I guess it’s my time to say something about the SonyA7rII. I was reluctant to write anything about it, even though I’ve tried the Sony A7rII for several days.
But today I could not resist for two reasons:
- I have a bit of spare time & and I’m slightly drunk at home after an X-T1 Vs. Canon M3 shootout with Steve of CanonWatch.
- I’ve read a very interesting article at Fujifilm X World.
“Image quality” over “Specs”
The article is about one of the most loved lenses amongst us X-shooters: the XF 35mmF1.4. It shows Fuji’s approach when they design a new lens, which can be summed up in this sentence: “Image quality” over “Specs“
And it’s not just a good sounding slogan, it’s Fuji’s philosophy. Go and read it here… I’ll just quickly come to the point of the article:
When Fuji designed the XF 35mmF1.4 they had 2 choices: create the lens in a way that it will perfectly match the test criteria used for MTF charts, or don’t care about specs & charts and design the lens thinking at the real life use… and Fuji went for the latter one.
That’s why, today, looking at the MTF charts, the XF 35mm doesn’t seem much of a lens, but looking at the pictures X-shooters (including me) take with it every day, it’s pretty clear that Fuji has created a hell of a lens! Because, as Fujifilm said:
“There is something more than just the catalog spec.”
And that brings me to the Sony A7rII.
Fuji (X-T1) Vs. Sony (A7rII)
These are just my very personal considerations. People with different ways of shooting, priorities & workflow will come to completely different conclusions… and that’s good so.
I don’t want to sound like a Sony hater, so let me say it clearly: the Sony A7rII has terrific specs, it’s a good camera, and overall I absolutely like the innovation Sony brings to the digital camera technology. They make the arguably best & most innovative sensors out there (sorry Canon)!
But today I won’t join the A7rII siren songs of the internet, and since I can’t cover every single spec (that would mean writing a book, not a blog post), I’ll focus on those aspects that I prefer on Fujifilm and try to explain why I’ve quickly lost my interest in the A7rII.
My 3 days flirt with the Sony A7rII
When Andrea of SonyAlphaRumors became father, I immediately jumped in my 8-year-old Mazda2 and after an epic 15 hours drive (you can call me IronButt now ;) ) I arrived to a TOP SECRET LOCATION.
To my surprise, there wasn’t just the super-cute little baby there, but also the (way less cute) Sony A7rII.
I PREFER FUJI LOOKS
So I had this digital baby in my hands, and I started to flirt with it… for 3 days… and here is how I felt:
– DAY 1: Excited!!!
– DAY 2: Still Curious
– DAY 3: Slightly bored
I put my IronButt on my car again, drove back home and thought: “Ok, that’s it, that’s how it feels shooting with the A7rII… it’s a pretty expensive, but very nice gadget. Now where is my camera, where is my X-T1?”
My flirt was over! I didn’t fell in love.
Why? Because, as Dpreview said, when they compared the Sony A6000 with the Fuji X-T10: “Fujifilm makes cameras for people who love cameras, not specs“
And don’t get me wrong: I like specs, I find them exciting, and I can’t wait for the next big specs-boost with the Fuji X-PRO2… but I can’t fall in love with the mere specs. If something lacks of soul, passion and Fun, it’s over.
I PREFER FUJI FUN
Let’s talk about Lenses
I’ll start with a talk about lenses, because that is, in my opinion, the heart of each system.
Now imagine Fujifilm designing a Fujinon lens that does not work well in combination with its own X-Trans sensor… that would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it? Well, apparently, under certain circumstances, the massive Sony 28-135 F4 FE-mount lens performs really bad on the Sony A7rII – source: Von Wong’s article 42MP of garbage! Another one: The well know review portal digitalkamera.de (Martin Vieten is one of their reviewers) has tested the A7RII together with the 1.8/55 and they found out that it perform massively worse in the corners with the A7RII compared to the A7R. Wide open the resolution drops as low as 32 lp/mm and only gets back to the level of the A7R at around f4!
Oh yes, I know, you buy Sony A7rII to get shallower DOF and better Bokeh! Really?
If I’m not wrong, there are just 4 FE-mount Prime lenses with Autofocus available as of today for the A7 series: the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8, the Zeiss 35mm f/2.8, the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2.0 , Sony 28mmF2 and the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8. (FYI, Fuji has 12 X-mount primes with AF available – 23 AF X-mount lenses overall)
Well, with NONE of these Full Frame E-mount primes you will get a shallower DOF than with the Fuji XF 56mmF1.2! And if rumors are right, and the XF 33mmF1.0 will really come, than you better buy a Fuji for super-shallow depth of field!
[Update: I missed the Sony 90mmF2.8 and the Zeiss 35mmF1.4… so yes, we have to wait for the 33mmF1.0 to match that speed. But my point is still valid: DOF and Bokeh do not depend on the sensor, but on the lens. And given how assiduously Fuji expands its lens line-up, I’m sure we will get some nice surprises here]
“Well, I think the Fuji’s bokeh looks nicer here. It’s subtle, but it’s smoother and the lower contrast is very pleasing, and the Fuji colors shine.”
I PREFER FUJI LENSES
huge files, slower workflow & slower camera
Get ready to suffer! It’s a real pain to load and process the huge RAW files of the Sony A7rII in Lightroom… and I’m not really working on a Commodore 64 ;-) !
Do we really need 42MP? If you make gigantic prints, maybe. But for 99% of the people 42MP mean just one thing: much slower workflow!
I did also some continuous shots and it took ages for the images to write on the SD-Card. Worst of all, for all that writing time, the Sony A7rII is like frozen! It doesn’t work. And while waiting, you can’t even review images you took previously. For me, as an enthusiast photographer, this is just annoying, but for PROs on assignment, who work under stress and need efficiency, speed and a camera always ready to use, this could become a serious problem.
The 16MP files of my X-T1 combined with a ultra fast UHS-II SD-card are a completely different story. Faster camera and always ready to capture the decisive moment.
Again, on paper the Sony wins, but in real life, at least for my way of shooting and my workflow, I’m definitely better off with the 16MP of the X-T1. And with the 24MP of the X-PRO2, I’ll get more than I deserve ;) .
I PREFER 16MP X-TRANS SENSOR
Palle Schultz made this print using the 16MP X-T1 with the 56mmF1.2… and he’s very happy with it
Sony = designed for specs
Honestly, a specs fight between A7rII and X-T1 would be rather useless. Sure, the X-T1 has slightly better this and that, and 42MP are more of a problem for me, but Sony wins. Stop!
But from all the A7rII specs, I really just miss two on my X-T1: the phase detection pixels all over the sensor and the BSI-sensor. Not a real problem, though… I’ll just wait for Fujifilm to catch up with the X-PRO2.
Yes, maybe IBIS. But I’m not so sure I miss it that much. Stabilization on the lens (especially Fuji’s OIS technology) works much better. Full Frame? I don’t miss it for a single second… but that’s probably just me… and Zack Arias.
I PREFER SONY’s PD-pixels covering entire sensor and BSI-Sensor
Fuji = designed for fun
If we look beyond the specs, well this is where Fuji shines and wins hands down!
Why? Because the X-T1 and the Fuji X system overall is designed around my passion & conceived to have fun.
A concrete example? Ok, let’s talk about the EVF!
SONY A7rII EVF: The Fuji X-T1 has a magnification of 0.77x. So what did Sony do? Exactly, they put a 0.78x EVF into the A7rII. Did I notice the difference? Not for a second. But, at least on paper, it beats the X-T1.
FUJI X-T1 EVF: How does the saying go? It’s not about the size, but what you can make with it. So the X-T1 has a “smaller” EVF, but it’s waaaay more fun to use, thanks also to the multi modes “Full”, “Normal” and “Dual”, with two images for the digital split manual focussing… that is FUN!
I PREFER FUJI EVF
A7rII: The Specs Over-Promise, the Camera Under-Delivers
That’s frankly not only a problem of the Sony A7rII, but more or less of any camera brand out there. I mean, who hasn’t promised spectacular AF-performance so far (including Fuji)? And the A7rII is not different.
Now, I might have been unlucky, since I had three cloudy and sometimes rainy days to test it, so I shot mostly outside in not excellent light conditions and indoors, but the overall AF-performance couldn’t meet my expectations created by reading the catalogue specs. In low light, don’t expect too much… this camera is still no DSLR killer (and neither is the X-T1).
Regarding AF-speed, accuracy and tracking, the bar is still set by DSLRs. That’s their last bastion. Sure, Mirrorless is getting closer, but is not right there as of now. Let’s see if the X-PRO2 will conquer this fortress… the Sony A7rII for sure doesn’t.
AUTOFOCUS: DSLRs STILL BEAT THE A7rII and the X-T1
CanonWatch wrote a very nice article “Is the Sony A7rII the most overhyped and overpriced camera of the year.”
Check it out and decide for yourself if the lack of true 14bit uncompressed RAW (causing posterization artifacts – dpreview), the colour noise issues with long exposures, the overheating issue when shooting 4K or the rather contained selection of native FE-lenses are deal breakers. It’s up to you to see if you really need 42MP.
Another good read, Sony A7RII review at mingthein. “The A7rII just feels like a consumer electronic device in operation, something designed for anoraks by anoraks, not a camera.”
I PREFER FUJI RAF
Yes, sure, no camera is perfect, not even the Fuji (how many firmware and hardware improvement polls did we launch on FujiRumors over all these years? And I’m right now preparing an article where I emphasize my biggest points of disappointment with the X-T1. Fujifilm better fastens its seatbelt)!
But here is another nice thing, that sets Fuji apart from Sony: Fujifilm listens to the needs of photographers, and the next firmware and/or camera generation is often improved based on feedback coming from the X-shooter community. That’s pretty cool, I think.
I LOVE KAIZEN
Sony Vs. Fuji: a different philosophy
I have the feeling that, unlike Fuji, Sony is always hastily searching for the next big thing to launch. An approach that might boost innovation, but that, in my eyes, doesn’t really help to create a mature and complete system.
I mean, imagine if Fuji would have launched an X-PRO2, the X-PRO2S, the X-PRO2r, the X-PRO2rII and so forth every 6 months? They would not have had manpower and financial resources to create, step by step, Firmware after Firmware, Camera after Camera, Feedback after Feedback, Lens after Lens the what I consider best & most complete APS-C system in the world… in just about 4 years!
Little by little, detail after detail, Fujifilm improved the X-system in a way that might not be spectacular and make the headlines at tech magazines, but with their meticulous approach they gave us Fuji ergonomics, controls, features, film simulations, vintage look, colors, IQ, X-Trans, firmware updates, lenses!
They gave us the X-series Soul, they gave us Fun... and that’s what I enjoy.
I PREFER THE OVERALL X-SYSTEM MATURITY
The Naked Truth
When I was at the hospital, visiting Andrea of SAR, his wife and the baby, we started to take some pictures of the baby. Andrea with his Sony A7rII, and me with the Fuji X-T1. We went home a few hours later, compared the images and looked for one to send to friends via email.
And there it was, the clearly most beautiful image! The composition, the light, the moment… everything was just right with this image.
Wait… Composition? Light? Moment? Yes, these factors made it the winning picture… and they do not depend on the gear we used, but, as Zack would have said, “on the moron behind the camera“.
And in this case, I was the moron, with my X-T1 + 23mm. I saw the grandmother with the baby, saw the light shining on both from a window nearby, I told her to turn slightly, framed the shot… and click… we had the best picture of the day!
Ok, true, also the colors of that image were freaking gorgeous… but for those you’ll really need a Fuji ;) .
I LOVE FUJI COLORS
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