Flirting With Other Brands…Could I Really Switch Away From Fujifilm?

· 12.October.2021

For the past six months or so I’ve worked for a local camera store teaching classes and leading workshops in Omaha, Nebraska. It’s been a blast getting to know the photo community here and I quickly realized just how few people use Fujifilm, at least locally. So I’ve had to take home cameras from Nikon, Sony and Canon to familiarize myself with the systems. When students have questions, I need to be able to help them with their cameras!

And…it’s been interesting. Although I started my photography career using the 1D Canon series and L lenses, I’ve never really missed anything from the system. Fujifilm cameras have been such a joy to work with that I haven’t really consider switching systems. That is, until I started working at the camera store. Let me tell you that there were definitely moments that had me looking deep into my soul (and my camera closet) to see how much money I could get on the used market for my Fujifilm gear.

So, what are the cameras that have been so tempting? And what have I ultimately decided?

First, I had a pretty serious relationship with the Canon R5 and R6. Canon was slow to the Mirrorless market, but wow did they catch up quickly. These cameras are stunning. Ergonomically they feel good in the hand and while their files are great (especially the big and beautiful files out of the R5), the autofocus system is the real stunner.

Seeing the camera in action tracking the eyes of both people and animals is pretty fantastic, even in lower light. And when I thought that there was no way the camera was accurately tracking most of the shots, I’d get on the computer and realize almost all of these shots were in focus.
The confidence this inspires feels pretty good, I must admit. While I definitely don’t think the Fujifilm cameras are bad at autofocusing, they aren’t on the same level as the new Canons! When you combine this with some rather unique lenses (for instance, the 600mmF11 is insanely light and the 50mmF1.2L is just stunning on a full-frame camera), I was pretty sure I might switch to Canon at one point.

Then there is the Nikon Z series that I experienced. The Z 5 is a fantastic full-frame camera for an amazing price. It’s capable of some solid results, especially with good glass. The Z 6II is fast and fun to use. But the camera I really fell into a relationship with was the Z 7. The files out of the camera are something else. They are full of detail and dynamic range that I’m not entirely used to!

Check out this file that I purposely under-exposed using the Z 7 and the 14-24mmF2.8.

Here’s a close-up at 100% after five stops of exposure compensation in Lightroom.

There’s detail here that I didn’t expect. These 45 megapixels are not a marketing gimmick. They are the real deal, and with the type of work I do, I loaded up KEH to see how much I could get for all my Fujifilm gear, tempted to trade it all in for a Z 7 and a few lenses.

And Sony? Sony is fine but I find their cameras zero fun to use, even if they are wildly capable.

So, after all of that, what did I do?

I stuck with Fujifilm. If anything, my flirtation with the other systems have solidified my decision to shoot with Fujifilm cameras. In fact, I consider myself much more capable of advocating for the system now that I know that I’ve totally and completely tested the waters with the other players in the game.

As always, what you choose may be down what you need. There are reasons to choose any of the cameras I’ve tested out and many more beyond that (Olympus has some compelling selling points as well).

Why Fujifilm then? One of my students, who had the Z 7II and an impressive range of Nikkor Z lenses, asked me this in class one day. He seemed genuinely bewildered. He had seen my work and was taking my class because he wanted to capture images more like mine in the Nebraska countryside. He was shocked I wasn’t using a full-frame Canon from the biggest camera makers. He listed off the things Fujifilm doesn’t have: “They aren’t full frame. They’re ‘only’ 26 megapixels. I’ve heard they don’t focus as well.” I shrugged my shoulders. I told him he was right about all those points. I could have told him about some other aspects, how Fuji is so much lighter, that the colors are special, or that the lenses are unique. Instead, I told him not to get caught up in all the marketing or read too many tech sheets. That’s the game all the companies (including Fujifilm) play to get us to buy new gear.

My lesson to him and to myself is this: enjoy the experience. If someone loves the Nikon system, great! Is Canon or Sony or Olympus or Pentax or Leica or whatever your jam? Go for it!

But the Fujifilm system for me is just perfect in that it gets out of my way and puts me in the moment. It’s small and light and makes grabbing the camera an insanely easy endeavor, so it goes everywhere with me. The Fujifilm system jives with how I think and takes fantastic images in a small package that is capable of incredible results. For me that’s everything: it’s the system I want to pick up, even when other ‘more capable’ cameras may be sitting right next to it.

Plus, the Fujis just look cool too. Can’t forget that.