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.

XT-1, X100s + Instax Mini

XT-1, X100s + Instax Mini

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!!

2015_0205_TenTinyDances_187

2015_0205_TenTinyDances_521

~ kate

21 thoughts on “I love my Fuji XT-1, but…

  1. I sold my Nikon gear to switch to Fuji, an X-T1. I loved it. But I also recently sold my Fuji to move to Canon. The same issue arose; I needed the 10% the Fuji couldn’t deliver. In my case, AF speed and glass range. If I could have the Fuji sensor in my Canon body, I’d be a happy person.

    Alas….

  2. Would you be able to elaborate on what you mean by the X-T1 feeling sluggish and the D800 reacted faster? I have a full frame Canon system with L lenses and a pretty nice setup on the X-T1 myself but I’ve never had any issues shooting in a setting similar to the one you’ve mentioned. Maybe I can help you adjust some camera settings and speed up your Fuji 🙂

  3. Yep…my daughters all dance…and for those events comes the Canon 5Diii and huge glass. For all other casual shooting, I grab my Fuji X-E2 instead.

  4. Thank you for giving a real opinion about the camera gear. I have hesitated to buy a Fuji camera for when I want to travel light and your article answered many of my questions about the limits of a small camera. I am sure Fuji cameras a very good but maybe not in all situations.

  5. Nice blog,

    and nice pictures, interesting read as I don’t own a fuji only a d810 and d800e, I would of loved to have seen how the D810 would have worked in these pictures for you as it has a new light metering mode called “Highlight Priority” its mean for when dancers / performers are under spot lights, would be cool to see if you would of loved that,

    Thanks again for the read

    Louis

  6. Hi Kate
    good article. I just sold my d800e with sigma 120-300 2.8 for being too slow for sports. Speed and accuracy for this combination forced a new step. For speed and af improvement including in low light situations the d750 seems to be good. It is also relatively light for fx format
    regards

  7. HI David, give them time. I think it would be fabulous to see Canon and Nikon really do something spectacular in the mid range that can compete and compare to the Fuji and Sony systems available. Then we could use all of our awesome glass. I can say Fuji’s lenses are pretty awesome and they keep making more, better!

  8. haha Allan, perhaps you could! I just found that shooting in Continuous mode and the way it saves images to the card, felt slower in comparison to a Nikon or Canon DSLR. Also there’s focusing in those situations, perhaps it’s a combination of the lenses I am using (35mm f/1.4 and 56mm f/1.2) being slow and the camera working to find focus points in such a dark space. 🙂

  9. Hi Thomas,

    Of course. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Fuji. It’s my kit for now and I will use it lots. I’m just going to rent or borrow gear for those situations that I need to. I’ve used this kit for portraits, headshots, food photography and of course travel. It’s been fabulous.

  10. Hi Louis,

    Thanks! Yes, I know there were some improvements from the D800/e to the D810. I’ve not actually shot with that one yet, but that feature does sound like it would have been of use in this situation.

  11. Hi Geert,

    Yes, the D750 looks to be a fabulous camera. I got my hands on one for a bit when they were first announced. Overall seems nice, but the grip has been changed from it’s predecessors and I didn’t like it as well. But that’s a small piece of the puzzle. 🙂

  12. Liked your post about the Fuji XT1 and the Nikon D800. I also use heavy Nikons for rehearsal photography amongst other things, and graduated up from D100 to D200, D700 to D800 over the years but have recently become much more interested in mirrorless cameras and they certainly have their place.
    I can’t quite make the jump yet though and your thoughts on the immediacy of the D800 compared to other cameras is so true in my line of work. I recently wrote a article on the much underrated Nikon V1 (when paired with full size lenses) which is my current mirrorless camera (used as an extra piece of kit)
    Heres a link to my article – may be of interest: http://www.adamtrigg.co.uk/photography/other_work/nikon-smaller-hertfordshire-london-photographer/

  13. Hi Adam,

    Thanks for sharing. My hands on experience with the V1/N1 series is limited. WHen I went to check them out I didn’t care for how it felt in my hands and the buttons and such. So I went with an Olympus Pen instead, then got into the X100s and XT-1. 🙂

  14. Hi Kate,
    It’s all in the article: Get the gear that suits you (your style of photography) and know your gear. I sold all my Canon gear to move to Fuji (X-T1 and X100T). I shoot mainly ‘street’ and ‘travel’, so the Fuji system gives me everything I need and saves my back at the same time. It’s not going to be the system for everyone, or every genre, but then most DSLR’s are no longer the preference for my style of photography.

    Good article though.

  15. Hi Martin,

    Thanks! And yes, like you reiterated, it’s about finding the gear to suit you, your style and needs.

  16. Kate, you are my twin! I adore my D4 but my shoulders, wrists and neck do not. So after searching and trying and talking to other photographers I bought the XT-1. I love everything about it except for all that I DON’T know about it …. Just today I sat in front of the computer with The Fugi Guys on YouTube. I know Nikon so it’s easy for me to always rely on it but my body is saying NO. So I am determined to conquer the Fugi beast.

  17. really interested in this, as I have just sold my Xt-1 & my Fuji lenses.
    I was running the nikon d300s & big lenses for wildlife & the Fuji for days out but I needed to upgrade the d300s & needed more Fuji lenses – I realised that I could not afford both, so sold the Xt-1 plus lenses brought a secondhand d4s & I am just about to buy a x30 as my city camera
    As you said it is all about what you want to do….the Nikon gear is what I use 90% of the time

  18. haha Dayle! Yes, I know what you mean, I’m sure there is more I will learn about the Fuji, the more I use it, the better it will be, I have no doubt. Good luck on conquering the Fuji beast! 😉

  19. i love my D7000 but now i love my XT-1 more, i am glad i sold my D7000 , everything bag, lenses, and now i have a smaller camera and lighter and a new nice bag. never regret.

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