Crop sensor mirrorless—Sony, Fujifilm, or … ?

bfluegiebfluegie Registered Users Posts: 690 Major grins

I seem to go through this every couple of years, but as I get older, traveling with my gear gets harder and harder. Then there are hikes up and down mountains… So, as I think about traveling again, I’m also thinking about ways to lighten up.

I’m currently using a Nikon D7200 and I have no complaints about the features or performance. I’m definitely limited by my skills, not the equipment. Most of my photos are taken with two lenses:
• Sigma 17-50 2.8 EX DC OS HSM
• Tokina AT-X Pro 12-24mm F4 (IF) DX
I also occasionally use a telephoto zoom, macro, and 35mm and 50mm primes.

The cameras I’m considering are the Fujifilm X-T2 or X-T3 and the Sony A6400 or A6500. Given that two of these cameras are discontinued I’m thinking of buying used, at least for the discontinued models. I was quite surprised when I started looking at specs and saw that the Fujifilm lenses (equivalent to what I now use) aren’t much lighter than the Nikon mount lenses I’m using. Sony lenses are a little lighter. I could save a little more weight if I didn’t go with an equivalent to the f/2.8 normal zoom I’m currently using. I would probably go with something like an 18-135 mm lens and not travel with a telephoto zoom at all. Both Fuji and Sony have one of these lenses.

Something else I have to consider is that my post processing will have to change if I go with the X-T3 or A6400 because I’m still using the non-subscription versions of Lightroom and Photoshop. But I do have some non-Adobe options I can try before I go the subscription route.

And of course I could also reduce the weight of my Nikon travel kit by leaving the Sigma normal zoom at home and taking the 35mm prime instead. I found it to be a sharp lens on my D90, but I really haven’t used it much with the D7200. And I found this article on PetaPixel that was kind of interesting, about using just a 50mm equivalent lens for landscape photography. Although I have to say that I really missed my wide angle lens when I went to Norway a couple of years ago (panorama stitching didn’t work well from a boat).

So, any thoughts on any of these options? Am I the only whiny person who complains about camera weight? I’d like the mirrorless system I decide on to become my primary system. But if I make too many compromises to get a lighter system I will probably keep the Nikon gear for non-travel or car travel situations. Thanks for any comments or suggestions.



  • ziggy53ziggy53 Super Moderators Posts: 23,405 moderator
    edited March 27, 2021

    I've been looking at the Sony a6500 myself, with the deepest shot buffer in the a6xxx series, respectable AF speed and good AF accuracy in good light. The menus are improved over earlier, but I'm told the latest Sony Full-Frame are better still.

    One problem with all mirrorless I've tested; they don't seem to allow Flash/Master AF-Assist. In darker scenes there is an illuminator light on many mirrorless cameras, but it's not the same benefit as a patterned AF-Assist light. That's a significant problem for much of the social event stuff I shoot. I've got a family event scheduled in May, and it will be shot with a D-SLR kit for that reason alone.

    I've also had problems with both my Sony a6000 and my Canon M50 with shiny and reflective backgrounds distracting the auto-focus and back-focusing, even in good light.

    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • bfluegiebfluegie Registered Users Posts: 690 Major grins

    Thanks for the quick response, @ziggy53. I don't do a lot with flash, and if I ever knew my SB-700 could help with autofocus in low light, I had since forgotten. I usually just used it off camera to side light my cats. Mostly I take scenery photos, and I do occasionally run into patchy bright background when bright sun shines through gaps in the trees. But since nothing is moving (unlike at your social events) I usually just put the camera on a tripod and use live view to manually set the focus where I want it. Of course, that means I'm also carrying a tripod up the mountains.

    When I was looking at the specs on the different mirrorless cameras, I also included full frame. I have been wanting to upgrade pretty much since I got my first DSLR. Mirrorless gets me full frame for the same weight as my crop sensor DSLR, but no lighter. Even compromising with slower lenses doesn't help much with the weight.

    It is good to know that you think well enough of the Sony A6000 to consider upgrading within that system instead of looking for something else.

  • JtringJtring Registered Users Posts: 662 Major grins

    I've been happy with micro four thirds gear. Most of my photography is outdoors in good light, taken either while hiking or backpacking. As a 66 year old backpacker, I'm quite aware of both volume and weight. There are trades and it just depends on where you want to land. I've heard that going from an APS-C to micro four thirds size sensor costs between 2/3 and a full stop in image quality. (About the same gap, I've heard, as between full frame and APS-C.) So, for example, that would suggest ISO 400 on MFT would look about as good as somewhere between ISO 640 and ISO 800 on APS-C. I notice grain at ISO 800 using my MFT gear, but it isn't bad. I try to avoid ISO 1600 or higher although I have gone as high as ISO 6400 in after-dark settings with lots of noise suppression in post. (I shoot raw.) Sharpness depends, of course, on the lenses, so any move to a new system can mean a new and potentially large investment there. There are some excellent MFT lenses out there, some quite pricey. MFT gives a bit more depth of field at the cost of less bokeh. My standard field kit is a Panasonic G85 body with the Panasonic 14-140mm zoom in a holster pack plus the Olympus 60mm f/2.8 macro prime in my backpack. The latter is a fine flower lens. In darker settings, I carry the Olympus 17mm f/1.8 prime.

    Jim Ringland . . . . .
  • denisegoldbergdenisegoldberg Administrators Posts: 14,131 moderator

    I switched from a Canon crop sensor to the Fujifilm X-T2. I kept my Canon gear for about a year because I thought there were situations where I would want it. After a full year of no use I sold it.

    I have been very happy with the Fuji X-T2. The camera is smaller, the lenses seem a bit smaller and lighter. I shoot landscape and macro and I have been very happy with the results I get with this camera. For landscapes I use both the Fujifilm XF 10-24mm and the XF 18-135mm. For macro I use (and love!) the XF 80mm. I have the XF 55-200mm but I don't use it that often; I plan to trade it in when the newly announced 70-300mm becomes available.

    If you'd like to see photos from the camera please click to my smug site (link in signature below). Let me know if you're looking for a particular type of photos and I would be happy to point you to some galleries.

  • bfluegiebfluegie Registered Users Posts: 690 Major grins

    Thanks for the replies @Jtring and @denisegoldberg. I have been out of town and didn’t check for additional replies while I was gone. Years ago I was thinking about micro four thirds for my hiking system since the hardware is lighter than what I am currently using. But I am now concerned about its future since Olympus has sold its camera business and Panasonic seems to be heading more toward video with micro four thirds. But I will take another look at it.

    I did take a look at some of the galleries listed in both of your signatures, and I don’t think anything is sacrificed in sharpness with either the Fuji or Panasonic. You both have some wonderful photos.

    One of the things I did notice when comparing Fuji and Sony is that the Fuji cameras I am considering don’t have the anti-aliasing filter and the Sony cameras do. I noticed a difference in my landscape photos when I switched from the Nikon D90 to the D7200, but that could be due to going from 12 MP to 24 MP. And the Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 lens is sharper than the 18-105mm kit lens I was using with the D90. So maybe the improved sharpness isn’t the lack of AA filter.

    I built a spreadsheet with a lot of different options, including my current D7200 kit, and the option of substituting the Nikon AF-P 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 for my Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8. That would be a solution for travel and hiking only since I really like the Sigma on the D7200. For Sony A6500 and Fuji X-T2 I have two options as well. One matching my current six active lenses and one with something like an 18-140 3.5-5.6 replacing both the fast normal zoom and telephoto zoom. For micro four thirds I just used the second option. I think the Fuji system is higher because of the weight of the macro lens. But after looking at some of Denise’s photos if I went with Fuji I would want that lens anyway. Here’s a summary of the calculated weights. NOTE: I usually only carry two or three lenses with me when I hike and travel so the 6 lens kit isn't really a deciding factor.

    I think for now I will go ahead and get a refurbished Nikon 18-55 since it is just $69. If I see a deal on a used body and normal to short telephoto for one of the mirrorless I may try it. I just have to decide how much and which way I want to compromise. Another thing I did find out after I started this thread. I did get some improvement with the F-stop Guru backpack. While I didn’t take a long hike, I did walk around a botanical garden with my camera body, three lenses, and a tripod. A real hip belt makes a world of difference. And since it doesn’t hold as much as my older Tamrac Adventure 9, hauling my stuff through airports might be easier as well.

  • denisegoldbergdenisegoldberg Administrators Posts: 14,131 moderator

    @bfluegie said:
    Another thing I did find out after I started this thread. I did get some improvement with the F-stop Guru backpack. While I didn’t take a long hike, I did walk around a botanical garden with my camera body, three lenses, and a tripod. A real hip belt makes a world of difference. And since it doesn’t hold as much as my older Tamrac Adventure 9, hauling my stuff through airports might be easier as well.

    I've been using a backpack with a hip belt for years and I agree - it does make a huge difference. My current pack is a Peak Design Everyday Backpack (hip belt is an add-on item). I can easily carry the camera body & 3 lenses. A tripod can be carried well but I don't use one.

  • sarasphotossarasphotos Registered Users Posts: 3,726 Major grins

    Hi Barbara, even though it sounds as though you've made up your mind, I'll throw in my 2 cents. I'm also in the over-65-group and camera weight is an issue, whether it's for walking around in a city or on the ocassional hike, or more importantly for me is on a bike. My camera rides in a handlebar bag and it is important that the total weight of the bag be under 3kg, which is why I went with M43 back in 2010. Like @jtring my standard outfit is the G81/85 with the newest 14-140 / 3.5 all-around zoom. Naturally it's a zoom so it's never as sharp as a prime but for what I'm generally very happy with the results - and with the combination of in-body and lens stabilisation you can hand hold it very reliably in low light. When I'm traveling and I know we may be in dark churches I throw in the 20mm pancake which is super-sharp and for macro I use the Oly 60mm/2.8. For my next purchase I am planning on the Lumix 100-300 tele for a bit of further reach. For those with more money available the Panny/Leica lenses are also an option. I also occasionally carry a tripod (I have a small and light Rollei I'm happy with) and using the tripod and manual focus I get an extra level of sharpness in my photos.
    FYI, I have a woman friend who is also in my age group and is a retired professional theater/ballet photographer. She is a very small woman and about 15 years had to have a shoulder operation because of chronic pain from schlepping her Nikon D3 bodies and lenses. She still has her Nikons but mostly they gather dust - she has since switched to M43 and currently shoots with a G9 and the pro series of lenses, and has even used them for theater gigs.

  • bfluegiebfluegie Registered Users Posts: 690 Major grins

    Thanks for the reply Sara @sarasphotos. My quick solution of getting a lighter normal zoom for my Nikon is really a short term fix. Since I am turning 65 this year I figure the gear weight issue will just keep getting worse, and really, based on my spreadsheet MFT is the way to reduce weight the most. The Sony APS-C is also pretty good, but most of Sony’s APS-C lenses aren’t weather sealed. Since I have a history of going near the base of waterfalls, and since the wind sometimes shifts, weather sealing is nice to have.

    So now I am having Panasonic thoughts since I see that I can get a new G85 plus the 12-60mm lens (kit lens I think but it still has good reviews) for $798. That would actually cover most of the equivalent focal lengths I use when hiking. This is about the same price as I could get this kit used. B&H shows the sale ending on Saturday. I might check and see if a camera shop within driving distance has one is stock. Or I might just jump on this now.

    So my summary out of all this is that I can get lighter gear with Sony or micro four thirds. Sony is APS-C but most of the lenses aren’t weather sealed. There’s a lot of weather sealed MFT lenses but the sensor is smaller. Since I have yet to take a picture that I would like to blow up to poster size this isn’t necessarily a limitation to me. But I’m ever hopeful. Fuji has a great selection of weather sealed lenses and APS-C, but the lenses aren’t much lighter than what I currently have. The X-T2 is a couple hundred grams lighter than my Nikon and I could get a second hiking body that is even lighter. I really WANT to go with Fuji since the company has committed fully to the format and they have all the lenses I would ever need, but the whole point of changing systems is to go lighter. So I guess it’s MFT for me and if I think I really will need the larger sensor for something I’ll just have to suck it up and carry the Nikon.

    Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond to this thread. I really appreciate the information from actual users of the hardware.

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