I love toys… camera equipment toys, that is. And thanks to my never-ending photographic ADD, I have owned a lot of different cameras. I have a pretty good understanding of most of the different camera makes and models that are on the market today. I’ve shot most of them to some degree, and I have been able to really dial in what works best for me as a professional wedding photographer.
I have been a Nikon user since I bought my first DSLR, a D5100, in the summer of 2011. And despite a brief flirtation with Canon when I made the jump to full frame, I have been loyal to Nikon that entire time. I have owned just about every Nikon full frame camera since the D700. Some I’ve loved, some I have had a love/hate relationship with (*cough* D750 *cough*). But for the most part, Nikon has always served me well, and it has always been my security blanket, even during my foray into the world of mirrorless over the past two years.
Back in May of this year—2016, for those of you reading this way off into the future—my growing love for Fujifilm’s X Series cameras pushed me into attempting to go 100% Fooj—what I lovingly call Fuji—for my wedding work. I purchased two X-Pro2 camera bodies and set off to change the game in the way I work—light and fast…and sexy as hell.
I pulled off the light and sexy part—it’s the Holdfast Moneymaker—but something was missing. I just couldn’t get comfortable with the autofocus to make the move 100% for weddings. I missed too many shots in dimly lit churches and when my subjects were in motion. I still needed that security blanket. I still needed my Nikons.
Since I had sold yet another D750 to fund the purchase of a second Fuji X-Pro2 body, I was now in the market for another Nikon DSLR, and not wanting to go back to the D750 for a fourth time, I decided to sell my left arm for a Nikon D5. I’m a righty, so no big deal. I got it in my hands, and after going to the gym for a month and eating my Popeye spinach, I was able to lift it to my eye. What an amazing machine this was! It was so professional feeling, so fast to focus, and just so mind-blowingly large.
So for about three months, I shot with my D5 and an X-Pro2 and enjoyed it, despite a few minor gripes. Yes, the D5 has so many amazing things going for it; unbelievable high ISO capability, the most incredibly accurate and fast autofocus system I’ve ever seen, and the most amazing colors straight-out-of-camera from any Nikon body I’ve ever used. These are all things that made owning the D5 a pleasure, and made my life as a wedding photographer a little bit easier.
However, those little gripes began to grow into larger annoyances for me. The first gripe I had was that my bank account was completely deflated from the massive expense of the D5. The other gripe was a complete step backwards from Nikon in the dynamic range department. I had really grown accustomed to the insane shadow recovery ability from other Nikon cameras, including the Df, D750, and D810. This was like I was shooting with a Canon from recent years. Just terrible, terrible dynamic range.
Yeah, I know. You’re thinking “Big deal! Who needs that much dynamic range? Get it right in camera! Blah, blah, blah.” Well, the answer is a resounding, “I DO!” The way I shoot and post process my images relies heavily on shadow recovery. It’s just the style that I prefer to edit my images, and it requires quite a bit of file latitude. The D5 limited me in a lot of ways in that regard.
Another gripe that I had with the D5 was simply the size and weight. As a wedding photographer, I am carrying a camera around for 8-10 hours at a time, and by the end of the day, I’m physically worn out from the size of the D5 with fast primes.
And then Fujifilm did it again. They made an announcement for a new camera that could very well become the answer to my photographic ADD. The X-T2 was finally here after months of speculation and impatience. Could this be the camera that would finally get all the pieces of the puzzle put together correctly for me? Could this be the chosen one?
Of course, since I am always on a quest to build the perfect wedding kit, I had to give it a try! And despite not pre-ordering it, I was able to get my hands on one the day after release day, much to my surprise! I immediately decided to shoot a full wedding with it, and I was in love before the bride even had her dress on—with the camera, not the bride, that would be weird.
One of the biggest complaints that I had with the X-Pro2 was the smaller electronic viewfinder. I never really cared for the optical viewfinder on the X-Pro series, and really loved shooting with the Fuji EVFs. The X-T2’s EVF is without a doubt the best I have ever used, and that includes the EVFs on any of the new Sony cameras and the EVF on the highly acclaimed Leica Q. It’s big, bright, and gorgeous.
It’s basically like cheating to be able to see exactly what you are going to get even before you press the shutter release. The build quality feels just as solid, and maybe even a little more so than the X-T1 and X-Pro2; the new AF nubbin’—the joystick, if you don’t know what a “nubbin’” is—was a fantastic addition, just as it was on the X-Pro2; and dual card slots!? Finally!
Those are all little things that add up to big improvements in my eyes. But the thing about the X-T2 that got my attention the most was the new autofocus system. AF has been the only thing holding me back from being a full-on Fuji guy at weddings. But after testing this camera out for two weddings, it’s got the goods.
I am able to track the bride in continuous focus as she walks down the aisle. No missed shots. I am able to capture the groomsmen as they pick up their friend and run back up the aisle with him as though he’s an airplane. No missed shots. I’m able to nail focus in a dark reception area as the bride and groom share their first dance. Again, no missed shots.
I have been a skeptic for a while on the Fuji autofocus capabilities, but I’m a convert. It can do everything that I need it to do, and it weighs something like 23 pounds less than the D5. Seriously, I weighed them both. Imagine how grateful my arms and shoulders have been these past few weeks! I feel lighter on my feet and I feel like I am able to truly blend in amongst the wedding guests. People don’t see me and immediately feel intimidated when I raise my camera to capture moments. Sometimes, I don’t even have to raise my camera thanks to the fantastic flip screen on the X-T2—another thing that the D5 cannot do.
And guess what. The Fuji X-T2 has amazing dynamic range and fantastic shadow recovery ability! It blows away the Nikon D5 in that department. It really isn’t even close. I can shoot the way I want and be confident that the file will hold up to my editing style. I’m no longer limited by the flexibility of a RAW file.
With the Fuji X-T2, I truly can be a photojournalist. I can see moments as they are going to look just by peeking through the viewfinder. I can be discreet when I want to capture a fleeting moment between a bride and her father. I can be fast and accurate—perhaps even faster due to the small size!
I have always said that a new camera will not make someone a better photographer. But you know what? I honestly think that the new Fujifilm X-T2 is going to make me a better photographer, at a quarter of the price of the Nikon D5. Color me impressed.
Full disclosure: Fuji did not pay me to write this article, and it’s unclear yet whether or not I am on a Nikon hit list. If something unfortunate should happen to me, suspicion should be directed appropriately.
About the author: Dustin Baker is a wedding photographer and the owner of Lone Oak Studios in Texas. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of his work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram.