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Goodbye Nikon

Two years ago I purchased a Fujifilm X-T1 mirrorless camera as a companion camera to my heavy-duty Nikon DSLR equipment. At the time, I was shooting with a Nikon D810 and a Nikon Df, but was attracted to the Fuji X-T1's diminutive size. It was not love at first click. I initially found the Fuji X-T1 to be a somewhat awkward shooting experience. Compared to a DSLR, for example, the autofocus (AF) was slow and inaccurate. I also found the mirrorless system to be comparatively odd with its electronic viewfinder (EVF). Yet despite these and other initial shortcomings of the Fuji system, it was consistently the camera I found myself reaching for over either Nikon. As it turns out, this was only the start of a long courtship with Fujifilm. The culmination taking place most recently with the bittersweet words: goodbye Nikon.

Before I go any further, I should state one thing clearly. I have absolutely no relationship with either Nikon or Fujifilm. The following are my honest opinions as a customer to both companies. All of the gear mentioned in this discussion was purchased by me at full retail price. I am simply a consumer.


On Nikon

Numerous things have happened over the past several years that have eroded my commitment to Nikon. In the digital age, I have owned a Nikon D7000, a Nikon D800, a Nikon D810, a Nikon Df, and most recently, a Nikon D750. If it seems like a lot of Nikon cameras have passed through my hands, it is! Yet one of the most disappointing things is that every single one of those cameras (save for the Df) has had a service advisory or recall issued. I've written about Nikon's Quality Problem before, mentioning everything from the bad batteries to asymmetric focus and light-leak issues that have affected the cameras I've owned. I can only say that this is completely unacceptable. As a photographer, I want to focus on making art and being creative, not shipping cameras back and forth to be repaired.

Most recently, Nikon's new flagship DX camera, the D500, has been the subject of a major public complaint over false advertising. It seems that the new camera touts WiFi capability but, unlike previous WiFi-enabled Nikon cameras, the D500 must first link to a smartphone via it's Bluetooth SnapBridge technology and then connect to a WiFi network. In this scenario, if you don't have (or don't want) a smartphone as the go-between, there will be no WiFi connectivity for your Nikon. Further inflaming the issue is that SnapBridge is currently only available for Android devices (no iOS until later in the year). While some might write this off as an evolution of the technology, there's one questionable detail. It turns out that it is in fact possible to connect directly to a WiFi network, sans smartphone, provided you buy the Nikon WT-7 accessory for the D500 - a $750 add-on for your new $2,000 camera (that's nearly 40% the cost of the camera itself). No. Thanks.

This latest flub with the D500 reminded me of how Nikon began introducing WiFi on their lower end cameras before their flagship models, and how not a single Nikon camera today has built-in GPS for geotagging, unless you buy a pricey, ugly-looking accessory. This type of staggered product placement and feature segmentation is yesterday's playbook. I want a camera that has all the tech available today in one integrated product. I'll gladly pay a premium for it! As opposed to taking all the tech available today and scattering it across five different product models. I also want it to just work. For a while, I just accepted that perhaps this was too much to ask from a modern consumer electronics company.


On Fujifilm

There were two primary reasons I kept reaching for my Fuji X-T1 over my Nikon cameras in the early days. First, the size. One doesn't realize how big and heavy a pro DSLR is until they are holding a mirrorless camera in the other hand. Eliminate the mirror, and you eliminate roughly 50% of the size and weight. The other reason was simple: image quality (IQ). Now, when I say image "quality," I want to be fair and say that Nikon tools produce beautiful images - unquestionably. But there is something very special about Fujifilm cameras, and that is their unique X-Trans sensor. Without getting into physics of what's going on, the digital sensor in Fuji cameras is purposely different from virtually every other sensor on the market. In concert with the amazing Fujinon XF lenses, these technologies pair-up to produce unrivaled, characteristically Fuji digital images unlike anything else. The tones, colors, and texture of Fuji images from their X-Trans sensors are just gorgeous.

But the greatness of the Fujifilm products isn't simply about their size and IQ. Fuji won me over as a customer in the summer of 2015 when they released their first major firmware update for the X-T1. Normally, firmware updates fix little bugs and problems with hardware. In this case, Fujifilm spoke with the user community and incorporated major revisions and new features into the X-T1. For starters, AF performance was drastically improved; AF accuracy was enhanced; face and eye detection AF modes were introduced; and overall speed and handling improvements were attained. All from one free firmware download. Instead of releasing a new model, attempting to incentivize consumers to "upgrade," Fujifilm released a bevy of new features to its existing user base. For Fujifilm shooters, it was like getting a new camera for free. This is how you win the hearts of consumers today.


Everything Changes

I loved my Fujifilm X-T1 so much that I began building a lens collection for my Fuji system. The glass and build quality of Fujinon's XF lenses rival most from Nikon, and are a fraction of the size (and cost). In the spring of this year, Fuji introduced it's new flagship model, the X-Pro2. I bought it, and I was instantly in love. Within a month of shooting with it, I sensed it would be the end of my days with DSLR cameras.

Time proved my intuition right. The Fujifilm X-Pro2 is a beautiful camera. It holds well and balances nicely. It's small and discreet, yet weatherproof and robust. It has dual card slots, a bazillion focus points, great AF performance, and the latest generation X-Trans sensor. It has a shutter click that is downright addictive. It inspires creativity in photography. Most importantly, it generates those beautiful Fuji images that I love so much. It's a camera I cannot put down. The one time I did pick up my Nikon D750 since owning the Fuji X-Pro2, I felt like I reached for a Motorola briefcase cell phone after putting down my Apple iPhone. I knew it was time to move on.

So this is the end. Goodbye Nikon. So long, DSLR format. The Fujifilm image style matches the way I see so perfectly, I can't imagine shooting with anything else right now. Also, the Fuji hardware is just phenomenal.  From this point forward, I am dedicating myself completely to the Fujifilm X System. I can't wait to see what we'll create together!