From Canon to Fuji and Back Again
So this is my first full blog post on the new site and it's a bit of a big one as I begin the transition from mirrorless and back to full frame DSLR.
A brief rundown of my entry into the Fuji system
In 2014 I began my Fujifilm journey with the X-Pro1, a camera I still own and still remains a very capable, albeit slow camera. I knew it wasn't a system that I could just switch to back then, it was something I used occasionally, mostly in natural light where I think, a bit like film, it really shines. The focus system while majorly different and quite slow at times did work and I shot some work that I was very happy with. It produced a film like quality I really liked, I was intrigued enough to keep using it for personal work and watch this new system develop. Since then I've had the X-T1, X100T and now the X-T2. To cut a long story short my switch to Fuji was a long drawn out process. It wasn't until February last year that I finally felt that I could let the 5D Mk3 go, as it turns out that was a bit premature despite the fact that I'd not used it in a long time! From April 2016 I was using the X-T1 exclusively and so jumped in with both feet pre ordering the X-T2 which arrived in September. The new camera was a big leap forward in handling and design, I was pretty happy.
So what went wrong, why the switch back?
I have to firstly say that I love the Fuji cameras, the design, the dials on top of the body, the size and general handling is superb as is the image quality. The company are great, all my dealings with them have been top notch even when something has needed repair they have been amazing. Where it's all fallen down a bit for me is with the X-T2 performance in the studio, with the new sensor came different colour rendering compared to the X-T1 and white balance issues with studio strobes, which is probably what 90% of my work is. Now I've worked out that auto WB still tends to be the best option and yes I shoot RAW so it's all adjustable to my taste but with the X-T2 I just find it's far more difficult to get what I want. I didn't always get exactly what I wanted form the X-T1 without a fair bit of tweaking but the WB and general colours were just more pleasing from that older 16 MP sensor.
Just recently I've had focussing issues with the X-T2 or the 35mm f2 (yet to be confirmed), it needs to go back to Fuji later this week as something isn't right, I'm getting way more out of focus shots. I'll be honest, I've never loved the focussing system of the Fuji, it takes some getting used to after a DSLR but I stuck with it anyway. This issue brought niggles with this system that were in the back of my mind right to the forefront again and also flagged a need for a back up body, something I knew in any case but was yet to address! Then along came the X-H1 and I briefly looked at that but the cost not even two years on from getting the X-T2 was too much in my mind. I had a quite week last week with the snow meaning work had to be rescheduled so I started going over old shoots, comparing the X-T1 files thinking that I could maybe just go back to the X-T1 and have two bodies but while the extra resolution wasn't a huge issue for most of my work wasn't that just going backwards? Well not really, I knew the X-T1, I was happy with it for quite sometime before I jumped on the latest and greatest camera bandwagon! I don't know why this happens with Fuji more than when I was using Canon, I never really felt the need to upgrade with those much less pre-order, good marketing, fanboy hype? At the end of the day it's a tool to get the job done. I know when I saw the 5D MkIV price I just thought fuck that!
Anyway during my comparison sessions I happened to open a Capture One session I'd shot on the Mk3 and suddenly I was seeing something I'd maybe not even noticed previously, the Canon shots somehow looked so much better than I remembered, I can't quantify it, more depth, more 3 dimensional, the colours were way better than I recalled. I began tweaking the white balance and reworking a few and I was shocked at how quickly I got the colour and tones to my taste, literally in seconds my RAW file was ready. Now I know my colour knowledge is far better than it was, that could well be because of all the work I've been doing on the Fuji files but it really was like looking at something completely fresh, not something I shot 3 years ago!! Suddenly the decision to go back to an X-T1 became more of a "do I stick with Fuji at all?" decision, I was not expecting that, not at all!
I could probably bang on quite a while about this but I'll just break this down a bit into the main bullet points that have made my mind up (again this is mostly based around studio work):
- colour - I prefer the colour from my Canon for skin tones and it's far quicker to get the colour I want in Capture One than it is with my Fuji and that includes my favoured X-T1 - this means less time in post production so more time I can spend on other things
- focus system - moving the focus point about all the time on a shoot can become really annoying on something like an commerce job - shooting film again recently with one auto focus point was so much more enjoyable - focus recompose is just far simpler
- tethering - a big issue from day one as there is no Capture One tethering support for Fuji, there is a work around with Fuji Acquire but it's recently proved to be less reliable that it first was and it's been bugging me for way too long. Phase One and Fuji will never have that support either now that Fuji have entered the medium format market
So, not a decision I take lightly because I really do like Fujifilm, if I could take the guts of a full frame Canon and put them in an X-T2 body I would but bottom line is that it's the workflow and final image that takes priority over everything else and after sitting up until the early hours for the past few nights pouring over my files making sure I was making the right decision and for the right reasons I am totally confident that this is the right move for me personally. Rather than go back to a 5D Mk 3 straight off I've ordered my Canon trilogy of prime lenses second hand and a near mint 6D, basically a simplified Mk3, slightly smaller and lighter but essentially producing near identical results. I may well add the Mk3 to the bag again but for now the X-T2 will remain, at least until I decide if there's still room in my kit for a Fuji at all, if I do keep one it may well end up being an X100T for natural light and behind the scenes use. My feeling is right now that I will end up with two Canon bodies and potentially the X100T, we shall see. While I've mostly enjoyed the Fuji experience and I honestly do believe I'm a better photographer for it, I am looking forward to getting a Canon FF back in my hands.