Going mirror less – Switching to Fuji X

Switching to Fuji X

Wow. Big news. Still can’t believe that I actually did it. A few weeks ago I sold my entire Nikon DSLR equipment and have switched to the Fuji X system. After 20 years of being a loyal Nikon customer I finally decided to take a step into the future. Over the years, I had amassed a collection of lenses, flashes and small tools such as remotes, batteries etc.. Nikon had never let me down. As a matter of fact, I simply loved my Nikon D800. It is an amazing camera with probably the best possible image quality out there in the market. But it was time to move on and I am actually very happy that I switched to the Fuji x system. In this post I want to share a few thoughts about making such a drastic change.

San Francisco-1
Fuji X-E1

Mirrorless Cameras

The Fuji X system belongs to the category of the mirrorless cameras. They are significantly smaller and lighter than modern DSLRs. These cameras used to suck in the past because they either didn’t have a viewfinder or it didn’t really work. Also, autofocus performance used to be poor. And…let’s not talk about image quality. But things have changed. Companies like Fuji, Sony and Panasonic have made significant technological progress. Mirrorless cameras are now at a point where many people don’t really need a DSLR anymore. And that’s what I realized. I now own a Fuji X-T1 and the Fuji X-E2 along with a bunch of lenses.

Why switch to Fuji x?

So why would I give up one of the best cameras in the world? Why would I switch to the Fuji X system? Here are my personal reasons:

  • Weight: dSLRs are pretty heavy. The Nikon D800 weighs around 970g and most decent lenses add an additional 500-900g to the package. My usual travel kit consisting of 2-3 lenses, a flash and some filters weighed more than 7kg. The Fuji x cameras are super light. The bodies weigh less than 500g and most lenses are in the range of 100-300g. I cannot describe in words how nice it is to walk around town with the new kit. My new bag weighs less than 2kg.
The brown Crumpler bag with one body and several lenses & filters weights less than 2k. Contrast that to the 7+kg clunker below.
  • Size: The Fuji x cameras are not only light but they are also pretty small. Walking around with them is super comfortable. In the past, I would often leave my dSLR at home in the evenings and walk around with a small pocket camera. Not with the Fuji x cameras. They are so small, there is no reason not to bring one.
  • Sound: dSLRs are quite loud. Even the quiet mode on the Nikon did not work all that well. People know that you are taking a photo. Mirrorless cameras such as the Fuji X system are extremely quiet. I am not sure why but I really like that. This is great for shooting weddings and doing stealth street photography.
  • Manual controls: Fuji decided to turn the clocks back. Where most modern cameras rely on wheels, buttons and menus, Fuji cameras feature a traditional aperture ring on the lenses. The bodies have manual dials for common settings such shutter speed, exposure compensation and ISO. This makes it easy to change settings and you can actually setup your camera without having to turn it on. Let me tell you – I love having the aperture ring back!
Fuji X-T1
Extremely functional design: Manual controls
  • WIFI support: At first I thought this was going to be a toy. The new Fuji X-T1 can be controlled with your iPhone and/ or iPad. It serves as a remote and you can also transfer images with it. This is extremely convenient for taking photos while the camera is on a tripod. It’s also great for taking selfies. I actually use this app quite a lot and I could dedicate an entire post to it.
  • Image quality: The Fuji x system currently features an APS-C sensor. This is the same size as what you can currently find in cameras such as the Nikon D300s or the Canon 7D. The Fuji X-Trans sensor is apparently unique in its architecture but it creates amazing images. The colours are extremely close to those of the D800. The dynamic range is also superb. In other words: I cannot complain about the image quality. It’s simply awesome.
Fuji X-T1, ISO 3200
  • The looks: The Fuji x cameras all have a cool retro look. This is especially true for the Fuji X-E1. Many people have asked me whether it is a film camera. The entire Fuji x system looks extremely sexy.
Fuji X-E2
Excuse me – is that a real film camera?

Fears of going mirrorless

Switching from a DSLR to a mirror less system such as the Fuji x system is a bit scary. Nikon cameras simply work and I had relied on some of the unique features such as the Nikon Creative Lighting System. Here are some of the fears and how I view them now.

  • An electronic viewfinder (EVF): One of the key advantages of any dSLR is the large viewfinder. Composing photos in a viewfinder is much easier than doing this on a screen. EVFs used to suck. They just didn’t work very well. However, the new generation is surprisingly good. The Fuji X-T1 features on of the best viewfinders around. It is actually right on par with that of the Nikon D800.
  • Lack of professional flash support: The Nikon Creative Lighting System is extremely comfortable for using off camera flash. Fuji does not have something similar. As a matter of fact, they do not even have a decent TTL flash for the system. But I ended up buying a set of Godox V850 strobes along with their proprietary remote system. This works like a charm and it is actually more comfortable to change individual settings than with my Nikon.
Godox V850
Fuji X-T1 with a Godox V850 and a Lastolite softbox
  • Not looking professional: I know, I know….this is silly. Walking around with a big camera is kind of cool. Especially when you shoot weddings. I had a bit of a mental barrier but have gotten over that….I think…
  • Slow autofocus: Modern dSLRs like the Nikon D800 have amazing autofocus systems. They are especially good for shooting action & sports stuff. I have found that the Fuji x system cameras actually have a decent enough AF system. It works well for portraits and landscapes. Shooting fast moving objects is a bit tough, though. I would not want to take those cameras out to a sports event, yet.
Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm


Switching to the Fuji X system has been easier than I thought. The cameras rock and I am happy with my decision. Do I miss Nikon and the D800? Absolutely. Especially the full-frame sensor. But it was time to move on. My type of photography is currently better suited for the Fuji X system. Are there downsides as well? I have not seen many but will probably experience some sooner than later. To get a better overview of my current equipment, please check out the according page on this blog.

If you are interested in learning more about the Fuji X system I highly recommend two websites:

Embarcadero Center
ISO 1250, f5, 1/30s, 18-55mm


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13 Comments Going mirror less – Switching to Fuji X

  1. EJPB June 3, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    After using about 2.5 years with Fuji – X100 & X-Pro1 – my main camera is back a… D800. Way too much problems, quirks, bugs, issues, shutter lag, poor flash support… while my D800 shines in any situation. What drove me crazy was shooting more the event-like kind of stuff with the X-Pro1, hunting lenses, flashes refusing to fire, that kind of irritation. Now I’m using the Fuji solely for travel purposes and in occasional street photography, for anything else there is no more faithful companion than the D800 possible and the IQ is still way better if you use the right conversion tools. I’m pretty sure a lot of people don’t even have the slightest idea of what the D800/D800E is capable of with the best glass out there… they wouldn’t even think of looking to something else.

    1. cpapenfuss June 4, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      The D800 rocks. For sure. The weight and size just didn’t do it for me anymore. I thought about keeping both systems but found that it’s a waste of money for me.

    2. Rick Deckard July 23, 2014 at 1:43 am

      EJPB – Ah, here you are again to bash. I have never seen a person make more negative reviews about a system. If you don’t like a certain system why don’t you just sell it and move on? Yet, you comment on blog after blog about how your Nikon Df (of all cameras!) is the greatest. You’re either a paid shill for a Fuji competitor, or one of “those guys” that has nothing better to do but to continually bash a system. No problem if you don’t like it — I’m just amazed at the amount of time you spend on the bashing. Don’t you have better things to do, like take photographs?

      BTW, please post links to your online galleries. I’d love to see how good your work is with those lovely full frame DSLRs.

    1. cpapenfuss June 4, 2014 at 9:12 pm

      It’s a true pleasure. 🙂

  2. Ishan June 4, 2014 at 5:00 am

    As EJPB I used a X-Pro1 2.5 years and now I’m on a D800E/Df
    Why? The Nikon system simply works with amazing results. The difference in IQ is visible and in lager formats prints important for me.

    But there is another argument for me, to switch to Nikon:
    The product strategy and the price development of Fuji cameras and lenses
    Actually I have 4 lenses, the three primes and the 18-55 zoom. Allt together I paid 3400,- €. But Fuji made so often rebate programs and so on, that reselling the system give poor resutls around 1000,- €

    If I invest in good lenses with the Nikon system, i.e. Zeiss and Nikon primes I think that are good investments. And if I change my photography and need other lenses I get a good price for the old ones I think.
    Also the D800E is very price stable.

    Fuji released to much different cameras in short time. In my opinion it is not a good decision. We will se what will happen in the future.

    1. cpapenfuss June 4, 2014 at 8:58 pm

      I think you will run into the loss of value problem with most systems. All my Nikon stuff just sold and let me tell you – it was a depressing experience. Some of my favorite lenses sold for a ridiculously low price. The only thing that sold at a very decent price were my flashes – did not expect that. At the end of the day, it’s best to stick with one system.

  3. BLFarnsworth June 4, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about your switch to Fuji! As a long-time Nikon customer – last bodies I’ve owned were D4, D800, D600 — the things I miss are the fast focusing performance for sports/action photos and flash system. I don’t miss Nikon’s quality issues (D800/D600), lack of innovation, and it’s previous “nothing’s wrong with our D800/D600 cameras” attitude. Don’t get me started on the Nikon 1 system, which I’ve had. I’m struggling to remember the last time I was excited about any news from Nikon! 😉

    No camera/system is perfect, but I’m quite happy with the Fuji X (I currently have an X-T1 and most of the primes). I take the X-T1 and at least 2 lenses with me almost everywhere I go, which I couldn’t say for when I had the DSLRs. I will say that the smaller form factor of the X-series and mirrorless cameras in general is one thing that I really love. Good riddance to that huge sack of bodies & lenses that I used to carry! (I got sick of carrying just a single body and Nikkor 28-70 f/2.8 lens all day).

    1. EJPB June 4, 2014 at 6:37 pm

      Nikon’s quality issues… Fuji has really had a lot more disturbing issues ever since the first X-series appeared on the market and I’ve been a lot more unhappy with my X-Pro1 than with any Nikon I’ve ever owned. You can blame Nikon for lack of innovation, a bit like Leica that is in certain ways also a Fuji competitor, but their concepts are stable and very predictable. Fuji – sorry – isn’t and I’m still not fully believing they are holding the golden bullet in the camera market. If there’s one in the mirror-less arena where I would bet on… it would be Sony, not Fuji, most of all because they own the best sensor-technology on the market while Fuji, well, the organic sensor, where is it? Who has seen it? Another 2 years? 5 years?

      1. BLFarnsworth June 4, 2014 at 8:59 pm

        Where is the organic sensor? I don’t know… and I don’t care. The images that I capture *right now* are all I care about — and they look great to me. If/when something “better” comes along in the future I’ll consider it then.

        In the meantime, I’ll let the spec geeks, pixel-peepers, and bitter nerds argue about all of that other nonsense.

        1. cpapenfuss June 4, 2014 at 9:28 pm


    2. cpapenfuss June 4, 2014 at 8:51 pm

      Fully agree with you on the weight and portability! I have the same experience. The Nikon roadmap is definitely not that exciting – mostly focused on more entry-level stuff. But to be honest – there is no need to get a new camera every year or two.

      1. BLFarnsworth June 4, 2014 at 9:15 pm

        I can’t tell you how much happier I am carrying a light 1 to 2kg waist pack and not a 7+ kg bag all day! (Or even when just traveling.) I also agree that there is no need to get a new camera as soon as a new model is out… Much better to try and improve one’s photographic skills than it is to buy new gear all the time. (I’m trying!) 🙂

        It’s like many golfers I know; they buy a set of “new and improved” clubs every year, yet their handicap remains exactly the same or even worse (after 10 years and 10 new sets of clubs), LOL!


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