choosing between X-T1 and Sony A7

Started Feb 1, 2014 | Discussions thread
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TThorne Senior Member • Posts: 3,026
Re: choosing between X-T1 and Sony A7

Arn wrote:

I posted this also to a thread on the Sony forum, but I want to hear both sides of the story, so naturally I am also post here to hear your opinions.

Disclaimer, I own an A7R, but have shot on the A7 as well. I have also owned and shot on most of the available Fuji X series gear.

I've recently gotten tired of lugging DSLR gear around and I'm intent on getting a compact mirrorless camera system that can be considered a true photographer's tool and can provide good image quality. Travel photogprahy is a high priority. I always shoot RAW. Video is something I rarely do. I only use AF lenses.

All of this sounds a lot like me, which prompted me to respond with an opinion. All except the AF lenses, of which I own none. I share all my MF lenses from my Leica cameras, with the exception of a Rokkor 58mm 1.2, also MF, with my A7R.

I hear you on the traveling with a DSLR. Getting on and off airplanes, lugging things around, no thanks. Now, I still occasionally lug a hefty bag, though not as hefty as my DSLR kit, but I am actually carrying more useful stuff since the size and weight of the kit still beat the DSLR kit.

I already have an APS-C system - the Samsung NX20 with 10mm fisheye, 12-24/4.5-5.6, 30/2 (pancake), 45/1.8, 18-55/3.5-5.6 which are all pretty good quality. But I want to compliment that system with another system that has higher overall quality (mechanical and image quality) and faster lenses. My biggest gripe with Samsung NX is, is that it doesn't have a fast 35mm equivalent lens.

Well, this depends on what you consider "fast". The 35mm AF lens on the Sony is a 2.8. That is plenty fast for a zoom, but on a prime I tend to desire something more like the Fuji. I love fast lenses. Even though I own a 35mm Summilux FLE, I couldn't help myself purchasing a CV 35mm 1.2 to share between the rangefinders and the Sony.

So, I'm trying to choose between the full frame Sony A7 and Fujifilm X-T1. Can't see much other choise than these two... (no, I absolutely do not consider micro43 a choise and I will not get the NEX-7 or 6). The X-T1 provides the best image quality from an APS-C sensor (though not as good as a FF sensor) and Fujifilm has the best lens selection with fastest primes.

M43 isn't bad at all, but it does not get my motor running either. Neither have the Sony NEX's. IQ is arguable when we are dealing with RAW though. Fuji wins the JPEG race for me, but I never shoot JPEG, so no big deal. For RAW, Fuji is using Sony sensors anyway, however, I will take Fuji colors to Sony any day. Fuji color profiles have always been special as they have always seemed to want to refer back to their film glory, which is a good thing.

Still, as a RAW shooter and someone who takes a lot of photos and processes a lot of photos for work per week, Fuji has frustrated the hell out of me with this X Trans business. There seems to be two sides to the argument.

a. DENY. There is absolutely no issue at all.

b. It is artifact hell and just a mess.

Don't trust either camp. They are both right and wrong. You have to treat X Trans images differently in post in my experience, and I don't like that. I am too busy to do the software dance as well. Lightroom and CS6, with the occasional NIK and one other program which I NEVER tell anyone about. Images, as you will see tons of examples, can look gorgeous coming from the X Trans molested Sony sensor, as they can also from the Bayer NEX. They both have their footprint, however, which does diminish a bit for strictly RAW shooters.

As a strictly RAW shooter, this point for me has to go to the NEX, a camera that I dislike and would never buy, therefore, it is easy for me to give this point, for your purposes, to the A7.

My favourite single focal length is 35mm, though I shoot with anything from 15mm-300mm.

I am purposely leaving out the X100/S because it seems you want an ILC, but some people consider the X100/S an expensive f/2 lens with a neat camera attached for free...

The problem with the A7 is, that I want a camera that I can fully use right now (or within the next 3 months). The only fast lens that Sony has on FE-mount, is the 55/1.8 (though it is a very high quality lens, though costs around $1000). At 35mm there is only 35/2.8 which is nicely compact (120g), but undeniably slow. In comparison, Fuji has the 23/1.4 (equivalent to ~ 35mm f/2.1) which is faster and can produce a more shallow DOF than the A7 with it's FF sensor, though it is a bit heavier.

I know that shallow DOF limitations bring the Sony offering closer to the Fuji, in fact, if you do the actual calculations, an APSC 23mm 1.4 is closer to a FF 35mm 1.8 DOF wise. But I also like to keep in mind shutter speeds and low light capabilities. That said, when dealing with available 35mm AF lenses, I give this point to Fuji at this point in time because it IS a faster lens and it DOES allow shallower DOF for this equivalent focal length.

distinct points on X-T1

  • direct controls with buttons and wheels, which I much prefer over menu settings.

Clear winner here, I love my A7R image quality and resolution, especially with my lens line up, but I really have no attachment to the camera at all. I can honestly say that I don't really like the physical camera.

Point Fuji.

  • I like that the wheels have locking buttons (I simply hate it with my 7D/5DII, that the wheels constantly rotate when I take the camera out of the bag). Now, I believe that A7 is not as bad as big DSLRs, which are in tight contact with the camera bag's walls, but the X-T1's solution is just perfect.

The A7 wheels are pretty decent. No problem in this department. Still, analog controls rule.

  • fast and good quality 35mm equivalent 23mm/1.4
  • pretty good quality kit zoom 18-55/2.8-4
  • also available the 56mm f/1.2 (equivalent to ~85/1.8), wide angle primes, wide angle zooms, telezooms, etc etc. All quite high quality.

Available overall AF lens availability, easy point - Fuji.

Be aware, however, that Sony is looking to get aggressive here with Zeiss, and while their roadmap is quite different than Fuji's, it looks like they might be developing and releasing lenses quicker than Fuji originally did.

distinct points on A7

  • better contrast, sharpness, noise from sensor than X-T1

True, but these factors don't give the Sony too much of a practical lead. Resolution is noticeable, especially on the A7R. Once again, the X Trans CFA strikes. The Fuji is perfectly capable of sharpness and detail, however, in the fine details department, smudging does occur, and I believe it has to do with aggressive NR and demosaicing of the CFA.

Point Sony.

  • Faster at ~50mm and better DOF control with the 55/1.8, but not with other lenses. FE 55/1.8 and X-mount 23/1.4 are equally expensice

I tested the 55FE and it is pretty extraordinary on both the A7 and A7R. Really, this is a gem for the money, and it looks bigger in photos than it really is in person.

Point Sony

  • overpriced 24-70 zoom and sadly not offered as a kit, people seem to say the 28-70/3.5-5.6 is not a very good lens

Not sure on how I feel about the price, but I am not a mid zoom person, so it is hard to say. I have seen a lot of nice photos taken with the Sony kit zoom though. I can not really feel good about comparing the Zeiss to the Fuji Kit 18-55, so I am going to go with Fuji here. Faster kit zoom and top notch quality optics for such.

Point Fuji.

  • limited lens selection (just 35/2.8, 55/1.8, 28-70/3.5-5.6, 24-70/4 that does not sell as a kit and costs $1200) , more lenses coming in 1-2 years... wonder about the pricing.

Expect more lenses quicker than that. I know of two more about to be announced.

  • slow and pretty expensive 35/2.8 (though the Fuji 23/1.4 is even a bit more expensive)

As I mentioned on this, point goes to Fuji, even if there is a pretty notable size difference.

I actually wonder if the FE mount will ever get faster lenses than the Fujifilm X-mount and at the same time keep the lenses compact and lightweight (and reasonably priced).

I think you will see the 1.4's roll out eventually. There is just too much a demand for them, but physics is going to play a factor in your other requests here. Something has to give. As a manual focus guy, my Leica lenses are FAST and TINY, even covering FF compared to Fuji's APSC lenses. But then, they don't have AF motors or the nasty focus by wire electronics (Yuck!). But keeping things in line with what you are looking for, I think Sony will have the lenses, but don't expect them to be smaller/lighter than the Fujis. In fact, engineering miracles aside, expect them to be bigger/heavier. Still, may not be too bad. Only time will tell on this one.

After all, Fuji already has fast quality lenses: 23/1.4 (~35/2.1), 35/1.4 (~52/2.1), 56/1.2 (~85/1.8). Sony FE only has the 55/1.8, which admittedly is faster than the Fuji's 35/1.8 (but only slightly) and from the testes I've seen so far produces better image quality. But there it ends at the moment.

If you really use an ILC with multiple primes and zooms and want flexibility in them with AF being a must, and the A7 and the Fuji are your only choices, then this is a no brainer. With Fuji you will have a kit and be taking photos. With Sony you may be waiting...

So, the way it looks to me, the X-T1 will be probably the nicer camera to shoot with, giving a more intuitive shooting experience and the A7 will give better image quality in good light.

I would say this is a true statement. I want to throw one thing in for the Sony as well. Dynamic Range. Fuji is good in this department, but the Sony is just fantastic.

The lack of a fast AF 35mm on FE pains me the most. It seems that in low light, Fuji's fast primes even out the sensor size advantage of the A7. Am I right or utterly mistaken? I'm keen to hear opinions. If you even managed to read this far, you have my respect.

Since you mention the want of a fast AF 35mm FOV lens so many times in this post, I have to think that you will really favor the 23mm 1.4 Fuji lens here. For getting some shutter speed under you in low light, the Fuji fast lenses will really help. I am, however, on the fence overall with low light. I have a strange relationship it seems these days when it comes to low light and high ISO performance. I say this because it seems that many people think of high ISO performance in terms of noise, or the lack thereof. Okay, I can see that, but at what cost? Fuji high ISO seems to perform phenomenally in this department, but NR smudging is pretty noticeable to me, and I don't like that. Turning up the ISO on the A7 and A7R is quite nice to me, as well as on my Leica M's and Monochrom. Really getting it up there will induce some noise, however, detail retention is in fact better. I prefer this type of high ISO performance personally, but this varies from person to person.

I am sorry I do not paint a picture of a clear winner here as i just find that to be too personal a decision. I just hope some of what I have to say is helpful to you in making a decision that is right for you. They both have their upsides and downsides, like anything else really.

I personally have an X-T1 on order and am looking at an X-E2 and some lenses in the man time to see if I can get along with them in post enough so to let go of the amazing resolution, dynamic range, and ease of processing with the Sony.

I can tell you though that it would be dreamy if I could just order the X-T1 with the innards of my A7R... I will dream about that camera until it is reality.

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