Switching to Mirrorless from a DSLR By Mohamed Hakem

Switching to Mirrorless from a DSLR

By Mohamed Hakem

Hello Steve!

Whenever I’m into any stage of photography I come to my passionate website 🙂

Mirrorless really helped me unhinge a new passion for photography.

I always considered myself as a nature/landscape. I had a D800 and all what I was interested in was landscape, nature and architecture. I was never a people’s photographer, not because I couldn’t but because I’m a little bit shy and not the right personality for doing weddings and commercials. Despite loving street photography and portraits of normal people in the street, it is an absurd dream for me in Egypt. In conservative cultures, people get offended when you point a camera and snap a picture, they might even get aggressive. So for me this category was off the list. Until when I got a Fuji X100 and things change! magically people in the street began accepting the photos! I had more and more confidence and I liked the Idea of having a camera with me 100% of the time! I found myself leaving the D800 and other lenses at home despite knowing that they are way more capable.

I gradually began shifting towards Fuji, I got an Xpro-1 and a couple of lenses and began traveling with the Xpro-1 18mm F/2 + 35mm F1.4. I started to discover new horizons for me in street photography. I really liked it! It wasn’t long since I got an XT-1 and sold all my nikon glass and committed myself to Fuji.

I started to get the courage to get closer to people here in my country and surprisingly having a retro style camera shifts you towards an artist more than a spy or a CIA agent or even a journalist!. I went with some friends all lugging around huge backpacks full of equipment and I really pitted them, I was going light with just the Fuji XT-1, 35mm and a 23mm. I could move more easily, having just a small shoulder bag that doesn’t even look like a camera bag I was able to get closer to people. I took some portraits of amazingly kind and simple people all with a friendly spirit.

I just LOVED mirrorless more and I knew that I took the right decision. believe me people it’s not sensor sizes or charts or dynamic ranges. It’s only you who really knows what makes you happy, Don’t just sit and read articles like mirrorless VS DSLR or buying gears just because it has a PRO marks all over it! for me, being light and mobile allowed me to get more! to discover more and to move more!

before I had the D800 and Nikon’s trinity, I couldn’t wish for more quality and supreme performance, but with the Fuji, going around more and having a clearer mind allowed me to do settings more wisely, intuitively and faster. Yes the Fuji is a slower less capable camera than the Nikon, but its combination with ME is a faster package, even the Landscape that I come from is much easier and nicer.

It reminded me with the good old days when I had the Nikon FM2 and a couple of lenses.

My website:



below are some street photos that I took with my XPRO-1 and X-T1













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  1. Great pix! Well composed, capture the mood perfectly. You have a talent.
    BTW, which ones were shot with X-Pro and which with X-T?

  2. “Despite loving street photography and portraits of normal people in the street, it is an absurd dream for me in Egypt. In conservative cultures, people get offended when you point a camera and snap a picture, they might even get aggressive.”

    Then this is for You, check first few minutes (from about 00:40).
    Mystical Marrakech | Street Photography with Zack…: http://youtu.be/VpYfhqfWcu8

    That is a very good tactic to do and flipping screen is a must for that!

  3. Some truly lovely photography here Mohamed. Thanks for sharing and I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts on gear.

    I’d urge anyone reading to visit Mohamed’s website too, some great photos and interesting articles there.

    Keep sharing!

  4. I love this set of photos. The first one and the tram and the donkey photos are my favourites. 🙂

    Like you, I have sold my Canon 6D and my L lenses in favour of my Fuji and Olympus/Panasonic mirrorless cameras. I love having a light kit that is non-threatening, not intrusive. The subjects are often happy to be shot with one.

  5. Great Street photos is a combination of technically correct images but more important great story telling images – yours are both. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Excellent pictures. If all the luck is on your side, Fuji X can produce excellent results. Like many competitive 2014-systems, btw, and it’s of course more the photographer than the system.

    But unfortunately after having used the same Fuji X-cameras for about 3-3,5 years, they disappeared back into a second and maybe even ‘go away’ plan for me. On travel I still might take the X-Pro1, but for all other purposes I cannot afford the at some moments insane inflexibility.

    Nikon F is a 30 years love story for me. I cannot remember once instance – even in the very far away analog era now – where a Nikon or Nikkor has nailed me with this degree of AF-issues, frequent lock ups, a ‘decisive moment’-killing shutter lag or battery-issues like the X-Pro1 does all the time. And the original X100 has also given me a fair bit of worries. An excellent camera… occasionally, yes.

    Though I understand the recent X-releases made quite a bit of progress, Fuji has broken my confidence. I’ll never make the same mistake again to buy into a lens/camera system that is new in the market. It will take Fuji another 2-3 yrs to get where they really have to be and seen the technical more and more interesting competition, I’m not sure they’re going to make it.

    • “I’m not sure they’re going to make it” – really!? I think next to Sony, Fuji is the most innovative with the hybrid viewfinders and quiet shutter etc. they do make great glass and they’ve worked on the auto focus issues. For whatever reason they are not interested in making full frame, but they’ve made the argument that its not required either. So as an alternate ‘main stream’ camera, its a very good choice for many.

      I’m personally waiting on the XPro2.

  7. really good images. it shows that for portraiture and street this is the better camera for you. if it is for landcape shure is another thing. i like your postprocessing, too (or is it picture styles in camera).
    maybe you can keep both cameras and use them for different jobs.

  8. Great photos. I too have a D800 that sits at home most of the time while I roam around with a Leica M (240) and a couple of small, prime lenses. The big manufacturers need to listen to people like you who are voting with their feet, so to speak. And judging by the great quality of your photographs, it is obvious that the Nikons and Cannons of the world are in deep trouble if they don’t change their course, and soon. Your work with the Xpro-1 is living proof of that.

  9. …again this story about big-bulky dslr versus sweet little mirrorless..with a D800 and zoom lenses you created bulkiness yourself, there are very good small dslr’s as well,and fitted with a prime lens it’s nearly as compact as mirrorless.

  10. These are very well composed and executed photos- i really like #10 & #11.

    The whole ‘I switched over from this to that because this is better’ argument is a little tired though. What may work for some won’t work for others. I was in the camp of leaving DSLR’s behind until I started getting back into landscape photography. My X-Pro definitely didn’t give the same results as my full frame camera- it can be debated back and forth, but it just didn’t.

    I don’t believe that is what you are arguing in this case, as I think your general theme is that by going small, you were able to be freed up to enjoy photography again- that’s awesome.

    Every time I read one of these, I am reminded of ‘Horses for Courses’- What may work for you today may not be what you need tomorrow.

    I love my X-Pro1, and I’m glad to see you love yours and get great results- keep up the great work.

  11. Stunning people pictures. Just goes to show (a) you never know till you try (b) a small, non-intimidating camera is ideal for such photography. I guess the latest Fujis are the perfect combination of proportions and performance. The Olympus OMD E-M1 and 12-40mm f2.8 might also do the trick.

  12. Fantastic shots Hakem!! Your environmental portraits have a certain pop that makes me feel like I’m right there with you.
    Just wondering, how big of the difference was your post-processing workflow between the Fuji X100 and the XT-1? I have the X100 and used to have the X-E2, and I found the newer X trans II sensor to be a pain to work with compared to the old sensor. Wondering if you felt that way with the XT-1 compared to the X100. Thanks!

  13. You’re obviously enjoying the journey along this road…and we’re that much richer for it. So many wonderful moments so well conveyed. Well done!

  14. Mohamed – Thanks for sharing these great pictures! Like you, I have always shied away from taking pictures of people, especially strangers. But these could convince me to try as well. You did a truly wonderful job!

  15. Egypt is a most beautiful place, so thank you for sharing your photos. 🙂 The Fuji cameras are very nice indeed. Your photos have a lovely clarity and colour to them. I still prefer the look of film, but most 35mm film stocks do not have this level of clarity.

    Thanks to modern, digital sensors, we don’t need big cameras (or big sensors) any longer. Ten years ago, the only choice for serious photography was the DSLR. But things have changed dramatically.

    Even the iPhone has an excellent camera. DSLRs will serve a strong niche for a few more years, though. And speaking of Nikon, I think the Nikon 1 is their best system, by far. Eventually, Nikon is going to have a hard time selling APS-C DSLRs and will probably stop making them in the near future.

  16. These are brilliant! I particularly like the man in the shop surrounded by all his coloured merchandise and the neglected door and flaking wall. I feel like you did about people photography, but with your inspiration and my Fuji X100S, maybe I could venture out………

  17. Wonderful images – and I agree with you totally: people seem to welcome the retro look of these cameras, I have an O-MD and people think it is a film camera!

  18. Funny. I have a D800(E nowadays), no trinity, don’t like zooms, usualy just a 35 screwed on, and never encounter what you apparently have. Also, the X-TR1 (nice camera btw) really looks like an SLR, doesn’t it?

    Still, beautiful images. Thanks for sharing them.

  19. The photos show your talent. Wonderful feeling in them. I, too, have noticed that smaller cameras become a conversation piece, if they are noticed at all, and aren’t as threatening for street work. But I do feel the pull to getting a DSLR again. My Leica kit with 3 lenses, though more compact, actually weighs more than a D750 kit with 3 primes that I have my eyes on!

    • Yes, I agree. I bought a Leica M this year with 3 lenses. I have been a Nikon shooter for years. While it’s fun to shoot the Leica it is really a heavy kit. If I go out with just one Leica lens it’s not so bad but if I feel the need to have all 3, it is heavier than a Nikon with one zoom. I was seriously thinking that for traveling, a Nikon D750 and one good zoom would be easier.

  20. Very good picture of people in their natural environment. Extremely well done. Please keep up with your good work!

  21. Great pictures Mohamed.
    I so agree with you, the fuji Xpro-1 is giving me the same feeling.
    and such wonderfull lenses these fuji’s.
    I left dlsr country 2 years ago, however the D750 started teasing me a lot,
    I went to my local store, after picking up the camera and the 2-3 lenses i wanted,
    the size and weight made me forget about changing back that very moment.

  22. I also started with a Nikon ( FE instead of an FM), and over the years, the Nikons just get more and more ridiculous until I had to ditch my Nikon D 300 and 6 equally bulky lenses. Now like you I travel with just one camera and two lenses ( Leica T with 23mm Cron T and a Zeiss 35mm ZM Biogon. Yes, absolute freedom indeed. Bloody marvellous.

  23. You’ve got a great gift of connecting to people and crafting nicely composed images. Keep up this terrific work and glad you found the tools that complement your gifts.

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