Fujifilm vs Sony: Switching from Sony to Fuji. Not What I Expected At All

It’s been a while since I switched from Sony to Fuji. At this point, I am ready to give you my reasons for the switch and how I compare Fujifilm vs Sony crop sensor cameras.

Fujifilm vs Sony. Switching from Sony to Fujifilm. Not What I Expected At All

I must first admit that the Fujifilm was not what I expected at all. It actually turned out to be entirely the opposite of my expectations. I got interested in Fujifilm because of the need for a better user experience, but I stayed with it because of image quality, and stellar Fuji lenses.

Let me explain.

Sony vs Fujifilm. Reasons for Switching

As I considered the switch this time, I had only one brand in mind and that was Fujifilm. Here are the main reasons:

1. User Experience

When you mature as a photographer, you develop a unique photography routine and habits. You know exactly what you want to see in a camera that is closely aligned with your photography workflow. With Sony, I felt that I could not customize my photo equipment how I wanted. I was hoping the combination of the streamlined Fuji menu system with the mechanical dials and customizable buttons would offer more flexibility.

When I decided to switch to Fujifilm, I only considered the top of the line XT2 model, but I had difficulty finding reliable reviews. Why? The reason was because of Fuji’s unique approach to firmware updates.

Since Fujifilm launched its XT2 model in August 2016, it has released three major firmware updates that extend the camera’s functionality by adding hundreds–that’s right, hundreds–of new and updated features.

By the end of 2017, most of the initial XT2 reviews were outdated because, by then, it was a very different camera.

I find Fuji’s approach to be unique and refreshing, which makes them more like a software startup rather than a consumer electronics company. It feels like a modern approach to photography when a company listens to users and makes improvements to existing cameras through software updates.

I wanted to be part of that experience.

Fujifilm vs Sony: example of the photo taken with Fujifilm XT2 camera
Shot with Fujifilm X-T2 and Fujinon 18-135mm

2. Curiosity

I know plenty of fellow photographers who shoot with Fujifilm and love the Fujifilm experience. Sometimes, they praise Fuji so much that it feels like they are part of a cult-like Scientology or CrossFit. I was curious to explore the cult-like experience from the inside.

I was also intrigued to explore the completely different design of Fuji cameras with their various mechanical dials and gazillions of customizable buttons.

Also, as a photographer and educator, I thought it would be good to learn another system so I can intelligently discuss it.

3. Need for the Ultimate Travel Camera

For a long time, I wanted the ultimate travel camera setup. I craved for a combination of a compact weather sealed camera and lens.

I was also looking for a modern dual memory card functionality that would give me a completely redundant backup workflow from start to finish.

And, finally, I wanted my travel camera to have a reliable and straightforward GPS tagging functionality.

I could not accomplish everything with Sony.

4. Neglect By Sony

Fujifilm vs Sony. The Switch

When I switched from Canon to Sony, the most significant change that impacted my photography was the incredible dynamic range of the Sony sensors. It changed the way I shoot and edit photos.

It made me use HDR even less. And, even when it was absolutely necessary to utilize HDR, I only needed three brackets. The time of taking five to seven bracketed shots was over.

Since then, I always pay attention to the dynamic range of any camera that I evaluate and make it one of the most important paraments of my photography.

The problem with Fuji is that it uses an X-Trans sensor and it seems that no one can accurately measure its dynamic range. This made it impossible for me to compare the dynamic range of the XT2 to my existing Sony before I made the switch.

It worried me a bit because I did not want to sacrifice the dynamic range in my new camera.

So, instead of switching right away, I decided to first test the Fuji. When a local fellow photographer was selling his practically new Fuji X-T2 body, I knew it was the perfect opportunity for me to compare it to Sony.

I bought the camera and complemented it with the Fujinon 18-135mm lens. Over the next six weeks, I used both the Sony and Fuji systems side by side.

Here is what I discovered.

Fujifilm vs Sony: Switching from Sony to Fuji. Not What I Expected At All 1
Shot with Fujifilm X-T2 and Fujinon 18-135mm

The Positives of Switching from Sony to Fujifilm

Dynamic Range

The dynamic range of the Fuji XT2 sensor is incredible. I cannot measure it precisely to give you the exact number of stops it covers but, based on my purely empirical experience, it is better than the Sony a6000, a6300, and a6500. In six weeks, I have not used HDR–not even when shooting directly into the sun. The amount of details I can recover in highlights and shadows is staggering.

This is something I did not expect.

Fujifilm vs Sony: Switching from Sony to Fuji. Not What I Expected At All 2
Shot with Fujifilm X-T2 and Fujinon 18-135mm

Image Quality

At this point, I have two lenses: Fujinon 10-24 and Fujinon 18-135. The combination of the Fuji XT2 and the 10-24 or 18-135 produces much cleaner and sharper images than the Sony a6000 or a65000 with a Sony 16-70 or Sony 10-18. The Fujifilm images are perfectly usable at 100% magnification. Unbelievable.

Fujinon Lenses

But, I want to concentrate on Fujinon 18-135 lens. It is not the most popular Fuji lens, but I picked it as part of my ultimate travel photography setup. It is weather sealed, stabilized with a very useful focal length. I knew in advance that I could go on an extended trip with only that lens.

After using Fujinon exclusively for 2 weeks, I realized that pretty much all the Fujinon 18-135 reviews I read were inaccurate and misleading. Most of them concluded that it is a decent lens but you can not expect much from a super zoom lens.

Fujinon XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR
Fujinon XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6

I do not agree with those conclusions. I find this lens to be outstanding. The image quality is excellent and when shooting at f/8 – f/11 I hardly can tell the difference between Fujinon 18-135 and everybody’s favorite ultra wide Fujinon 10-24.

Fujifilm XF10-24mmF4 R OIS
Fujinon XF10-24mmF4 R OIS

The Fujinon 18-135mm has the best Optical Stabilization I have ever experienced. I managed to shoot at focal length 135mm using shutter speed 1/10s and produce a perfectly sharp image. It is remarkable.

Electronic Viewfinder

The EVF is to die for. It is HUGE and bright. It contains an enormous amount of information, and you can customize it in any way you want. It already changed the way I take photos.

I assigned the front function button to trigger Histogram display in EVF. With the latest firmware update, it displays a combined histogram plus three more versions for each color channel. Now when I am ready to shoot, I press AE-L button to lock the exposure, next I activate the histogram inside of the EVF, and finally, I tweak the exposure by adjusting the exposure compensation using Front Command Dial. And I always have four histograms in EVF to evaluate my adjustments.

Love it.

ISO Performance

One of the shortcomings of the Fuji XT2 is considered to be not a stellar high ISO performance. But, once again I do not entirely agree with the conclusion. I guess if you compare XT2 ISO performance to a full frame sensor camera like Sony 7r it might be the case, but I find the ISO performance is excellent for the APS-C camera. I was surprised that at ISO 12800 images are still usable with plenty of details.

The combination of excellent ISO performance with improved and extended Auto ISO functionality, allows me to shoot in conditions I would never consider shooting before.

Fujifilm vs Sony: Switching from Sony to Fuji. Not What I Expected At All 3
Shot with Fujifilm X-T2 and Fujinon 18-135mm

The Negatives of Switching from Sony to Fujifilm


The day I received the camera and the lens I went on a day-long trip to shoot winter landscapes.  After shooting for 2 hours I realized that I had cramps in my fingers.

Sony a6000 is a small camera, but it has a beefy, not very deep but pretty wide grip and I could comfortably carry the camera using my entire palm. But the Fuji XT2 is a bigger and heavier camera with a tiny grip and I always had to squeeze it with my fingers putting unnecessary strain on them.

After 5 minutes of Googling, I realized the small grip was a common issue for many Fuji cameras. And of course, I found the solution fast. I ordered the thumb grip, and it almost fixed the problem.

Lensmate Thumb Grip for Fujifilm X-T2 (Also fits X-T1) - Black

Thumbs Grip for Fujifilm X-T2

I also bought an inexpensive L-Bracket with a metal grip.

XT2 Grip Vertical Shoot Hand Grip QR Quick Release L Plate Camera Bracket Holder Compatible with Fuji Fujifilm XT2 X T2 X-T2

Fujifilm XT2 Vertical Shoot Hand Grip

Now when I shoot handheld, I use thumb grip only, and when I am on a tripod I attach the L-Bracket Grip as well.

But, I am still not entirely comfortable. I hope over time I will get used to it.

I am a big Back Button Focus user, and the AE-L and AF-L buttons are tiny, and it is hard to use them. I had to assign Rear Command Dial to lock the focus on a press down. It is not entirely comfortable.

Inconsistency with Customization

I like the Fuji XT2 design and mechanical dials, but I expected to have the ability to assign all mechanical dial functionalities to customizable function buttons. That is not the case.

For example, I can use Front Command Dial to adjust exposure compensation by setting the mechanical dial to the S option, and I like it a lot.

But, I can not assign Drive selection to a custom function button or even a Quick menu. The only way for me to change from single mode shooting to bracketing, which I do a lot, is to use a mechanical subdial under the ISO dial. I have to use my second hand to change it.

The same goes for the Metering selection, you have to use a mechanical dial and no function button or Quick Menu options.

When shooting in Aperture Priority mode, the only way to change the aperture value is to use lens aperture ring. It is very comfortable when shooting handheld but when on a tripod, once again it requires a second hand. There is no way to change aperture using the Rear Command dial.

I hope that in future updates Fujifilm gives us the ability to assign any function to any function buttons or at least to a Quick Menu. I would love to be able to customize the XT2 so I can change any settings with one hand and without moving the eye away from EVF

Custom Setting

I find that one of the most useful custom configurations on any camera brand is the ability to save a group of custom settings and recall them with one click. I used it on Sony and Canon.

I was excited about Fujifilm custom settings because I knew you could save up to 7 custom configurations, plus you could give each configuration a unique name. And it is easy to recall each saved configuration from Quick Menu.

But when I started to customize it I realized the only following settings an available for memory recall:

Dynamic Range, Film Simulation, Grain Effect, White Balance, Color Sharpness, Highlight Tone, and Noise Reduction.

That’s is right, they all related to JPEG shooting. And since I only shoot RAW, the entire Custom Setting module is utterly useless to me.

I find it to be one of the most surprising shortcomings of Fujifilm Xt2 functionality.

Sony vs Fujifilm: Conclusion

As I mentioned before, the switch from Sony to Fujifilm turned to be not what I expected at all. I got interested in Fujifilm because of the need for a better user experience and more advanced customization, but I stayed with it because of image quality, dynamic range, and stellar lenses.

I do not complain and have no regrets. I’ve already sold all my Sony gear and I will definitely stick with Fujifilm for a year at least, but I suspect it to be longer.

And I am having blast learning the new camera system. Plus, Fujifilm keeps us on the toes with the constant firmware upgrades.

Also, it proved again there is no such thing as a perfect camera.

Fujifilm vs Sony: Switching from Sony to Fuji. Not What I Expected At All 4

Sony vs Fujifilm – 2019 Update

It’s been almost 18 months since I switched from Sony to the Fujifilm camera system. I decided to give you a quick update. 

First of all, I have grown even fonder of Fujifilm gear over time. I like its aesthetics, the quality of gear, and the quality of images Fujifilm produces. Plus, I like Fujifilm’s photographer-centric approach to business. 

At this point, I have no plans to look for an alternative. I will stick with Fujifilm. 

I still shoot with the Fujifilm X-t2. In 2018, I was very excited when Fujifilm announced the X-t3 and I was eager to upgrade. But when I checked the specs of the X-t3, I realized there was nothing for me there. 

The Fujifilm X-T3 offers drastic improvements in video specs and autofocus, neither of which I care for much. The features I cared about the most—image quality dynamic range and low light performance – did not change in the X-T3 model.

I also hoped the X-T3 would introduce a bigger battery to eliminate the need to carry a pile of spare batteries along with me. This did not happen. 

Fujinon 35mm f/1.4

Fujifilm XF35mmF1.4 R
Fujinon 35mm f/1.4

According to Fujifilm’s chief engineer, when they designed the Fujinon 35mm f/1.4 lens, they had the option to make it optically perfect or make it distinctive and unique. They chose the latter. It is now one of my favorite lenses I have ever owned. Plus, it is tiny and incredibly light. 

Fujifilm vs Sony: Switching from Sony to Fuji. Not What I Expected At All 6
The photo shot with Fujinon 35mm f/1.4

My working horse is the Fujinon 10-24mm f/4 wide-angle lens. I use it for most of my landscape photos. Its only weakness is its lack of weather sealing. When I am in the field in the rain, I have to switch to the Fujinon 18-135mm. This lens is weather-sealed and gives me a very useful reach of 135mm (200m full-frame equivalent). 

That is it for now. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below. I am happy to answer any of your inquiries. 

What to Read Next:

by Viktor Elizarov
I am a travel photographer and educator from Montreal, Canada, and a founder of PhotoTraces. I travel around the world and share my experiences here. Feel free to check my Travel Portfolio and download Free Lightroom Presets.

24 thoughts on “Fujifilm vs Sony: Switching from Sony to Fuji. Not What I Expected At All”

  1. I am wondering whether you considered the Olympus OMD EM1 Mk2?

    • I did not. I wanted to stay in APS-C realm and I did not consider a full frame or a 4/3 cameras.

  2. Sony FE lenses are outstanding on the Sony A6x00 series of cameras. They’re not oversized and they balance well enough on the smaller bodies.

    “Date your camera body, marry your lenses.”

    • They are much bigger and heavier. Did you compare Sony 16-70 and Sony 24-105? Plus, FE lenses perform much poorer on cropped bodies. You can check the results here: https://goo.gl/ojhaZ9

      • Not expected and counter-intuitive. The results for the different lenses on the FF & Crop sensor bodies are inconsistent except that the performance is not nearly as good on the crop sensor as it is on the FF bodies.

        Still, the Sony A6x00 are fine cameras. Enjoy you Fujis.

  3. Victor, please let me mention that if one reads only the headtitle to your article, they are inclined to believe that what is going to follow would be completely negative for Fujifilm cameras. But that’s not the case at all!!!

    • It was not my intention to mislead you. But, I guess it made you read the article 🙂

  4. What about the new XH1. Does that overcome the shortcomings you mention about the XT?

    • It does not. The menu system is pretty standard on all Fuji cameras. Plus, I do not need a bigger body, I am still trying to get used to XT2 bigger body compared to Sony.

  5. Getting to this article in January 2019. I could not agree with you more about the 18-135mm. I read the reviews and was skeptical about picking it up, but I got it at such a super price brand new a number of years back that I could not pass it up. I was shocked at the sharpness of the shots on the XT1 and XT2 with this lens. Like you, I think it is the best image stabilized lens that I have come across. I own the Fuji 16mm 1.4 and the 23mm f2. I appreciate all three lenses and believe that the 16mm is the probably the best lens I have ever used. That being said, if I could keep just one of the lenses, it would be the 18-135 for all the photographic focal lengths that it gives and how it works so well.

  6. I had Fujifilm mid-range camera. I switched from Fujifilm to Sony alpha and I am delighted. It is more than what I expected. A simple night shot on a clear night shows more than 1000 stars clearly. I am telling everyone to use talent to get maximum out of existing camera rather than simply switching the camera, expecting camera to do everything.

  7. Pity the 16-80 is only 50g lighter than the 18-135. And expensive. Though if you don’t carry a separate wide-angle lens, the 16-80 might still be the better choice. Do you feel that you utilise the 80-135 range much?

    • I’ve shot with Sony 16-70mm f/4 for 4 years and it was by far my favorite lens. I am sure I would be very comfortable with 16-80mm and would not miss extra reach of Fuji 18-135mm too much

  8. Sony user here (a6500) was very happy with the image quality but was struggling with lenses, either too expensive for being full frame or just not good enough for apsc, just felt like I had to make a lot of compromises just to have a smaller camera.
    Last summer I had to sell the body cause I needed some money. That made me look into other options and now I’m almost decided to switch to Fuji, xt30 or xt3 (can get it new with 18-55 for 1500) , I do mostly architectural and travel photography so I think Fuji is the perfect match for me.
    Any consideration or suggestions before I pull the trigger?

    • I strongly believe that Fuji Xt30 + 18-55mm is the best value combo among all brands. Xt30 has the same sensor and processor as Xt3 and 18-55mm is the best kit lens I’ve ever encountered. And the kit is tiny.

  9. I am glad you like it so much. You made good decisions in first testing it disregarding the reviews. Always best to check it out for yourself. As for the aperture ring, it has never been an issue with me. I like using more than turning a damn wheel. And don’t stress about the extra weight with that lens. I carry around the GX680 on a tripod all the time. Have fun with it.

  10. Hi Viktor, I am a beginner to photography. I used to own the Nikon 5600 and I love the flip screen but the time it took to take a picture bigged me soo much. I sold it and I am looking for a new camera, I like photographing a little bit of everything but mostly landscapes and animals I also enjoy recording but I am not big on it. I plan on doing some portrait work but I want to find a compact setup. Right now I am in between the a6400 and the fujifilm xt2… I really like that it has the dials up outside the camera.. but I dont know. What are your recomendations? Also I am very short and want to keep the setup as light as I can with lenses and all…

    Thank you!

    • Fuji Xt30 + 18-55mm is the best value combo among all the brands. XT2 is still a great camera but you get even smaller with Xt30

  11. I too have the fujifilm system. I own the XT-20 and th XT-3. I too have written a couple of articles for fujilove magazine like you. My question is with the processing. I am currently using on1 which works for many images but not all. Under some conditions I get artifacts with the X-Trans sensor. I don’t want to get into the monthly pay cycle of Adobe products. Are you using CC for most of your raw processing?

    • It is very hard to replace CC when for $10 per month you get LR+PS+LR Mobile+HRD+Panorama. There is no escape from submarine 🙂 When I work portfolio pieces I use X-Transformer for demosaicing.


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