On paper, the Fujifilm X-T4 and the Sony a7 III are remarkably similar.
They produce similarly sized images, and both are capable of 4K video. They’re both physically about the same size, and they both sell for about the same price.
A good photographer will be able to take outstanding photographs with either. It is, after all, the photographer that makes the picture, not the camera.
Perhaps the most pertinent question is, which camera will the photographer most enjoy using?
Once you look at it this way, the “look and feel” of the camera becomes much more important.
APS-C versus Full-Frame
Before we dive in and compare these two cameras, we need to address the elephant in the room. Is an APS-C Fujifilm camera comparable to a Sony full-frame?
There’s a lot of noise in this debate, but it absolutely cannot be said that full-frame sensors are better for everyone all the time.
The resolution and detail offered by smaller sensors these days are immense. Professional photographers are producing gorgeous content with much smaller sensors than the APS-C standard.
Micros four-thirds (MFT) and even smartphone sensors have made tremendous strides and produce fantastic images and 4K video.
So who needs a full-frame sensor, then? The classic advantages include better light-catching abilities and better use of fast lenses for shallow depth of field.
Indeed, if you’re after landscapes or astrophotography, a full-frame is nice to have.
And portrait photographers love the ability to use the full f-stop range of their lenses, too.
But most of these “advantages” are outweighed by the bulk of the camera and lens. Most of us have to carry our cameras somewhere.
If you aren’t married to shooting with a full-frame sensor, then portability is a huge plus.
A smaller sensor means a smaller camera and lens, plus support gear like tripods and bags will be smaller.
If you’re worried about low-light performance and depth of field rendering on the smaller APS-C sensor, be sure to take a look at the lenses available. Pound for pound, most of Fujinon’s X-mount lenses are faster than the Sony equivalents.
On his blog, photographer John Peltier has a great quote that proves why some photographers prefer to shoot with a Fujifilm. “We’re supposed to be making pictures, not operating a computer,” he says in defense of the old-school dials and easy-to-find controls on the Fuji cameras.
Anyone who has used both an old-school film camera and a Sony mirrorless camera knows precisely what he’s talking about.
Sony cameras have notoriously lousy menu structures, making the most straightforward things challenging to find.
Sometimes it seems like everything is hidden in plain sight but requires multiple steps and clicks with the command dial.
Fujifilm built their mirrorless cameras from the ground up to be a camera-lovers dream.
They’re just as packed with the latest tech as the Sony cameras, but the two bodies look like night and day when sitting next to one another.
At first glance, Sony’s lens lineup looks great. They’ve got full coverage of all focal lengths, and their branding agreement with Zeiss adds some high-power brand recognition.
Of course, Fujinon carries its own brand recognition. Fujinon’s lens lineup for the X-mount cameras is, in a word, outstanding.
The offerings are compact, fast, sharp, and sturdy. And they haven’t skimped on the prime lens offerings.
But just like the camera bodies, the lenses made by these two companies come down to more than just the raw specifications.
Sony may have an impressive lineup, but many of their lenses seem to fall flat. Many models are rated poorly, with users reporting a lack of sharpness, chromatic aberrations, or distortions that require lens profiles to sort out.
If your goal is to shoot in RAW format, that might be a discouraging problem.
Sure, Sony’s G and GM-series lenses are crowd-pleasing lenses that can rub shoulders with the best of the best.
They are exceptionally good lenses, but their price is also exceptional. If you’ve got the budget to fill your bag with these lenses, go for it. But if you have to dabble into the lower-end Sony or Sony/Zeiss offerings, you might be disappointed–especially when you consider the price point.
It’s with these lenses that Fujifilm competes, and it’s with these lenses that they show an advantage. Fuji’s lenses are fast, sharp, and less expensive than their Sony counterparts.
Be sure to check the reviews and user reports of each lens you plan on buying carefully. There is a significant variation in terms of quality even within each product lineup.
Both camera makers include some creative presets that adjust colors, contrast, and tones to liven up your JPG images.
For decades, digital cameras have included things like these, and for decades experienced photographers have ignored them. We do that stuff in post, right?
Then, along came Fujifilm and rumors that photographers were dramatically reducing their post-production time because of the camera’s built-in film simulation modes.
Fuji capitalized on their brand and named each profile to match their popular 35 mm film brands.
Whether the clever branding helps, or it’s just the fact that Fuji implemented these profile settings better than other manufacturers, isn’t the point.
The point is these film profiles offer outstanding results–enough to make you stop worrying about RAW processing and go back to a simpler way of shooting.
Are Fujifilm cameras right for everyone? Certainly not. If that were the case, all cameras on the market would look like the new X-mount Fujis.
But Fuji has carved out a distinctive niche, and their appeal to photographers who want to feel more connected to the process and the camera cannot be denied.
The best advice is to rent both cameras and try them out for a few days. There’s no better way to decide which system matches your style better.
But if you’re feeling fed up with playing with screens and computers, and are feeling nostalgic for the days of real cameras, give the Fujifilm a try.