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Pro Photographer Reader Comment: Selling Fujifilm Medium Format in Favor of Sony A1 System

My Sony A1 order is on the way. I also ordered the Sony FE 50mm f/1.2 GM, one of the best lenses ever created, a lens you buy for its own merits and then buy the camera for. You can’t get anything half as capable and beautiful for Fujifilm medium format, IMO.

For now, I sold the Fujifilm GFX100S and I don’t miss it, but I will probably re-acquire it later this year—as noted there is sometimes no substitute for maximum resolution plus I need it to cover medium format. But it isn’t camera lust or desire to use it.

I am systematically but rigorously laying out the case for Sony lenses and images versus Fujifilm medium format—more coming. In spite of setbacks on my trip, I have a ton of material, but it’s far more time intensive to publish than to capture.

Steve T writes:

Sony A1

A couple of times over the last decade I have subscribed to your various volumes.

I have done the same again just recently, initially the medium format because I started to invest in the Fujifilm GFX system. Your enthusiasm for the Sony A1 made me go on to subscribe to the mirrorless again as well.

In the past the most useful was your in depth study of ZF glass which I adapted and used with Canon and subsequently Sony. Indeed at the time I purchased five Zeiss lenses totally based on your work, the 21mm, 25mmf2, 35mmf2, 50mmf2, 100mmf2 all ZF/ZF2 which I still have.

Anyway I am so pleased I subscribed to the medium format because I have decided to sell my Fujifilm GFX-50R (which I bought off Ebay recently) and cancel my order for the Fujifilm GFX100s and get the Sony Alpha 1 which arrives today!! I do actually use the Sony A7R III for my commercial work so I am somewhat invested in the Sony system.

Your in depth study of the native Sony glass is awesome and I have ordered the 35, 50, 85 and 135 GM lenses and I am probably going to add the 20mm. Normally I would probably gone for the zooms but the primes look a bit special!! Interestingly I do use the Canon 24mm and 17mm TSE lenses on the A7Rii which are good, especially the 17mm. I think my copy of the 17mm is superb, the 24mm less so.]

Anyway, I love your work which is an incredible resource and so much worth the investment. Over the last decade I have mentioned your resource to many people.

Loving your van too. I have one as well!!!

DIGLLOYD: for Steve T, it might not hurt to try the GFX-50R with one lens, but IMO its color aliasing problems are too severe for many situations and the lens selection too limiting to justify it.

If you’re in the $6K to $14K total system price range (camera + 2-4 lenses), the Sony A1 is an unbeatable tour de force of efficient, enjoyable technology delivering an incredibly high 'hit rate', along with word-class lenses delivering jaw-dropping sharpness and bokeh. The recent primes are especially stunning, such as the Sony FE 14/1.8 GM, Sony FE 35/1.4 GM, Sony FE 50/1.2 GM, Sony FE 135/1.8 GM. With the best AF motors I’ve ever seen—silent and instantaneously fast. I generally avoid zooms but the Sony FE 12-24mm f/2.8 GM is the best of its kind ever made and it’s a keeper.

CLICK TO VIEW: World-class Sony System

Fujifilm GFX100S

The Fujifilm GFX100S is a one-trick mule that captures twice the pixels while bucking and rearing and crapping all over shooting efficiency and enjoyment (your mileage may vary). With some really good (but not exciting) lenses and some duds, many of which have unstable lens focus.

The aggravation is worth it for certain limited purposes such as landscape photography, otherwise stick with the Sony A1. Take your 'medicine' and shut up because the extra detail is worth when it matters, which for most people it doesn’t. Yeah, I too love the extra detail when it works out, as it does in the right situations.

But a Klingon-designed user interface along with decade-old lens motor technology and a grossly inferior EVF and lenses that cannot hold focus and act up during Play/Delete all feel like ants under a hair shirt on a hot July day. Fujifilm needs to step up its game in a big way IMO. Starting by fixing the stupid stuff.

Sony A1 technology in a Sony medium format camera would be an awesome development. We need another serious player in the market (Hasselblad isn’t doing it, and PhaseOne is too expensive and clunky).

CLICK TO VIEW: Fujifilm Medium Format System

The GFX100S has twice the capture pixels of the Sony A1. But my extensive field use over three years with many of the lenses strongly suggests that when the entire frame is accounted for, it is more like de facto 50% to 75% more captured detail despite having twice the pixels. Plus most of the lenses require f/5.6 to get that. And you have to stop down nearly a stop more for equivalent depth of field. And since many of the lenses are less well corrected than the Sony GM lenses, more stopping down is needed for real depth of field, which means more diffraction dulling. Clunky unstable lens focus and motor noise are 'bonuses'.

Perhaps worst of all and for me a MAJOR disappointment, the GFX100S is a crap shoot for monochrome landscape images due to its horizontal white stripes. Whereas the Sony A1 and Sony A7R IV so far have delivered outstanding monochrome images. And maybe we will see a Sony A7R V with an 80MP or 100MP sensor in 2022? Already I think the Sony A1 per-pixel quality is superior to the GFX100S.

Tigger, winter coat
f2 @ 1/640 sec handheld EyeAF=Animal, ISO 1600; 2021-03-19 19:11:39
Sony A1 + Sony FE 135mm f/1.8 GM
RAW: LACA corrected, pull 0.35 stops, +20 Whites, +10 Clarity, Chroma NR {5}, USM {8,50,0}
green channel, ProPhotoRGB

[low-res image for bot]

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