Last week I had the opportunity to use a brand new Fujifilm X-T5 (retail price £1,699) alongside Sony a7S III and a7IV cameras (retailing new at £3,800 and £2,399 respectively - although the a7S III can be bought used for the same price as a brand new a7IV). The Sony 50mm FE f/1.8 and Fujinon XC 35mm f/2 (50mm equivalent with APS-C crop factor) lenses used are comparable in price and construction. We shot both exteriors and interiors.
Picture profiles on the Sony models were PP3 (natural) for stills and PP11 (cinetone) for video. On the Fujifilm, we used Astia (soft) for stills and Eterna (cinema) for video. To be clear, we were not aiming to match the cameras but to determine what images were most pleasing and useable straight out of the gate. Indeed, this test involved a fast turnaround shoot with minimal post production time.
Stills in daylight - Fujifilm X-T5 wins: cameras were set to 1/250 shutter speed, 125 ISO and 5500K. Lenses were set to f/2. The obvious daylight stills winner was Fujifilm. The X-T5 produced images with great detail and character, useable straight out of camera. This isn’t to say that the Sony stills were bad at all. Sony colours just came across as somewhat clinical, contrasty and lacking in “pop.” Without filters or post production work, skin tones also looked harsh in comparison to the Fujifilm X-T5.
Stills in low light - Sony a7 IV wins: cameras were set to 1/125 shutter speed, 6400 ISO and 5500K. Lenses were set to f/2. The Sony a7 IV did take the crown for stills in low light. Its images were noticeably cleaner and sharper, with less noise and little deterioration of the image. The Sony a7S III and Fujifilm X-T5 actually produced similar results with comparable sharpness and noise. Objectively, the X-T5 fared worse than the a7S III but not by much. The location in question was a dark basement with no direct light source.
4K video in daylight - tie: cameras were set to 1/100 shutter speed, 125 ISO and 5500K. Lenses were set to f/2. The frame rate was 50p in 16:9 4K. Codecs used were XAVC S at 200mbps on Sony and H.264 Long GOP at 200mbps on Fujifilm. All three cameras produced attractive video footage useable out of camera. The Fujifilm’s colour profile was noticeably flatter and more akin to a cinema camera, whereas the cinetone profile on the Sony cameras had more contrast. The three models performed very well in daylight, making it hard to pick a clear winner for general video use.
4K video in low light - Sony a7S III wins: cameras were set to 1/100 shutter speed, 6400 ISO and 5500K. Lenses were set to f/2. The frame rate was 50p in 16:9 4K. Codecs used were XAVC S at 200mbps on Sony and H.264 Long GOP at 200mbps on Fujifilm. The Sony a7S III earned its reputation here with extremely clean footage and impressive low light video performance. The location in question was an interior basement with no direct light source, effectively forcing all cameras to see in the dark. Combined with high bitrates and intensive processing, the Fujifilm struggled to capture a clean image. Its video footage wasn’t unusable, but would require de-noising and sharpening in post production. The Sony a7 IV performed well, although showed more noise than the a7S III.
Basic autofocus in stills and video - tie: contrary to some online reviews, I found basic AF to be comparable across the cameras. When shooting faces specifically, we didn’t have any trouble tracking continuously. The issue seems to lie mainly in the intricacies of each AF system. Both Fujifilm and Sony menus contain many features that need to be calibrated properly, which can be overwhelming at first and require practice to get right. In low light video for example, the Sony a7 IV seemed to struggle a little with tracking the subject’s face. However, we managed to improve this by tweaking the settings. The X-T5 required a similar level of practice and research. The a7S III on the other hand seemed to perform very well straight out of the box, but again this is most likely due to the way its AF menu is set up by default.