Why I switched to Fujifilm from Nikon––and some helpful tips along the way
Updated: Aug 26, 2022
As an amateur photographer, I don't retool my kit often. But switching to Fujifilm has made a huge difference in my photography. Learn why and how I decided to make the switch.
TL;DR: The Tips
Understand why you're making the switch and if your workflow can accommodate a learning curve to a new system. (I wasn't heavily invested in Nikon's ecosystem, so it made the change a little easier.)
Trade in your existing gear through a company like MPB.com, which gives you an instant quote and provides a shipping label for additional convenience.
It's okay to buy used gear from reputable outlets (B&H, Adorama, and even EBay)
Think about your full system. Will you have to buy new SD cards? Additional batteries? Camera accessories? Factor these into the price of switching, too.
Don't be afraid to go for it! Ultimately, if you've come this far in your research process, there is something about your current system that isn't working for you, or something about another system that excites you. If you've decided you can overcome the other barriers of switching (like cost, learning curve, etc.), go for it!
I remember when I got my hands on my first Nikon camera. It was a D7000 model that I purchased back in 2012, and it featured the greatest camera technology of the early 2010s: A 1.5x crop 16.2 megapixel sensor, 39 focus points, and dual SD card slots.
With today’s computational photography, optics, and processing advancements, it’s amazing to think how far photography technology has come. But back then, the D7000’s features marked a substantial improvement over its predecessor, the Nikon D90, which bridged the gap between Nikon’s more consumer-focused bodies (the D3000) and its professional ones (the D300S at the time).
I was a new teenager then, and I wanted more of a “prosumer” feel from a camera. The Nikon cameras I borrowed from my friends left an impression on me, and there was just something about the way they were designed that I preferred over its perennial competitor, Canon.
So, I decided to buy one. Going from one of those digital point-and-shoots of the late-2000s pieced together with various quality plastics to a prosumer DSLR was a huge change. I loved the idea of having dedicated dials for aperture and shutter speed, a button for ISO control on the camera back, and a physical dial to select from Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Speed Priority, and Program modes without having to dig into the menus. That being said, I couldn’t justify doling out the dollars for the D300s, and the high cost of Nikon’s full-frame glass was simply too high a barrier to overcome, anyway. So I walked into my local Wolf Camera (remember those?), opened the piece of paper with the list of items I wanted to purchase, and dished out a pretty penny for the D7000 with the 18-105 f3.5-5.6 kit lens, a couple of SD cards (which I still use), a Manfrotto tripod with a joystick head (I know), and a few other photography accoutrements.
When I got to taking pictures, I was in camera heaven. (Some of the first photos I shot with my D7000 are actually featured in the "Nature" gallery.) I loved the heft of the body and the balance of the lens. Each time the snappy shutter fired, it gave me hope that I could produce a great image, even if my subject wasn’t worthy of anyone's digital Louvre. Once I added Nikon’s exceptional 35mm f1.8 to the mix––a lens which has to be among the greatest value photography pieces of all time for a cool price of $199 NEW––I felt I had a formidable camera system that could tackle most scenarios to a good degree of satisfaction.
It would be over a decade before I would make the switch to anything else.
Even though I loved my Nikon, I would be lying if I said I didn't have any buyer's remorse. When Fujifilm released the XT1 in 2014, I remember thinking I had made a mistake by not holding out for just a bit longer before buying my first system. There was something about the XT1 that immediately appealed to me and, clearly, a broader audience. When everyone else’s design philosophy seemed stunted––stuck on rubbery dials and fidgety buttons––Fujifilm cut through the noise and delivered a truly exceptional product.
Plain and simple, the camera felt like it was designed for the simple love of photography. It reminded me of the way the iPhone revolutionized people's relationships with their personal electronic devices. I longed for it. I wanted one. I felt like for some reason, justified or not, it would help me be a better photographer.
"The physical buttons, the ergonomics, and the user experience may not have felt "seamless," yet they preserved the tactile input that many artists crave in their creative processes."
Looking back now, it’s easy to see why Fuji’s camera system attracted me from the beginning. I remember the first time I held a Fuji camera. The photographer who did my senior portraits had an XT-1, which she graciously offered to let me explore for a few minutes. One thing immediately became clear: Whereas other companies seemed to prioritize eliminating the friction between photographer and camera, Fujifilm preserved it. The physical buttons, the ergonomics, and the user experience may not have felt "seamless," yet they maintained the tactile input that many artists crave in their creative processes. While rotating plastic dials neatly tucked into a body optimized for grip and comfort could, in theory, make a camera the extension of one's hand, they also created distance between the photographer and the opening and closing of the shutter, the widening of the aperture, and the sensitivity of the ISO.
Other companies were taking the paintbrush away from the artist; Fujifilm was providing a set of brushes and an easel.
After holding the XT-1 for all of 2 minutes, I knew I wanted my next camera to look and feel like that one. But at that time, the mirrorless systems were still on the cutting edge, their autofocus systems underdeveloped, their digital viewfinders a little laggy, and their movie performance trailing behind competitors. I wasn't ready to give up my Nikon D7000 just yet.
Early in 2021, I realized I had an opportunity to make the switch to Fuji. I hadn't pulled out my decade-old D7000 in a while, so the only consideration came down to which camera I wanted to buy. After some browsing and consideration, I ultimately decided on two models: the XT-2 or the XT-20. I also thought about the XT-30, but it was out of my budget at the time. While the XT-20 was probably better value, I opted for the XT-2 because it has a dedicated ISO dial, weather sealing, and perhaps, most importantly, a second SD card slot.
Compared to the Nikon D7000, the XT-2 provides superior image quality. The XT-2 has a 24MP sensor compared to the 16MP sensor found in the D7000. Additionally, its wider dynamic range and better ISO performance meant I'd be getting a better, more capable system without breaking the bank.
Prices for used XT-2s with the 23mm f2.0 lens (35mm full-frame equivalent) were hovering under $1,000 on Adorama. While I was hesitant to buy used, I trusted the reseller's rating system and felt confident that if I was unhappy with the purchase, I could return it.
The next issue was what I was going to do with my old gear. Luckily, I wasn't very invested in Nikon's ecosystem. I hadn't amassed a vault of lenses worth thousands––possibly tens of thousands––of dollars. After some browsing, I found a service called MPB.com that gives instant quotes for old gear and provides shipping labels for additional convenience. After inputting the specs of my gear, I discovered it was worth a few hundred dollars. (I have also learned that, much like new cars, much photographer gear depreciates relatively quickly.) So, I traded in my Nikon D7000 body, my 18-105 f2.5-5.6 lens, my 35 f1.8 lens, and an SB-700 speedlight and put the cash towards purchasing my new Fuji camera.
When the camera arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it was, in fact, in good condition. I did not realize when I ordered it that it would lack an eyecup, but that was easy to fix after a quick Amazon search and purchase.
Once I started shooting though, I learned that the learning curve to switch to Fuji was steeper than I expected. The sheer level of customization Fujifilm offers its users is astounding, especially coming from a Nikon system that had just one or two function buttons. Luckily, Youtube proved a worthy teacher, and I began learning the ropes in no time.
Overall, I've been incredibly happy with the switch from the Nikon D7000 to the Fuji XT-1. I'm excited to continue learning the Fujifilm system and building out an ecosystem of lenses and maybe other bodies too.
Know your why. Why do you want to switch systems? Do you think one manufacturer has higher quality gear? Sensors? Lenses? More features? Does the switch make sense with your photography needs and workflow? In my opinion, Fujifilm's body styles make them a standout camera maker and worthy of any photographer's consideration.
Trade in your existing gear. Use a service like MPB.com, which gives you an instant quote and provides a shipping label for additional convenience. You can put the funds towards purchasing a new system.
Buying used works. Use reputable outlets like B&H, Adorama, and EBay to find good deals, and make sure to check the seller's ratings and return policy to know what you're getting into.
.Consider additional switching costs. In switching from Nikon to Fujifilm, I didn't need to buy new SD cards (although I will likely upgrade to the latest flash storage). But you may have to buy new accessories like camera straps, batteries, lens filters, and even camera bags if yours are optimized for a certain gear arrangement. It's worth taking those costs into consideration when making the switch.
Don't be afraid to go for it! Ultimately, if you've come this far in your research process, there is something about your current system that isn't working for you, or something about another system that really excites you. If you've decided you can overcome the other barriers of switching (like cost, learning curve, etc.), go for it!