Saying good-bye to Canon DSLR’s (for now)…
Over the last 10 years, I’ve been shooting with Canon DSLR’s. I got into photography to help me with framing and composition in filmmaking, directing films, at the time, from short films to music video. I thought by studying the craft of photography, I could speak more intelligently on what kind of shots I wanted in my films.
Naturally when selecting a camera, I decided I wanted to go with a Canon, as it was just around the time, that the Canon 5D Mark II made waves in the indie filmmaking market, and I thought it would be a good idea to jump in there and get a camera that could shoot both really good stills and really good video in one body. So I got what I could afford at the time, which was a Canon 60D.
The 60D served me well, and I realized that photography, independent of my filmmaking, could be something I could really enjoy and add as a creative outlet. I liked the 60D a lot for photos, and used it for about 3 years. After trying out a 5D once I was hooked. I loved the low light performance and the full frame aesthetic, with nice shallow depth of field. I wanted a full frame camera, so I sold the 60D when I got the chance and picked up a 5D Mark II. The 5D Mark II was a beast, and was a great camera to have. I felt I started getting more serious with my photography and also used it for my filmmaking as well. Eventually I was able to save up for and trade in my 5D II for a 5D Mark III, and was really happy to finally have a top of the line Canon DSLR!
It was a great all around system, providing amazing quality stills, but also some amazing video. It was my main workhorse for awhile. Who needed anything else.
When I was living in a Los Angeles, I started getting more interested in street and documentary photography, so I started looking more into a compact camera system that I could use to compliment my 5D when shooting out in the streets. The Canon 5D was too big to use for out on the streets without attracting attention and I found LA to be a non friendly place for photographers to shoot candidly.
So I bought a Panasonic GX7 and although I liked the handling and the size, I felt it didn’t provide even close to the quality of images, I got from my Canon.
At this point I hit a bit of a lul in my photography, finding myself unmotivated to shoot unless it was under controlled environments like studio or portrait shoots, which at the time were few and far between. So my Canon spent a lot of time in the closet in a Pelican case, and my GX7 sometimes came out, but was also sitting in the closet for the most part. I had two camera systems, sitting in my closet and somewhat stuck creatively.
Fast forward to my homecoming in NY, and I was determined to shoot more when I returned to NYC, where I had spent most of my adulthood. The urban landscape and the diverese characters, offered amazing opportunities in photography and I wanted to take advantage of that.
Then the Fuji came along……
My friend: Kofa posted some amazing images on instagram, one day and touted how he found a camera he really liked. The Fujifilm X-Pro1. There was something organic and film like in his photos that I had really never seen in any of his Canon images, so I had to know more.
So when funds permitted, and a quick chat with him, I dashed off to my local camera store, and picked up a Fujifilm X-E2. At first the images coming out of this camera were amazing, but it felt a little slow and awkward in my hands. So I went back to the store, and they up-sold me on the amazing Fujifilm X-T1. And there is where I felt a little more at home. It felt like a more compact retro version of a Canon DSLR and although it was a bit slower than my Canon 5D Mark III, it did the job for me, as far as every day shooting scenarios.
The images I could get out of this camera were amazing and discovering the film simulations on this camera was like aquatinting myself with photography all over again!
The biggest change for me, was that I carried this X-T1 camera with me everywhere. I bought the 23mm f1.4, 56mm f1.2 and 35mm f2, and that was it. I shot all the time and my level of inspiration for photography reached a level that I had never reached. Serious photographers were complimenting me on my work, and I felt like I was finally shooting consistently.
Eventually I was able to test out a pre-release version of a Fujifilm X-T2, and I had realized that this camera might seriously make me reconsider my Canon 5D’s place in the camera bag. The autofocus was incredibly fast, the shutter speed from when I pressed it to when the shutter snapped was instantaneous, and the EVF, was like seeing a live version of my picture happening before my eyes, with no delay or compromise. Also looking at the specs, I realized that the X-T2 had more resolution than my 5D Mark III, and comparable specs in all other areas, making the X-T2 a true professional workhorse but at half the cost of the 5D Mark III.
Now I of course, have always been caught up with the idea that I will always need Full Frame for that very “professional shoot” so after some careful reasoning and soul searching I decided in order to fund my interest in Fujifilm cameras like the X-T2, I would sell my Canon 5D, and downgrade to a 6D, knowing that I was not shooting Canon that often but wanted to have something in case I needed the full frame.
I pre-ordered the Fujifilm X-T2, and that is when I started shooting Fujifilm 95% of the time. Portraits, street, doc, travel, lifestyle; you name it..and this camera could handle it and with grace and poise! I enjoyed the compactness of the system but the ability to build it out with a battery grip to increase battery life, which is notoriously bad on mirrorless cameras, and transform it’s form factor into a more familiar DSLR feel, while also being able to strip it of all it’s accessories, and have it as a compact system just for shooting street, or taking it on trip!
I found the Fuji X-T2 to be the most powerful and versatile camera system I had ever used, and it felt like my photography was transforming into something viable and interesting. I also connected with a lot of other Fujifilm photographers on Facebook groups and at local instagram meet ups, and saw the increased traction that Fuji was gaining and I found the Fujifilm community to very communal and helpful, and encouraging. It was nice to trade ideas and critique each others work, also sharing our stories around moving over to Fuji.
Well it’s been a year now, and I’ve now got full Fujifilm camera package. I’ve got the X-T2, X-Pro2, 16mm f1.4, 18mm f2, 23mm f1.4, 35mm f1.4, 56mm f1.2, and a 90mm f2! Meanwhile my Canon system has come out about three or four times, otherwise it’s been sitting in my closet.
Is it Good-bye for Canon?
So while I’m scooping up Fujifilm gear, I would sometimes find situations where I thought the Canon were more appropriate and would take it out. But with the limited feature set of the 6D I owned, I always felt, although the image quality was truly outstanding, that there were things like autofocus, where if felt like a step down from my old Canon 5D III and most importantly a tremendous step down from my X-T2 even!
I’ve always kept Canon in my gear, and it’s been a sense of security blanket for me, but when waiting for the next iterations of 5D and 6D recently to come out, I found myself a bit discouraged, at the direction Canon was going.
At this point in my career, video features in a photo camera were not too important to me as I preferred shooting video with cameras that focused more closely on video features, or straight up cinema cameras like the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, C100/C300, Arri Alexa, or Sony FS5/FS7, to name a few. So photography features in a DSLR were more important to me, but I found the features of the Canon 5D Mark IV to be not as impressive as I would have thought. Don’t get me wrong, the Canon 5D Mark IV is an amazing camera, and the feature set is very rich and full and I believe it to be the ultimate workhorse, but it felt almost like there were certain features that didn’t need to be omitted purposefully to protect other camera systems that Canon offered. I also found it harder to justify the cost to upgrade to a Canon 5D Mark IV when the release seemed more incremental. I think the other issue was that I felt a lot of the features that the Canon offered were already covered on my Fujifilm cameras, and at that point I felt like with the exception of low light, I didn’t feel a 1500-2000 price difference from my Fuji’s were justifiable! So I decided to wait and see what the Canon 6D Mark II might offer. I thought, at the very least that it could be the full frame version of my X-T2.
The 6D Mark II was then announced and the features set was underwhelming. But with a slightly better autofocus system, and what I would assume better image quality from a new sensor, I thought, hey…I’ll get this camera. But then the reports came in, and more and more omitions in current features were being stripped from this camera. Dynamic Range issues in ISO 100 compared to the original mark I, Shutterspeed of only 1/4000 (compared to the 5D Mark III, Fujifilm X-T2, or even the Canon 80D having 1/8000 second), stripped down HD video with no ALL-I option, as well as no 4K, slower flash sync and did I mention dynamic range issues with ISO 100?! User reported that on under-exposed shots, when boosting shadows, images would appear to have slightly more noise than it’s 4 year old brother, the original 6D! And all of this for the tender price of $2000.
When my Fujifilm X cameras offered comparable specs to the 5D series, it forced me to really wonder what the direction the Canon systems were going.
Low light and bokeh, were really the main driving forces that kept my Canon kit in the closet, as image quality has become less and less of a argument, as Fujifilm systems have superb image quality with their magical X-Trans sensor.
When I picked up a third party lens thats mountable on Fuji systems, called the Mitakon 35mm f0.95, one feature in full frame cameras that one upped the APS-C systems seemed to have dissapeared. This Mitakon lens, although manual only, provided some of the best shallow depth of field, and I’ve seen on the Fuji and most comparable to the full frame look, in that department.
From that point on, I started seriously thinking about selling off my Canon gear. At this point I have only taken out the camera system three or four times this year; the Fujifilm has been my main system hitting all the checkmarks, and if I were to sell my Canon gear, I could have all this extra cash I could reinvest into more Fuji gear or other photography gear like lighting, which I would use more often than the Canon system.
I also started rationalizing the idea that if I needed Canon gear for a particular shoot, the rental costs for a Canon package are quite affordable either renting locally, or through sites like Lensrentals.com or Borrowlenses.com.
From Fuji and beyond!
After anguishing over it for about three days, I decided it was time to let go of the Canon gear, and start the process of selling them! I’ve decided to focus more on being a Fujifilm X photographer, and utilizing all that Fuji offers, because I truly believe it is there. Not to knock on Canon too much because I still love Canon glass, and will miss having that readily in my bag, however, it’s undeniable that Fujifilm cameras, got me to shoot more, and that will continue and their image quality is in my opinion some of the best!
I also would like to start exploring the possibility of shooting in medium format like Fuji’s GFX series. I’m a portrait photographer, and I feel that camera and the medium format systems in general speak to my senses, and I feel that’s the direction I should really be going, especially now that my Fuji X systems have really filled in on all other photography forms.
So I’m saying good bye to Canon for now, and will probably rent them from time to time if necessary, but it’s been an interesting and quite resistent road to get here, but I’m happy to have landed here with my Fujifilm cameras, and just to celebrate my decision, I purchased a Fujfilm X100F to add to my Fuji kit!
I hope this article helps anyone having similar conflicts in their head about leaving their full frame camera system.