SONY a6000, PANASONIC GX7, FUJI X-E2 - Kit lens IQ and noise comparison - Raw files to download

This is a comparison between:-
  • Sony a6000 + 16-50mm kit zoom
  • Fuji X-E2 + 16-50mm kit zoom
  • Panasonic GX7 + 12-32mm kit zoom
f/8, ISO's 200 and 3200, Standard jpg. + RAW.

First off I've made all the Raw and jpg. files available for download on Google Drive HERE. It's always best to come to your own conclusions based on how you process images in terms of Raw. That's what I like to do so I always try to give you the same option.

For me the results were not unexpected. At ISO 3200 my order of preference is:-
1. Fuji X-E2
2. Sony a6000
3. Panasonic GX7

I doubt anyone is going to think that's either controversial or unusual. I would however point out that the Fuji and Panasonic files were upsized to 24MP, the same as the Sony, Which, I guess goes to prove just how good the Fuji is at high ISO's.

At ISO 200 again I'm not surprised, in that they are all pretty similar. And considering again that I upsized the Fuji and Panasonic files to 24MP again, it shows how good both of those are. And this shows to me that Sony's desire to produce high pixel count cameras doesn't actually result in higher quality images. Particularly when you stick the very mediocre 16-50mm zoom in front of the sensor.

I'm always surprised how Sony cameras get talked up when they are released, the new RX100 III for example. For what it is I'm sure it's a decent camera, but I've always thought that the Sony 1" sensor cameras are 'over pixeled'. The RX10 for example, should be my kind of camera, but I've always been underwhelmed by the image quality. Personally I thought that the 10MP Nikon 1 V1 produced much nicer images and I never went for the V2 because I thought that was 'over-pixeled' too. It's going to be interesting to see what Panasonic and Fuji come up with, since both are apparently making 1" or similar sensor compacts.

However back to what I was testing. Realistically, I've never expected the a6000 to have stunning images quality. Even with sensor performance as good as it is, I think 24MP on an APS-C sensor is pushing it. And for most reproduction needs, including for professional photographers, I'm not sure it's necessary. The Nikon D4s and Canon 1DX are regarded by those companies as 'top of the range' for 'demanding professionals' and they are 16MP and 18MP respectively. 

For example by downsizing the a6000 to the Fuji size the noise at ISO 3200 gets better. It's still not as good as the Fuji but it is better. These were processed from raw.

A downsized jpg. also compares well with the Fuji.

The Kit lenses.

The Fuji 16-50mm isn't actually the kit lens for the X-E2 and you may have noticed that the shots with the a6000 are zoomed in closer. Both of these options were deliberate to give the Sony 16-50mm a fighting chance!!

I really don't like it. I bought the lens kit because selling on the 16-50mm I get the camera cheaper. Now you will have to make up your own mind for yourselves as to how good it is. 
However, using the example below with shots processed identically in raw, even with the Sony lens being zoomed in more AND the Panasonic file being upsized, the GX7 files is still only very marginally less sharp than the a6000 file. And for me it's pretty obvious what the culprit is, the Sony 16-50mm. 

For me, the 16-50mm lens is just a cost cutter and I will be ebaying it very soon. From my previous post, using the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 and Sony FE 35mm f/2.8, it's clear that there are better options available to me. To say nothing of the FE 55mm f/1.8, which I'm saving for my next post.

It's a shame that Sony choose to almost sabotage their cameras with these really ordinary lenses. It's obvious to me that the a6000 is a really nice little camera. With the right lens I can get terrific fast AF, nicely rendered jpgs. and perfectly acceptable image quality that does justice to the 24MP sensor. Now you may think differently, you may feel the 16-50mm is good enough. But it is worth remembering that this lens needs a lot of correcting for it's distortion and vignetting, which means that you're throwing away a fair number of pixels before you even see the file. For me Fuji and Panasonic make better kit lenses and I suspect that there are few who have used all three systems who would argue with that. 

And I know I keep repeating myself, but why should Sony let that situation persist? They can make very good lenses, the Zeiss badged FE 35mm, 55mm and many of their a-mount lenses testify to that, but they don't seem to be able to make a decent budget lens, certainly not of the kit lens zoom variety anyway. Considering that the majority of the purchasers of the a6000 will probably not buy another lens for it, isn't that shooting yourself in the foot? At least deliberately stubbing your toe I would have thought. Buy hey, it was ever this way and I doubt things will change. So you pays your money, you makes you choice. I know I have.
Another reminder that I've started a new group on Google+. This is for all photographers who use Mirrorless and/or Compact System Cameras. As ever, I have no problems about what you post. Links to your own stuff is fine. So if you have anything you'd like to share from Leica's to Lumix, then please feel free to post.

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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