I recently went through the biggest change/investment in my photography since getting more serious nearly 8 years ago when I bought my first DSLR… I made the switch from Canon to a Fuji XT-3. I’ll share my thoughts behind the switch, and a review not of the technical details (there are so many reviews on this already), but more about user experience and the overall process.
It’s going to be impossible for me to talk through this switch without discussing some of my own changes in what/how I shoot, as that was part of my decision making process. Which ultimately means this will be about why this switch was good for me, and is certainly not a statement saying a similar switch would be good for everyone. But I’m sure I had one thing in common with many others, 2018 was the year of waiting to see what Canon/Nikon did in response to Sony’s mirrorless systems.
First, covering where I moved from, back in 2014 I upgraded to a 7dii. At the time this was a big investment and a huge leap up in performance from my 550d. I’d built up a reasonable set of lenses, including one of my favourites to this day, the Canon 300mm F4L. My favourite things to shoot were wildlife and sport, generally fast moving things. This was behind my reasoning for the 7dii, fast, customisable focusing system, 10fps and crop sensor for a bit more native reach. This was, and still is such a capable camera, with some features I will miss (more to come later), and for me the thing that first made me start to consider changing was not seeing a replacement for the 7dii, but actually when I got a complementary system for when the 7dii wasn’t needed. Having a child, I soon found myself carrying other stuff, not leaving much room for a camera when out in some situations. So to deal with this, I bought a Leica D-lux (type 109). For those unfamiliar with the D-Lux, it’s a fixed 24-75mm equivalent lens, and I found myself not wanting more than that more than I thought. This, combined with seeing the potential in some other features, like an EVF and eye detect focus got me thinking about what I shoot, and how I’d shifted to doing a lot more people shoots than wildlife/sports.
When I first got the 7dii, I was child free, with more time, a pipe dream of a monster 600mm lens with days in the wilderness, and could dedicate all my carrying to lenses etc. I was holding onto that thought while waiting to see what Canon did with their mirrorless systems, with the intention of building up a lens set like that. However, the EOS R launched, and it was certainly not a replacement for the 7dii, which made me question of I would be better elsewhere, accepting that right now a 600mm huge lens wouldn’t get used much even if I had one, and really, I’d get much more out of a smaller system and a different set of glass. So I started to look with a blank canvas in mind and a few things driving my thoughts, size/weight, good AF system and analogue controls like what I’d learn to like about the D-Lux. I came close to a Sony A7iii, however I just couldn’t get on with how it felt in the hand. It just felt with the full frame glass, and the ergonomics of that camera it would find it less enjoyable to use. So that then led to the Fuji systems, and the XT-3. Spec wise, on paper it ticked all the boxes, with the only reservation being that maybe I was missing my chance to move to full frame, however I felt a switch to a newer sensor would probably give me enough of an improvement in image quality over the 7dii. So then having a feel of one in the hand, and some research on lens options, I decided it was the right one for me. One lens I knew was a must, was the 56 F1.2, as that would probably be on most of the time for pictures of my daughter.
So with Black Friday approaching, I started getting quotes for trading in all my Canon gear. Then when the moment came I headed into WEX Norwich with a big bag of Canon, and left with a big bag of Fuji. I must admit, at the time I was a bit apprehensive about the switch, and the first few days with the Fuji were a bit of a shock. It didn’t feel as intuitive to use at first, and there was some frustration to get it to do what I want. However, once I got past that initial learning curve I was hooked, and now the system just feels right. Quick access to controls, classic styling (I got the silver version), and the lenses are just crazy sharp. There are some features I’ll miss on the 7dii, namely the back button for jumping to a preset of settings (I had this for a fast shutter wildlife setup, for those ‘Oh look…’ moments) and the larger DSLR handling (easily addressed with a grip). Like any major decision (especially for those committed to a system) it can seem like a large jump between brands, but it is hard to label any serious camera in this age bad. They just have different focuses, user experience etc, so best to choose what feels right, and not get too hung up on specs.
Lastly I’m happy to say, a couple of months in and there are certainly no regrets, and one thing is for sure, I really can’t wait until my next proper holiday I can put the XT-3 through its paces.
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