Going Cold Turkey – Kid’s Soccer and the Fuji X-T1

In last fall kid’s soccer season several months ago, I shot half the game with my trusty Canon 7D and half with my new Fuji X-T1. I liked the images from my X-T1, but I wasn’t 100% sold that I could shoot kid’s soccer successfully and comfortably with just the Fuji since:

  • The Canon 7D and 70-200mm f/4L are designed for incredible handling (but is heavier).
  • The Fuji’s hyperactive continuous focus behavior, which you can see in the EVF, bothered me.

But I decided that if I were going to make the best of my available equipment, I need to give the Fuji 100% of my attention, so I went cold turkey and only brought the Fuji to this Spring’s soccer games.

And it’s a good thing that I did.

Old gripe: Jittery continuous focus in EVF too annoying

After a few games: Don’t hardly notice now. The brain is amazing and adjusts to changes like this very well. Did you know that you see through layers of blood vessels in your eyes (all the time)? Your brain removes them.

Old gripe: Grip not as good for holding long term

After a few games: My right arm hurt significantly less after a few games. It also takes a few games every season with my Canon 7D for my right arm to strengthen to handle shooting soccer. My body just had to also adjust to the middle finger rest on Fuji’s Metal Hand Grip – Large.

Sidenote: a battery grip was not help in this case, but a combo MHG-Large + battery grip might feel much better when hand holding the X-T1 with a heavy lens. Hear that, Fuji?

Old gripe: Hard to track kid’s soccer players during EVF blackout

After a few games: Had a little trouble last year, but didn’t notice any issues this season. (Not sure about other sports yet.)

Old gripe: Doesn’t focus while zooming

After a few games: I don’t zoom while shooting much in soccer, so not a problem.

Old gripe: Slow focus speed at end of XC 50-230mm

After a few games: Not a problem with XF 50-140mm

and it still gets about 80-85% of the continuous focus frames correct just like my Canon 7D.

Lenses vs Cameras

I shot these games with just a 50-140mm which is interesting. Years ago, I got an 18-135mm with my first DSLR and was unhappy with the short range that 135mm covered, and that was when my kids played a smaller field. As they went to bigger fields, I moved on to bigger lenses –first 18-200mm, then 70-300mm, and finally shrunk down to the 70-200mm f/4L IS for better image quality. (And now back down to the 50-140mm.)

It turns out it wasn’t the range that was bothering me, it was the quality of the images. I thought the better lenses would do it (everyone points to DxO and the-digital-picture’s lens quality comparison), but what I really needed was a better camera coupled with better lenses (Fuji) so cropping was less of a problem.

Now if my kids decide to play on a full size soccer field (unlikely), then I might be looking at either the 2x teleconverter or Fuji’s new 100-400mm.

Cross Country

I’m still not sure about shooting cross country. Kids soccer goes in bursts while I like to zoom while tracking cross country (the Fuji does not focus while you are changing focal length) and I have to track someone for several seconds which leads me to my last point.

Confidence

I’ve found that when I shoot sports with my Canon 7D. I feel more confident. It feels great in my hands. (I’m more tired from hauling the weight,) but I feel more confident. Since I can see in the optical viewfinder that I successfully tracked the subjects, I also feel confident at the scene that I got the shot. Then I get home and am often disappointed by the quality of the images.

When I shoot with my Fuji X-T1, I’m a little apprehensive about the electronic viewfinder blackout (the time it takes to display the live image when you shoot in continuous mode). That apprehension reduces my confidence, but when I get home, the images it captures are often at par or better than the Canon 7D.

So what should I choose?

  • Be more confident (but more tired), and get s0-s0 results
  • or be less confident, but get better results?

In any case, I’m glad that I went cold turkey and really used the camera. This really gave it a proper chance to show off what it could really do.

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