Canon 5D mk IV vs Fuji XT2
Many times in the last few years we have been asked about the equipment we use, about our technical choice or advice on cameras and lenses.
It seemed to us the best solution to enclose in a section of the “specialist” blog all those topics that would otherwise risk not finding the right space.
THE MOST DEMANDED QUESTION OF 2017
One of the questions we always wanted to answer in a more complete and exhaustive way was on why we were using during the last season, in addition to our Canon cameras, mirrorless Fuji.
The answer deserves a special article, this article.
DECEMBER 2016 (return back in time)
In December 2016 we had bought two Canon 5d Mark 4 to replace our “old” 5d Mark 3 which, despite the perfect operation, started to have a number of shots too high to make us work without thoughts.
In this way we would definitely “retire” the 5D Mark 2 that remained in the bags as backup bodies during the services, and this place of honor would become 5d 3.
The 5d4 also had several features that would have made it a little easier the following season as an improved autofocus and a sensor with a wider dynamic range and ISO usable without no problem up to 12800 (on the Mark3 we stopped if possible at 6400). For photographers like us who shoot 99% with ambient light is big advantage. The first tests I did (those who know me well know that I do A LOT of tests before using something during paid shoots) confirmed the premises, especially those related to the quality of image.
The new sensor allowed to shoot up to 10000/12800 ISO without having to be surprised by the value used, with a very fine grain and colors much better than the older models, thus requiring a waste of less time in the post-production phase.
The maximum value of ISO 32000 (thirty-two thousand!), with well-exposed shots was more than usable in “emergency” situations.
If at high sensitivity the sensor was improved, at low ISO it really shine. The dynamic range was considerably wider and allowed to recover the shadows in post as never before possible on Canon bodies.
The slightly different colors and a more controlled grain gave the image a more organic and pleasant appearance.
The body remained substantially the same in terms of shape and size, but with a weight of less than 100 grams and with the addition of a customizable key. We preferred to use the same batteries we used on the two previous models.
All positive? Almost.
The main defects we found were a shorter battery life (due to the more powerful processor) and the autofocus which, although improved in speed and precision, was not as good as I hoped.
The price was also high considering what competing brands proposed on comparable models.
Since we opened the business and all these years we have always used Canon, so the 5d4 was the natural evolution and the only adoptable solution to continue to use all our objectives and not distorting our habits, especially in terms of workflow and size of the kit.
OK, but the Fuji?
I’ll get there, I’ll get there.
MARCH 2017 – the beginning
Our friend Cesare informs us that he would come to visit us at our house in Trieste. As always, at the end we talk about photography 🙂 At one point he extracts from the bag the object that would become my dream / nightmare for the following weeks: the Fujifilm XT2. At that time he was trying to decide to change the kit.
I have always been intrigued by the mirrorless world but I never had the chance to prove its potential.
A test of a scarce hour in the park near the house and, with kindness, began to curse Caesar. He laughs but underneath he knows that he too is fuc**d: D
It was forming in my mind the idea that the December purchase was perhaps not the most correct. And with the amount of expense we had just dealt with, it was certainly not something I liked to think about.
Get back home checking files with Lightroom. Curse.
I did not sincerely expect that ease of use and image quality from an object that costs less than half of our main machines and, above all, weighs and clutters very little.
I remember very well Ilaria’s face as she watched me enthusiastically reviewing the files and handling the machine by passing it under a microscope. Resignation and discomfort are the words that perhaps best represent what his face expressed. We both knew that I would take one. At that time we were simplifying the kit, selling lenses that for focal length and excessive dimensions hardly found space with our photographic approach. I had promised myself to sell all unused gear first before buying anything.
I am not a person who is inclined to buy compulsively, especially if we are dealing with objects that we use in business areas so before buying I can read ALL the reviews concerning a particular machine or lens, preferring field tests to laboratory tests. I always try to make my own personal idea to understand if what I have “aimed” is right for us and could bring real benefits to the way we shoot. That small machine had everything I consider essential in a professional body (robust and tropicalized body, double card for a file backup in the room, excellent quality of image, etc) many reviews of photographers spoke of it – very good.
I had to test it thoroughly to see if I could use it in the wedding season that was about to start soon. The time was short but the desire to experiment and have an answer was great.
In two weeks I managed to sell everything and buy my second Fuji, with a goal.
My first was a Fuji x100, a machine that I did not find suitable for professional use (the slowness and lack of the double card were important faults) but that I liked so much for image quality and ease of use. I used it a lot during travel and personal projects but never for work.
When the XT2 box was opened I did some test shots, I put the battery in charge and in the meantime I read the whole manual greedily. At the end of the day it was a new camera with which I had zero familiarity and I needed to know it thoroughly and quickly.
After more than 5 years of intensive use of SLR equipment I thought that adapting to a mirrorless would have required time and effort; I was wrong.
In those weeks that separated us from the first wedding I stressed the camera in every way, trying to find merits and defects that would have somehow influenced my habits.
I am writing an in-depth review of the xt2 where you will find a more technical and detailed report, but here I summarize the main advantages and weaknesses I encountered in using:
WEIGHT AND DIMENSIONS
One of the aspects that attracted me most since the beginning of the mirrorless world. An entire kit weighs just over half of a SLR with the advantage of using a machine that does not scream “professional photographer”. Goodbye pains in the neck and back.
ELECTRONIC SIGHT (EVF)
Getting used to an electronic viewfinder took perhaps a couple of minutes. If you are not going to buy a mirrorless DO NOT try one with a good EVF because it will be difficult to go back (I speak as a victim). Visualizing the exposure in real time is fundamental in difficult light situations and it is something that really changes the life of a photographer, in a positive way.
Someone will object: “ok but the magic of an optical viewfinder …” or “too easy this way …”
I firmly believe that as wedding photographers we are called to photograph unique and unrepeatable situations, I want a camera that will bring me to the creative result that I have in mind in the shortest time and with the least effort allowing me to concentrate energies on new shots and situations.
I gladly leave the “magic” to others.
At first I underestimated him, then I realized how many times it was fundamental during a season. Useful for taking pictures with unusual angles of shooting but above all to shoot without having to bring the camera to the eye, and then make you feel that you are shooting.
For me, the biggest turning point. About 80% of the shots in 2017 I made them with the electronic shutter. In total silence, I mean ZERO noise. In this mode the shooting times can go up to 1/32000 of a second.
There are some situations where it is a must to use the mechanical shutter and I will explain it carefully in the review of the XT2 coming soon.
The use of two SD memory cards simplifies our life compared to the Canon bodies, where SD and compact flash cards are used at the same time.
The xt2 resumes the look of the old film machines and with this 3 separate dials to set ISO, shutter speed and exposure compensation. The diaphragm is set with a ring directly on the lens. Even when the machine is off, I can be sure that I know how it will be set up when switched on.
The XT2 menu allows you to override the operation of almost any key. Fabulous!
Not as extensive as those of Canon or Nikon but of extreme optical and constructive quality.
A weak point of the mirrorless is the duration of the battery charge, I must say that despite having bought enough stock I rarely use more than 3 for a working day of 10/12 hours (usually change batteries with 20% of remaining charge). Considering that on 5d mark 4 we change at least two a day I think it is an extremely positive result.
AUTOFOCUS and FOCUS PEAKING
Having the absolute certainty of knowing that the shot you are about to perform is in focus for me is priceless. The focus is on the sensor so there is no possibility that there is an incorrect calibration between af sensor and image sensor. The peaking of the XT2 is customizable with different colors and makes the verification of the focus immediate and safe.
BUFFER AND RAFFIC
We hardly ever use the fast burst of 14 fps but the 4 or 5 fps and the buffer is emptied extremely fast.
COMPRESSED RAW without loss
By activating this option the raw file (RAF in this case) is halved by weight. I have not noticed any differences in quality in my use so I leave this option perpetually activated. I noticed a slight slowdown of Lightroom in managing compressed files but it seems to have improved with the latest updates.
The Fuji philosophy, called Kaizen (continuous improvement) aims to update the firmware of bodies and objectives over time, with important changes that improve the user experience. I have installed several updates over the months and all have had a positive and effective influence on my way of shooting. For example, the speed of continuous autofocus is doubled compared to the time of purchase.
A smaller sensor translates into smaller bodies and lenses. To all advantage of portability and discretion.
24 megapixels in an aps-c sensor and have an image quality that is closer to 5d4 than to 5d3, with a very wide dynamic range and great workability of the files, has the miraculous. The fact that the sensor is ISO invariant means then to raise the ISO in post with a difference almost nothing compared to having done in the shooting phase.
Lightroom is improving in the management of these particular and unique types of sensors but I struggled to find a way to give files the right sharpness with sharpening without creating artifacts. Other programs handle RAF files better, but our workflow can not exclude Lightroom at the moment so I have patiently equipped myself to find the best settings. If you shoot in JPEG, no problem at all.
I consider it a defect of almost all mirrorless, due to the fact that between a session of shots and the other the machine goes off to save battery. There are ways to minimize boot time but it must be reported. In a whole season I count the shots I lost because of this feature on the fingers of one hand.
HIGH ISO SENSITIVITY and THREE-DIMENSIONALITY
The XT2 can not bend the laws of physics: a smaller sensor means having a lower sensitivity to light than a larger one. The loss in quality compared to 5d4 is estimated in about one stop. The use of fast lenses greatly reduces this gap. The 3D effect with respect to the full frame is more contained but I consider it a stimulating boost to look for the “lost” three-dimensionality through the composition, the smaller distance from the subject and the management of the light.
ON THE FIELD
During the first marriage I used the XT2 as a second body. After having tested it in action I took all the following ones using it as the main camera. I added several light fixtures over the months and in the middle of the season we took a second XT2 for Ilaria.
We have had several positive feedbacks since we use them from colleagues and clients. We had not advertised the gradual transition to another brand and this made these opinions even more valuable, as they showed that these little machines had a positive influence on our way of shooting and on the images we could make and we were happy. The fuji XT2 are small, inconspicuous cameras that almost make us “disappear” during the day, and allow us to tell the story of such an important event on tiptoe, as we like it.
I wish you a good day,