Saraya Cortaville is an award-winning professional photographer with busy portrait business. She’s also travelled extensively, shooting for charities such as Raleigh International and the Gurkha Welfare Trust, documenting the work they do in rural parts of Tanzania and Nepal.
Last year she became a Fuji X-Photographer, ditching her full-frame Nikon gear in favour of the Fuji X-T2. We found out a little more about what convinced her to make the change, this is what she had to say:
Until 2016, I had been a loyal Nikon shooter for well over 14 years. Starting with the film Nikon F5, before moving to digital cameras with the Nikon D2Xs and then my most recent Nikon camera, the flagship D4s along with collection of Nikon lenses to boot. I was invested for the long-haul, and saw myself continuing this way.
However, in early 2016 I was approached by the lovely guys at Fuji UK to see if I would be interested is giving a new prototype camera (the Fuji X-T2) a go. They wanted to know if I would be interested in making the swap from a full-frame DSLR to a mirrorless model.
Initially I was pretty doubtful, and the thought of not shooting on my trusty Nikon was a little daunting. I had become used to all of the menus, dials and function buttons. I knew where I was with the Nikon, and it made life easy as it was just second nature for me.
When I first tried the Fuji X-T2, to be honest the feel was relatively similar, BUT with some noticeable positive changes.
First off, the size of the camera was considerably smaller, even with the battery grip on. The weight was also greatly reduced and shooting all day was so much easier and physically less demanding especially as I used long lenses like the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 (that’s a big lens!) with most of my portraiture work. I loved the drop off in focus at 2.8, it suited my style of imaging.
With the Fuji lenses, I loved the fact that the aperture control was on the lens itself (it took me back to my very first student camera, the lovely little Pentax K1000, still sitting on my desk!).
People had told me that the drop-off wasn’t going to be as nice, but I totally disagree. The drop-off in focus was just beautiful, especially with some of the prime lenses, the XF 56 mm f/1.2 APD is a killer of a lens!
I found the X-T2 dials and menus were quite easy to get to grips with and find what you want. I have never been one for reading pages and pages of instruction manuals, I just want to be able to pick the camera up and go, and as such it needs to make sense off the mark!
The X-T2 did just that, and I was surprised at how quickly I became used to where everything was. This was something I was not expecting, for me everything just kind of felt like it was supposed to be there. Instinctively it just felt right.
Of course the real test for me was always going to be the image quality. I was well aware that there may be some loss of quality because of the smaller sensor, but when I first looked I did not see anything of the sort. If anything the files had more depth, and for me as a portrait photographer the skin tones were just lovely!
I had always shot in raw format on my Nikon cameras, and with the Fuji this was still going to be the case, but I had heard of the wonderful profiles called Film Simulation modes that you are able to assign to the jpeg files from Fuji cameras. I decided to give them a try to see what I thought.
Again, I was surprised by the remarkably high quality of the jpegs straight from the camera. The PRO Neg.Hi colours seemed to work with my style of work the best, and the depth and contrast means that they are usable straight away. That’s a real time saver for any photographer.
Most of the time I try and get my images “right” in camera, however as many photographers know, most raw files need some form of tweaking in post to get them how we want them – a little sharpening, a push of the curves etc – these all take time. So to see my files looking so good straight from the camera was a bonus!
Making the switch
After seeing the quality I was getting from the Fuji X-T2, I saw no point in keeping two systems going at the same time so my Nikon gear went on Ebay, and I haven’t looked back.
The X-T2 hasn’t really changed the way I shoot, but has just made life a little easier. I travel A LOT with my gear, and the lightness, and functionality has made a real difference into my enjoyment of photography.