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I'm a hobby photographer. I like taking portraits, which I often do at festivals and conventions. I usually take the following gear: Fujifilm X-T2 (an APS-C sensor mirrorless camera), a 16-55mm f/2.8 (sometimes the 18-55 f/2.8-4 kit lens), a 35mm f/0.95, a 56mm f/2, a 90mm f/2 and a 135mm f/2.8. These are all small lenses that fit in my camera pouch easily. I mostly take head/shoulder portraits, with the 90mm lens, but the other lenses have their uses too. It depends a bit on how much space there is.

After publishing my latest convention's photos to Facebook and mentioning how much I love the 90mm lens, I received a message from a professional photographer. He told me I was stupid to take so many primes and I should use a single zoom lens instead.

I was looking at the Fujifilm Roadmap. If I want to go for a single zoom, I'd have to take the 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6. I could also get the 50-140mm f/2.8 and use it along with the 16-55mm f/2.8. He told me to get a full frame Canon body with this 24-70mm f/2.8 instead, since, he explained, it would be better than my current gear.

If I sell all my gear, I may be able to afford it. I love my gear, though, and I don't just want to sell it. It's light and small, good for videos too and I like the bokeh and I like the film simulation (classic chrome <3). I'm super sad about this.

Would switching to full frame Canon and getting that lens be an upgrade over my Fujifilm gear?

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    Are you happy with your equipment and your pictures? Does it produce the images you want? – Alexander von Wernherr Mar 26 '18 at 10:59
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    If you're happy with it, stick with it, no matter what someone else says because you are the artist and a great artist will make great pictures with no matter which camera or lens. – Alexander von Wernherr Mar 26 '18 at 11:21
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    "I received a message from a professional photographer" Don't listen to idiots, use whatever works for you. maybe experiment with different combinations of gear, but there is no silver bullet – Oct18 is day of silence on SE Mar 26 '18 at 20:20
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    Someone who calls you "stupid" and "downtalks" your choice in equipment is no professional. Ignore the jealous fool. – Lightness Races in Orbit Mar 26 '18 at 23:56

10 Answers 10

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Would switching to full frame Canon and getting that lens be an upgrade over my Fujifilm gear?

For some shooters it would be. For others it would not. For a true photographer it shouldn't make a ton of difference either way. They'll do good work with either. One system may make doing that work easier than the other, but the work you are describing can be done perfectly well with either set of tools mentioned in the question above.

Please take note, I used the word 'photographer' above, not the word 'professional'! 'Professional' just means you're getting paid. It says very little about the quality of your work and a lot more about your business, marketing, and social skills.

Charles W. Leadbeater said, "“It is one of the commonest of our mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all that there is to perceive.”

The problem with some folks is that they are so limited that they assume everyone else has the same limitations that they do. They also assume that their way of doing photography is the only way, and that the type of photos they take are the only types of photos worth shooting. Since one of the basic rules here is that we're supposed to be nice, I won't say any more about the person who, unsolicited, advised you to dump your current setup that is working perfectly fine for you in order to start using what he apparently needs to validate in his own mind as the best way to go about it.

Now, about gear.

While it is true that better gear won't make you a better photographer, it is equally true that any photographer is limited by the capabilities of the gear being used.

There's an old saying that has been around photography for a very long time:

Gear doesn't matter.

It's certainly true, but it is only half the truth. The rest of the truth is this:

Gear doesn't matter - until it does.

When the technical capabilities of your gear are not up to the task for the shots you want to capture, then and only then will the gear matter.

When your gear does matter, you'll know. It will matter because the gear you are using will limit you from doing work that you wish to do and that you have the skill and knowledge to pull off. Until you reach that point, the gear you are currently using is perfectly fine for you.

For more, please see: When should I upgrade my camera body? The answer there is just as equally applicable to lenses or entire systems.

Additional reading:
What features would cause a portrait photographer to choose a DSLR over Mirrorless?
Should I buy a new DSLR or spend the money on a photography course with my point & shoot?
Will I see enough improvement moving from EF-S to "L" lenses to warrant the cost?
How does focal length relate to macro magnification?
the best way to improve image sharpness on Canon 700D

  • Having said all of that, if you ever try the Canon EF 135mm f/2 on a FF body you'd be willing to sell your soul to keep using it. – Michael C Mar 26 '18 at 18:39
  • One not-uncivil thing that you could say about the type of photographer that wants to tell you that you shouldn't be happy with something you're happy with: there are plenty of them, and you can probably expect to hear more of this type of thing. – junkyardsparkle Mar 26 '18 at 19:45
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    This puts things in perspective, thanks. I did upgrade to the X-T2 from the X-A10, because I felt limited by it. It was something very simple: everything was hidden in menus! I like big turning buttons. No more missed shots because I couldn’t adjust ISO quick enough. I would love to try a Canon some time, I may rent one with that 135mm lens some time. I do love Fuji’s 90mm lens. It’s a joy to use. Sharp, good contrast and great AF. It feels like it can keep up with the 135mm Leica Elmarit very well. – Belle-Sophie Mar 26 '18 at 20:31
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    There are sharper 135s than the Canon that dates back to 1996. But I've yet to see one with a smoother character for portraits. In way too many ways, lens makers have sold their souls to the gods of the flat test charts, even when lenses aren't really meant to be used for flat reproduction work. Flat field lenses do not make the best portraits, but they do get the best sores at DxO. MTF has replaced MP as "the number" around which too many gearheads think everything revolves. – Michael C Mar 26 '18 at 21:52
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    @MichaelClark: I totally agree. For me, this perfect lens is an old Nikkor 85mm f/1.4. Both lenses are great and could be enough for a whole career of portraiture. – Eric Duminil Mar 27 '18 at 11:24
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The 24-70 is an incredibly good lens - it's as sharp wide-open as just about any prime at every focal length across just about its entire field.

But it's only 24-70. As you're talking about a full-frame Canon, that's as wide (16mm * crop factor of 1.5 = 24mm), but you'll be losing a lot of length at the telephoto end - your 90mm on APS-C is equivalent to 135mm on full-frame. Speed-wise, f/2.8 on full frame is about equivalent to f/2 on APS-C so there won't be a significant difference there except for your currently incredibly fast 35mm f/0.95.

To me, the main reason to change to a zoom lens would be if you're missing shots because you're having to change lenses. If you (and your clients if you are doing this for money) are happy with your current output, then there's absolutely no reason to change because a "professional" told you something - just because they do something for money doesn't mean they know more than you, especially about your personal preferences. I'd just politely ignore them.

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    Speed-wise, f/2.8 is f/2.8 - smaller sensors don't magically make more light come through the same hole. Effective DOF for the same shooting distance and framing is what changes, not exposure. – J... Mar 27 '18 at 15:28
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You might also want to take into account the following:

  • That 24-70 mm doesn't cover even half your current range.
  • You really like the 90mm for portraits, and 90 mm is outside that recommended range? At best you'd have to adapt your shooting to that new lens
  • An incredibly sharp lens is only useful if you use that sharpness for e.g. larger prints. If you never make large prints (say A4 and larger) I'm not sure you'd see any difference with regards to your current equipment.
  • How much would the Canon+24-70 mm weigh? (and how long before you'd want to add a 90mm or longer to your kit?)
  • That is a very good point. I rarely print. And I think the primes may even rival the sharpness, except the 35mm maybe. And then there's weather sealing. My client (I'm a volunteer) is often very happy that I am able to continue shooting in rain. – Belle-Sophie Mar 26 '18 at 12:23
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    While weather sealing is difficult to quantify, I'd bet a fair amount of money that any Canon full frame body (apart from maybe the 6D) and the 24-70 are better sealed that your Fuji gear. The 24-70 is one of the pro workhorse lenses, it's got to keep working in the rain. – Philip Kendall Mar 26 '18 at 12:54
  • @PhilipKendall The 6D is the camera I would be looking at getting, though, since that's in my budget. Fuji's weather sealing doesn't seem bad, though. I've had no water go in it, even in a tropic downpour. – Belle-Sophie Mar 26 '18 at 13:45
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Stupid advice

This "pro" just sounds like an idiot with a camera. Don't listen to him.

Canon is indeed a good brand with many great lenses, but so is Fuji (and Nikon, Sony, ...).

Lenses

The 24-70 is a jack of all trades lens. It's a great lens indeed if you only want to bring one lens and still want to take environmental portraits, landscape or architecture shots.

It's very good for many things but doesn't shine anywhere, though. In particular, it's heavy, large, kinda slow compared to primes and wouldn't deliver better pictures than the 56mm f/2, the 90mm f/2 or even the 18-55 f/2.8-4 kit lens.

Sensor size

The typical advantages of full-frame cameras have been :

  • shallow DOF
  • good image quality
  • large viewfinder

The X-T2 offers excellent image quality and actually has a larger viewfinder than many full-frame cameras (e.g. Canon 5D, 6D or Nikon D850). If you want shallower DOF, the 56mm f/1.2 is an excellent lens.

Better portraits

If you want to take better portraits, you should:

  • learn everything about light. There are many books, DVDs or entire websites that can help you.
  • learn to take better portraits. Learn many jokes, learn different poses, learn how to make your subjects comfortable, learn how to act stupid so that they don't feel stupid, teach them how to feel confident about their looks, teach them how to flirt with the viewer through the lens. This DVD has way more information than you'll ever need. It costs a fifth of the suggested lens and can bring your portraits to a whole new level.
  • That's one expensive DVD :O Good advice though, thanks! – Belle-Sophie Mar 27 '18 at 10:00
  • @Belle-Sophie It's nothing compared to the price of your equipment or the price of a possible, useless switch to another brand. The DVD is 4h long and it really covers everything you need to know. You might join a photography group and buy it together. If you have 0 budget for learning right now, just spend a few days reading strobist, then. It's mostly about light and off-camera flash but has many great tips for portraits. – Eric Duminil Mar 27 '18 at 10:09
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    +1 for recommendation on photohrapher improvement. Just a thought experiment: Who will bring better set of photos, photography master with a lousy point-and-shoot camera or a photography illiterate with full access to whole Canon portfolio? My bet is the master wins. – Crowley Mar 27 '18 at 14:31
  • There are images that the EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L II on a FF camera in the right hands can deliver than the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 kit lens on an APS-C camera in the same hands can not. – Michael C Mar 27 '18 at 15:01
  • @MichaelClark: Do you have an example? The only clear difference I'd see would be at 70mm equivalent wide-open (f/2.8 vs f/5.6 DOF basically). The 18-55 is sold as a kit but it really isn't your typical kit lens. The Canon 24-70 is indeed an excellent zoom lens, but it's still a zoom lens. You could also say that there are many shots you could take with a 90mm f/2 or a 56mm f/1.2 that you couldn't take with the 24-70. – Eric Duminil Mar 27 '18 at 15:09
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Strictly answering your question:

Would switching to full frame Canon and getting that lens be an upgrade over my Fujifilm gear?

  • It is an upgrade, because FullFrame SLRs are better and faster than APS-C mirrorless. You have dedicated AF points and measurement tools improved for a very long time.
  • It is and downgrade, because SLRs are larger, heavier and more prone to mechanical failure than mirrorless because they rely on (moving) mirror and (moving) shutter.

Haven't I answered your question? Correct, there is no answer to this question.


Let's modify the question slightly:

Would switching from my Fujifilm gear to full frame Canon and getting that lens be a good move?

Then consider questions:

  • Are you happy with your current gear?

  • Are you proficient with your current gear?

  • Do you think switching from a couple of primes to one zoom will not improve your proficiency?

  • Are you not thinking of entering new field (pets, wildlife, astro, whatever) where new gear is needed?

If all your answers are yes, then (politely) decline the advice, there is no good for you at the time. More likely, the change will decrease your proficiency and quality. You are about to learn to operate the new gear - there is a different handling of a camera and different strengths and weakness of the gear.

I usually only changes lenses between mini-sessions. I most often photograph cosplays at events. The models will nearly always be up for posing and generally don’t mind waiting for a lens change during a longer shoot.

This comment you've made backs up the reasons not to change the gear. This 90mm session followed by, say, 135mm session is a perfect strategy for using the primes! Your models have time to relax, rearrange or whatever while you change the lens and relax as well.

If you want to reduce the switching time "like-a-pro", consider buying another body. You can change the lens by just swapping the camera resulting in shorter times and fewer opportunities for a dust to enter your camera and, in case of a breakdown, you'll have a spare camera!

  • That spare camera sounds like good advice. I really like the sound of IBIS, which Fuji's new camera has. I may get it or its successor in the future. – Belle-Sophie Mar 27 '18 at 14:26
  • "It is and downgrade, because SLRs are larger, heavier and more prone to mechanical failure than mirrorless because they rely on (moving) mirror and (moving) shutter." Maybe in theory if all else were equal. In practice that is rarely the case. Try shooting in rain or other weather and see which cameras keep on working, the mirror slappers from Canon/Nikon, or the MILCs from Sony, Panasonic, etc. – Michael C Sep 23 '18 at 22:37
  • @MichaelClark Good point. I wanted to emphasize that there are two points of view and therefore you cannot be wrong and at the same time you cannot be right as well. The result rely on your power to defend your arguments not on the arguments themselves :) Canon vs. Panasonic fight may result in different score than Canon vs. GoPro in proper case. (I know I cheated with action cam) – Crowley Sep 25 '18 at 14:07
  • @Crowley The point is, mirrorless cameras thus far introduced are notorious for being susceptible to adverse environmental conditions. See Roger Cicala's blog for one such example. Maybe someone will eventually release a mirrorless ILC body that is as tough as the 'flagship' bodies from Canon and Nikon (or even lower tier bodies from Pentax), but that hasn't happened yet. No one has remotely come close to it at this point. – Michael C Sep 25 '18 at 17:53
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Normally, I'd write this as a comment, but I think it's important enough to stand on its own as an answer. I'm surprised I don't see it already mentioned. (Perhaps it's in an easy to miss comment somewhere). You wrote (emphasis added):

... I love the 90mm lens... I love my gear, ... and I don't just want to sell it. It's light and small, good for videos too and I like the bokeh and I like the film simulation (classic chrome <3).

That answers your real question: Should you sell all of your current gear and "upgrade" to a full-frame Canon camera?

As for comparing a FujiFilm body with a complete set of lenses against a Canon full-frame body with a single, super-expensive zoom lens, seems like it's pretty much already thoroughly discussed.

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OK. Slightly opinionated answer follows, which I still consider valid.

"If I sell all my gear, I might be able to afford it..." kind of means you cannot afford it.

Equipment crucial to doing either a serious hobby or a job is truly affordable if you could afford to replace it if necessary (lost, stolen, damaged, impounded)- if you buy these two pieces of equipment, let's assume they are both equally priced, you still end up with two monolithic pieces you couldn't afford replacing.

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I can't answer about your lenses specifically but typically primes have less distortion than zooms. Zooms can cause barrel or pincushion distortion depending on the focal length used. While this is not typically noticeable in e.g. landscape or street photography it can cause problems with portraits (distorting faces is not a good idea).

Primes also typically allow wider apertures than zooms, particularly at the longer end of the zoom's range, which is useful for portraits.

In general, because of the advantages of primes, it's quite acceptable to use a prime if know you're only going to shoot at one focal length (or there's a particular focal length that you like to use a lot). What I can't comment on is how the quality of your existing Fujifilm equipment would compare to Canon equipment and whether a Canon zoom (and accompanying body) would be better overall than a Fujifilm prime (and body).

Whatever you do, don't let anyone else tell you what to do. If you're concerned about giving up your existing lenses that you like, then don't. The suggested lens doesn't even include your preferred focal length.

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    While "zooms typically have more distortion" is probably true, the 24-70 is not a typical zoom lens. – Philip Kendall Mar 26 '18 at 20:00
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    OK, I see that that is a high-end zoom lens. You would expect that it has low distortion in that case. However my point still stands that there's nothing wrong with carrying and using primes if you like to shoot at a particular focal length and if you're happy with your current lenses then you don't need to replace them. – Micheal Johnson Mar 27 '18 at 10:30
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    @MichaelClark I am aware of the difference. Neither kind of distortion is favorable in portraiture. This is one of the reasons why portrait photographers often prefer primes (the other being larger apertures). – Micheal Johnson Mar 27 '18 at 11:40
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    ...because it has enough focal length to avoid needing to shoot a headshot from only 18" away from the subject.) In order, the most significant considerations for most portraitists that prefer primes are: 1) Aperture 2) Aperture 3) Aperture 4) acutance 5) acutance 6) bokeh 7) bokeh (which is directly affected by the shape of the lens' field of focus) 8) Aperture 9)Bokeh 10) distortion ( which is about 95% perspective and 5% geometric). – Michael C Mar 27 '18 at 11:54
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    @MichaelClark Can confirm, I like my primes for points 1-9 mainly. – Belle-Sophie Mar 27 '18 at 12:17
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Primes are an excellent choice and allow you to zoom with your feet, framing things the way you want. I wouldn't trade in all your gear for a Canon SLR with a zoom lens, but you might consider (some day) "upgrading" to a full-frame mirrorless, like the Sony A7Riii with a 42MP sensor, 5-stop In-Body-Image-Stabilization (IBIS—which would work for even adapted lenses), and amazing dynamic range. Of course that $3K camera would pair nicely with the $2K 24–70mm G-Master zoom lens, other zooms, or a number of nice primes, either from Sony or adapted. One nice thing about the Sony mirrorless cameras (and possibly other cameras with EVF) is that adapted manual-focus lenses, stopped down, can still be focused; indeed, you can still use the focus magnifier to fine-tune your focus. I use a number of Carl Zeiss T* lenses made for Contax (Kyocera’s bodies from the 70s to 90s) with a simple adapter to use them on the original Sony A7R (but you can tell I have serious GAS for the A7Riii ;-) )

All that said, your Fujifilm X-T2 is a great camera and I don't want to take away from your enjoyment of it, nor the lenses you already have. You’re really fine to stick with what you have and I certainly wouldn’t bother with SLRs in this day and age. Mirrorless has way too many pros for me to ever want to go back to an SLR.

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I am looking to purchase a camera and have been Googling about far too much. My conclusion is to go Fuji. I found many people switching from Canon to Fuji, but not the other way. Gear size is a big thing sited, eg for carry on luggage, being noticed by security people in the street with a massive camera, arm ache. Professionals seem to start off with a Fuji backup camera and then end up selling the full-frame kit.

Mirrorless over DSLR-> smaller camera. APS-C over 35mm -> one stop less light, smaller,lighter, less-expensive, lenses.

You have to make very large prints for the difference in picture quality to be noticable.

The other comment I found was for DSLR-APS-C, being the worst of both worlds, as you may end up using full frame (heavy expensive) lenses (also not made for APS-C).

So plenty of 'pros' using Fuji. The other arguement put forward is the 'well anything smaller than medium format is junk', and since that is so much bigger than 35mm, then 35mm can't be any good, if you think it is then the jump to APS-C is a much smaller one. But I think this is using the medium format as a decoy (classic selling technique).

This is my paraphrase of what the Internet told me, so it must be true, right?

This does not really answer your question, but rambles in the direction of saying Fuji is a pro-tool/system and often the best one to select.

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    It really helps, thank you. It makes me think this “pro” may have had no clue about mirrorless strengths. – Belle-Sophie Mar 26 '18 at 17:36
  • Yet another prediction of impending doom for the DSLR. We'll file it with all of the rest we've read since about 2009 or so. They've been going around hot and heavy for nearly a decade now. I know several pros who tried to go mirrorless and dumped the Fuji/Sony/µ4/3 and went back to their DSLR. I know pros that use both, depending on what they're working on at the time. It's all about what you shoot and whether a specific set of tools does what you need or not. – Michael C Mar 26 '18 at 17:46
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    'Yet another prediction of impending doom', is really corny. Sales figures show DSLRs dropping,mirrorless rising, from which is predicted the doom; I don't see it myself, I think DSLR's will stay on-top. Now if medium format could be made more practicable...(what I mean is I agree with eveything you said except the doom bit, which was a bit cringe-worthy). – Rob Mar 26 '18 at 21:50
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    @MichaelClark Agreed. DSLRs won't just die. Even film cameras have their uses still. Mirrorless has many advantages, which I originally chose it for, but some disadvantages too. It seems to me that DSLR is no longer the default choice (a memo that the "pro" in question hasn't received yet), but it can still be a good choice, depending on your needs and that won't change. – Belle-Sophie Mar 27 '18 at 10:25
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    @Rob, Since 2012, when they peaked in terms of total market share for ILCs, mirrorless ILCs have dropped at a faster rate than SLRs. The entire market is shrinking. YAPID is kind of a jargon thing in some circles. Sorry if you haven't come across it. Your answer above comes across much differently than you comment above. Your answer does seem to be saying that with mirrorless cameras now available DSLRs now have very little value if any at all. Kind of the MILC version of the "professional" that advised the OP that "only FF with 24-70/2.8" was any good. – Michael C Mar 27 '18 at 11:44

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