Reader, I did it.
After an absolutely absurd amount of consideration, I said sayonara to Nikon and konnichiwa to Fujifilm. When I chose to use Nikon cameras years ago, it was essentially a random flip-of-a-coin decision, and I suspect plenty of photographers feel that they did the same. It's very easy to find yourself intimately connected to a brand and unable to even countenance swapping to another one. We set so much store by what equipment we use, it's almost an extension of the self.
I'm so late to the party that people are clearing away the balloons and hoovering up crumbs, but Fuji is doing some genuinely amazing stuff. While Canon and Nikon try and find ways to squeeze even more megapixels on a chip, Fuji is pursuing actual innovation for the benefit of artists.
My first actual camera was a Fuji, back in the days before they made a serious play for professional gear and it was terrible. A bridge camera with a usable ISO range of about 100-200, an aperture the size of a small needle and a screen/EVF that makes a 1950s CRT TV look hi-res, but still, for the time I used it, I loved it. Still, bridge cameras are true to their name and not long after I was a fully paid-up member of Team Yellow-and-Black. From a knackered old loaner D50 to a D5100, a D7000 and finally a D600, I spent years and years behind the mast on the good ship Nikon. It was fine. I took plenty of photos, hundreds of thousands of them, some I really like, some ok, some not, many terrible. I would take my camera with me everywhere I went, with a full compliment of heavy lenses, I'd have that D600 or D7000 in my hand and ready to pop 'just in case', but as time wore on I found myself taking the camera out less and less. Too heavy, too bulky, too much of a burden to carry and too conspicuous. More and more my camera was simply getting left at home in the bag, doing nothing.
A few years ago I used to obsessively watch a channel on YouTube called DigitalRev TV, they posted well-made and generally hilarious camera review videos, and every time one popped up, I'd gobble it down like a starving animal. It was their videos that got me interested in street photography, and their videos that introduced me to the X100. Back when their X100 review came out, it was as distant to me as watching Top Gear review a Ferrari, and just as out of reach. It looked as though it would be the perfect camera for street photography wanderings, something that I longed to do, despite my bulky DSLRs making me feel very visible to everyone. That interest slipped beneath the surface and lay dormant for awhile, even as the X100S came out, with the new shiny bells and whistles.
After a few years had sailed by, an X100S found its way into my Christmas stocking as a result of trading, saving, and my very generous family. It was as though I had been set free. The chain and fetters on the giant rock I had been dragging around vanished. Rather than sluggishly walking around, weighing up whether it was worth the effort to raise my camera, I found myself running around taking photos of everything. Just as I had done when I got my first bridge camera those years ago. I don't consider myself to be a weakling in particular, but the huge difference in weight between the X100S and my D600 made a big impact on my drive to shoot again. After one particularly gruelling 8 hour wedding, the thought crossed from idle musing to a decision. Enough was enough.
I've had an X100S for awhile and I love it despite its quirks, it's a great camera to wander around with, but for things like weddings I found it far too limited. After a great deal of consideration and planning, I traded my relatively old and knackered D600 and monstrous 24-70 for a brand new XT1, 56mm 1.2(!) and 35mm f2 WR. Returning to prime lenses felt like going back to my roots, one of my favourite lenses ever had been the Nikon 35mm 1.8 DX, when the time finally came to upgrade to the D600 for that full-frame sensor, losing the (crop-sensor only) 35mm 1.8 had been one of the biggest ticks in my internal 'cons' column.
Even so, right up until I got an XT1 in my hands, I was sceptical. Could an EVF really and truly replace the optical finder of the Nikon? My doubts were incredibly misdirected, holy cow! If the old Fuji bridge camera I had started out with was a CRT TV, this was like taking a step into IMAX. The resolution is so clean and the latency is so minimal that I could have been looking through an optical finder, better yet, a finder with a what-you-see-is-what-you-get real time application of white balance, exposure, and film simulation.
Speaking of film simulation, Fuji uses these in place of the Nikon's "picture control", but rather than being standard descriptors like "Portrait/Landscape/Normal" Fuji attempts to imbue these settings with the look and feel of some of their classic film stocks. They're named accordingly, and they're astonishingly powerful in what they can do to change the image. If I didn't enjoy editing so much, the direct-from-camera JPEGs would probably be perfect for using online and printing.
All in all, switching has been a very positive experience for me. It can often be very rewarding to switch things up and make changes. I feel as though I've turned a corner in my photography and my best work is yet to come! It was quite a decision to make, and not one that I took lightly. I'm very glad that I did.
Below are a selection of street photos I've taken with the XT1 so far, from both Cambridge and Vienna, you can click on any of the photos in this article to enlarge them.