In Flying High I reflected on the number of different projects that I’ve embarked upon this year and in particular the new techniques, in terms of both software and hardware, that I’ve been adding to my tool kit. One thing I’ve not touched upon in any detail recently has been my ongoing move from Nikon to Fuji. I’ve gone a long way down the path, reducing my Nikon gear and purchasing further Fuji products, but have not yet made that irrevocable step and “gone mirrorless”.
As ever, this blog post is largely a transcript of my ramblings in the video, link below.
…made that irrevocable step and “gone mirrorless”
That sounds dramatic, and in a sense it is. Without a salary coming in every month the opportunities for purchasing new kit are of necessity limited. I’m happy with that as the alternative would be to return to being a wage-slave, and at my age that is not a pleasant prospect. The reality is that if I want to purchase the remaining items that would provide me with a “full” Fuji kit I will need to sell the Nikons with little realistic chance of being able to purchase them again if I change my mind at least in the near to medium future. So it’s kind of a big deal – albeit a first world “problem”.
If you consider that only two weeks ago I was processing images from 2015 and wondering if I’d done the right thing in selling my Nikon D800E rather than the D750 then you will appreciate that I’m probably not “there” yet and I had a long conversation on this very subject with a fellow Nikon/Fuji photographer very recently. He took three ŷears from purchasing his first Fuji camera to selling his full-frame Nikons. However, even now he still has a top-quality crop sensor Nikon DSLR which is his go-to for natural history and wildlife subjects. He has been trying the Fuji X-T2 for wildlife but in his words the jury is still out on that one. The telling comment though came ten minutes later when he mentioned he was looking to upgrade his current crop sensor Nikon DSLR for a newer model. I think that tells us what we need to know about the practicalities of going fully mirrorless using Fuji cameras if wildlife photography is a serious part of your output.
Now, unlike Richard I am not a regular wildlife photographer (he is and is excellent at it too) but I do like to dabble, plus of course the longer lens does have uses for landscape work. The longest lens I’ve used on the Fuji is the 55-200 “kit” lens. It’s OK, nothing stellar, but used carefully it’s perfectly adequate for landscape work. For the number of times I actively seek out wildlife subjects it simply isn’t appropriate to splash the cash for the Fuji 100-400 for example. For my purposes it falls neatly into the “nice to have” category.
With my Nikons however I have an f2.8 70-200 Nikon lens, a 300mm f4 prime Nikkor with a 1.4x converter both of which provide much better quality for landscape use compared to the Fuji 55-200.
Looking back over the last twelve months the majority of my photography has been with one of the Fuji bodies. On the surface a clear indication that perhaps the time is perhaps right to move over fully. But further analysis (harking back to my working days) reveals something more fundamental. If we ignore the occasional wildlife photography then broadly speaking my camera usage is actually fairly genre specific:
- Travel – Fuji
- Street – Fuji (mainly X100t)
- Landscapes -Fuji (mainly X-T20 or X-T1)
- Macro/insects – Nikon D7100 with Sigma 105mm macro lens
- Astrophotography – Nikon D750 with Nikkor 14-24 f2.8
- Video – Fuji (specifically the Fuji X-T20)
- Timelapse – Fuji X-T20
- Urban – Fuji
- General pottering – I always carry the Fuji X100t if nothing else
- Portraiture – no clear split
To me the conclusion is fairly clear. For most of my photography the Fuji system gives me everything I need. However, like my friend Richard, there are a few specific subjects where I rely on the Nikon kit given the choice. I say given the choice as I do not carry both sets of kit unless I know that I will need them both. Like many others I still feel that whilst the Fuji system can be everything to some photographers, those of us who are more generalised or indeed the wildlife or sports focused amongst us, are still not fully catered for specifically in terms of long telephoto lenses and of course macro.
So, for the time being at least I think I will be staying as I am, using Nikon kit alongside the Fuji. On the one hand it feels like a cop-out, a mere pandering to an irrational emotional attachment to some lumps of glass and metal perhaps? However, on balance I think the bottom line is that whilst for some purposes it is a complete solution Fuji has not quite got there in terms of a full kit for the enthusiast photographer. I have tried using my 105mm Nikon-fit macro lens on a Fuji body with an adapter but whilst it works it is unwieldy; the small bodies need small lenses! Likewise, I have attached my trusty old 300mm f4 Nikkor to the Fuji bodies and unless it’s on a tripod it is just not an easy combination to hold steady in my experience. But that might just be my age!
So, for anyone who has been following my “Fuji journey” this brings the story up to date. I am still anticipating going fully mirrorless at some stage in my future, if only for the weight reduction. However, as I can still carry the bigger, heavier kit and it does still have some advantages photographically then that date is still some where in the future.
I am a member of the PPC (Postal Photographic Club) an online and postal photographic club – the photography club that comes to you! I was recently tasked with producing a couple of promotional videos for the club; one showcasing the online side and another promoting the print/postal side of the club.
I produced the final videos in Pictures to Exe although the component parts have been through Lightroom, Photoshop and Final Cut Pro on their way into PTE. I was impressed at how well my iMac coped with running Mac OS and Windows 7 simultaneously, swapping between the two and transferring files between the various programmes seamlessly.
For posterity here are the two finished items.
Over the fields and far away – Newton in Bowland. DJI Mavic, RAW capture and image processed in Lightroom.
We make progress. I’m no longer relying totally on the built in systems to fly the drone. I’ve turned the beginner mode off and am now flying solo as it were. I have practiced landing and bringing the drone back to me rather than use the Return to Home feature (which I have only used once – when I lost sight of the drone). This came in handy last week as there were a lot of telegraph wires around the take-off and flight area.
I’ve got the set-up and pack-away routines worked out now so can be up in the air fairly soon after arriving at a destination. The iPad mini (2) may need to be upgraded as whilst it works and I like the size it is clearly under-powered in terms of computing power and I’ve had several warnings that it’s at capacity and performance of the drone may suffer. When you consider that all I am running is the DJI app and that the iPad is powered off and rebooted between each use then you can see that further investment may be needed. unless I go back to using my iPhone.
So, all in all I’m pleased with progress and starting to create some interesting aerial stills. Onwards and … upwards!
Stephen L Tyler – as requested! Thanks as ever for your support.