It’s been around ten months, I think, since I upgraded my camera from a Canon Rebel T3i to the mirrorless Fujifilm X-T10, so I thought it was about time I said what I think about it.
I love it. Very much.
I’d had my Rebel for about three years (and it was an upgrade from another Rebel before that). I was ready to take a step up in quality, and I was also interested in switching from a DSLR to a mirrorless camera. Mirrorless digital cameras are relatively new on the scene; they have most of the advantages a DSLR–manual controls, a big variety of lenses, great image quality–but in a smaller, lighter package. This was the main thing that appealed to me, because I haul my real camera all over the place with me. I have a new iphone with a decent camera now, so I do rely on that more than I used to, but I still bring the big camera with me a lot. I’ve hauled it on more than half a dozen Disney trips, into the parks every single day. We went on a kayak tour on Cape Cod this summer, and I almost thought it wasn’t worth going since I couldn’t bring my camera with me. I take way too many pictures, and I don’t intend to stop, so having something a little easier to haul around was very appealing. The only real disadvantage I’ve noticed switching over to mirrorless is speed. It takes longer to turn on and slightly longer to focus than my old camera. Now that I’m used to it, it doesn’t bother me, but it was mildly frustrating at first.
Once I decided on a mirrorless, I had to pick one. I’ll be honest, one of the big things the Fujifilm had going for it was that it’s adorable. I mean, look at that thing! It’s like I’m using my Dad’s old SLR from the 70’s or something! (In fact, I actually still have my Dad’s old SLR from the 70’s. Although I’m not sure where I put it).
But also. It came down to either the Fujifilm or a similarly priced and similarly well-reviewed Sony, and, aesthetics aside, I liked that the Fujifilm appeared to rely less on electronic menus and whatnot and more on actual dials I could turn to change the settings. Someone told me this was more in line with a Canon, so what I was used to. I also liked that the kit lens (the 18-55/F2.8-4.0 ….you can also get it with a cheaper lens, but I think it’s definitely worth putting the extra money in) is very well reviewed and widely regarded to be much higher quality than a typical kit lens, since I knew it would take me awhile to build up a collection of extra lenses.
The camera sells for $1100; I just checked, and it was marked down to $1000 when I bought it nearly a year ago. I was able to sell my Canon with all the extra lenses for $500. I’ve since bought my first extra lens, this 35mm F2 lens. I had a 50 mm for my Canon, but I decided to try the 35 this time, because I never felt comfortable with how close I had to get with the 50. A fear of intimacy perhaps? Wait, no, that’s backwards, isn’t it? You have to get further away with the 50. Maybe it’s how close everything LOOKS through the lens that triggers a fear of intimacy. At any rate. I wanted to try the 35. Honestly, I haven’t used the 35mm nearly enough. I have to force myself to go without the zoom lens. But I’m working on it! Next up I’d like to get a wide angle lens–either a zoom or a fixed. Maybe for my birthday next year. Dave. Hint. Or Christmas would work, too.
I was dreading the learning curve that comes with a new camera. I’d been using a Rebel for seven years, so all the controls were second nature to me. It did take a bit of time to get used to the Fujifilm, but it really wasn’t as bad as I had feared.
You control the shutter speed and the exposure level with dials up top. That red button is for video, and it’s one of the things I don’t love about the camera. It is, mysteriously, both way too hard to push when you want to take a video and way to easy to push by accident when you don’t. Video quality is supposed to be an area where mirrorless cameras have the edge, but it’s also supposed to be an area Fujifilm is relatively weak in. I could never get decent videos with my Rebel; it was incredibly frustrating. The X-T10 only takes videos of up to 15 minutes, which did make me hesitate when I bought it. But, honestly, it’s incredibly rare that I want to take a video longer than that anyway. I take too many photos and not nearly enough videos, but when I have used it for video, I’ve been very pleased. Once I finally get the damn button pushed.
This is the 35mm lens, by the way, not the kit lens. So it’s not quite so tiny when you have a zoom lens on here.
So for the most part, I have the hang of things with the controls. The only thing that I still get flustered about is the auto focus. There are so many different options for auto focusing, and any time I start to mess with the presets, I get terribly confused about what’s happening and eventually give up and restore it to the factory settings.
So what about the photos?
At this point, we’re leaving behind any talk about the merits of a mirrorless camera vs. a DSLR, because I’m also comparing an entry level $400 DSLR (my last Rebel was more than that; looks like price has come down quite a bit) with an $1100 camera, so the difference in image quality is likely mostly or entirely about that. But I’m really happy that I finally upgraded, and I’m super pleased with the photos I get out of my Fujifilm.
I don’t remember what my reasoning was, but I was originally thinking I’d likely hold on to my Rebel for interior photography for the blog, and use the Fujifilm mostly for travel. And I have loved having it on trips and I’ve gotten some shots I’m very pleased with:
(the breakwater in Provincetown, MA)
(Vogel State Park)
But I was surprised at how much better my interior photography got with the new camera. I sort of figured taking photos of my house is fairly simple: wait for good light if you can, use a tripod, find a nice shot–none of which are camera-dependent, and then any issues with image quality beyond that can be fixed when you edit. But the colors are so much truer and the images are so much clearer with the Fujifilm. I don’t have to mess around in editing nearly as much and I’m much happier with the finished photos.
To illustrate, let’s look at some photos of Abe’s room, since that’s mostly what I’ve been photographing for the past….year. Here’s a shot with the Rebel from last summer, after we’d painted and put Abe’s new bed in here, but not much else (side note: WOW, did it ever take us a long time to finish that room!)
At the time, I remember being very frustrated trying to photograph the green walls and saying that THIS was a pretty good representation of it. No it wasn’t! What was I thinking?!
Here’s a shot from the final reveal, same basic angle, with the Fujifilm:
So much better! The colors are truer and more vibrant, and the images are crisper. And look how much better the new camera deals with the single source of light being that sunny window right next to the bed: you can still make out sun spots, but they’re much fainter and less distracting (it should be noted that dealing with the sun spots should probably be more my job as the photographer than the camera’s, but I’m lazy like that and would rather the camera took care of it for me).
You know in As Good as it Gets when Jack Nicholson’s character tells Helen Hunt’s, “You make me want to be a better man”? Well, my new camera makes me want to be a better photographer, and that is probably the nicest compliment I can give it.