As a long time owner of both Fujifilm and Sony cameras and a reviewer of their systems, this post will help you figure out a lot more about what system you should go with.
I’m going to start this off with complete and total bluntness. Both systems are good. In fact, they’re both great. If you buy a Sony camera and hear about “those beautiful Fuji colors” you should know that your camera can also create great colors if you just learn how to edit correctly. Or if you hear about “Those Sony raw files” you should totally be aware that Fujifilm’s raw files are also very versatile and getting what you need from both systems requires you to know how to use Lightroom, Photoshop, Capture One or whatever program you’re using to get the most from the camera.
They’re both good and in the hands of a crappy photographer, they’ll create crappy images. In the hands of a skilled photographer, they’ll create wonderful photos. I’ve often created great photos with both systems.
In fact, reviewers in general do. And the fact that the folks at Pop Photo, Steve Huff, Camera Labs and others can create fantastic images with anything that is handed to them is a testament to that statement.
Generally speaking here, Sony has ergonomics that many have stated don’t really feel like a traditional camera. For example, look at their A6xxx series and the a7 series of cameras. In real life use, their ergonomics are more than good enough. You really can’t judge a camera just by holding it, you need to use it. When you’re out on the streets or in a studio, you’ll see that the ergonomics are actually quite nice.
At the same time though, Fujifilm’s ergonomics are really great for those of you who love retro aesthetics. The Fujifilm X Pro 2 is the company’s finest yet. It feels so much like a modern update to an old film camera.
If you’re about retro aesthetics then maybe Fujifilm is better for you. Personally, I like Fujifilm’s camera bodies loads better than I do Sony’s.
Both companies also have great feeling lenses, but there is something about that beautiful aperture ring on most of Fuji’s lenses that really makes them sing.
In the mirrorless camera world, Olympus is the king of autofocus. However, some of the latest iterations of Sony cameras are so close that the real life evaluation is negligible when it comes to autofocus speed. Part of this is due to new motors in their lenses.
Fujifilm for years has been a bit of a sloth but after the 35mm f2 came out along with consistent firmware updates, things changed. When the X Pro 2 was released, I was absolutely shocked. In low light, the X Pro 2 is actually faster to focus than the Sony a7r II and a7s II.
Crazy, huh? And this was with the company’s older 35mm f1.4 lens too–one of the first they released. In good lighting though, Sony takes the cake. Weird, right?
Ease of Use
This is where it gets a bit tricky. Both Sony and Fujifilm have long, deep menus. Navigating both takes time and patience.
To be honest, they’re both pretty bad–as is everyone else with probably Nikon doing it best here. For the best results, just try programming everything you need to do to buttons.
When it comes to lenses though, most of what Sony offers will take the lead here. The aperture rings on most of the Fujifilm lenses and the snap-back focusing may be foreign to those who are foreign to cameras.
Both camera systems have very well built bodies that have weather resistance built in. Every Fujifilm lens is made with a metal exterior (with the exception of the XC lenses) but that isn’t the case with Sony. Both companies incorporate weather sealing into their higher end products and for the most part you’re just going to have to feel it out.
Sony has more third party manufacturers that have metal exteriors on their lenses. So you can always keep that in mind.
And here is where it really comes down to the image quality. Both Sony and Fujifilm sensors are quite good. Fujifilm’s 24MP APS-C sensor can hold it own with many 24MP full frame sensors and even a couple above that. Lots of photographers just want full frame though.
To bring you all back down to the truth again: the differences are very small. I often look at full frame sensor cameras and laugh when I bring out my Mamiya RB67.
For years Sony can get more details from the shadows and Fuji the highlights; but that’s mostly been changed now. They’re both very, very good and can produce wonderful images. Fuji’s JPEGs can’t be beat and the camera profiles you can use in Lightroom are a fantastic starting point for many photographers. Depending on who you ask, some may point out that Sony’s are too saturated. To that, I’d say that you just need to massage the files differently.
Again, they’re both kick ass. But they’re only as good as the glass you put in front of them.
While Fujifilm’s only third party manufacturers are Rokinon/Samyang, Zeiss and a few others, Sony has Sigma, Zeiss, Rokinon/Samyang and loads of others. When you use the Sigma MC-11 you can put all of Canon’s lenses on the camera and get reliably fast autofocus.
If you’re talking about native lenses though, generally Fujifilm’s tend to be better but in the past couple of years, Sony’s lenses have been taking a major step forward. With the company’s announcement of the G Master glass, we’re bound to only see better. As it is, Sony makes the best 85mm lens on the market.
Flashes, Other Accessories and Support
Most monolight and flash systems roll out support for Canon and Nikon with Sony coming after that. Otherwise, they offer a manual option. Sony has a lot more third party options than Fujifilm does. Why? Part of it could be market share and faith in what they’re doing it. When Pentax Ricoh announced their full frame camera, other brands started to rally behind them.
Maybe that’s all it’s going to take.