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Two of the hottest mirrorless cameras you can get your hands on right now are the Sony a7R III and the Fujifilm X-H1. My husband owns one and I have the other. In the past few months, we’ve been experimenting with our new cameras and have noticed quite a few similarities and differences. This is by no means a comprehensive camera comparison, but some of the main differences will be highlighted below.
My husband and I are both photographers who have always been in opposite brand camps. We were Nikon versus Canon during the height of the DSLR. Now in the mirrorless world, we are Fujifilm versus Sony. I’m a full-time photographer specializing mainly in food and architecture photography, while my husband is a part-time assistant photographer.
Our differing photo needs and styles have partially dictated our camera brand loyalty. I prefer Sony for its higher megapixel count for architecture photos and also its more flexible lens selection. Meanwhile, my husband loves Fujifilm for their rangefinder design and film simulations.
One thing we can agree on is that we both have an interest in making more videos. That is why we specifically choose the Sony a7R III and Fujifilm X-H1 as our new cameras. Note that at the time, the Sony a7R III was the newest camera on the market–there wasn’t yet a Sony A7III or a Sony a7S III, both of which are arguably better cameras for video.
Before we talk about differences, the Sony a7R III and Fujifilm X-H1 do have many features in common. First, both cameras have enhanced, on-par video recording capabilities. They shoot in 4K and 120 fps slow motion video, and both cameras offer in-camera image stabilization (IBIS). Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are available on both cameras to facilitate quick transfers to cell phones or tablets.
Physically, both cameras have dual SD card slots for more storage flexibility. There’s also focus peaking to help highlight areas that are in focus, which is especially helpful when using manual-focus lenses. Finally, there are tiltable touchscreens on both cameras. However, touchscreen capabilities are quite limited and you can’t perform full camera operation with them.
Here is the same scene, shot with both cameras for comparison.
In terms of things that neither camera offer, the list isn’t terribly long. But ideally, both cameras would offer a more flexible tilt and swivel screen. Built-in GPS for geotagging photos is also missing.
Finally, both cameras come with hot-shoe mounts for attaching an external flash. However, neither camera comes with a built-in flash.
The biggest difference exists in the cameras’ sensors. There’s a full-frame, 42.4-megapixel sensor on the Sony, while the Fujifilm has an APS-C 24.3-megapixel sensor. Currently, Fujifilm does not make any full-frame mirrorless cameras, although that will change when the X-T3 comes out in late 2018.
Depending on your photography style, more megapixels is a generally a good thing. Although, it does require using SD cards and hard drives with significantly more storage space for those large file sizes.
Speaking of resolution, there’s a new feature on the Sony a7R III called Pixel Shift. In short, this increases image resolution by 4 times. You still have to shoot individual images and stitch them together in post-production using the included software. The result is a super high-res image that’s great for shooting landscapes or buildings.
Mirrorless cameras have long been criticized for having poor battery life. Luckily, Sony responded positively by putting a new Z-battery in the a7R III. This battery isn’t cheap, but it offers a much longer battery life than the X-H1 at 650 shots versus 310 shots.
One thing many Sony shooters miss from the a7R II is the PlayMemories App that added built-in features such as time-lapse shooting. However, time-lapse can still be taken on the a7R III if you use the S&Q setting.
This allows for shooting slow motion or fast (hyper-lapse). If you do the latter, this is essentially a hyper-lapse that is taken in camera. Just be sure to adjust the settings in the camera, as S&Q can be set to shoot slow motion or hyper-lapse videos.
Since recording accurate sound is a big part of video-making, it’s essential to have a headphone jack. This is present on the Sony a7R III but is oddly missing from the Fuji X-H1.
The X-H1 is a faster camera when it comes to shutter speed and frames per second (more on that below). But the Sony has a leg up when it comes to JPG buffering, or how many more JPGs you can shoot before waiting in burst mode. It’s 82 shots on the Sony a7R III compared to 40 shots on the Fuji X-H1.
Sony – The Sony a7R III has a native ISO sensitivity range of 100 to 51,200. When extended, the Sony can reach ISO 50 to 204,800 for stills, or 102,400 for video.
Fuji – Meanwhile, the X-H1 has a slightly smaller range of ISO 200 to 12,800 or an extended ISO range of 100 to 51,200 for stills or 25,600 for video.
When it comes to lenses, Sony has a wider array of choices compared to Fujifilm. If you need traditional focal lengths such as the 16-35mm, 24-70mm, or 70-200mm, you’ll want to go with Sony.
The X-H1 takes on the look of a DSLR camera, departing a bit from Fujifilm’s more classic rangefinder design. Part of the DSLR look includes a top LCD display where you can easily see your camera settings. In practice, that may or may not be helpful since the pop-out LCD can also show your camera settings.
Interestingly, the Fujifilm X-H1 is quite a bit faster than the Sony a7R III. The X-H1’s shutter is faster at 1/32,000th versus 1/8000th when shooting wide open in bright light. Also, the X-H1 has faster RAW and JPG shooting in burst mode (14 FPS for the Fuji as compared to 9 FPS on the Sony).
Despite being a crop sensor camera, the X-H1 is set up better for taking night photos. It has a long exposure of up to 900 seconds (15 minutes – in M and S shooting modes), compared to 30 seconds on the Sony a7R III.
Fujifilm has been mastering color profiles long before digital cameras even existed. Many color profiles from film days have been added into digital cameras in the form of built-in film simulations. Six have existed until the X-H1 which saw the addition of the brand new Eterna film simulation. If you’re a fan of Fujifilm colors, this could be a big selling point.
Here is a video comparison going over some of these things as well:
Both the Fujifilm X-H1 and Sony a7R III are fantastic digital photography tools that offer lots of features for those looking to up their photo or video game. Which is best for you depends largely on your photography style. What do you like to shoot, and what are the basic tools of the trade that you need to make that happen?
As a commercial architecture, food, and event photographer, I need the extra megapixels, ISO range, and lens choices offered by Sony. However, these features aren’t as critical to my husband, an editorial photographer who values the physical aesthetic and experience of shooting with a Fujifilm camera as much as the image quality.
Here are some more images of the same scene for comparison: