Real-World Print Comparison: Fujifilm X-T2 Versus Nikon D810

Let's face it, these days most of us don't print the majority of our photographs. Typically they will live on forever on the Internet whether it be via social media, cloud storage solution, or your own website. In today's world, people rather compare sensor technology by pixel-peeping and zooming in to a photograph at 300 percent, criticizing the camera for not rendering a leaf out perfectly half a mile away on screen. What if we took a step back, away from our crazy magnification, and actually hit Cmd+p and looked at how photographs were meant to be viewed: printed.

In Nigel Danson's latest video he compares A2-sized (16.5 x 23.4 inch) prints made with his Nikon D810 and Fujifilm X-T2. The results are surprising. Danson addresses right off the bat some of the critics whom will say this isn't a scientific test. He completely agrees, this is a real-world side by side comparison, which in my opinion is way more beneficial for the majority of photographers. I’d also like to add, for the photographers who regularly print extremely large images, there is definitely an argument to be made as well for keeping a full-frame, large-megapixel camera body in your inventory. 

In the end, Danson even admits to the possibility of migrating from Nikon to Fuji, based on the resolving power of the images when printed. Admittedly, if I hadn't’t done the exact same thing, I wouldn't’t believe it, but after migrating to Fuji from Nikon I haven’t looked back.

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30 Comments

LA M's picture

Baloney.

It's the quality of the sensor and lenses and IMHO the post-processing which ruins most prints. I've been making large prints for five years now from mirrorless cameras starting with an Olympus 16MP. 20X30 is nothing..

Hans Rosemond's picture

Exactly what are you not agreeing with?

Deleted Account's picture

Perhaps he means printing at A2 doesn't prove anything.

Kyle Medina's picture

You should say Mirco 4/3 not mirrorless. Mirrorless has nothing to do with quality.

LA M's picture

Do you know of a late model Olympus camera that isn't mirrorless or M4/3?

Adam Ottke's picture

I agree that it likely doesn't matter much when printing at A2. Both prints look great. Different, but great.

But there are other issues I have with this. It's like there's a strong bias for the Fuji that's not even trying to be hidden. Aside from the subjective comments, when comparing shadow noise from the ISO 3200 file, first, the images weren't even shot with the same settings. The Nikon was stopped down an extra third of a stop and shot at less than a third of the shutter speed of the Fuji shot. Then it was lifted over two stops in Lightroom, whereas the Fuji wasn't lifted as much. And then the noise was supposedly the same in the Fuji files? Just...what's the point of that comparison? Is that Nikon file not completely out-resolving the Fuji? Just saying...come on.

Also, the detail in the lichen on the rocks in the beginning shows clear differences. Beyond the inherent detail in the D810 file, the Fuji file had that crushed Van Gogh look to it. It just doesn't look nearly as natural.

Finally, the colors... I can understand why someone might like the Fuji colors. And I've been impressed, too, in the past. But subjectively, I just prefer the more natural color in the Nikon print. At the end of the day, the Nikon just has a larger sensor and higher resolution, and it's going to show. You can print an A2 or even a simple 8 x 10, and obviously you won't notice the difference as much. But I'd rather have the sharper file with more natural color at A2 and/or have the ability to print even larger, a point after which the Fuji would show its weaknesses even more so.

Still, great camera, obviously. But I'm not sure about the point in comparing these two and trying to show the Fuji is as good as the Nikon when it's just not (unless you're only printing up to a certain size...but we could do tests like this all day long with 4 x 6s and my iPhone, too...).

Kyle Medina's picture

It's all negligible. You can either just shoot or worry about specs 24/7.

Deleted Account's picture

If you're not worried about specs, there's no point to this article or most of the articles on this site. Just sayin'.

Hans Rosemond's picture

Isn’t your time better spent elsewhere if there is no point to the articles?

Deleted Account's picture

You seem to have misunderstood my point. Kyle appeared to be implying you shouldn't worry about specs. My point was, if one isn't concerned with specs, as he seems to think is the better path, there's no point to reading the article, much less commenting on it. Honestly, though, I can't imagine anyone shooting or worrying about specs 24/7.

Hans Rosemond's picture

Ahh, I see now. My apologies. Thank you for clearing that up.

Deleted Account's picture

No worries. :-)

Dirk Bouwen's picture

Are you really using Fuji? It's easy to make this remark but most don't seem to have any complaint about noise. A lot also depends on the RAW-convertors you are using and as someone with a software background, I can tell you, the difference in quality can be huge. I don't own Sony, but do have Fuji and Nikon. My preference has really been balancing 100% over the last year to Fuji, and I'm not the only one. Recently I've been talking to a couple shooting weddings with high end Canon DSLRs. They had also purchased the X-Pro2 and were really amazed how the X-Pro2 outresolved their Canon's in even critical conditions. I admit, that was not true with the 16MP X-trans, but the 24MP is really in another league and when it comes to f.i. the GFX, there's nothing in the DSLR world that gets even close, certainly not Nikon.

Dirk Bouwen's picture

Not true, each RAW convertor operates differently - algorithms, filtering, noise treatment, sharpening... they even differ in the white balance/tint settings being applied. Also the basic color profiles being applied - like f.i. Adobe with its Adobe Standard + applied process - can be very different from what the camera manufacturer really intended. Adobe is setting a standard sharpness and using filtering too. So that noise looks the same in all RAW convertors is nonsens. There are also issues with NEF in some raw convertors. Inspect the same NEF in Nikon's own Capture NX-D vs f.i. Lightroom. A world of difference, nothing's the same. Anyhow - you'll get the final impression only after... printing (we're back to the subject, the only thing that really counts for me). Everything in this process is a compromise and I can tell you most photographers are not engaging enough in the technical aspects - including the accurate color calibration of their workflow. How many Nikon FX photographers are f.i. familiar with tuning the AF for each of their lenses? Calibrating their colors? How many are still using old AF-D glass that doesn't even match up with your 'bayer sharpness'? Precisely that is 'oddball' - pixel peeping while there are a dozen other factors you can control influencing that same pixel.

Hans Rosemond's picture

Adam makes some great points about the methodology of the test. But, for me, it really comes down to what’s important to you as a photographer. Is the subtle detail loss at 100% enough keep you with your DSLR? Great! Is keeping your pack lighter if you’re hiking more important? Maybe Fuji is more to your liking. Printing large but not anticipating close viewing distances? Either will work. Do you want people to be looking at your large prints up close? A higher MP camera is in order.

There’s no “better” here. Every photog has their own priorities. It’s up to them to decide the tool that works best for them.

Dirk Bouwen's picture

I compare the transition from DSLR to mirrorless with how we went from CRT's to LCD panels. The latest CRT's were technically very capable, flat, high resolution vs LCD's that were having a grayish color gamut, slow for video and having a serious viewing angle problem. 10 years after that, nobody would ever go back to CRT's. They are too costly to manufacture, heavy and having a much too large footprint. I've been working with a lot of cameras in my life and to be honest, I was both pleased and disappointed after I had purchased my first D800. A lot of Nikkors are not on par with the newer, higher resolutions. To get accurate, Nikon's AF needs to be tuned for every lens, some older get out of range. Others - zooms - are really entering in a compromise. Nikon wants you to believe that the D8X0-series are a more cost effective alternative for the medium formats, but that's not a reality. If the modern sensor design could get you close to this - the native glass will never be. Yes, Zeiss Otus and Sigma Art may allow you to do better, but still, Nikon F is an aging, very long throw system (it is not without reason Nikon's mirrorless system will be introduced with a new mount). Precisely there Fujifilm is a lot more capable: the X and GF glass is really top notch. Nikon will also entering the pro-mirrorless market 3-4 years too late - I hope they survive it - but in 2018 Samsung has won the LCD war too - far over all long and fabulous CRT manufacturers like Philips and Panasonic.

Bill Peppas's picture

LOL.
Sorry, but this "comparison" is utter garbage in every single technical aspect one can look at it from.

Marc Vidal's picture

Here we go with the weekly "Why I switched from DSLR to mirrorless and I don't regret it" article on F Stoppers...

David Penner's picture

lol @ his dog attacking some guy in the background while he talks to the camera

Deleted Account's picture

That's silly. Dogs can't attack people with pepper spray! ;-)

Will Rogers's picture

I’m not going to judge the quality of photos or prints via a compressed YouTube video.
Personally, I want photos that can, if needed, be blown up larger than A2 or be cropped and still printed at A2 size.

For me, the reason not to use Fuji comes from a few things.

Ergonomics. I don’t like the handling on them.
Lack of full frame sensor for bokeh etc.
Fuji colours. Personally I find them unaesthetic, although my Sony can be accused of the same.
Third party lens support. Via an adapter I can use most canon lenses on my Sony with autofocus.

For me, the decision was to get a Sony A7R3, that will hopefully last at least 6 years like my old Canon.

Joe Black's picture

One thing I would like to add for those considering the switch. I use both systems. One thing you should look at is hot pixels. The x-t2 has more of a problem in that area than the x-t1 does. Also far less of an issue in the Nikon

If you like loooong big stopper style exposures then you need to give that sensor a break.

Giovanni Aprea's picture

I will gladly welcome all the gear from people switching to Fuji from Nikon!!!

sandro mrowinski's picture

here is a a1 size DRONE (mavic pro) printed out..
I dont really think sensor size is a issue, remember that, even use few techniques here, we are talking about a 12mp sensor 2/3 inch...really small

and i have printed similar results with iphone 6s

Bernie Ess's picture

Resolution differences are absolutely overestimated for real life photography. A2 is a nice print size for home walls. 24MP is by far enough for this size. Between 24 and 36MP, from 1,5m it is impossible to see the difference in a print, as much as some people would want to.
Monitor viewing is what everybody is used to today, and it is massively deluding people. In respect to noise differences are even less relevant because a prints show even less differences than a monitor. What does count however are - in my experience - are colors and tonality, which is where Fuji is really excellent and more photogenic than Nikon. At least for me. Fuji has always managed to differenciate more tones than Canon and Nikon between the different regions of a photo. They have color science in their DNA :-) I have an a7rII and an X-T1 side to side, and it is much (!) easier to get stunning color with the Fuji. It almost goes by itself.

Bernie Ess's picture

"The viewing distance argument is nonsense, especially when it comes to photography where most serious and professional photographers eventually go up to an image to check out the detail."

Of course they do, because so- called "serious photographers" have become internet- maniacs and tech- heads. They tend to over- emphathise the technical aspects of a photo, in many cases because they are rather clueless what to look for in photography if not sharpness and noise.

If it is for the web, virtually any camera is enough today. If it is for print, 24MP is enough too. And those few who really do large exhibition prints and need the highest possible quality they know what they need and will not participate in internet discussions.

A few years ago, I visited the "Genesis" exhibition by Salgado. Mid size to quite large prints if his medium format negatives (probably scanned in). The show was overwhelming for the content, that body of work he was showing. Not all the prints displayed very high levels of sharpness. But it was about letting the whole image make an impression, not looking up from 10 inches whether there was visible grain or how fine the detail. Actually MF negatives mostly have less detail than a Fuji 24MP sensor.

But only the tech heads care.

chrisrdi's picture

My Fuji XE-1 takes waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better photos than my nikon D700 and Canon 60D. BUT!!! My XE-1 Is not as efficient at taking those photos. It's not fast (in fact it is incredibly slow), the EVF is terrible, and The battery life is complete poo. I am okay with every bit of that. I manual focus on the XE-1, I just have to deal with the EVF sadly, and I have 3 batteries. I also only paid $200 for it. The sharpness from Fuji lenses, the color reproduction and dynamic range i get from my XE-1 is incredible for what I paid for it. My photos with the XE-1 have a sort life to them that I can't reproduce with my other cameras. The files out of this thing are so good I shoot mostly jpegs instead of raw. Fuji has an incredible imaging system on their hands.

Daniel Hughes's picture

I've sold my xt3. In my view the noise is unacceptable. As soon as that dial leaves native ISO noise becomes an issue. I have two stunning images. Put myself in the right place at the right time after huge effort getting there. One the iso is at 800 one at 640. Both images barely saved but should have been show stoppers. Goodbye Fuji. The problem with APS-C is noise. Low light photography and dynamic range is not their strongest point. It's a brilliant camera for many other things. The day fuji makes a full frame mirrorless with is ill be back

Daniel Hughes's picture

Oh yeah - Eye Af sucks too. And so does AF C. Very difficult getting that AF-C setup for different situations. Missing eye focus became annoying. Unless you very close doing head shots better check that ficus because it's not that accurate. Sometimes it's way off sometimes just a little but wither way probably best to focus manually if you need more keepers