How Does the Sony a7 III Compare to the Fuji X-H1?

The argument of full-frame versus APS-C seems to be an ever-growing one. There are always discussions happening somewhere online about how one is better than the other for various reasons. This video pits the Sony a7 III against the Fuji X-H1.

In a recent video by Tony Northrup, he discusses how the Sony a7 III will produce images that are two times better than the Fujifilm X-H1. This seems to have caused some confusion and generated some very heated discussions around the two cameras. Both cameras are priced very closely; however, the Sony offers a full-frame sensor with the same resolution as the Fuji. This means the pixels are much bigger and coupled with the fact that it is backside illuminated, it can effectively produce much cleaner images with greater dynamic range compared to the Fuji. 

Looking at images from the Sony and the Fuji camera using the Studio Shot Comparison Tool on DPReview, you can see how both cameras compare to one another. When shooting at ISO 3200 on the Fuji and 6400 on the Sony, you may notice slightly more noise in the Sony image, however, it's also a more detailed and sharper image. The extra sharpness may be partly due to the lens as opposed to the sensor producing twice the image quality, however. To say that the Sony is a full stop better than the Fuji may be difficult to quantify precisely; however, it's safe to say the Fuji is no slouch and even with the smaller sensor, it produces incredible results. 

What do you think about the image quality from both of these cameras?

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Gerald williams's picture

There is no comparison with both at 3200 or at any other exact same ISO, the A7III image quality is superior. Tony does a good job of explaining the physics of why it is so. At similar prices the A7III is clearly a great choice here between the two. Cheers Read this.

Usman Dawood's picture

That was my article too :-p.

I agree the Sony is a much better option for many people however I don’t think the Sony possesses double the image quality. At 1 stop higher ISO the Sony does produce slightly noisier images but is cleaner at the same ISO.

Gerald williams's picture

My point exactly. Compare them at the same ISO, not with the Sony at twice the ISO. with the necessary grip, the Fuji costs just as much as the Sony, giving the Fuji no real price/performance advantage. As a longtime pro and also a university photography professor with a Masters Degree in Digital Photography, I agree with Tony's detailed explanation. Cheers

Usman Dawood's picture

No but the point of the video was that the Sony produces images that are twice as good. Twice as good is 1 full stop that’s what I’m discussing. We know the Sony is better at the same ISO but I’m not discussing that I’m discussing the claim.

Gerald williams's picture

Sorry but I get Tony's claim and agree. Sorry it does not resonate with your mindset. Cheers

Usman Dawood's picture

I haven't disagreed with the claim, you're making assumptions.

Gerald williams's picture

I don't want to make assumptions, I am just reading what you are saying, and I comes across that way. I have to teach this to my university students and Tony's scientific approach sits well with me. I know these discussions carry an emotional weight with many folks who love one or another brand. For me, the Fuji cameras are excellent for APS-C mirrorless, but can't ever truly compete with the best full-frame mirrorless cameras for many users. No right or wrong here in either choice, if it fits what you need. Cheers

Dan Bumbas's picture

I compared my xpro2 to my d810. Guess who won!? (In therms of iso, focus speed in low light, sharpness...)? :) And that's a top full frame camera. Wanna see what an Olympus high end can do? It has a micro 4/3 sensor... :) This (in the video above, or other videos made by this guy) are all a lot of fals statements. Or misslead concepts. Just use what camera fits you better and don't listen to ones or others. Even without being payed by sony or fuji or nikon, one guy can have personal preferences. So... That being said, if I wrote something bad, sorry... English is not my native language and I struggle to make my point here :D

brad watson's picture

Sony's A7III sensor and battery are great and that's about it. The video quality, ergonomics, build quality, weather-sealing, thermal management, IBIS and even the menu system are all inferior.

Plus Sony's lenses are larger, heavier and far more expensive for the very little increase in performance they offer over XF equivalents.

The only real failing of the X-H1 is the date. It's two years late. Had it launched in 2016 it would have smoked the A7II.

However I suspect the X-T3, XPro3 and X-H1s, will arrive soon with an XTrans IV just in time to make the A7III irrelevant for the next three years.

Andy Shi's picture

What a funny nonsense))) take the lenses of one class and get: Sony a7-3 + 24-70 f2.8 ~ 4200 $, Fuji x-h1 + 16-55 f2.8 ~ 3200 $
With not a small difference of 25% - the fuji lens is objectively sharper at f2.8, the fuji set is not as heavy and accordingly more convenient. Most importantly, the difference with a7-3 is noticeable without a microscope only in video at high ISO. It's just different cameras and comparing them is total stupidity.

Kawika Lopez's picture

Thats why I like Tony. He's practical, honest, and even gentle in the face of so much criticism. Its very clear that he is confident with his claims and has the data to back it up. Such a classy response to an incredibly unwarranted attack.

I love how he keeps coming back to the fact that "It mostly doesn't matter." With so many options and camera technology being largely the same across all manufacturers we live in a great time where we can pick up almost any camera and have every tool we need create awesome images.

Unfortunately there are a ton of people out there who seem to value technical IQ over artistic merit.

Kawika Lopez's picture

Agreed, however, the technical aspects of photography have been, and always will be, simply the tools we use to create. Of course you must know your tools very well in order to execute, but technical superiority is worthless in and of itself.

I don't know a single photographer who would value artistic vision (composition, lighting, storytelling, etc) over image quality (signal to noise ratio, dynamic range, resolution)

Its like valuing the "what" over the "why." It just doesn't make sense.

Anonymous's picture

It’s marvelous that we are at a point where image creation tools are so impressive and readily available that there really are no bad technical decisions. It boils down to personal preference and artistic talent; the tech is all there. I include film photography in the mix here as well as obviously digital.

There will all be those uncreative pixel (or grain!) peepers who chase the almighty “IQ”. They can waste their time zooming to 3:1 and arguing minutiae while we go out and actually use these wonderful tools to create something new!

Dan Bumbas's picture

Ok. In my opinion this is an overkill statment. Is twice as good in therms of what? Everything!? I'm not sure that in therms of sharpness and colors, sony is better. Iso makes the photography twice as good!? What the hell...this is more like bulls*+t. I have listened to this guy back in time, and he makes a lot of mistakes in his statements. And no...smaller senzor does not mean less better quality. You just have to know your camera and use it properly. If you compare two cameras just for the sake of noise in high iso, and then give a ultimatul "2x better image", well you are stupid as sh*t. :) Too much anger for this kind of statements and videos. Trully sorry!

Usman Dawood's picture

I agree with some of your points, it’s difficult fully quantify two times better image quality. Based on the studio shot test by dpreview even noise performance doesn’t look twice as good.

I think more testing maybe required though.

Joseph Moore's picture

Last time I checked, "quality" also includes color reproduction. Sony's color science continues to produce sickly results that put it at the bottom of the barrel, regardless of sensor size.

Anonymous's picture

Can you elaborate on what you mean by “sickly”? I don’t use Sony, but I’ve always been impressed with the results I’ve seen online. Maybe Sony photographers are just really good at post, lol?

Hans Rosemond's picture

As someone who’s owned and used all the major brands, Sony and Fuji included, I’d say any color issues are pretty minor and easily corrected in post. A quick color/checker or grey card pick and you’re mostly done.

Anonymous's picture

Thanks, Hans!

Simon Patterson's picture

I don't get the controversy. I'm not sure how much more comprehensive his analysis could be to support his original point.

I do like the calm but interesting way he goes about explaining it, though. It's a breath of fresh air compared with a few of the drama queens out there in that YouTube space.

Anonymous's picture

If only all online discussion could be so level headed and calm!

brad watson's picture

Fuji should have held back the X-H1 until the new X-Trans sensor and supporting processor were ready. The A7III sensor isn't performing better because it's a full-frame, it's performing better because it's far more modern.

The X-H1's sensor is two years old and ancient in comparison to the A7III's. A lot of advances have been made since 2016 (big surprise).

Had the X-H1 launched with the X-Trans IV the A7III wouldn't have fared well.

No worries. I'm planning on picking up X-T3 like the majority of the Fuji community in the fall.

Usman Dawood's picture

Some interesting points, I think I agree with most of them.

Chris Sullivan's picture

I thought the takeaway was that the Fuji was a better camera choice vs. the Sony? Fuji's build quality and usability were superior for his journeys. Even though the Sony's specs were superior, the end results could be achieved by the users ability or lack there of. Am I missing something.
Really enjoyed the video, nice job.

Mat Thomas's picture

I'm tortured by the A73. I have a good set of Fuji bodies, cameras, and speedlights. And most times they are both lovely to use, and have a good enough IQ and autofocus. But I've done two jobs in the last 6 months (a cover shoot on site, and a Wedding) where I just felt like at crucial moments Fuji, just wasn't good enough. And the supporting systems are lackluster in terms of speedlights, tethered shooting, 3rd party lenses. The X-H1 doesn't seem much of a step up and actually I don't like the fact that a dial has been replaced by a top plate (what's the point of going Fuji if Fuji starts removing physical dials??!!!!). And I still fear thee day (it has never happened) when a client says: 'oh, we only take FF.' and I have to justify why I'm using a APS-C (at least I'm not an M43 shooter! That discussion would be tough). I could trade in, get an A73. Get a couple of good primes, build up lighting, get an older body (A72?) as a second, get a metabones, get some Nikon manuals for some jobs to save money. But it wouldn't be a whole system for a while. Please, dear God, any thoughts?

Peter Perry's picture

They are actually fairly close if you look at the two up through ISO 6400 in the comparison tool. Remember, the X-Trans by nature has lower chroma noise anyway, so it has that advantage.

As for the benefits, the Fuji already had AF points that were close to the sensor size, dual SD Card slots, great performance with AF and the focusing Joystick. Now they’ve added IBIS, better AF, better 4K video, and a slightly higher resolution sensor.

Now the problem with Sony is the price of the lenses! Fuji has a ton of excellent glass and it’s all under $2000. For much of the line up, it is hard for Sony to compete at the same price point and to get their best you’re paying $2400 at times.

Also, the generally intuitive nature of their bodies is where that Fuji just seams to lay the smack down on everyone. This just made photography a lot more fun for most people that have used the brand.

If Sony would listen and take a page of out of Fuji’s book for camera controls, I would certainly entertain their brand of cameras.

Andy Shi's picture

The statement that two times is better .. - this is certainly a cool joke. It's not clear why only the area of ​​the matrices was taken into account, we completely forgot about the specific density of the chassis metal, the softness of pressing the shutter release button, the shape of the hull and other "very important" parameters for calculating picture quality)) It seems to me that this is a weak attempt to connect emotions and subjectivity with the help of scientific methodology, Alas. In fact - the cameras are very close in terms of the quality of the matrices and the final result .. regardless of the different matrix structure (or due to this) and their different size. And the difference is so small that it can be neglected, in contrast to the difference in price .. at least in photography.