A Big Change: Switching Systems to the Nikon D800

Some of the people I know who are Canon shooters may call me a "traitor", and some may just be plain disappointed.  I've had nothing but warm welcome from those in the steadily growing Nikon camp who were happy to see me change (read: happy to see me stop griping about it and do it already). So far with the D800 I've shot a few landscapes (GASP!!) and some cool portraits.

Epic waterfalls near Baxter's Harbour in Nova Scotia -  I'm going to print this one quite big.  

Why the switch?

Canon left me with one option to upgrade.  I could drop nearly $3500 for a 5D Mark III and get a marginally better sensor than I was using (+1MP, Improved AF, a few other bells and whistles) and keep shooting with my lenses.  


I could take a second-hand Nikon D800 for $1900, dump all my Canon equipment on the used market and buy the lenses I need the most and a speedlite to keep me going.  Oh, and the $1600 savings over the 5D Mark III body means that I can also get a Fuji X100T to go along with the Nikon kit. 

Nikon has been making strides to improve its still camera lineup in a way that Canon can't touch.  The last full frame released by Canon was the 6D.  Since then Nikon has released three new full frame bodies, and not a whiff of new stuff from Canon. To be honest I'm getting tired of the waiting and waiting, and the reality is that even if Canon came up with a fantastic 5D mark IV in the next few months, it would be well out of my budget.  I'm ready to upgrade now, and it looks like the only path that offers a substantial increase in image quality is the Nikon camp.  

Self portrait using constant lighting.  Minimal retouching done on this shot, but I sure love the amount of detail.  

So far I've been very happy making use of the D800's many pixels, making retouching a lot easier and the noiseless shadow recovery is an impressive change.  The only thing I can say I miss from Canon is the built in radio triggering capabilities of the 600EX RT flashes.  They are astoundingly good and make off camera flash triggering a breeze.  On the other hand I'm very much looking forward to using Nikon's CLS in the SB900 or SB910 flashes.  

As for the X100T, I'm loving every second of shooting this camera.  It's quick, responsive, and has exceptional image quality.  There's something very special about the X-Trans sensor in this camera, and the pairing of it and the 23mm fujinon lens is brilliant.  

Another waterfall shot, this time from the X100T.  

I think the most appealing aspect of shooting the Fuji is that I can take it anywhere.  It's small, discreet (I opted for the black version) and easy to use.  The film emulation presets are really good, especially the new Classic Chrome setting.  I'm also a big fan of the 35mm equivalent field of view.

Showing off the Fuji Classic Chrome setting.  

Would I recommend the change to anyone?

This is tough.  I'm happy with my choice but it has been very stressful to sell used equipment.  A piece of gear here and there doesn't add much stress but when you're shifting almost $5000 worth of kit it can be strenuous.  Low ball offers and tire kickers make me wonder if the change was worth the hassle, but then I pick up the Fuji or the D800 and I know I made the right decision for me.

If you're a working professional and you are ready to move up from a Canon whatever camera, you really have to weigh the options for yourself.  The Nikons will offer some advantages over the Canon cameras, but they are weaker in other areas like video and specialty lens selections.  If you're a hobbyist I can't fully recommend you make the switch.  That may not stop you but keep in mind that the next big camera from Canon is likely to be really good, because quite frankly, it has to be.