down, ...... everything is going to be alright, .... no one is forcing you to read free content, ..... perhaps a massage or a few days off would help you relax, ..... LOL

Adrian Pocea's picture

Is this cheap sarcasm supposed to be funny? Or you are Cristopher Nolan , the movie director himself and i should be honored that you replied to my comment? Can i get an autograph or a selfie with you, sir? Have a good one, buddy, and stop worrying about my state of mind or need a relaxation

Kevin Manguiob's picture

because other people can relate to how he feels? I've had an almost identical experience as him and switched to Fuji as well. Just because you couldn't relate to this doesn't mean that it shouldn't have been posted or written.

Adrian Pocea's picture

Exactly, it is just an article for the Fuji fanboys to help validate their decision within themselves. Not interesting in general, on a photography site

Jeffrey Puritz's picture

Maybe Fstoppers will refund the price of your subscription, seeing as how you are so disturbed by this article?

Markus G's picture

To be fair to myself, I just bought a row machine for the basement, and I plan on losing at least 4 pounds when I start using it next year.

Peter Brody's picture

Somebody may be interested in getting into the Fujifilm system. That's "who cares," and that's "why."

John Kane's picture

@Adrian P: Wow- such vitriol. I support your choice to depart this community if comparing systems triggers such a gag reflex in your mind. I thought the article was provocative, informative, and entertaining. BTW, I shoot Nikon DSLR, if that matters- not a fuji fanboi.

Peter von Reichenberg's picture

Well, if you admit that many other photographers (not like you) may be in a period of deciding IF to switch and WHAT to switch to, you can immediately see some value of Eric's article. I can understand him about the feel of the camera - although Fuji won't probably be my choice. To keep you thrilled I will let you know when MY article about switch (and my shopping habits) will be out, OK? BTW - were you forced to read Eric's article? Did you have a gun at your head?

Brian Comeault's picture

He told a story. You didn't like the story. That's a you problem, not a him problem.

Jim L's picture

I don't have a dog in this race; couldn't care less about DSLR vs Mirrorless or Fuji vs Nikon, but statements like this: "Something about this kit, some indefinable quality that can’t be measured or described has reinvigorated me as a creative professional. It’s put the spark back in my work that I haven’t felt in years.", drive me nuts. I wonder if Picasso had the same reaction to a new set of brushes or Julia Childs to a new stove?

David Mawson's picture

Actually, most painters are very fussy about the pigments and brushes they use. And if you doubt the importance of tools to chefs than I suggest that you read the relevant section of Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential. The type of stockpot can have a big effect on stock - some people will only use a the professional sized equivalent of a pressure cooker. In general, it's not a great idea to draw on things you know little about for metaphors..

Cameras are more complex tools than brushes or saucepans, so it's natural there will be more variation. I'd hate to go back to shooting a DSLR. Being able to shoot with phase detect focus while getting angles the rear screen allows me and a DSLR ovf wouldn't matters a *lot* to me. I could shoot without that capability, but not the way I want to.

Adrian Pocea's picture

So you're suggesting that everybody else who doesn't use mirrorless does a crappy job and doesn't know what he misses? The guy just told you that HE DID SHOOT MIRRORLESS AND HE DIDN'T LIKE IT.

Peter Brody's picture

No suggestion was made.

David Mawson's picture

No, Adrian, you can't read. I very carefully said that the camera I chose to use had qualities necessary to get shots in the style that I want efficiently. Someone shooting in a different style might well have reasons to favour a DSLR. (Although I think for fashion and portrait, mirrorless are the future - exposure preview and on-sensor focus make too much sense to ignore.)

Adrian Pocea's picture

That is pure crap snobbery. He pretends that he is not with the trends, but actually he us with it deep down all the way

Markus G's picture

The point I was making, specifically in my first paragraph, was that I did not switch to a mirrorless system to be trendy, even though it currently very much is. The entire article is me explaining the reasons why I switched.

With all that said, I appreciate the passionate commentary on my article. Cheers!

Tom Lew's picture

I've owned an X100s and an XPro2. Had this fancy idea of switching as well and it was one of the bigger mistakes I've made. Completely get that this is totally dependent on what you shoot and what your needs are.. but I shoot a lot of action, and portraits where my banter / joking around / direction is key.. and something about the mirrorless aspect and general form factor broke my workflow. I've also tried the sony a7ii which I found caused me similar issues in not being able to direct and communicate as I like to. Something about a DSLR feels like a complete extension of my hand and brain and I've lost my gear envy since discovering that.

David Mawson's picture

>> Completely get that this is totally dependent on what you shoot and what your needs are.. but I shoot a lot of action, and portraits where my banter / joking around / direction is key.. and something about the mirrorless aspect and general form factor broke my workflow.

That doesn't sound at all dependent on genre. It sounds like you couldn't adapt to a new system. I shoot mirrorless exclusively these days for fashion and portraits partly because it lets me concentrate on and interact with the subject ***more***. But I had to learn that the new camera had different strengths and failings.

That doesn't mean that you've done anything wrong, but I think it's a a disservice to tell people that mirrorless doesn't fit the particular shooting style you described when really it just didn't fit that style for *you*.

Tom Lew's picture

I guess I could have been more clear but I definitely was just specifically talking about myself and my own workflow. Interesting that it allowed you to interact MORE. Can you elaborate on that? I'm genuinely curious. For me personally every time the EVF "blinked" and came back it kind of broke my concentration. Also.. if it was a dark studio with dim modeling lamps the viewfinder got grainy and laggy for me. It DEFINITELY had some awesome strengths, such as how easy it was to hold and move around.. but I just found that for me PERSONALLY the EVF I couldn't make work to my liking.

Markus G's picture

Hey Tom. You nailed it on the head. If your current setup feels like an extension of your body, there is absolutely no reason to switch. I feel the same way about my Fuji kit as you do your DSLR kit, and obviously you can't justify any change in gear if it effects your work and/or workflow.

Thanks for the comment and the read!

Peter von Reichenberg's picture

That's interesting Tom! I am in deciding process already 6 months and still couldn't make it. What exactly do you miss with mirorrless? As a FF shooter I am considering only A7RII (or a new generation), but finding it's ergonomics much less photographer friendly than other systems. And - what do YOU shoot? Many thanx!

Tom Lew's picture

To be honest the only thing I miss about mirrorless is being able to bring a powerful camera with me on vacations and traveling. Other than the small size there's nothing I miss about mirrorless. I have many friends who shoot amazing work on the Sony Alphas but DSLR just works best for me. Just a personal preference but as I mentioned above.. I just could not make it work because I like the optical viewfinder so much more than the EVF. I think the other thing that isn't discussed much is how much more durable DSLRs are. I was on a desert shoot with my Canon 1dx and 2 shooters with me were using Sony's... at one point I looked at them and they were both not shooting because their cameras were overheating. I've dropped cameras, shot in the rain, just general banged them around (it happens) and they're always tough and durable. It's just more of a workhorse. Definitely going to get my head chewed off on this thread now. You can look at my instagram for my work @tomlewphoto

Tom Lew's picture

The other thing worth mentioning... the fancy mirrorless cameras LOOK SO COOL. They're super sleek and awesome looking. DSLR's don't look cool they're just boring. So it's so easy to get caught up in gear frenzy and just want to buy a sexy new mirrorless cause all of the specs are so fancy. But again.. didn't work for me and now I prefer a boring a$$ camera that just works every time.

Alex Armitage's picture

Good read but I feel like the title/direction of the article was a little misleading. I personally would have enjoyed it more if the headline/idea was about finding a new spark in your passion. Rather than bringing me in to read about why you switched. The reality is you could have switched to GH5, A7R, A6300, anything. The heart of this has nothing to do with fuji, which is totally cool, just wish that was a little more obvious regarding the title.

Or even at the end of the article you wrap up talking about how it really doesn't matter what you shoot on. That passion and motivation are the key.

Markus G's picture

Thanks for the comment and the read! I get what you're saying 100%. I think the point of my article was to try and somehow explain that passion and motivation are the key, and that switching to my new system is what got me there. Cheers!

Anonymous's picture

Just throwing this out there. Is it possible that switching to A new system is what jump started you or was it definitely something about the Fuji system.
I hate change (just read any of my comments on Fstoppers :-)) and any mirrorless camera would completely shut me down but I AM interested in what motivates people.

revo nevo's picture

Can you tell me the name of the strap on second X-T1 ? Are you happy with it. Does it feel soft to the skin?
Thanks :)

Markus G's picture

Hey, it's a girl who makes them on her own, she's based somewhere in the EU. She goes by Hyperion Colored Handmade Camera Strap on Facebook.

Quick edit: It's a great strap, she does a nice job.

revo nevo's picture

Thanks :)

Richard Keeling's picture

Being completely agnostic myself as to gear and brand, I always find articles such as these interesting as they give some insight as to why people become brand loyalists. I'm pleased the author has found a new new raison d'etre with his Fuji gear.

Deleted Account's picture

What radio triggers did you find work best with the Fuji system? I'm not ready to jump to mirror less, but I plan on upgrading my lighting this year without locking myself into one camera system.

Markus G's picture

Haha! A ranch is a style of one-floored home. Usually 3 bedrooms and 1 bath. I am not a cattle rancher.

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