Why I Switched From Nikon To Fujifilm: Todd Vorenkamp


None of the top camera brands make bad cameras or lenses,” says Todd Vorenkamp, Senior Creative Content Writer for B&H’s Explora blog. “If you love Nikon, you can stay with it and be happy forever. That goes with any other camera brand. But, if you’re looking to shake things up, you may want to change systems,” he adds.

“The Fujifilm X-T1 made shooting fun for me again—it made it kind of new and different. And, because the system is small and light, I carry my camera around much more than when I was in the DSLR world.”

This is the second part in our series featuring the many stories and myriad reasons prompting users to switch brands. For more of Vorenkamp’s reflections on switching, read our interview below. The following views expressed are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent that of B&H Photo.

All Photographs © Todd Vorenkamp

The Hong Kong Convention Center. Nikon D100; Nikon AF NIKKOR 20-35mm f/2.8; 10 seconds; f/22; ISO 220

What brand of gear did you switch from and how long did you work with your former brand?
After using Nikon SLRs and DSLRs for 25 years, I switched from a Nikon D300 to a Fujifilm XT1.

Were you an exclusive user of your former brand or did you dabble with multiple brand options?
I was virtually an exclusive user of Nikon SLRs and was very happy with Nikon cameras and optics. But after I started working at B&H, I began to use different systems—Olympus, Panasonic, Canon, and others—for hands-on Explora blog reviews.

What are your opinions of the other camera brands you’ve tried?
I knew that I would not consider switching to Canon as I was never an admirer of their lens and body designs, or a fan of their digital menu systems. I was always impressed with the Micro Four Thirds cameras I used—especially the lens quality—but these systems never really attracted me enough to dive in.

What was your most important consideration in switching?
It was primarily size and weight; along with price, optics, and image quality. I was getting tired of humping a camera bag around with a DSLR body and several large lenses. I had been doing it for years and had accepted it as a necessary evil, but the advent of digital mirrorless changed that equation.

A dolphin takes flight off the bow of the M/V President Adams in the Mediterranean Sea. Nikon D300; Nikon AF NIKKOR 80-200 f/2.8; 1/500 second; f/2.8; ISO 400

How long did your decision take? Give us some backstory.
After the X-T1 was announced in January 2014, it took me over a year, and a lot of thought, to make the jump. I had not really considered Fujifilm before then. The X-Pro1 and other Fujifilm cameras were getting rave reviews, but I was happy with my Nikon D300, and patiently waiting for the arrival of the D400 replacement. That arrival seemed to be taking forever (in fact, it never really happened—the D500 was eventually launched).

Did you try any other Nikon models before switching?
In late 2013, the buzz surrounding the launch of the Nikon Df prompted me to consider this model as a switch to full-frame digital, even though my workhorse lens was a DX only Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED. I played around with the Df at the office and, while I was excited about the retrograde controls, I couldn’t help thinking the ergonomics and control layout were a swing-and-a-miss. In my mind, Nikon sacrificed too much modern convenience to go “retro.” A few months later, I used the Df for a hands-on lens test, and found it cumbersome and often difficult to use.

What were your first impressions of the camera you switched to?
When the Fujifilm X-T1 arrived in January 2014, my first reaction was, “This is the camera the Df should have been—Small, efficient, retro controls done right.” I spoke to several Fujifilm owners, who all loved the camera, and I read some reviews online—all positive. Everyone was raving about the optics.

But I wasn’t completely sold on switching systems because of the cost, and the thought of an electronic viewfinder. I wasn’t convinced that I was ready to stop looking through my lenses and start looking at an electronic screen.

Laundry hanging out the window, Hong Kong. NIKON D100; Nikon AF Zoom NIKKOR 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6D IF; 1/8th second; f/5.6; ISO 200

How did you get over your hesitancy to switch?
I took an in-depth look at my lenses and made a list of everything I owned. I quickly realized that all of my favorite primes—Nikon 105mm DC, Zeiss 21mm Distagon, and Leica 28mm PC—would lend themselves well to adapted Fujifilm X-T1 use. My DX 10.5mm fisheye and 200mm macro would be fine on the X-T1 when needed, and my favorite 50mm f/1.8 lens, would also be adaptable.

I knew my 17-55mm workhorse and my 80-200mm zoom would likely not make the switch, mostly because of the size and bulk. If I went small and light, these lenses would probably see retirement. Knowing that I did not have to replace every piece of glass I owned helped make the cost of the new system more manageable.

How significant were the following factors in your decision to switch brands?
Precision and accuracy: I grew up knowing that Fujinon made some of the world’s premier binoculars, and using them for maritime purposes, so I was familiar with the reputation of Fujinon lenses before I got the X-T1. But I assume all cameras will focus properly and deliver crisp photos when the optics allow it, so I didn’t really consider this, per say, when thinking about switching.

I also knew that, although mirrorless companies advertise fast autofocus, the DSLR is still king when it comes to that task. Sensors and the rest of the stuff is all on equal footing these days.

Technical innovation: The Fujifilm X-Trans sensor is innovative, but not the selling point that swayed me.

Design and look: I think Nikon camera design is second-to-none in terms of looks—they make gorgeous cameras. The Fujifilm is a good looking camera as well, but the “prism” housing is a little flat-chested for my tastes, making the camera not as attractive to me. But, I got over it.

In terms of the X-T1’s retro design, I like retro design when done right and Fujifilm did it right with the X-T1. Tasks are either just as convenient, or even more convenient. You get retro dials on top, and front and rear command dials like a modern DSLR. Also, selecting aperture on the lens is a fantastic throwback to the old days. 

Phone booth and umbrella, in Budapest, Hungary. Nikon D300; Nikon AF Zoom-NIKKOR 35-70mm f/2.8D; ½ second; f/5.6; ISO 200

Ergonomics and feel: The Fujifilm X-T1 loses the ergonomics war with the DSLR. Nikon has always fit great in my hand, and many photographers like having a solid camera grip to hold while shooting.

The size and feel of the Fujifilm camera is more akin to an older manual film SLR like the Nikon FM2 or Canon A-E1. Gone is the thick grip for holding batteries and computers. Without a mirror, the Fujifilm is thin—even where you hold it—no more dangling the camera from the grip with your forefingers. That takes a little getting used to, but small size is the selling point, so a super-ergonomic grip is what you give up.

Performance/Durability: This was another a sticking point when convincing myself to make the switch. I tend to think of my Nikon gear as bulletproof, as it has been through a lot of abuse. “Tried and true” would be an apt description, although I once broke a D100.

How does the Fujifilm hold up and how much abuse can it take? Not long after I got the camera, I had to shoot an event. I was tempted to take the Nikon, due to my familiarity with the camera and my trust in its durability, but I packed up the Fujifilm and decided to put it through its paces. So far, it hasn’t missed a beat. After many commercial assignments and events, and numerous trips—nationally and internationally—I’ve had zero reliability issues.

Brand perception/equity: The psychology of branding is interesting. Carrying a smaller camera with “Fujifilm” in a relatively small font is a journey into the brand unknown. Since shooting with Fujifilm, I am often asked what kind of camera it is, and if I am shooting a film camera.

I was recently asked on a commercial shoot why I wasn’t shooting Canon or Nikon. The read-between-the-lines impression I got was that my client was worried I wasn’t using “pro” gear, because Fujifilm wasn’t on their “pro” radar. But, it doesn’t matter, they loved the photos.

Bottom line—once you realize you’re getting better images, and using a camera that inspires you to take great photos, it doesn’t matter what name is on the outside.

Close-up of neon lights. Nikon D300; Nikon AF Zoom-Micro NIKKOR 70-180mm f/4.5-5.6D ED; 1/10th second; f/8; ISO 100

What are your favorite features of your new gear?
I instantly fell in love with the Fujifilm lenses and the results I get from the sensor. I also love the fact that my camera bag weighs half of what it did before. I can throw my camera and a lens in a backpack and not know it’s there, because it is so unobtrusive compared to a DSLR.

What features do you miss the most from your former gear?
I miss the speed and accuracy of the DSLR. The mirrorless camera is almost there, but not quite. When photographing rambunctious children, you will get more hits with a DSLR than with a mirrorless. The speed just isn’t there yet. I also miss looking through an optical viewfinder, but I enjoy the amount of information afforded by the electronic display.

How does your new gear compare with your former gear based on the following image quality factors:
Resolution/pixel count:  The X-T1 has slightly more pixels than the D300 (16MP vs. 12MP). I would be happy with 12. More MP is not a selling point for me. I was happy at 6MP!

Image sharpness: I was convinced that I owned the sharpest 50mm lens on the planet (the AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8)—until I compared it to the Fujifilm XF 56mm lens. All the Fujinon lenses are outperforming their Nikon counterparts. I still have my Nikon 105mm DC, but it’s hard to convince myself to use that instead of the Fujinon 90mm—unless I want the aesthetic of that DC lens.

Long Island Sound in dramatic light. Fujifilm X-T1; Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4; 1/12,000 second; f/5.6; ISO 200

Digital noise/Dynamic range: Not a fair comparison with the D300, which was very long in the tooth by the time I switched, but the Fujifilm X-T1 always amazes me with the amount of shadow detail available after capture.

Color accuracy: Fujifilm is the hands-down winner. When I bring Nikon files (from any Nikon body) into post processing and hit the “Auto Levels” function, there is usually some kind of “jump” in color, brightness, contrast, and so on. The Fujifilm files are much better straight out of the camera and, as far as I can see, the color accuracy of skin tones is unsurpassed.

CA/distortion/vignetting: I have no complaints about the optical quality of the Fujinon lenses. I would tweak the design and feel if I could, but optically they are amazing. I have shot interior architecture with the Fujinon 14mm lens and it shows zero distortion. I am able to put walls and door frames on the edge of the frame without worry. It’s amazing.

Statue of a fisherman at low tide with sunset lighting. Fujifilm X-T1; Fujifilm XF 14mm f/2.8 R; 1/60th second; f/4.0; ISO 200

Under what circumstances does your new gear outperform your former gear?
The Fujifilm system outperforms the Nikon both optically and as far as the sensor is concerned, but the sensor comparison isn’t realistic, since the Nikon is a much older model.

What, if any, challenges have you encountered with your new gear?
I have the challenge of deciding what to do with my Nikon camera and lenses.

Has switching gear required any changes to your workflow?
My workflow is basically the same. When I upgraded from Lightroom 6 to Lightroom CC, the processing time of the Fujifilm raw files slowed dramatically. I am not sure why. Uploading into the Lightroom catalog is a slow process. 

As far as image making, I shoot primes a lot more with the Fujifilm system. I use the Fujinon 18-55mm lens for events and when versatility is needed, but otherwise it stays on the shelf. I carry at least four prime lenses in my bag and that has changed my shooting style—making it more deliberate—and it has improved the image quality of my photographs.

Punch buggy parked on the street. Fujifilm X-T1; Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2 R; 1/60 second;, f/1.2; ISO 800

Why might users of your former gear want to remain loyal to that brand?
None of the top camera brands make bad cameras or lenses. If you love Nikon, you can stay with it and be happy forever. That goes with any other camera brand. But, if you are looking to shake things up, you may want to change systems. The Fujifilm X-T1 made shooting fun for me again—it made it kind of new and different. And, because the system is small and light, I carry my camera around much more than when I was in the DSLR world.

What does the future look like for your switch?
I recently got the Fujifilm X-T2 and am excited to explore its power. I finally sold one of my D300 bodies to B&H’s Used Department, but I still have another, in case I need to shoot a sporting event or something lending itself to the Nikon. I haven’t parted with any Nikon glass yet, because I still have the body.

Final Performance of Duke Riley’s Fly By Night, Brooklyn Navy Yard, July 2016. Fujifilm X-T1; Fujifilm XF 35mm f/1.4 R; 2.1 seconds; f/5.6; ISO 200

To read the other stories in our series, Why I Switched, click here https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/p/why-i-switched.

Do you have a story or some insights to share about switching brands? If so, please add your voice to the Comments section, below.


I came to a compromise. I was a mixed prime/zoom shooter for over a decade. The problem with DSLR's is even with a tiny prime, you are still lugging around a giant noticeable camera. This is fine for event or press work, but not fun for travel, carrying every day. The fuji's are even smaller/lighter primes, plus the body is discreet. I got rid of all my Nikon primes, and going towards this system .. (only shoot pro zooms (28-70) (80-200) with it for paid work/events/wildlife, meanwhile I shoot a 3 prime tiny kit on the fuji xe2, the 18/35/60, which matches a standard 28/50/90 leica kit setup. DSLR's were always a bad choice for travel/street photography, they were just the only digital choice with quality for awhile before mirrorless options. 

Hi jcrizzle,

All great points! Sounds like you have both systems figured out!

What do you think about the Fujifilm 18 and 60?

Thanks for reading!





Hi Todd,

Like yourself, and so many others, I began my journey from DSLRs (Canon 7D and 8D) to mirrorless with the purchase of a Fuji X-E2, and have progressed to Fuji's X100t, X-Pro2, and lastly the new X-t2. I love them and use them all. Having pursued photography since the mid60s, I have found joy in returning to the use of mostly prime lenses, and with that move, my photo skills have gotten even better!

It's been said, "To see more clearly, you must limit your vision." This may seem a bit counterintuitive on first read. I find myself seeing more deeply, exploring my subject in greater detail.

Aside from Fuji's excellent glass, the direct control of camera functions with dials provides a great shooting experience, one that cannot be stated too strongly. Less weight and bulk are an asset in the pursuit of my new genre, street photography. 

Lastly, I love Fuji's film emulations: Astia, Velvia, ACROS, etc. My style favors minimal post processing, and these images seem to have some magic - and for lack of a better term, I call it "soul".

Anyway, thanks for your blog and happy shooting!


Hey Jeff,

Sounds like we are on the same page. Just in case you didnt know, you can shoot in raw and then simulate the Fujifilm film modes in post-processing with a drop-down menu in Lightroom.

Thanks for reading and sharing your experience!

I have been using Nikon gear since 1959 when the "F"s first appeared and still own a bunch of glass ranging from 14-24mm f2.8 to 200-400 mm f4. I have enjoyed many film upgrades to the F6 and into the digital world with the D1, D2 and D3x and currently own a D750 and D810. I derive a great deal pleasure and satisfaction from the use of this gear. However, my flirtation with Fujifilm began with an XE-1, then XE-2 and now a X-Pro2, all the while accumulating more Fujifilm glass. For the first time, I am really pleased with .jpg images as they come from the camera and am seriously considering whether or not it is necessary to save RAW as well. I have not abandonded RAW as yet and will continue to do so with my Nikon gear. A lot has been made of the compactness and lighter weight of the mirrorless APS-C cameras, and this is hard to ignoge. I have a Lowepro Slingpro AW300 and with it I can accommodate my X-Pro2, 10-24 mm, 18-55 mm, 35 mm f1.4, 60 mm Macro, 55-200 mm and my 100-400 mm Fujinon with the 1.4x TC attached. Now this package is hardly light weight, but covers all possibilities. Increasingly, my first choice when headed out the door for a non-specific shoot is to grab the Lowepro and go. I have not been disappointed yet.

Sounds like a familiar story, Keith! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience!

In terms of image quality, this discussion is only valid because the switch is made from APS-C to APS-C gear. I recently used a full frame system instead of an APS-C one (my colleague lent me a D750, I own a D90). As expected, it's a delightful change for shooting events. A good lens on a full frame camera just gives amazing results that I couldn't accomplish with APS-C gear. As cool as their build is, I can't consider moving to Fuji anymore unless their "medium format" camera system is competing with full frame pricing. I was really considering moving to Fuji for weight and space reasons, but full frame just won me.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, David!

Like you, there are legions of full-frame fans out there and I can understand why that is, however, having shot many formats of digital cameras, I really couldn't detect a noticeable difference between Micro Four Thirds, APS-C, and full-frame...so opt to stay in the world of APS-C and its smaller and lighter package.

The D750 is a generation ahead of the D90. I wonder if you would have been just as happy with the results comparing a D90 to a D7200....food for thought!

And, yes, the new medium format mirrorless coming to the market is very intriguing!

Thanks again!

If you're working for profit, "Good for APS-C" isn't good enough.

My clients don't seem to mind.


As the "kid in the candy store", what was the state of 4/3rds in 2013? Okay, I can be called a "full-frame bigot" since that's what I started out with in 1980 with a Canon A-1. I did a spreadsheet matrix of my A-1 and New F-1 (and their respective motor drives) and Canon's DSLR offerings. The 5D III was the comparable camera.

n the past two weeks, I have had to switch my EF 24-105 f4L from auto to manual due to low light for Space Shuttle Atlantis or because of nearby foreground heads when I wanted farther out. At a dog show last week, I saw the official photographer with a chrome-top DSLR; I asked if that was the Df and he said that it was. Nikon also loaned him their D5.

Weight is a concern. Last week, I removed the battery grip from my 5D just to save some weight. The OP/Tech shoulder strap provides more comfort than the Canon provided strap, but it still becomes a "pain in the neck". I've found that a shoulder harness is more comfortable, but it is trouble to remove and put on again.

Hi Ralph,

Yep, I started on full-frame as well...and then regressed when digital started going mainstream.

I think size and weight are huge issues. I used to think that the burden of a heavy DSLR and lenses was a price you had to pay for great image quality. Mirrorless has changed that equation substantially. Now I can travel light and get the same (or better) quality in my images. It's remarkable.

Thanks for reading, Ralph, as always!

Hi Todd,

A member of the local camera club sold his 5D III and switched to Sony. But I will skip two or three generations of the 5D; battery life will probably improve. I've carried two spare batteries when I haven't used the battery grip and I haven't had to replace a battery during an entire day of shooting.

One of these days, I'll do a "family portrait" of the "Three Bears", my Canon's. The A-1 (Baby Bear), New F-1 (Mama Bear), and 5D III (Papa Bear) with their respective motor drives or battery grip. But yea, the AE-1, A-1, or F-1, looks dimutive by today's DSLRs. I was at a post launch celebration party of the final Space Shuttle launch snf a woman came up to me and asked "You shooting film?" I answered "Yes" and she replied "Cool!" and we exchanged fist-bumps. [I shot Kodak Ektar 100 for the launch since it was a daylight launch.]


Hi Ralph,

Which Canon is "just right" for Goldilocks?

I have been asked, several times, if my Fujifilm X-T1 is shooting film because of the size of the camera and the top dials.

The only thing that might be cooler than shooting film is having people think you are shooting film!


Left nikon for fuji after the second recall on my d750. Prior to that I had owned a d3200, a d7100, a d610 and a d300 (for when the d750 was sent back to nikon.) I would use these cameras for a year or so then trade them in towards the purchase o newer models. Long story short heavy dslrs started hurting my neck and back. Bought a fuji xt10 and initially had buyers remorse. It was like flying an alien spaceship. Picked up an xpro2 and havent put it down since. Only downside to the fuji system I have encountered is lack of aftermarket flash and lighting support. Over all I have happy with my switch. In fact I've been published in national magazines twice with my xpro2 with jpegs right out of the camera! Love the fuji x series!!

Hi Todd,

I don't have an answer for my "just right" Goldilocks. The 5D is the more versatile camera with the ability to switch ISO without chaning film. But the F-1 is built like a tank. I haven't tried manual metering with my 5D, but with the F-1, it is easy-peasy; with the A-1, I had to note the aperture and speed to lock that in.

All three cameras shoot full frame; all three shoot 6 FPS. The 5D does have autofocus; but having manual focus cameras, I think, keeps my skills sharp for when I have to switch to manual. The 5D has higher ISO range.

But then, there is the tactile feel of having the right thumb behind the film advance lever. I've been shooting more film than digital since the local developers (ei, pharmacies) has switched from wet labs to destructive dry lab developing. I have film that I need to send out of state for developing.


PS: One advantage with two film cameras is that I don't have to make a choice of whether to load B&W or color. My A-1 is loaded with B&W and my F-1 is loaded with color. Depending on my assessment of the day or shooting conditions, I'll take the B&W or the color; maybe both.

For health reasons I recently switched from Canon full frme and L lenses to a Fuji system   Trust me I have no regrets. 

Hope you are feeling better, Jim!