I started off my career as a gear head. Really, I couldn't get enough of the different cameras and options that were around when I first started my journey with photography. I was a kid in a candy store. I researched each night, asked for opinions, spent countless hours at camera stores wanting to buy whatever my wallet was able to afford. It didn't matter if I needed it or not, all that mattered were the possibilities. I wanted to own this and have that. It was just a testament to how much I did not know at that time. I was basically somebody who just wanted to own nice equipment.. until I was given sound advice by a mentor...
"New gear isn't going to make you a better photographer. "
Reality had been checked. It really made me stop and think about what was important. I wanted to work for my dream until my dream could support me. So I did what every dream chaser would do. I learned the hows, asked the why's, followed the rules, broke a ton of them, perfected my style, and learned all about light. I put in the hard work all the while using a kit that was pretty much for newbies. The moment I felt comfortable enough (which took two years) and felt it was time to shoot weddings on my own, I sold my newbie Sony gear and moved to full frame Canon. You might be screaming at the screen asking, WHY?!! Sony is awesome, ermagherd! - Well they're pretty great now, but back in 2008 it was the Sony A200. Definitely not something to use for shooting a wedding. But why did I switch to Canon instead of Nikon? Because the Canon interface was so easy to learn, and similar across the board for their prosumer to flagship DSLR bodies. So upgrading Canon bodies for me meant I didn't really need to learn anything new. Long story short, I switched to Canon and I had been using their equipment for my entire career as a photographer...until today.
Forward to December of 2016 and I'm purchasing a Fujifilm XE2S (photo above). What I was doing at the time was purchasing a travel camera for personal vacations so I wouldn't have to lug around a heavy Canon body and couple of lenses. The XE2S is an older 16MP model opposed to the newer cameras in the Fujifilm line up, but definitely still capable of rendering great image quality and what some might call, Fuji's signature style through the X-Trans sensor. What I was expecting was a a lightweight mirrorless camera that wouldn't tire me out from carrying it around all day, and what I ended up getting, was my love for photography back.
I honestly can't explain it. It might be the way I interact with the camera, the way the camera looks like an old school rangefinder, or the way the images just amaze me straight out of camera. The raw file highlight and shadow recovery are something that my Canon cameras have definitely been missing, and because of that my style is definitely taking a turn for the way I've always wanted it to go.
So much so that I used it for an engagement shoot today(image below). I needed to use it and test it out. Mind you, I still had my trusty Canon gear with me, but all the while, I had the Fuji around my neck, taking shots here and there after nailing the shot with my Canon.
As much as I love the Fuji, we photographers still fear making a switch after investing so much into one particular brand regardless how awesome the images are. To make things easier for myself during the shoot, I only had a Canon 50 1.4 FD attached to the Fuji which makes it equivalent to a 75mm on a full frame body. (the XE2S has a crop factor of 1.5). And oh my was it glorious to use especially because of the focus peaking feature to assist with the manual focusing. I am completely blown away by the IQ and the experience.
The image above was shot during a trip to the Dominican Republic and the first time I realized the power the X-Trans II sensor and the amount of detail it captures because of the camera not having a low pass filter (AA). Now I don't want to get into detail about all the specs the camera has because that can all pretty much be found on the net. But wait a minute, the XE2S spec wise isn't as great as my Canon gear, and it definitely lacks in some areas in its hardware but I can't stress enough, the experience I get shooting with the Fuji is like no other.
Aesthetically, the cameras they push out just look so good. Having a camera that looks like it was from an era forgotten bodes well not only with my younger couples, but with the parents and older relatives too. I used the XE2S at an engagement event a couple of weeks ago and my camera struck up conversations about how they used to have a camera like mine and wish that they still could shoot film. To their surprise, I was shooting digital with such a small camera. The fact that my images can impress people that much more because it's coming from a camera that doesn't look the part, makes me grin from ear to ear.
As a photographer that has been shooting Canon for almost 9 years now, I think it's time to change it up and I couldn't be more excited for this switch in gear. Canon will forever be capable, but Fuji now has become inspiring to me. My process for how I take or edit photos wont change, the way I pose my subjects, create and capture moments will all remain the same. The only thing changing is the gear I use.
Last piece of advice?
Enjoying what you do & how you do it will not only benefit you, but also the people you do it for.
P.S. Fujifilm didn't pay me to write this. Sorry Canon. Here's to 9 years with you, and here's to hoping I have more with Fuji.
- Nate Dionisio