We’ve heard a lot about the new medium format cameras from Fuji and Hassleblad and some user reviewers are now surfacing slowly. But what’s been on our mind lately, here at DS, is how these compare to the current star of our Full Frame lineup, the Sony A7rII. And now, thanks to contributor Bob Hamilton, we can.
We only have a few samples to share but these are 100% and converted to jpg in a high quality setting so comparisons are still interesting. If more come our way, we’ll add them to this feed.
Before the pics, a couple of methodology caveats :
(1) Both cameras are using their own glass. So what you’re seeing is a system to system comparison rather than a back to back camera confrontation. Still, that’s what people will be using in real life. So 120mm Macro on the Fuji GFX and Sony G 90 on the A7rII.
(2) Images are processed with LightRoom. And it’s my experience that LightRoom and Sony don’t get along perfectly all the time. Sometimes the colours are a bit off, particularly in the yellow-greens that foliage often exhibits.
So, with that covered, many thanks to Bob and onwards to the photographs. Warning, large files ahead (35MB each).
My conclusions are that the GFX feels a tiny bit less electronic at 100% and colours seem a bit better. On the other hand the A7RII seems a little sharper. But the real conclusion is that, in terms of IQ, both are so close as to make no significant difference, other than colourwise. So, coming from a Sony A7rII corner, it’s hard to see anything compelling enough to make a switch. Moving up from a different system, your mileage may vary.
Update: Here are a few more links with great photos made using the Fuji GFX or that show more comparisons with the Sony A7rII. If you have any to add, I’ll add those links / picture here :
Then, there’s usability. But we’ve covered that elsewhere, no point on repeating ourselves.
So, what do you think ?
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.
So Sony colours are off … with a RAW converter which is known for haveing Sony colours wrong (as you wrote in your text). And that’s the main difference.
Also composition is a little different, I think nicer for the Fuji.
And still the difference is very small.
Yes, we can probably disregard part of the colour difference here. And the main takeaway is how close the two really are.
I’m not sure how one can make a definitive statement. On my screen (4k calibrated) with the first pair the Sony looks more neutral whereas the Fuji has a yellow cast; in the second pair the situation is somewhat reversed; in the final pair they are just different, and since I wasn’t there I cant really comment on what’s “off”.
Its well known that Sony jpegs tend to be quite neutral. Its also known amongst long term Minolta / Sony users that different lenses with different coatings and glass render greens differently – some of the “G” lenses traditionally produced quite yellow greens, where other lenses in the range produced more pure greens. I don’t know if their modern lenses continue this trend.
Its well known that Adobe often get raw implementation hopelessly wrong, and appear lazy and indifferent to bothering to do a good job. Therefore we are comparing how well Adobe have bothered to implement raw support as much as we are comparing camera / lens systems. We could run the files through different software and get a totally different result.
Finally, I really didn’t see much difference in detail etc. In fact in the one pair I compared at 100% I wild say the Sony edged it, though possibly because being a smaller sensor it has greater DOF. The Fuji sample I viewed appeared to have green fringing on the edges of petals that were out of focus.
The Fuji faithful will use this type of comparison as “proof” that Sony being a consumer electronics company cant make a camera (whilst being blissfully unaware that the sensor in the Fuji is Sony made!).
You can’t blame a camera for “off” colours unless we are examining an out of camera jpeg. Otherwise we are saying the sensor cant respond to colour correctly, which seems unlikely given that Sony made sensors grace all cameras except Canon, Samsung, Panasonic and Leica.
I’m left being totally unsure what this type of comparison proves, except that different camera systems and raw converters make pictures look different.
Oh, and we never talked about white balance, which can more difference to a picture that all of the above.
Hi Adrian, I think all this proves is that, in this comparison (based on a very small sample set) factors such as RAW processor play a larger role than the cameras themselves. Both are excellent and choice can’t be made on the basis of IQ alone. Maybe other samples would prove different. Maybe not. But it’s likely form factor, lens system, convernience … will be more important. Although it wouldn’t be surprising if GFX files were a little more robust in PP. “Let’s see what comes next from Sony” is my personal take on this 😉
I largely agree.
The biggest “issue” with this type of comparison is caused by the pre-conceptions by some that go with the camera brands concerned – Fuji as the hero who do no wrong, Sony as the consumer electronics company who don’t understand photographers and therefore do no right.
The relatively small size benefit of the faux “medium format” Sony sensor used in the Fuji / Hasselblad / Pentax alone should give a clue that the image quality benefits will be small. When one adds in the technologies used on full frame sensors such as the 42mp device, the gap gets smaller.
DXOMark tests of the 2 units provide the data to demonstrate this.
Commenting on colour etc (with the exception of camera jpegs) is mostly meaningless because all we debate is the way the software manufacturer happened to implement it, the white balance settings etc.
Its just data, and provided the sensor and image processing pipeline is capable of capturing data of enough “quality” (signal to noise ratio, dynamic range, colour depth etc) then it is really down to how that data is interpreted, and little to do with the camera. Different versions of a sensor (e.g. Nikon cf. Sony) may have a different colour filter array and a different image pipeline, but assuming the data they produce is of comparable quality, there is no reason raw files from one cannot be made to look similar / the same as raw files from the other. The only limitation to this is:
– features baked into the data by the hardware manufacturers choices of implementation
– software makers ability to correctly interpret and process that data
– users ability to adjust their images in chosen software
What would be interesting would be to open the 2 sets of raw files in something like Capture One, which allow the user to choose the manufacturer colour response profile implemented by Phase One, so Sony data can be made to look (interpreted in the same way as) Fuji data, to see what difference remains.
Alternatively, use other software such as SilkyPix who provide no manufacturer colour profile choice but do have presets for how colour data is interpreted (think of it as film simulations). Again it would be interesting to see 2 cameras files compared to see what difference remains when the user has chosen the colour rendition to use (rather than a default Adobe one that cannot be over-ridden except for fine tuning).
The irony of all this is that most peoples screens will have the biggest impact on what they see, yet it wont prevent lots of people being absolutely sure that Brand A is better than Brand B. A blind test is a much better way to go, and in fact “The Camera Store” did such a test using prints and found that both Sony and Fuji came quite low in the rankings (Sony images were in general quite neutral and cool, Fujis images were in general very contrasty and more saturated).
About that last part … I consider the best photo investment I have made in a very long time is my current high quality screen. And, yes, the Sony does look better on other RAW processors. Being partners with Phase One, it’s quite likely Capture One has access to the best information out there from Sony. I’ve found the lowly Apple Photos to perform well on Sony files, but Philippe has chosen the C1 path and never looked back.
Hmm – well, there’s them as thinks we can re-create with colored inks and bits of paper the exact same colors we saw in real life. And them as thinks we are no different from anyone else fooling around with images, and the best we can do is a “life like” approximation.
Sony makes the vast majority of the sensors used in digital. They also do stuff in their own cams that nobody else seems to. And by general consensus, the result is kind of magic, and leaves [most/practically all/the lot] of the competition behind.
And Fuji has a formidable reputation for quality, over a VERY long period. And perhaps the best reputation out there at the moment, for looking after its customers – often, long after they’ve made their purchase[s].
And then people with “the competition” – all the other “brands” we can choose from – produce extraordinarily beautiful photos with their gear, too.
I’m neutral. I’ve never used a Sony photography cam (although I’ve had two of their video cams), and I’ve never had a Fuji. And hand on heart, I can honestly say I love the photos both systems produce. Beyond that, it’s a question of what lenses people choose (which is influenced by all sorts of factors – not all feet fit the same pair of shoes !!!)
Apart from that. You can say “this car is faster than that car”. You can even produce empirical evidence to support your claim. But it is utter nonsense in the context of art to say “this picture of a tree is better than that picture of a tree”. They are highly unlikely to be the same, for a start – and edging into the differences, you almost immediately get quite lost in making any kind of rational comparison or appraisal. Unless of course some total dipstick left a pink color caste in the photo, or something equally bizarre.
I am shooting with both cameras, the A7RII with the Canon 11-24mm and 17mm and 24mm TS-E; and the Fuji with the 32-64mm zoom and 63mm prime, and I can tell you I do see a noticeable difference in color and resolution in favor of the Fuji. I also expected to see a noticeable difference in dynamic range but frankly I don’t really see much of a difference in highlight recovery (in fact my impression is that the Sony may be a tiny bit better in this respect), but the Fuji is great when pushing the shadows. I wrote a short blog article about my experiences using the Fuji in New Orleans: https://www.mendelsonfineartphotography.com/blog/new-orleans-with-the-fujifilm-gfx-50s-camera. As a wide angle shooter, I cannot wait until Fuji releases the 23mm prime, and Cambo releases their adapter to use the TS-E lenses on the Fuji. At that point I don’t know if I will keep using the Sony, unless the successor to the A7RII is amazing.
Thanks for that, Peter! The colours on your New Orleans trip are absolutely stunning. Some of the photographs towards the bottom of the page made my jaw drop. I’m updating the article with a link to your post. If you have any back to back comparisons to share, feel free to send me the pictures and I’ll add those too. I’m sure readers would love wide range of perspectives. Cheers, Pascal
Since the A7R2 has class leading and extremely wide DR I wouldn’t expect the slightly larger sensor of the GFX to show much benefit if any.
The A7R2 sensor uses the very latest sensor tech and also is reported to change its behaviour above ISO800 to improve signal quality.
The Sony made GFX sensor simply lacks this level of technology and design included in the 42mp device.
If you search for DXOMark tests of the Pentax 645Z (published and withdrawn by DXO undoubtedly for commercial reasons) you will find the results show a high DR but nothing that will make significant practical difference between the 2 cameras.
Sony sensors benefit from an extreme ability to loft shadows post capture without much cost to noise or DR. The A7R2 sensor excels at this due to the design features I mentioned earlier and if BSI architecture to maximise the light gathering power of each pixel whilst reducing signal noise.
The slightly larger faux medium format sensor of the Fuji/Hasselblad /Pentax may have minor technical benefits because of size, but they will be marginal and compensated for by the greater technical advancements made in the 42mp device. Therefore the only benefit to the end user is a different format size and the way the image processing is implemented in camera which will be reflected in the camera jpegs.
Please thank Bob for us again. This is a real teaser. I am looking forward to his review.
I have looked at the JPEG images using 3 different devices, all un-calibrated, and had three different color renditions. So we do need to give the Fuji the benefit of the doubt until the image processing software (Adobe in this case) can be a little more mature. Though color plays a big role in forming a first impression, and my first impression of seeing image pair #1 was not favorable to the Fuji. On two of the devices it has a pretty strong yellow cast. Looking at the other two pairs, the color renditions are different, and not unpleasant.
Looking at the first two pairs of images at full size I am not that impressed with either camera/lens combination. In pair #1 it appears that the bottom right corner is more in focus that the main subject. In pair #2, both images seem pretty close, with the most noticeable difference in depth of field due to the focal length differences.
It is the third pair of images that got my attention. I think these are a better representation of the performance of both camera/lens pairs, and they are both very close. When looking at the full images, I prefer the Fuji. Though that may be more for the composition and the increased blur in the background than anything else. When looking at both enlarged images my opinion changes. I prefer the rendition of the Sony to the Fuji. Though I can’t say the two images are focused exactly on the same point. In the Sony, the left flower stamen seems to be the focus point and in the Fuji it seems to be the small green bug on the petal to the left. Otherwise, things in focus in both images seem to be pretty equal. Not to mention that there are some things in the out of focus areas that seem pretty equal as well.
Therefore there is only one logical conclusion, and that is Bob needs to send us more images to look at.
Interesting Paul. Several other people, including Philippe, have told me exactly the same. The 3 set is the one that strikes everyone as showing the Fuji’s true colours. Two links are being added to the post, so you can see more comparisons and I promise that if Bob sends us more photographs, I’ll publish them asap 🙂 All the best, Pascal
Hmmm, I do not have the Fuji GFx, but the a7rII since 1,5 years. I find the differences in the shown samples very small. The Sony LR presets are indeed not very pleasing colorwise, but one can find custom profiles. The shown (macro) flower shots are NOT a good example for resolution, a landscape or cityscape with finest detail would have been better. But whatever the comparision may show, I personally do not find it relevant because the a7rII delivers already so much resolution that for me it is totally irrelevant whether another camera can deliver even more.
I second what Adrian is saying.
All this constant whining about color being better on Canon vs. Sony vs. Nikon seems pointless to me unless you are shooing OOCJ.
Shoot in RAW and use a Color Calibration tool such a Datacolor Passport
and have Lightroom auto correct your images shot with the reference.
Thanks for the link, Ted. Some, like Ming Thein, have had problems calibrating the A7rII. I’m guessing he sets very high standards because of his product photography and some software will work better than other. But the main point here is clearly that there’s no clear winner on this small sample. Both excellent tools for different types of users.
“I’m really not sure how the author got such appalling corner image quality on the Otus at f/2.8, mine is essentially perfect, and I’m not sure why anyone would be interested in viewing anything at 250%, but the global image comparison remains interesting : colours and 3D are very different.”
The preamble to this post addresses both the issue of the high magnification and the one of the images looking bad:
In this case, the images look good on my computer at 100%, but that’s not useful for comparison with different resolution sensors, and it won’t survive JPEG compression.
Hi Jim, thanks for the clarification. We agree on one thing : 100% is not an adequate benchmark. From then on, I think we probably scale in opposite directions to evaulate image quality 😉 Cheers, Pascal
Everyone has their chosen magnification. That’s fine. If the posted image is magnified more than that, you can back up as far as you want from your monitor. If the posted image is less than that, and you get too close to the monitor, you’re looking at monitor pixels, and that’s not good.
Surely the “best” magnification is highly influenced by screen size and resolution?
This is a genuinely open question.
My point being that 100% on a 13″ 4K screen will be quite different to “full” HD on a 24″ screen, in terms of pixel density and image size.
The small 4K screen will allow you to see very little pixel level detail, as the pixel density per inch is so high.
Conversely, a large HD screen will show you much more pixel level detail as the pixel density per inch is so low.
So… surely the magnification that’s appropriate to look at the files would be different?
Until recently, lots of laptops had “HD” (720) screens and therefore the pixel density for a 100% view was quite revealing – whereas with so many high end laptops now having “full” HD, HD+, QHD, QHD+ and 4K screens… 100% isn’t very revealing at all.
I’d be interested in your view.
P.S. Having upgraded all my devices to something between QHD and 4K, it has been a revelation to see how images look on screen, and I totally agree with your earlier comment about the impact of screen quality on what the viewer sees.
You are certainly correct in that monitor choices have a big influence on what a person sees on their screen, and most people don’t even think about it. Let alone understand the differences.
The reason for this is video technology and terminology has creeped into the computer world and largely taken over. Most people think a monitor is a monitor and there are no differences. Except, most monitors available at the big box stores (Best Buy, Costco, Amazon, etc.) are really HD TVs, and not a real engineering or graphic arts quality monitor.
At work I have an HP 24″ monitor and it has 1240 lines, where most screens at the big box stores only have 1,080 lines. From a still photo resolution standpoint the future new video standards (4K, 6K, 8K) are more hype than real improvement.
The reason we are so accepting of this is, it sounds impressive and our eyes and brains are wired to lock on to things that move. So we are more accepting of moving images at a lower resolution than we would accept in a good quality print; which we really haven’t been able to get since the digital conversion came along, unless you get ultra-prints made or do your own printing.
Various monitor resolutions and their total pixels are below.
HD: 1,080 lines (2.1 MP) (Dell U2417H)
4K: 2,160 lines (8.3 MP) (Dell P2715Q)
4K: 2,304 lines (9.4 MP) (Apple 21.5″ iMac w/4K Retina)
5K: 2,880 lines (14.75 MP, for the Apple 27″ iMac w/K Retina)
6K: Not really defined yet.
8K: Not really defined yet.
While looking up the above, it appears video standards for 4K and up refer to the number of pixels horizontally rather than the number of lines, or vertical pixels. Which explains the differences between the Dell and Apple 4K monitors above; Dell (3,840×2,160), Apple (4,096×2,304).
While 6K & 8K monitors are not quite defined yet, Red Cameras reports that their 6K and 8K cameras have the following resolutions.
Weapon 6K: 6,144×3,160 (19.4 MP)
Weapon 8K: 8,129×4,320 (35 MP)
So for the future, monitor technology has quite a ways to go to catch up. This will probably be expensive for the next few years.
You are not seriously making a comparison with just the images above? Please, I know you guys know all about proper test shots at infinity with distant details in the corners. This is quite silly. It has gotten alot of attention, and site hits I’m sure. But we can tell nothing from this post, honestly.
I look forward to a more professional approach to comparison of these cameras in the future.
Well, yeah, that’s exactly what we’re doing 😀
We have those samples and we’re sharing them for all to inspect. We think they tell much more of a story than the hugely post-processed files most others have posted online. We’re not drawing any conclusions, however, other than we can’t see enough difference with a cheaper system (A7rII) to justify switching.
As for corner detail at infinity, we don’t care all that much, to be honest. That’s only relevant to landscape photography, which is always done at small apertures. And I can’t think of a recent lens, even at entry level, that isn’t very good in the corners at f/8.
We’re far more interested in the way lenses draw. But if corner sharpness matters to you, you’ll find much more detailed information on Jim Kasson’s blog (the link is at the bottom of the post).
Have fun (oh, and FYI, site hits cost money, we don’t give a rat’s arse about site hits 😉 )
I figured out a better way to explain what I’m doing with the enlargements, and how to look at them:
Here’s how to use these highly-magnified crops. The dimensions of the GFX sensor are 8256×6192 pixels. If we make a full-frame print from the GFX on a printer with 360 pixels per inch native driver-level resolution, like the Epson inkjet printers, we’ll end up with a 23×17 inch (58×44 cm) print. The 318×246 pixel crop you’re looking at will end up 0.8333×0.6833 inches (2.12×1.74 cm). Let’s imagine that you or your viewers are critical, and will look at the 22×17 inch print from about 18 inches (conventional wisdom is that the distance would be a little greater than that, or 28 inches (the diagonal), but you did buy a high-resolution camera for a reason, didn’t you?).
The next step is dependent on your monitor pitch, which you may or may not know. Turns out, you don’t have to know it. Just take the 253% crops and view then at 1:1. How high are they? Get out your ruler and measure, or just guess. Let’s say they are 6 inches high. 6 inches is about 7 times 0.8333, so in order to view the crops the way they’d look from 18 inches on the print is to view them from 7 times as far away, or 10.5 feet.
Everything here scales proportionately. If the image on your screen is bigger than 6 inches, increase your viewing distance by the ratio of your image height to 6 inches. If you thin your viewers are going to almost get their nose to that print and look at it from six inches, divide that 10.5 feet by 3, and look at the image on the monitor from three and a half feet away.
The images from the D810 and a7RII are scaled to the same print height of 17 inches. Because they have fewer pixels vertically, that requires slightly greater magnification.
Hi again, Jim,
thanks for this thorough explaination. Please be assured I wasn’t criticising. It’s just that I don’t print big (my personal dream is a collection of 12 inch contact platinul prints 😉 so my evaluation bias is more towards the global aesthetics of the image. I’m aware of the optical properties (even wrote a course) but am only really bothered by what has a significant effect on rendering. That said, it’s great that others see the world differently and pursue their own approach with equal thoroughness.
What does bother me is the general focus of photographers on lens sharpness (infinity corners … you know the drill) when that’s not really the most important factor in making a good photograph. It’s like some people prefer to buy a good lens than to go to the trouble of actually learning about composition and such things. But I’ve seen and admired your blog for a long time (particularly the abstracts) so know very well you’re nowhere near that category of people. Which is why I directed my readers to your page. I’m sure many of those who find the DearSusan approach a bit too subjective will love the science you bring to the subject, as illustrated in your comment above.
All the best,
Thanks, Pascal. I agree that what’s most important about making photographs is not related to sharpness, bokeh, LaCA, LoCA, focus shift, focus stacking, swings and tilts, exposure, spherical aberration, PDR, FWC, RN, AA filters, camera and lens brand, whether the capture was digital or analog, whether printed on an inkjet printer or with gum bichromate, or any of that technical stuff. As someone who writes a technically-oriented, gearheady blog, I try to do a post every year or so to point that out. We all know it to be true, and it’s easy to forget while you’re looking for your keys under the lamp post.
On the other hand, cameras and lenses are tools, and photography has elements of craft (though some would deny this). From that perspective, it is worthwhile to select the best tools for the job at hand, and to learn to use our tools to the best effect. The problem is that there are an incredible number of photographic tasks, each making different demands upon the toolset. Therefore, the tests that one person does that are aimed at the decisions that she needs to make may or may not be useful to other photographers intent on solving different problems.
What is interesting for fine art photographers is the resolution and sharpness when the files are printed, at least up to 150cm for exhibitions.
How the two systems fair in this regard.
The biggest marketing problem Fuji had before GFX probably was “Fuji camera is good, but…, it’s not full frame.” After GFX, APS-C sensor is not an deficiency any more. For those who argue larger is better, they can move to GFX. For those who argue full frame is almost as good as GFX, the same argument applys to APS-C v.s. FF.
I think the biggest achievement GFX has is that it makes people rethink about the sensor size. The recent increase of popularity of the Fuji camera (more switchers, no lens sales anymore, etc.) may not unrelated to GFX release.
Hi Franck, that’s interesting. Volkswagen created the Bugatti Veyron as a technological, but also marketing, achievement. They lost millions on every car sold but the benefit to the brand was immense. As you suggest, something similar may well be happening to Fuji thanks to the GFX. I also think that Fuji’s good fortunes are intimately linked to the fact that they have a very likeable brand, unlike others who blantantly do not give sh.. about their customers. The two put together probably amount to well deserved success. Cheers.