Every year my family and I attend the Healdsburg, California FFA Twilight Parade. This year I chose this event to test out a new setup that I would like to use for event photography. On my left wrist I had a Fuji X100T and on a Black Rapid Sport strap, on my right hip, I had a Nikon D7000 with a DX 18-70mm f3.5 to 4.5 lens. This would be equivalent to a 27 to 105mm on a full frame camera. This was the kit lens that came with my Nikon D70 back in 2005. This lens has served me well over the years, but it's time for a change. There are so many lenses out there that I could replace it with but when I think of the cost I wonder if my money might be better spent on a new system.
I have to admit up front that the Fuji outperforms the D7000 on many levels. The X100T has a max aperture of 2.0 which allows it to shoot better in low light. This could be fixed on the D7000 with the purchase of a fast zoom such as Nikons 24-70mm 2.8 or 70-200 2.8. The only problem is that would cost me the same as purchasing a brand new Fuji XT1 with a similar lens. Don't get me wrong I love my D7000. It has a faster focus system and captures fast action much better than the X100T. I am really curious to see how the XT1 performs with the latest firmware upgrade (new focus modes). This may be the game changer for me in order two switch to Fuji for my main camera system. The X100T also seems to produce more vibrant colors.
The sweet spot for the D7000 was at f9 but the camera chose a shutter speed of 1/50th in aperture priority mode. This made it tough to keep images, where anything was moving, in focus. In hindsight I should have pushed the the fstop to f8 and manually set the shutter speed. I'll admit that this was a rookie mistake and I should have caught it. On the other hand the Fuji was able to pick a perfect 1/90th at f8, nailing the sweet spot for this camera in this situation.
The D7000 did have it's place though. I was able to zoom in for images that I would never have gotten with the Fuji.
Whenever I have the Fuji X100T in my hands I feel like i'm holding an old film camera. I can see why people add the thumb-rest. It looks like an old film advance lever. The X100T is just fun and easy to use. Because of this I tend to play more with the Fuji than I have with my Nikon. I took a chance and was able to get some nice motion blur images.
What I would have done different on this shoot: If I could redo this shoot I would push the aperture of both the X100T and the D7000. I'm wondering what the depth of field would have been with a max aperture on either camera. I'm also curious what the corresponding shutter speed would have been in aperture priority mode. Also in hindsight I would have chosen my DX 55-200mm f4 to 5.6 to obtain some better close up images. Almost all of the images I shot with the D7000 were higher than 50mm. There is always next time.
So here are my final thoughts. I have a decision to make. Do I invest in a new, better quality, fast aperture lens for my Nikon D7000 or do I invest in a Fuji XT1 with their amazing optics? I am going to need a better option sooner or later in order to capture the images that require a high quality zoom while shooting events. For me, using multiple prime lenses is not an option as I like the flexibility that a zoom provides as well as not having to change lenses for different shots. I have to say I am leaning toward switching to Fuji. They just released the XT10 which has the same sensor as the X100T and the XT1. It is shy of the XT1 in features and the accessories are limited, such as no battery grip available. It will take any of the Fuji lenses though. It is approximately $400 cheaper than the XT1 which makes it very attractive. Only time and money will tell. For now I will stick with my current setup and save up for that decision.
One of the things that I loved about this shoot was that I got to spend time with the people I love while doing what I love. I am very lucky that I have a very understanding Wife who gives me the time and space to pursue my other passion.