Sony - the best mirrorless manufacturer?


Around 2 1/2 years ago I started using a Fuji X-Pro 1 and despite the problems I would encounter later with the raw processing in Photoshop, I was impressed by the overall image quality and high ISO performance. I thought it was the best I'd seen. And if I use time-consuming third party software to 'develop' the raw files it's still pretty good.

Micro four thirds has also become a good solid system. High ISO performance still lags behind the larger sensors, but these days not by much. It's now a usable system in situations where base ISO isn't possible. 

But for quality of results and consistency across the range, Sony APS-C and 35mm / 'Full-Frame' sensor cameras are the ones to beat these days for me. And since they have a significant and very noticeable advantage in terms of image quality and high ISO performance (with the A7s) there is nothing that I have that is even close to beating them. Nikon seem to agree with me, since they are using the A7r sensor in the D810.

Sony cameras aren't very 'sexy' and they will win no prizes for cool design or blazing fast AF. And they certainly aren't blessed with a large supply of affordable quality lens options, but for someone like me who wants and needs the best image quality I can get in a system that will keep me walking upright for a few more years, it's pretty much Sony cameras that I turn to. 

I like using my Nokia 1020 phone camera and at it's highest quality settings it's pretty amazing. In fact the images I get from it's tiny sensor at that base ISO put many other cameras to shame, including I have to say, Fuji X and m4/3. I've stopped using DSLR's, Leica have nothing that interests me currently (aside from the looks of the Leica T) and my desire to use smaller, lighter cameras with good IQ and decent all-round performance, including a 'pro' level video option keeps bringing me back to Sony. The FZ1000 looks interesting, the Fuji 18-135mm lens looks very good indeed, but despite having to use a 'mix and match' lens system and the fact that I'm no great fan of how the cameras look, I've pretty much decided to expand my 35mm e-mount system and get the A7s. 

Because bottom line it's about the images. If I downsize my Nokia 1020 files to 16MP, they look better than my Panasonic or Fuji files. And yes that's only at base ISO, but that's what I use 90% of the time. However the files from my A7r, A7 and a6000 make everything else look pretty mediocre.

Today I was out with my phones and my A7r plus Voigtlander 20mm and Nikon Series E 100mm f/2.8. Now the Nikon is old, the focusing barrels sticks slightly and actually creaks a bit. There's even some fungus inside the lens. But the images it produces on the A7r are pretty stunning. Seriously sharp and with bags of dynamic range. Because of that amazing sensor.


And it's those sensors that are Sony's coup de grace. That make the cameras stand out. And when you add in the fact that Sony have the best jpgs. out there it makes a compelling case for using their cameras. Fuji used to have this reputation for great jpg. rendition, which was earned mainly with the original 12MP X100. But things change and things move on and these days my Fuji X cameras turn out somewhat soft, mushy files when compared to my Sonys. m4/3 jpgs. are OK, but nothing more than that. Plus as I have written, at base ISO my Nokia phone produces images I like better. 

A lot is made of the Sony e-mount lens issue, in that there aren't a lot available. And of those that are, some are exceptional, the Zeiss 35mm and 55mm, and some are overpriced and disappointing, like the 24-70mm zoom. There are of course some top class a-mount 'pro' lenses that work well with the excellent LA-EA4 adapter, but they aren't exactly cheap or light and small. But there are other options. Sigma make the excellent 35mm and 50mm primes and when they eventually get round to releasing it, the 24-105mm should be pretty good too. Plus there are all those Nikon, Canon and m-mount lenses that can be used. It was interesting to see that in Mathieu's review at Mirrorlessons it seems the A7s doesn't suffer from the wide-angles vignetting and lens cast for those rangefinder lenses. 

Now the Sony systems, APS-C and 35mm, are far from perfect, but they do deliver stunning image quality which other competing mirrorless systems can't. And no the difference is not as much as some would claim, but it's clearly there for all to see. 

The A7 / A7r / A7s will also make a nice 'set' and will give me all the options I require for my professional and personal work. And all in pretty small packages as well. 

So will I stop using everything else? Well no, because sometimes I want style over content and other cameras work for me for other reasons. And I don't need or want to 'talk up' my other systems and ascribe them qualities they don't possess, because I don't feel the need to justify what I create images with. I do actually use my Blackberry as a 'serious' photographic device after all. But the Sony cameras I have deliver the best image quality I've even seen in any cameras I have owned or used and it's pointless to pretend otherwise.


  • All original material on this blog is © Please Respect That

  • 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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