Sometime in 2004 I purchased my first DSLR, the Nikon D100. The 6.0 megapixels was a dream come true after smaller point and shoot digital cameras I’d owned and the bonus: it played nicely with all my existing Nikon lenses. Since then I’ve owned the D200 and D700. With each iteration the noise was less, the fps was better, the focusing improved time and again. I honestly never had any complaints about the capabilities of these cameras. My only complaint ever was their weight. I have a shoulder/neck injury I’m combatting, but as a professional, you push through and make the magic happen, you know?
In the world of Digital Cameras there have been some amazing things happening, and when I say amazing, I mean AMAZING! From 60mp digital backs for Hasselblad’s to teeny tiny sensors that rock in an iPhone. I’ve used both and many things in between and am continually impressed with what these tools can do.
Remember… The camera is a merely a tool to create images. Always, always, always remember that. I hear Zack Arias in my head as I write this. A number of photographers have said this over the years, but Zack’s words always resonate. Get the gear that works for you and does what you need it to do!
In 2013 I purchased the Fuji X100s. I’d wanted the X100 when it was released but it had issues, I knew waiting was the best for me. With the X100s I’ve found a fabulous street photography and travel camera, my style tends to be more wide angle than telephoto so it’s a great fit for me.
Last year, after months of debate, lists of pro’s and con’s I decided to sell the Nikon gear I’d loved and cherished for years and put that money into the Fuji XT-1 and some lenses. This was a hard decision because of what I knew I was giving up: Speed, durability and reliability. Don’t get me wrong, Fuji has done an amazing job with their foray into this space, but Nikon and Canon have been doing it longer.
I knew that for at least 90% of my work the XT-1 would be A-OK, headshots, travel, etc… That 10% is where I found myself a few weeks ago. A producer reached out to me, through a friend to shoot a dress rehearsal for a dance performance: Ten Tiny Dances. It sounded cool, so I was on board. Also that friend was one of the performers. Once we sorted the details, I immediately wondered how my little Fuji would do in such an environment, super dark room, hot lights only on the dancers; low light galore. And I began to worry, just a bit. So I set plans into motion to arrange for backup gear.
I’m super fortunate; I literally know hundreds of photographers in Seattle. I was able to borrow a D800 and a 24-70 from a couple of friends, instead of renting. That takes a lot of trust you know, in situations like this you will most likely be renting gear.
On the night of the gig I started out with the XT-1, taking behind the scenes images, to see how it would handle the light, the movement, etc… The XT-1 can shoot 8fps, where the D800 only shoots 4fps. I looked these up for this post and my mind was blown, I really thought the D800 was faster. The reaction from each camera feels completely different. For me the D800 reacted better, where the XT-1 feels sluggish. I know some of this can be attributed to the memory cards, but in each camera I was using SanDisk Extreme Pro memory cards, which are pretty fast.
I had one camera on each shoulder to be able to alternate. I’d use the XT-1 for a bit, but found I kept reaching for the D800. Perhaps it was habit in this setting to shoot with a bigger camera, I’m not really sure, but it simply felt right. After about ten minutes of trying to alternate, I put the Fuji down and shot with the Nikon for the remainder of the dress rehearsal.
The moral of this story?
Know your gear, know its limitations. Plan for your shoots and make smart decisions. You don’t need to own every piece of camera gear under the sun, but when you’re getting paid, you best show up and be able to handle the gig. … I hear Zack again! Zack has a way of speaking and leaving an impression, without a doubt.
Thanks for reading, I know it’s a long one.
Here’s some snaps from the event, all shot with the D800. Unfortunately the images from the XT-1 are no more… :/ I really should have saved them!!