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Poking the Hornet’s Nest... Sony vs Fujifilm: Which is the Better Deal?

See my Sony mirrorless wishlist and Fujifilm X wishlist at B&H Photo.

See my in-depth review of the Fujifilm X Pro-2 and lenses as well as my in-depth coverage of Sony mirrorless. Having shot the X-Pro2 system extensively in the field (as well as its predecessors), I offer my perspective on relative value here below.

Seems like a no brainer.

With Sony, for $260 LESS (includes the B&H 4% reward), you get a full frame sensor with in-body-image stabilization, Eye AF, a grip that’s solid and not a toy, many more programmable buttons for working efficiency, and the Zeiss Loxia and Zeiss Batis lens lines in addition to all Sony lenses AND these lenses will cover future full-frame Sony cameras, which are almost certain to yank forward the high end this year. And there are two other Sony full-frame bodies to choose from that make sense for outstanding video (A7S II), or for higher resolution (A7R II). And most likely something even more impressive coming this year.

Sony A7R II: full frame, image stabilization, excellent grip, Zeiss Loxia and Batis lens lines and Sony too!

With Fujifilm, you pay $260 more for a toy grip, a much smaller APS-C sensor, no full-frame Zeiss lenses (the Touit line is moribund), no in-body image stabilization, and inferior depth of field control (all but one lens has DoF equivalent of f/2 at best, even the 56/1.2 APD is only equivalent to f/1.8 in full frame DoF terms). AND you have to REPLACE ALL YOUR LENSES* if/when Fujifilm goes to full frame.

* Should still be usable, but won’t cover full-frame and/or may be of marginal quality outside the APS-C crop area. Point is, new lenses will be mandatory for proper support on a Fujifilm full-frame camera.

Fujifilm X-Pro2: APS-C, NO image stabilization, toy grip, NO Zeiss Loxia and Batis lenses, MORE expensive!

A camera is not specs of course, so choose your passion and what feels good to you.

But the foregoing (particularly full frame and IBIS and full frame lenses) are irrefutable values that there is no getting around. As for myself, I greatly prefer the Sony controls and buttons over Fujifilm: setup and programmed to my working methods (far more flexibility there), in the field I can work faster and more efficiently. And with Sony, I do not have to deal with special raw converters to avoid ugly fractal-like artifacts. Wasting my time on post-processing raw-conversion hassles is an unacceptable burden.

My guess is that a Sony A7 III is coming soon, probably with 4K video and some other improvements (and maybe will bump up in megapixels to slot in against a future 70-80 megapixel sibling?). Sony has a clear path forward with no lens problems; Fujifilm makes you start over with lenses.

Ari D writes:

These are reasons why I like FujiFilm's APS-C cameras as an option in my kit. That said, I also do full frame and larger in my kit.

...

Optical viewfinder in the X-Pro2.
   - Being able to see outside of the frame as your subject moves into position is a bonus. So much so that I miss it when using other mirrorless and DSLR systems.
  - The total lack of EVF/LCD blackout is a huge bonus with the X-Pro2's optical viewfinder. And the OVF doesn't seem to affect subject tracking or basic AF-C when in use either. This is huge for me.
  - Minimizing EVF/LCD refresh lag is critical when working with moving subjects in low light. And I'm not just talking about low theater light with fast-moving dancers, but anything with humans moving in less than direct/diffused sunlight. The OVF has no refresh lag at all obviously, and this is a big bonus.

When I rented the A7SII and A7RII I found them hideous to use for rehearsals. The EVF and LCD lag were intolerable, as was the embarrassingly terrible battery life, and total camera lock up when files were writing. Same with the X-T1 in terms of refresh lag. Unusable for this type of fast work, still.

Mirrorless in general is still nowhere near ready for action photography in any indoor environment in my opinion. I'm still using heavy, bulky, durable DSLRs with great button placement and ergonomics (mirrorless has some way to go here) for anything with movement in low light. I'm still seeing DSLR AF performance blow away any mirrorless camera I have owned or rented in even moderately low light. This includes sports, dance, events and news work. I don't anticipate this will change for another couple of years and I've stopped seriously evaluating mirrorless systems as DSLR replacement, but now evaluate only as supplement, and for this FujiFilm fits my needs.

DIGLLOYD: Well put and completely fair on principle—my comments are of course about general usage—tools for any particular job may be more or less well suited. Every camera system has some pluses and minuses.

The above comments are a good example of how particular features and behaviors for specific purposes can be key. Still, I’ve not had any camera lockups as referred to with the A7R II, battery life has been just fine, so that’s a puzzler for me. I’ve also had sports shooters (volleyball, basketball) write and praise the A7R II as yielding a higher hit rate than the former DSLR. Since I don’t do these types of shooting, I would advise as Ari does: rent first, and find out for your own purposes. Moreover the A7S II if video were the purpose would far outperform Fujifilm in the above scenarios—so it all depends on the particulars.

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