Should I Switch from Sony to Fujifilm Mirrorless?

I haven’t had a new shiny object for at least a year.  I do now – Fujifilm X Series mirrorless cameras.  Are the Fuji mirrorless cameras better than the Sony mirrorless cameras I’ve been using?

First a little background…

In the 90s I was using an old Pentax 35mm.  I absolutely loved shooting with Fuji Velvia film.  When the digital revolution started, I stuck with Pentax and started with their *ist D series DSLRs.

Then I switched to Canon for their infamous lenses and was loyal to them for almost 10 years.

I was drawn to Sony mirrorless cameras when those were introduced, sold off all of my Canon gear, and became a full-time Sony shooter.

Reasons for switching to Sony mirrorless

Size and weight, baby!  I love to pack light.  Sony’s a6000 was just as capable as the Canon 5Dii for my purposes but at the fraction of the size & weight.  This really appealed to someone preparing for a 210-mile backpacking trip.

backlight

Back to carrying a lot of gear, even if it is lighter

Then forgetting why I switched to Sony mirrorless in the first place…

Sony’s mirrorless cameras eventually got bigger and heavier, and as their lens lineup expanded, so did their lenses.

Because I wasn’t carrying one heavy Canon camera and a couple heavy lenses anymore, I started carrying two Sony cameras on hikes & during travel (a6300 & a7ii) and more lenses.  Wait a minute, isn’t that defeating the whole purpose of switching to mirrorless?

There are a few other reasons I switched to the mirrorless systems, but the short answer is Yes, that defeats the whole purpose of going mirrorless.

Enter Fujifilm X Series Mirrorless Cameras

When I first looked into Fuji mirrorless cameras I was already heavily invested in Sony.  But the more I researched them, the more interest I took to them.  Some of the characteristics that really appeal to me:

  • Dials everywhere!  I don’t have to navigate menus or program buttons to change common settings – they’re all knobs and switches on the Fuji cameras.  Brings back the feel of an actual camera.  I can see what my settings are just by glancing at the camera, and without turning the power on.  This includes being able to set the aperture on the lens barrel.
  • Weather sealing!  The newer Sony cameras and all of Fujifilm’s are sealed, but Fujifilm does a better job of keeping the elements out of those sensitive electronics.  Ideal for someone who lives on a sailboat a few months a year.  Fujifilm cameras are also “freeze protected”, and rated to operate in conditions down to -10C. Yes, I do spend some time there.  Sony’s are limited to 0C, and I’ve shot in colder conditions, but you’re really risking a lot doing that.
  • They stay small.  The Fujifilm X Series cameras are, in size & weight, in between the Sony a6000 series and the a7 series cameras.  But because of the APS-C sensor, the lenses are smaller than their full-frame counterparts for Sony cameras.  Oh and this makes them cheaper too!
XT1

The WiFi button kinda gives away that this isn’t an old SLR

But what about image quality?

You know what…at this point, it doesn’t really matter anymore.

With today’s technology, just about any major camera manufacturer is going to build a camera that will produce sharp images with great color, and the ability to make impressive recoveries in the shadows & highlights.

Unless you’re doing high-end commercial shoots worth tens of thousands of dollars, who cares.  I’m shooting travel stock, prints, and some portraits here and there.  I don’t need a full-frame $4,000 camera body to do all that.  It’s overkill.  I used to be a full-frame sensor snob but these APS-C sensors will make the same images for my purposes.

As long as you, the photographer, can make the correct technical decisions while capturing an image and then process it accordingly, it’s really all the same.

From everything I can tell about the differences between Fujifilm’s sensors and Sony’s sensors – and yes, I did geek out a little bit here – it’s a moot point to compare sensor specs (notwithstanding the specialty a7Riii & a7Sii sensors).  They are completely different sensors and require different processing but the end result is the same.

And as far as lenses, Fuji has always made great, fast lenses.  Even their “cheap” glass is just as good as Sony’s more expensive lenses.  They have a wonderful line of primes, and they’re all smaller & cheaper than Sony’s equivalents due to the smaller sensor.

What’s important to me

If I can create equally impressive images with the Fujifilm mirrorless cameras as I could with the Sony mirrorless cameras, I have to look at why else I would choose one over the other.

And for me, it’s all about travel capability.  This includes:

  • Ease of use.  Fujifilm wins here with their retro-style controls and classic lenses with aperture control on the barrels.  You may have heard the saying, “Don’t let the camera get in the way of your photography.”  This was true a few weeks ago while I was photographing in winter conditions – the little wheels & buttons on the a6300 don’t mesh well with gloves and I missed some shots trying to fumble around with the back dial.
  • Build quality.  Sony cameras are solidly built but I just need that little extra protection that Fujifilm can provide, given some of the conditions I’m in, like cold & saltwater.
  • Blending in.  I’d rather have a small camera that looks like it came out of the 1970s than a space-age system.  Some of the folks I’ve photographed in Haiti don’t even have an annual income comparable to what my a6300 is worth and that camera just looks out of place there.
  • Portability.  Sorry Sony, you were great when I compared you to Canon, but Fuji just might steal my heart.

We’ll see.  Stay tuned for updates!

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