Riley JB - Photographer & Alchemist


Calgary photographer, Riley JB, writes essays, photo stories, reviews & tutorials in his photographic Journal.

Gone dSLR Gone:: Fully Mirrorless!

Most of the people who read my blog know I am an official Fuji X-Photographer and I use an X-Pro1 & a X100s. Some people think that I am paid or have an agreement with Fuji to advertise their cameras and write great things about them and use them exclusively. This is not the case. Fuji does not tell me what I can or cannot write about and they have not told me to only use their cameras. In fact I was told that they just want my honest opinion so they can make their cameras better. I just so happen to really, truly, genuinely love the Fuji X-Series and I let everyone know it.
I love them so much in fact that I am moving to only using Fujis for my photography. How & why after the jump.

I loved my Canon 5D Mark II & then Mark III but I hated carrying it around especially with a few lenses. It was heavy, awkward and drew attention from people around me. I felt that people were a bit intimidated in front of it too. I wanted something lighter but still with awesome image quality. A few years ago this did not exist to me. There were a few mirrorless interchangeable lens systems on the market but the sensor was either too small or just not that great for what I wanted.

A mental roadblock I developed was that I did not want to give up my pro dSLR camera body and lenses because that would make me less of a pro. I wanted to project an image to those around me. "I have a pro camera so I must be a great photographer!"

In my head I was making strange rationalizations for keeping my big dSLR..

I need it because of the full frame depth of field.

This was a big one for me. I did not want to go from a full frame sensor back down to a crop sensor. The beautiful thin depth of field from a 50mm 1.2 lens. I needed that! What would I become without it!!? I would not be  a good photographer unless I had thin depth of field!

The truth was I lost more photographs than I made due to the thin depth of field afforded by a full frame sensor and a f/1.2 lens. Yes the results are 3D and dreamy. But thin depth of field does not a great photograph make.

The Fujis are not weather sealed! I need it for shooting in bad weather!

I kept coming back to this one in my head whenever the thought of ditching my dSLR creeped up. And it is true that the Fujis are not weather sealed. However.. very rarely would I subject my dSLR to harsh and extreme elements. Maybe a skiff of snow. Maybe a drizzle. I was as interested in standing in a downpour as my Fujis were.

When I went to NYC in the Spring I carried my X-Pro1 & X100s on me all the time. A few days it rained steady all day. I took photos in the rain. I kept them covered when I was not using them. Guess what? No issues. And this was likely the extent of how I would continue to use these cameras in less than fair weather.

With a crop factor I won't be able to go super wide! I need full frame to go wide!

With an APS-C sensor there is of course a crop factor. 1.5x usually. So a 14mm lens turns into a 21mm cropped view. 21mm? I am losing 7mm of ultra wide goodness! Wait.. when have I ever really shot anything I liked at 14mm? I owned the Canon 14mm f/2.8L lens for a short time. I might have made 1 photo that I liked. And I did not like that photo that much. I had not mounted my Canon 17-40 f/4L on my dSLR in a long time. Ultra & super Wide angle is cool and fun to use when you're getting your photographic feet underneath you but it does grow tiresome.

In the past year or two I have hovered around 20mm-35mm for my wide angle shots. And even the 21mm (equivalent) of the Fuji XF 14mm is sometimes a little too wide for me.

I need super fast auto focus. Or I might miss a shot!

This one might actually be a real concern for some people. Like sports shooters or even wedding photographers. Both of which I am not. (Although I did just shoot my sister's wedding. More on that a bit later)

For me I did not really put the 5D Mark III's great new autofocus system through its paces. My shooting style has changed. Less run & gun. More portraiture. I am going slower to make the best photos I can.

My style of making photos was not hindered by the Fuji mirrorless system. And here is a random assortment of photos made with my mirrorless kit to prove that. (Mostly to myself)

The Turning Point

Since buying the Fuji X-Pro1 and X100s I have really been pitting them against my dSLR. I had those mental barriers I just could not push through. I needed evidence to prove to my brain that I would be just fine without it. My sister was getting hitched and her photographer could not make it. I was volunteered to take over. I had not shot a wedding before. I did know my sister's style and I knew I could give her photos she would love.

I again thought about only using my Fujis.. but my damn stubbornness would not let me leave the dSLR behind. I shot the wedding and had a great time. It was a very unique and cool wedding and reception with lots of family and friends.

I had the 5D Mark III, X-Pro1 & X100s hanging from me using a Holdfast MoneyMaker strap. The 5Dmk3 had an 85 1.2L because I felt I needed a good telephoto prime which Fuji has yet to come out with. In concert the 3 cameras did great. I am in love with the final product from that day. The Fuji photos were excellent. I know that having the 85mm focal length was nice but I knew I could of easily done without it and still delivered great photographs.

Here are a small sampling of photos from the wedding made with the X-Pro1 & X100s:

The Big Sell

With the wedding fresh in my mind I had a quick portrait shoot to do. I was loading up my bag with the intention of only using my Fujis. But once again my stubborn brain wanted to throw in the dSLR as a safety net. Just before I left I reach in and left the dSLR on my desk. I left with only the Fujis, one light and some concepts to try out.

I went to a park in Calgary that I walked through with my wife and our dog a week before. I spotted a wall covered in green vines and knew I wanted to use it as a background. I took my subject, Terry, to the wall and set my light up. Using the X100s and its leaf shutter to kill the ambient light at 7pm I made the shot I had in my mind.

It was this day that I knew I would be just fine with my mirrorless kit. I was free.

The next few days I did some product shots of my dSLR gear and researched used prices. I placed the ads on Kijiji and waited for the emails to come rolling in.

I must admit I did have a few moments of weakness where I thought "I'll just keep the 5Dmk3 and the 35L.. just in case".  I fought through it. I looked at the photos my Fujis have made in Lightroom and was reaffirmed in my decision.

A full frame body and 4 pro lenses took only a few days to sell and I received my asking price on them all. A really nice chunk of change in my bank account. Just waiting to be reallocated.


I had to read a lot of other blogs of people doing the same thing for me to really feel it was going to be okay. If these awesome photographers can get by and make amazing photography with a mirrorless kit then there was hope for me too.

Are dSLRs dead?

Not yet. For me they are. I can see a lot of different types of shooters still needing them. However, mirrorless is really catching up at record speed. I use Fujis because of their sensor, glass and their gorgeous looks. They are perfect for me.

I plan to buy a back-up camera to my X-Pro1, either another X-Pro1 or a X-E1, in the next couple of weeks. I am eager for the Fuji XF 23mm 1.4 & 56mm 1.2 lenses to come out. I know I will likely be buying them. This month Leica is lending me a 90mm f/2.5 Summarit lens to try on my X-Pro1 using the X-Mount adapter. I am very excited to give it a try and see how the new focus peaking works with a manual focus lens. Plus it is a prime focal length not available in X-mount. These are exiting times in photography. And I am loving every minute of it!

If you know someone struggling with the decision on dropping the dSLR for mirrorless pass this post on to them. It was other photographer's posts that gave me the courage to go only mirrorless and maybe this post will do the same for someone else.

Thanks for reading! If you have dropped the dSLR let me know about it in the comments or on Twitter or both!