My Mirrorless Choice(s) - Fuji X-E2 and/or Fuji X-M1 and/or Sony A7 and/or Panasonic GX7 - Part 1





It's that time of year again. Moving towards the end of my tax year I decide what I keep and what I don't. The way my accountant and I have worked out the best option for me is that it is to my financial disadvantage to buy a camera in one tax year and sell it in the next. So I have to be sure about what I'm going to keep since that is going to be around for a whole year. I've already made two decisions. The Sony A7r is staying. It's simply the best image quality I've ever used as far as I'm concerned. The Panasonic GH3 is going. Not because it's a poor camera, quite the reverse, but the G4 is on the horizon which I may (or may not) buy. So of the four cameras that remain, Fuji's X-E2 and X-M1, Panasonic GX7 and Sony A7, I have to decide what to keep and what have to find new homes on ebay. I may of course keep all of them or sell all of them. At this moment in time all options are on the table.

This all has to be done and dusted by April 5th. I'll need some time to get what I'm going to sell sold, so I'm going to be using them all, comparing them and attempting to come to a definitive choice in the next 3-4 weeks. 

So, in part 1 today I'm going to be looking at what I like about each and what I don't. As ever all of this is an account of my personal preferences. This is in no way any attempt on my part to make an objective assessment of the four cameras. There will be no 'conclusion' at the end with some statement about which is the 'best' camera. It's purely about which of them (if any) I want to keep. The key word here being want. Regular readers will know that many of my choices aren't made as the result of common sense evaluation and can be affected by all sorts of things. And what works for me and what I like about a camera may be the complete opposite of what someone else thinks.

Before starting the process I should state very firmly that I think all these cameras are fine examples of the camera makers craft (if there is such a thing any more!) If circumstances dictated I could happily make my living with any of them as my only camera. If you own one of these or are planning on getting one of them, in my opinion, you have made a good choice and you won't be disappointed. All will take great images capable of being reproduced in such a way that will satisfy the most demanding users. 

And that is the luxury we have these days. Most of our camera choices are capable of exceeding the quality we require to publish, print or share our images. Most of our camera choices are also capable of letting us work in the way that we want and are crammed full of features that we will probably never use but are none the less available to us. When I consider what I was using back in my film days, all of these four cameras far exceed my wildest dreams about what might be possible and the image quality I can get from them is in all cases extraordinary. This isn't a choice between good and bad but a choice between four terrific picture making machines and the choice is going to be hard. And of course I may decide that I actually don't want to choose anyway. Anyway, lets get started. These are in the order I bought them.

First off the Fuji X-E2. Fuji's latest 'lookaleica' and a somewhat improved version of the X-E1 and indeed the X-Pro 1. (Both of which are now enjoying new surroundings as I've sold them)

Things I like.
The handling. Best I've ever used.
The layout.
The image quality above ISO 400.
The OLED viewfinder. 
The look and overall design.
The lens range.

Things I don't like.
The raw processing problems.
The 'wimpy' shutter.
Image sharpness at base ISO (Though I can certainly live with it)
Battery life.
Video implementation.
AF still not the fastest, though better than previous models.
Screen not OLED.


The A7 is certainly the favourite of all these cameras to stay. It's a great complement to the A7r. It doesn't have that cameras incredible resolution but it's very impressive none the less.

Things I like.
Image quality.
Layout and design.
OLED viewfinder. 
Size and weight. 
Superb video.

Things I don't like.
Native lens choice and cost.
Body a bit 'plasticky'.
Screen not OLED.
High ISO performance not that great.

The X-M1 is a remarkable little camera and really is a 'pocket rocket.' It is so light and small and must have the best quality / size ratio of any camera currently available. It is really a go anywhere camera and no-one will take the slightest bit of notice of you using it. On one of my admittedly rare excursions with it I was taking pictures inside a department store which wouldn't be possible with any of my other cameras. The big question here is whether I would use it enough.
Things I like.
The handling.
The layout.
The image quality above ISO 400.
The look and overall design.
The lens range. 
Size and weight.

Things I don't like.
No viewfinder.
The raw processing problems.
The 'wimpy' shutter.
Image sharpness at base ISO (Though again I can certainly live with it)
Battery life.
Video implementation.
AF 'hunts' quite badly with some lenses. Notably the 60mm macro.
Screen not OLED.


If the GX7 had an OLED viewfinder then it would be a certainty to stay. I can work round that, but I'd prefer not too. Panasonic finally got their small compact 'lookaleica' right with the GX7 and it's really nice to use. Takes great pictures at low ISO's as well.


Things I like.
Layout and design.
Handling.
Build quality - the best of the four.
Image quality at low ISO's.
Size and weight. 
Native lens range. 
Electronic shutter.
Pin-point AF.
Superb video.

Things I don't like.
No OLED viewfinder.
IBIS somewhat disappointing for me.
Poor high ISO performance.

So there it is. Four extremely good cameras. If money was no object I would keep them all as I enjoy using them all. But the big question is will I use them enough? There is no point having gear sitting on my shelf slowly depreciating in value over time and my decision will be based primarily on whether they get taken out the front door to do their thing. In many ways the decision will make itself. If I don't want to use them or keep choosing something else then they will go.

So as I said nothing is decided yet. I do though have some idea of what I think might happen. The A7 is certainly top of the list to stay and the X-M1 unfortunately at the bottom. But since I bought that only because of the remarkable Amazon £100 credit + £100 cashback deal anyway it's not a great problem. If I sell it at what I think I can get for it, it means that I will have got the 16-50mm zoom for around £50 which is a pretty good result. 

The GX7's survival is dependent on how I cope with the lack of OLED viewfinder and as the sun gets stronger that should become apparent. And I do love the X-E2, best camera for handling I've ever owned. But at the ISO's I use for the vast majority of my images I now have better and that's a serious consideration.

So if you're interested in all this, stay tuned.

For my series on Mirrorless Choices - Click this link

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N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) at the bottom of this post.


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