Mirrorless: Fuji vs. Sony

I began my self-directed exploration into photography during the summer 2013. I then continued to immerse myself into learning and practicing both the technical and artistic skills related to photography. In the beginning I thought I would pick up a camera and use photography as a form of relaxation and as a distraction from my studies, (Master’s Degree in Adult Education) which I began at the same time. However, it quickly turned into what I would describe as a passion. I love everything about it, exploring beautiful locations, getting out into nature, the technical details, composition, editing, continuing the life long learning process, improving, how I appreciate the environment around me more, and the gear. 

Above are images created using the Fuji X-E2

Above are images created using the Sony A7II

I bought a Fuji X-E2 in April of 2015, so right around a year ago. The decision to experiment with mirrorless was spurred by a trip to Florida where I carried my Canon 6d and Sigma 50mm f1.4 Art around everywhere I went. I found this setup to be fairly unpleasant to lug around in the heat and humidity, as well as unnecessary for my style of shooting. Almost as soon as I returned to Buffalo I had sold my 50mm Art and had purchased the X-E2. I chose the X-E2 after comparing images made by several mirrorless cameras on social media. I really do like the images that are produced by the combination of the X Trans sensor and good Fuji glass. I primarily used the X-E2 with the XF 18mm f2 and the XF 35mm f1.4. The XF 35mm f1.4 is one of my favorite lenses I have ever used with a couple minor flaws. Let’s get those flaws out of the way first; it is not a fast focusing lens and it focuses externally. The rendering of the lens is beautiful, especially at the wider apertures. I had a love hate relationship with the XF 18mm and ended up selling it long before I made the decision to get rid of my X-E2. The 18mm is incredibly small, lightweight, and has an excellent minimum focusing distance. What drove me crazy about the lens was how it flared during night photography. While I would describe myself as a photographic generalist at this point in my learning, I have always enjoyed doing long exposures. This lens was virtually unusable for nighttime cityscapes because of the severity of the flaring and caused me to lose several shots that I was relying on it for. I also found that it was just a hair too tight for how I like to frame my wide shots. This really is not a ding to Fuji as they offer many great wide-angle prime lenses, and I have heard that Sony’s affordable 28mm f2 lens also has problems with flare. 

The above two images are to demonstrate the Xf 18mm f2's flare issues 

After using the Fuji almost exclusively it became time to sell off my Canon 6d and the rest of my Canon lenses. The ergonomics on the Canon were overall more comfortable, however the bulk was just not worth it to me. Naturally, as I love gear, I began to miss having a full frame camera. The extra low light performance, extra shallow depth of field, and the malleability of the files were all calling me back to full frame (plus I had the Canon funds to reinvest). About that time the Sony A7II was released and the in body image stabilization and the reported increase in dynamic range over Canon had me sold. I did manage to hold off making my purchase until I found a good deal on a gently used body lessening the blow. For the first few months of owning the Sony I still used the Fuji quite often, as I was still building my familiarity with the camera as well as my lens selection. Gradually the Sony became my go to camera and the Fuji fell into the category of the camera I used when I wanted to take pictures of my Sony. 

Now comes the Fuji’s turn for eBay, which really was a sad day as I loved that camera. Its styling made every non-photographer think that you were playing with a “toy” or some old film camera, instead of my experience carrying a DSLR when strangers stop you to take their picture with their camera phones. It was discrete, lightweight, and fun. The real catalyst to selling the camera was when I realized that the X-E2 plus the XF 35mm could buy me an original used A7 for my backup camera. The idea of having two Sony cameras had so many upsides that I had to make the hard decision to dump my Fuji for an all Sony system. The biggest convenience is now both my cameras share the same mount. So while the Fuji body is lighter, I do not have to have a separate lens (or adapter if you used adapted lenses that can be fitted to both Fuji, Sony, or any mirrorless camera). What this means for me is more space in my camera bag and that I am actually bringing my backup camera with me, as is the whole purpose of having a backup. When I pack my camera bag I attach my Zeiss Loxia 50mm to the A7 and the 90mm macro to my A7II and they fit nicely in my ONA Prince Street with a 25mm Zeiss in between. While the A7II has more features, real-world image quality is equal from what I have seen. This is another area where the Fuji fell short for me. I did love the rendering, however I also enjoy printing large and while the A7 and A7II are not megapixel monsters, they do have 50% more resolution. 

Unfortunately after writing the majority of this article, and after putting the A7 through its paces I uncovered a flaw that the eBay seller failed to disclose. The rear dial, which can be assigned to control aperture or shutter speed, does not work properly. I had not noticed this originally since I was using a manual aperture Zeiss Loxia. My Sony A7 is being returned to the seller and I am left somewhat conflicted on what I want to do. Definitely still all Sony, but possibly an a6000 or a 6300 or to go in a different direction, maybe even an original A7R. I do not think that I will be picking up another A7, as it does not really enhance the versatility of my kit.  

The Sony A7II above is currently the sole camera in my bag.