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Wednesday, 07 August 2019

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After five decades of owning Canon 24mmx36mm-format film and digital cameras and lenses,I switched to Panasonic Micro Four Thirds and am delighted with my two Panasonic GX8 cameras and three high-quality Panasonic lenses. Small, lightweight, and high-performing, the Micro Four Thirds system works for me.

I am posting this from Osaka airport on my way back to NYC.
Around my neck is a barely noticeable Canon Eos M-3 with an 11-22 zoom.
I bought this combination to use as a portable version of my Nikon D800e w/16-35.
24 rather than 36 mpix but usable on a vacation walking through cities and sights in the humid heat.
EOS—M limited but cheap and useful, my choice for Japan.

I think Thom makes a fundamental mistake in his overall argument, and that is, he assumes that most people still pay a lot of attention to sensor size. A person like Ctein, who could said to be quite persnickety (sp?) about print quality, finds a good deal of satisfaction in an m4/3, as do other persnickety people. So I think photo enthusiasts are no longer as focused on sensor size as they once were, but rather on other things.

Fuji, for example, is its own ecology. It's like Leica. They're different. You either want what the Fuji or Leica cameras offer, or you don't, and it's not about the sensor. There's a cachet that goes with Fuji, and some excellent photographers seem to like what their lenses do, and the ergonomics, and are willing to find better post-processors than Lightroom so they can work with the X-Trans sensor. And for most people -- including professionals like Kirk Tuck -- the sensor size simply doesn't seem to be a major factor. FF is great, but so is APS-C. Maybe if you were shooting wall-sized prints for Victoria's Secret, where skin quality is important even when the image is viewed at closer-than-normal distances, you'd insist on FF or even medium format, but exactly how many people need that?

I personally am an m4/3 and a Nikon guy, and would only buy Nikon FF cameras, because I see little advantage to Nikon APS-C cameras, which are essentially as large and heavy as FF cameras of similar quality. I don't reject APS-C because of image quality, but because it has no advantages and overall, the Nikon system is weaker in APS-C. And though I have a D800 and a Z6, I find myself taking the Panasonic GX8s with me more often than the Z6, because of the size differences, even though the Z6 is quite compact for FF cameras. The Z6 has some real advantages, but not so much when I'm shooting street at noon...and the sensor size differences between the two barely impinge on my consciousness.

In other words, I believe that "other stuff" is becoming more important, especially among enthusiasts who are the buyers of this gear.

Cell phones have really wiped out Instamatics and their digital equivalents, but I think one-inch sensors in good cameras is where the line might be held. We've just had a good discussion here of the Sony RX100, in which some fairly serious photographers were quite enthusiastic about the line. (Ken Tanaka for one.) The RX100 offers distinct advantages over cell phones, that I doubt that cell phones will ever match, simply for size reasons...physics still applies, even to cell phones.

My Nikon D7500 does just fine for me.Has all the features I need. Have lots of lenses but the 35/1.8 (52mm equiv) stays on there about 85% of thetime.

The Sony APSC cameras like the a6500 are surprisingly capable and flexible. Nobody else makes an APSC camera that small, with IBIS, good grip, great sensor, some weather resistance and amazing video features. I definitely preferred the buttons, dials and menus of Fuji cameras I used, but over time got used to the Sony's simpler controls and really like the compactness. It has the silhouette of a point and shoot camera which is perfect for casual and family shooting.

That being said, the a6500 is my camera for shooting video, low light and when I want a lazier point-and-shoot experience. I only have a couple lenses for it. For photography enjoyment, I have my old digital Leica, which is far more tactile and jewel-like than any modern camera. Even the relatively cheaper Voigtlander lenses are a joy to use and now have outstanding image quality.

But back to APSC... As far as lenses, Sigma made a trinity of great primes recently, including a 56mm 1.4 which looks almost flawless. For telephoto, the Fuji and Sony 100-400mm lenses are almost the same size and weight, despite the different sensor sizes. Fuji wins with options as Sony has really focused on full frame lenses the past few years (perhaps this was the right decision going by Thom's post).

As much respect as I have for Thom (and I have a lot, his Sans Mirror is one of the very best blogs I've read on mirrorless, and has been for quite some time now) I also have to respectfully disagree with some of his points.

While I agree that the X-H1 "underperformed" after it's launch, in my view, and as early X-H1 adopter and user, this was much more due much to Fujifilm's ineffective job of marketing. Where Fujifilm marketing dropped the ball was not clearly communicating just who this camera as for and why; the professional use-cases this camera was intended for.

Initially, a lot X-T2 amateurs/enthusiasts bought it, thinking it woud be an upgrade. The bottom line is that the X-H1 is a Canon 1-D class professional body, and the facts are that the vast majority of camera users don't need a Canon 1D-series camera. What most photographers want and can use is a Canon 5D-series camera, & the X-T series is that camera in the Fujifilm X-cam portfolio.

In over a year and a half of hard professional use, I can say that the X-H1 does what it was specifically designed to do superbly; but don't take my word for it, ask the other pros who are using it, including Kirk Tuck. It also produces, IMHO, the best image quality from any Fujifilm camera this side of a GFX...

And, while I agree with Thom that the lens lineup as a whole is not as fully developed as it could be for wildlife and sports shooters, I don't think that is the sole reason why the X-H1 "underperformed". Fujifilm nailed it with with the 200mm f/2.0 as their first super-telephoto. As someone who's likely one of the few here that has extensive experience with the fabulous Fujinon 200mm f/2.0, I can say that that lens, in conjunction with its teleconverter, will meet 80% of the requirements of a pro needing a super-telephoto at least 80% of the time. As base focal length, you have an the FF-equivalent of a 300mm f/2.0. Throw on the 1.4X converter, and you have an equivalent 400mm f/2.8 with only a few extra ounces of weight, and virtually no increase in bulk from an operational perspective.

So, while I hope Fujifilm continues to develop its line of super-teles (here's where I now disagree with Mike 😉), that lens really gets the job done most of the time for most all super-tele applications I can think of. Its also the finest lens I have ever used from anyone, ever, and that includes the fabulous Canon super-teles. Its even better than the much-vaunted Canon 200mm f/1.8.

Lastly, I really hope this is not the last X-H camera. Executives from Fujifilm are on record with saying that it is not, and I really hope this is the case. It, and any Canon 1D-series camera, are the 2 of the top 3 cameras I've ever used for professional work

I think Fuji have been very astute in their reading of the market. There are too many full frame vendors for them to compete against. When they decided to go large they again found a niche that wasn't effectively filled by others - faux medium format - genius. Full frame has become a marketing phrase that many believe will instantly give them some advantage. That may be true in certain specialist genres but not for most.

Personally I believe that when choosing a camera you should first look at the lenses. Again Fuji understand this. Most of their lenses are outstanding, including their 18-55mm which is probably the only kit lens that doesn't get put on Ebay six months later. It's ironic that whether they can continue in their niche probably depends on whether Sony, who seem to be putting all their effort into full frsme, continue to design apsc sensors.

I used to own a Minolta XD-7 (called XD-11 in the USA I think). A little jewel of a camera. It was the basis of the Leica R4 but Leica ruined the Japanese aesthetic when they remodelled it.

Hey Mike, that was interesting, reading Thom's thoughts and then your thoughts about his thoughts. Just a couple of comments about your comments:

"I don't know why he picked $500 when the X-T100 he likes so much costs just $400"

Thom doesn't care much for the X-T100, as far as I can tell. (Wrote more or less that it is so cheapened that it might sour buyers on the brand.) Maybe he feels a $500 price point would have produced a better tool. He really likes and recommends the X-T30 though.

Like you I'm skeptical of the need to pursue sports and wildlife photographers, especially given that Thom singles out action focus tracking as a weakness of Fuji's camera line.

Last year I sold my Nikon D800E and Zeiss lenses and went with a Fuji XT-3. You've talked about the issue here before, that the choice of a camera shouldn't be based on the highest megapixel or the fastest focusing but the best balance of features that meet your needs. Full frame and APS-C don't present the stark choice that many make it out to be. It's not even in my top level criteria in camera choice (physical controls and high-quality video are two of my top-level criteria that did not factor much in the Thom's reviews).

The real squeeze in the market are the small sensors (APS-C and full frame) vs the Fuji GFX 100. If you want the best quality, go big. If you want a great portable camera, go small. What then, is full-frame for?

Hi Mike,
Re comments of size, FF & being better than APS-C, please keep in mind that Thom writes from perspective of optimum data (as opposed to good enough data, which he has also recently written about). But also in context of what is optimum given all the other compromises one has to make re size, weigh and costs, in arriving at what meets personal needs.
E.g. Thom pushes for the longer teles for APS-C because, in theory, they should be smaller & therefore lighter than for FF bodies, and easier to manage for birding and sports (noting I’m out of my depth here as I shoot neither).
I imagine Mr Tuck would come to a different conclusion based on his needs, preferences and what is good enough for him (or sufficient for personal and client’s needs, in Ming’s terminology).
That doesn’t make your points any more or less valid either. Personally, I value the writings of yourself and others, where the writers make their perspectives and preferences clear. I’m not just interested in what writers think, but why.
Cheers,

"Frankly, I don't know why all ultra-long tele guys aren't shooting Micro 4/3, but then as I say it's not my bag.. " I thought the reason was that the"experts" and "photographers" on Dpreview have proven with lots of obtuse offal that only "full-frame" is capable of professional results. Sort of like any truck needs 400 HP and 22" wheels.

Thon' essay about hype and myths is also worthwhile reading. It certainly addresses the online "experts" for whom specs are more important than technique and actual photography:

http://www.sansmirror.com/newsviews/2019-mirrorless-camera/july-september-2019-mirrorl/lets-dip-into-the-hype-and.html

"Thom writes under the basic assumption (which may reflect objective market research for all I know, but still) that buyers would naturally choose FF if they could."

Some buyers choose both. Different tools for different jobs.

Thom Hogan has described us Fuji users absolutely correctly, I think. Not too concerned about those final bits of resolution or focusing speed, very keen on traditional ergonomics, looking for a camera and a lens that let us become part of the flow.

His own criteria are slightly different, of course, and I am delighted that he has taken the trouble to write down his carefully considered assessment of the Fuji lineup. He always writes with such precision and genuine respect for the real issues, plus his sharp insights into the marketing side of the industry.

Does Fuji have too many cameras in their offering? I can see Thom's point, but I think Fuji plays it absolutely right. Their real offer to us photographers is is a tailored "2-body 5-lens" camera.

For each sensor generation, Fuji offers a whole family of bodies, all sharing a common design philosophy and taking the same set of lenses, but each tailored to a different use pattern. The differentiation between these use patterns is meaningful, not artificial, and because the sensor & processing engines are the same, the files and therefore the later editing stages are the same for all bodies from the same generation. (Mike had posted a note about this aspect a few days ago.)

This makes the Fuji system a natural multi-body system, and every photographer who has one Fuji body has the potential of becoming a two- or three-body user. The resulting ensemble of 2-3 bodies and, say, 4-7 lenses then really acts as if it is one single camera that changes shape according to need and circumstance.

Myself, I am based on the XPro2 as my primary camera, but I also have the XE3 for compactness and the XH1 for those bigger lenses or when I need the image stabilisation. If Fuji didn't offer the XE3, I could go for the XT30 or XT100, but I probably wouldn't, the form-factor just doesn't appeal to me and I would rather stick to using the XPro2 on its own. Other photographers would prefer other combinations, of course, and I think the current spectrum of bodies allows each photographer to set up a system that is exactly tailored to their personal approach.

Even if you go the whole way and really buy two bodies and, say, five prime lenses, you will still spend less than your buddy who buys a Nikon Z7 and two zooms. When you go out shooting, you pick up just one body and just one lens from your Fuji cabinet, and hey!, you are light and look like a harmless snapshooter, as we all want to.

Bigger sensors and bigger lenses output higher resolution (spatial and chromatic). I take this as fact.

The majority of FF users will never use all the resolution available to them, but they value owning it nonetheless. This phenomenon mirrors the SUV syndrome closely. You might say the Japanese value owning only what they can use, while Americans value owning as much as they can afford.

I believe the pendulum will swing the other way. Interchangeable lens cameras are not popular because their sensors are bigger than iPhone sensors. They are popular because the lenses are interchangeable.

FF cameras do not command higher margins because the sensors are bigger. FF cameras command higher margins because there is (used to be) less competition in that space. Now that 5 major players are battling in the FF arena, those margins are going to be squeezes tighter than a Camel's rear end in a sand-storm.

FF cameras will become cheap, meaning they will loose their lust appeal. The heavier cost of lenses (price and mass) will push smart consumers back to APS-C and Four Thirds. Even Nikon might resurrect the Nikon 1. The rich and gullible will migrate to "medium format".

Pros will be pros and buy what they need to make a buck.

Thanks for putting this article up.

I disagree with Tom on a few points.


1. Tom claims Fuji top cameras are almost as big and heavy as full frame cameras.

Coming from Canon and Nikon full frame, I disagree. Even Fuji's bigger lenses, like the 10-24mm f/4 OIS, are nowhere near as cumbersome as Nikon's 16-35mm f/4 VR. Just look at this picture and tell yourself the two systems have the same heft:

http://www.benjacobsenphoto.com/blog/wp-content/gallery/fuji-vs-canon/X-E2-BBJP3572.jpg

I also don't see in what way full frame is 'better'. To my eyes, the Fuji output looks at least as appealing as what I got with Canon 5D series and Nikon D700, except without the encumbrance.

In case of equivalent aperture, I often had to stop down some of Canon and Nikon lenses whereas I can safely use Fuji lenses wide open. The whole Fujifilm output looks to me sharper (possibly due to different filter array) and cleaner (due to software correction).


2. Tom suggests that most people buying a high performance APS-C want telephoto.

I don't think that most high performance APS-C buyers are wildlife or sports shooters. I'd even think that wildlife/sports is a niche and thus less common than general purpose photography, ie family/travel/event/still life.

As a 'serious amateur', if this is what I have to call myself, a big tele is the last lens on my list. Most family/travel/event/still life photography happens in the ultra wide to short tele range.

For instance, making this family album during holiday, the longest lens I used was a Fuji 50mm (75mm equivalent). A full frame body wouldn't necessarilly have given better results, yet it would certainly feel heavier and more 'in the way'.

https://flic.kr/s/aHsmFmC1NW


3. To summarize both previous points: what Tom underrates is the strength of the Fujifilm system as a whole, in particular the appeal of Fuji's small yet very capable lenses.

With Canon, Nikon and Sony APSC cameras, you have either low quality consumer lenses or big full frame lenses. They offer almost no quality APSC lenses, unlike Fujifilm.

If you add the size, weight and cost of full frame lenses, you cannot claim that full frame trumps Fuji in terms of bulk and price. I'd even be happy to pay a bit more for the same quality output in a smlaller, lighter package!


4. Finally, I think Tom doesn't value enough the advantage Fuji has in quality JPEGS, instant viewfinder feedback (compared to DSLR's) and direct dials.

Those things have a fundamental appeal to any serious photographer shooting casually, ie non-professionally. Someone who wants control and quality without putting too much time and effort into chimping and post production.

So yes, if you're a serious general purpose APS-C shooter, I'd say that today Fujifilm is your best choice.

"the Japanese tend to be charmed by exquisite, small, gem-like objects"

Let's not overlook the fact that it's Japanese camera companies -- Sigma and Canon in particular -- who are currently in a phase of introducing huge, heavy, barrel shaped, fast aperture lenses for full frame cameras. I don't care for such lenses myself, which is why, like you, I prefer to shoot with Fujifilm cameras and lenses. Large and heavy telephoto lenses are essential for sports and wildlife photographers however, which is why Fuji's other merits may have less appeal for them.

I agree with the Wabi-Iki essence of the Japanese cameras.

The argument for FF or APS-C is rather more complex than sensor size, or camera size, for that matter. Take for instance, my needs.

This morning I was using a Canon FF with 100mm macro lens and ring flash to take some post-surgical images for possible publication: that is a ‘work’ need. On Saturday I may be continuing to use my FF and 24mm TSE lens for an ongoing project on ‘Brutalist Architecture: that is a project need. The following day I shall be on the moors with FF and a Canon 400mm ‘super-telephoto’ lens: a leisure need.

Only Nikon and Canon can fulfil all my requirements, no APS-C system, e.g. Fuji, can do so. But as a general and travel camera, APS-C gives me all the quality I need; (I use Sony Axxxx plus the Sony/Zeiss prime lenses). It just happens that there is no substitute for Canon/Nikon FF systems for certain activities, as I have outlined, which is irrespective of sensor size.

I respect Thom and read his blog, but he seems to have a bit of a blindspot when it comes to photographic hobbyists.

Hobbyists aren't gearheads, as they don't necessarily want the latest and greatest. However, like gearheads, they find equipment part of the fun. They enjoy the process of tinkering around with lenses and cameras, as well as the images they produce.

For the hobbyist, the smaller formats are a dream. They couldn't be satisfied with one camera and a couple of lenses, so larger formats become very expensive, very quickly. On the other hand, the IQ advantages of smartphones are irrelevant, as that is all about results, not process.

I think Fuji get this, and they are trying to own this niche. That's why they offer lots of body styles with an emphasis on physical controls (which influences the process of taking photographs but not the results) despite them all sharing the same sensor (which influences the results, but not the process).

I think, broadly speaking at least, that a fair proportion of people would opt to go FF if there was only a minor price difference. That does presume that these people don't necessarily have the breadth of experience of different camera brands and formats that dedicated photo dawgs, such as yourself, have.

The car analogy has come up in other comments, but people want bigger engines and wheels – and they don't necessarily think about the cost of fuel or tyres when they buy their vehicles. It goes for other things too, though – back in the CRT era I never presumed I'd need a monitor bigger than 17" or a TV bigger than 28", and now look where we are. Some people would willingly go for the size of screen before the quality (not that I'm saying FF lacks in quality).

If I'm ever asked what camera I'd recommend by people, I tell them to go play with one in a shop and see if they'd be comfortable lugging it around all day – I know a fair few people who've bought SLRs in the past, then leave them gathering dust in cupboards because they're a pain to carry around.

Unless you're really serious (about being taken seriously perhaps) about photography, bigger is just bigger.

Phone cameras are good in being 'always' with you. Their image quality is just about as good as a small sensor fixed focal length camera. Because that is what they are. Their usability is somewhat less. Harder to hold steady, no viewfinder, no buttons or wheels for control. But indeed they have eaten away the fixed lens or short zoom compact camera market. That leaves cameras with bigger sensors and cameras with either longer zooms or changeable lenses. These are so much different from phone cameras that there is no or very little substitution. And it will be difficult to change that. Phones have a form factor that does not allow long lenses or proper zooms. Some better phones have 'normal' lenses that are now called telephotos. Maybe they have telephoto design but in focal length they are not any longer than normal 50mm equivalent.
But what is somewhat new is this profusion of models, like Thom points out with Fuji as an example. Phones are like that. Huge number of very similar products and every few months must come with something new that is actually very much the same. In the old days there was Canon F1. Some 20 years later they made an updated model and called it F1n.

:In the DSLR world, Canon (EF-S) and Nikon (DX) basically went 'all consumer,' and mostly serve up low-cost convenience cameras and lenses. [...]" The D500 with a long telephoto lens doesn't fit that description for me. I just bought that setup to shoot wildlife. The fuji 100-400mm is too big a beast - so big that it feels like the camera body could snap clean off the lens.

But apart from that, I have an X-T2 - and from my shots and from many many shots I have seen, I think the biggest difference between the systems is 'the look' of the photos - Fuji is romantic: Nikon is plain-Jane accurate. Nothing wrong with either of them but they are just coming from different places.

Thom's expertise lies in persuading technophiles that he is an expert in marketing; his actual marketing expertise is, well, it's not so great.

The bit about how the prices ought to be "but curved slightly more towards the lower boundary" is truly precious. It's based on nothing whatever, Thom just made that up, but is the kind of detail that makes you sound like an expert.

John Camp has it. APS-C is not a category, not any more. It is an engineering decision driven by the category Fuji is building to.

The discussion of CFAs was just an absurd side-note that he should have dropped. Even Thom concludes that it's irrelevant. But, techno-nuggets delight his readers, so.

Thom is analyzing this market (as he always has done) as an Early Adopter. These analyses are technology-forward, which suits him and his readership just fine, because they are technophiles. It produces well-read oft-cited blog posts for the Internet audience, which is tech-skewed.

The trouble is that the market is well into the Majority sections of the product lifecycle, as evidenced by Nikon's and Canon's vigorous entrance into the mirrorless space. In this stage of a product's lifecycle, technological details become largely irrelevant for understanding the market. Thom's analysis is, well, I am not sure it rises to the level of "wrong" it's so far outside the envelope. It's an entertainingly written discussion that's about like trying to explain bears by imagining them as a kind of soap.

See, for instance, this wikipedia article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology_adoption_life_cycle

Digital photography is well into the middle section of the curve, past the peak. Mirrorless as a subcategory is, to my judgement, about in the middle of the Early Majority.

Fuji isn't building APS-C cameras and then trying to fit them into a pricing space. They're building to hit a price point, and the engineers say "well, APS-C it is, then."

Since I now shoot APS-C and Fuji, and I'm what you might call a serious hobbyist, I guess I did okay. However, these days I don't pick cameras by sensor size (or at least, it's way down on the list). To me it comes down to how the camera feels, how it works, how the images look I get out of the camera, and what lenses are available (do I like them). Most important is this: does the camera make me want to pick it up and use it a lot? Sensor size is more of an afterthought. Although I do appreciate the images from full frame, over time I'm less and less interested in absolute image quality when pixel peeping.

What makes me happy with the Fuji XH-1 is the way it feels in the hand and the way the shutter feels, the good, small WR lenses, and the way the images look on the computer in Lightroom (I don't end up having to mess with them as much to get the look I like).

Responding to Matt's comments:

Thom is talking about Fuji Mirrorless versus Full Frame Mirrorless, not DSLR. We all get the size difference of a fuji vs 5d, but take a look here of similar wide angle lenses on an X-T3, Z6, and A73. Not such a big difference as you might think.

Camera size: http://j.mp/2yMkWTa

The other problem fuji is going to have is no one is saying NikCanSon arent going to make a line of f/2.8 prime lenses. Id be shocked if they dont! Nikon is sort of doing this with is f/4 z lenses. A very smart move imo, and something that draws someone like me who adores the f/4 zooms nikon dslr land has.

Back to primes, the zeiss 35/2.8 sony launched with is pretty darn tiny. Heres a comparison with the fujicron 23 and sony with its 35 and the Canon RP with its 35. Left out the z6 cause that 35 is huge (and the thing holding me back from that system is the size of that lens)

http://j.mp/2yPs6pm

I mean....these are all pretty close. And if thats the case, if you have choice between large and small lenses of varying aperture....why WOULDN'T you want full frame?

Over the past ten years I've become one of those older guys standing behind the counter in a local camera store, and the shopping emphasis has shifted substantially over that time. Image quality, and its sensor size association, is no longer the defining factor in the hobby of camera-choosing. They're all good, so design and suitability become deciding factors. We're past the time of the "Best Camera", and instead look for what will serve each individual photographer the best. And frankly, if the salesperson can't articulate why a particular model is more or less suitable, Fujifilm or otherwise, then you're in the wrong store.

I'm also a member of a long-running print critique group. These are demanding, sophisticated photographers with the means to afford wide-carriage printers, and when the 36Mpx D800 came out it caused a sensation. But now there are more members of the group using Fujifilm cameras than there were D800's at the peak of its popularity, or indeed any 36+Mpx machine today. Our technical print quality certainly hasn't declined, and perhaps – just perhaps – the broader diversity of camera sizes and styles has caused an uptick in artistic quality and diversity over the years.

Fujifilm seems to have serious qualms about the X-Trans sensor design too—they ain't using their ground-breaking(?) X-Trans sensor in their GF MFD cameras. Some of us were never impressed with X-Trans—it's one of the reason I don't own a Fujifilm camera. Fujifilm's vaunted Kaizen is the other. Only Fujifilm has been able to get people to pay for the privilege of being beta-testers. I'm not a fan of their cameras, but they sure know a lot about marketing.

If I wanted a crop-mirrorless ILC, I'd just use my EF-S lenses on a <$1,300 Canon EOS RP. Then I'd have a modern-mirrorless 40D (10 Megapixel) 8-) Plus Canon's Focus Bracketing, a RP only feature, isn't available on any Fujifilm body. I'm an f/8 kind of guy, who loves deep focus, so Focus Bracketing is a BFD.

Change the lens on the Sony to a 35/1.8 and see what happens to the size/weight/price.
Sure, if you're looking at moving from APS-C to FF as a low light upgrade, you'll only exploit the larger sensor if you keep the lens speed the same. But if you're simply choosing between two systems, you're creating an apples-to-oranges comparison: bigger/heavier/more-expensive versus noisier.
Here's what I think is going to happen. Sony has built up a tremendous FF mirrorless system while neglecting APS-C and failing to build up a decent lens lineup. Nikon appears to have no interest in APS-C mirrorless (that could change, though it could also follow Sony by doing primarily consumer grade stuff). And Canon's EOS-M system is low-mid range with compatibility issues. FF camera prices are getting to where they're not much higher than high end APS-C cameras. In short, there's never been more incentive to at least consider full frame. And then, they'll start looking for ways to make FF viable. They'll decide to go for slower lenses, even if it means they don't get to exploit the larger sensor in low light. They'll crop their tele shots down to 9MP to stick with a 100-400mm lens :)
Contrary to John Camp's aseessment, I think the market is down to enthusiasts and pros who (a) probably do care (about sensor size) or (b) are simply going to end up pushed to FF by Sony, Nikon and Canon.
The problem I see for fans of smaller sensors is that while smaller sensors are good enough that few of us need FF, manufacturers are going to see to it that there are going to be fewer downsides to going FF.

Maybe we should consider HOW the X-H1 "underperformed" and why. Lens selection is always a concern, especially for buyers who might be considering changing brands, but a LOT of the early critical response I saw failed to judge it on its own merits, instead opting to compare it to other cameras, including Fuji's own X-T3.

I saw the same phenomenon with Canon's EOS R, which was hammered by early reviews and pixel peepers, but has since become a popular choice for many of the people who actually USE it on a regular basis. Someone mentioned Kirk Tuck; he seems delighted with the functionality and images he is getting from his X-H1s (I think he has three, at last count), and by virtue of being a professional, he has to be a choosy consumer.

At some point, we are going to have to collectively learn to put YouTube reviewers' evaluations in context: Most of them judge cameras for purposes that fit THEIR needs as video producers and vloggers. Anything they say about new cameras is going to be judged in terms of how easy it makes THEIR jobs, not necessarily everyone else's jobs, especially if those other jobs primarily involve creating still images.

Closed systems can have advantages, and Fuji has surely done well by their customers. I remember back in about 2014-15 pricing out a Nikon D750 with three 1.8G prime lenses and a Fuji XT-2 with three 1.4 prime lenses and the Fuji system was about $900 more expensive. The Fuji lenses tipped the scales price-wise. The aggregate weight of the systems was very close to even. The D750 was a bit heavier, but the Nikkor lenses weighed less than their Fuji counterparts.

I'm a Nikon guy, so I stuck with Nikon. I use the Nikon system with the APS-C (DX) and FF (FX) sensors in a different fashion than the Fuji system (equivalent sensors/image quality).

I use a small DX camera with compact zooms and the larger FX camera with compact (at least as far as FF goes) primes. The larger DOF of DX with the zooms works great, and I have more DOF control with the primes with FX. I'm a hobbyist, so I like the smaller size/weight of DX.

As Thom would say in regards to DX prime lenses: buzz, buzz, buzz.

If there was more of a selection of DX primes, I'd probably just own DX gear, and I can therefore see the appeal of Fuji because I'm of a mind APS-C is a sweet spot in regards to sensor size.

I agree with Mike, and several of the commenters... I *really* value the relative smallness of m4/3 system, especially the lenses. Results are excellent and sufficient for my needs, and the fixed f/2.8 zooms aren't enormous. Recently bought a second GX8 for backup/flexibility, actually.

Perhaps I'll buy the next iteration of the x100 if it ever arrives... I'm a couple of generations back on that, but it still does fine, slow as it always was.

I guess I really value lightness and responsiveness, along with ergonomics that agree with me :)

I think Thom reads the Fuji user pretty accurately. No single maker fulfills all my requirements, but I don't see that as a problem. The Fuji system is a really nice small, short-lens complement to my Canon FF telephoto/macro/T-S system, and being able to use other lenses on the mirrorless body via adapters is great. The Fuji cameras and lenses are fun to use, and that often seems to translate into better pictures for me – or maybe I'm still just infatuated. There are technical reasons to use the bigger stuff that originate in aesthetics anyway, so I like having options.

Overall, though, the X series are my all-time favorite cameras to use, and I think they would be if they were DSLRs and not mirrorless. That said, I wonder if maybe Fuji was a little late to their own party. They ended up making what I've been wanting for about ten years: a cohesive, dedicated APS-C system with reasonable options. However, since they waited until mirrorless technology was mature enough to build a system around the bodies, they were forced to try to penetrate a crowded, shrinking market with a lineup that might not seem different enough to potential brand-focused customers – if they even find out about Fuji. I really hope they can keep the line going for a nice long while, and reach those potential buyers. I did corrupt a Nikon user recently, so I'm doing my bit to help.

What if Fuji had developed the X series as DSLRs, say, eight years ago, and built it into a full APS-C line of lenses, bodies, and accessories? By the time mirrorless was mature enough to add to the lineup, they could have made the same mirrorless transition in an APS-C line a few years ago as C&N are doing now with their existing FF lines. Of course, The Others may not have let them get away with it, but they ignored Sony pretty effectively, then Sony imitated them and ignored APS-C. Earlier competition could have spurred a whole additional market for compact digital systems that we sort of got – eventually – with MFT. I can't help feeling a little out on a limb here with Fuji, but at least it's a limb I'm happy to be out on.

I used Canon for 24 years and was always happy with the quality of the files, but grew increasingly unhappy with the weight of a bag containing a pair of bodies and a trio of pro zooms. In 2017, I dumped my very extensive system and bought a few Fuji bodies and a few of their lighter and less expensive, but very sharp lenses. My main camera is the X-T20, which is actually smaller than an Oly EM-5. I put it in a nifty little half-case, and now the handling is great.

The photographer for whom I often work as a second shooter at weddings uses Canon 5D3s and 5D4s. She commented on my X-T20 files from a recent wedding as "pretty."

Regarding the fact that the Fuji 100-400 zoom is about the same size and weight as the Canon 100-400 zoom, there is actually no comparison, because the Fuji is effectually a 150-600mm lens.

By the way, I drive a full-size pickup. But it carries me -- I don't carry it.

Looks like I'm the odd man out here, but to me it's about mirrorless vs. DSLR more than anything. I don't like electronic viewfinders. They provide an artificial look and just put a barrier between me and the subject. The view through a SLR makes me feel much more connected and present. I think the much-rumored demise of the DSLR may be delayed indefinitely as more folks move back from mirrorless.

As far as quality is concerned, I suspect I find myself squarely in the middle of the bell curve of enthusiasts, who mostly publish online and rarely make prints. Even consumer kit lenses, whether APS-C or FF, are often good enough for that purpose.

Can't speak for anyone else, but having moved from umpteen-generation old Nikon FF (the D700) to Micro Four Thirds exclusively (the Oly OM-D EM-1 mk II) after using them both for quite a few years, I can tell you why I saw this as a decrease in some aspects of my telephoto capability:

1. High ISO. The D700, around 10 years old, still produced cleaner files at high ISO than the newest Olympus M43 at the time (the M1X is new since then and I don't have one, for financial reasons).

2. Continuous / Tracking autofocus. For whatever reason (I don't know if it's software, or if the phase detect sensors integrated into the main sensor that modern mirrorless bodies use for AF are not as good as the phase detect sensors that DSLRs use, or something else), the continuous autofocus on moving targets fails a lot more often. I can make it work for roller derby, and I'm still getting better at it with the new body (more than a year later!); at this point I get photos that may well be as good, but are differently good, if you see what I mean? I'm not doing the same things I did before because the camera can't really do them, but I'm doing different things that look really nice.

(Roller derby is an extreme corner case in my photography, and I deliberately chose a reduction in capability there to win in other areas including financially.)

And this is comparing an old Nikon FF body. If I were comparing to a D5 or even a D850 I'm reasonably sure the field would tilt much more strongly towards the FF.

There are a lot of opinions about why the different camera companies are in the state they are in, and Thom has his own. I don't think that he dislikes or disrespects the APS-C format at all. He has been stating for years and years that he would like to see Nikon, Sony, et al make more in the way of quality glass for their smaller-format cameras. But now that the camera industry has contracted, the ability to support multiple formats, each having several models, has disappeared. Companies really need to be selective and narrow down the number of models they offer. A lower-end, a middle-of-the-road, and a higher-end camera will likely define the line ups these companies will have in the future. Maybe add one niche model to appeal to a certain segment of the market. That's it.

The situation reminds me of what happened to cell phones. Over 10 years ago the leading smartphone manufacturer was BlackBerry. What happened to them? BlackBerry had something like 20 different models when the iPhone emerged. Why? Because each telecom wanted their own unique BlackBerry model and BlackBerry catered to their wishes and devoted substantial resources to developing and maintaining all of those different models. Apple, on the other hand, had essentially one model to create, and told the telecoms to take it or leave it. Apple could easily sustain development of their one smartphone. BlackBerry couldn't do the same for their line up. People came to prefer iPhones to BlackBerries. Apple expanded, BlackBerry contracted.

It's funny isn't it, that the iPhone had a major impact on multiple industries?

Nat Young (really partial comment): Hobbyists aren't gearheads, as they don't necessarily want the latest and greatest. However, like gearheads, they find equipment part of the fun. They enjoy the process of tinkering around with lenses and cameras, as well as the images they produce. For the hobbyist, the smaller formats are a dream."

I must respectfully disagree with Mr. Young here. I believe that hobbyist photographers are the ones driving the market with things like MP races and bloated menus. Pros, OTOH aren't interested in the latest and greatest, they want what will contribute to the bottom line. How Kirk Tuck makes a living churning through cameras like he does escapes me. When I was making my living with a camera, I didn't buy anything that I didn't have a persistent need for, and neither did any of the other pros I knew.

I own several Fuji cameras and a bunch of their lenses. I like almost everything about them, not the least of which is the size/image quality relationship. However, I'm going to be attending a photography workshop in Oaxaca during the Day of the Dead holiday and much of the photography is going to be done in low light environments sans tripod. This has me thinking of either buying or renting a Sony A7riii to bring with me because as far as I can tell from online evaluations it has better high ISO performance than my Fujis. The question for me is whether the Sony offers something that I need that the Fuji doesn't, so that I can capture this once in a lifetime opportunity. Otherwise, I prefer the smaller and lighter prime lenses of the Fuji.

Whew, way too gassy for me! I'm not familiar with Mr. Hogan's blogs and admit to only skimming the referenced piece.

John Camp said, "So I think photo enthusiasts are no longer as focused on sensor size as they once were, but rather on other things. Fuji, for example, is its own ecology. It's like Leica. They're different.", sentiments also expressed by John Krumm and other commenters.

That sums it for me, too. I have, and use, everything from an iPhone to three medium format digital systems. I make my choice based on what I want to accomplish and where I plan to accomplish it. I will say that Fuji offers me the second greatest latitude of performance and situational adaptability (behind Sony).

But taking two giant steps back, I advise everyone to just enjoy this cornucopia of choices while you can. It almost certainly will radically shrivel in the coming years as the main customers for ILCs exit the stage. Even today I see very, very few dedicated cameras of any kind in use in the touristed areas in which I live and travel.

"Thom is talking about Fuji Mirrorless versus Full Frame Mirrorless, not DSLR. We all get the size difference of a fuji vs 5d, but take a look here of similar wide angle lenses on an X-T3, Z6, and A73. Not such a big difference as you might think."

Thom is comparing xh1 and xt3 to nikon's d500. That's not a mirrorless body, it's a dslr.

Quote: "Meanwhile, Fujifilm is competing against one of the most venerable crop sensor cameras ever made, the D500."

John Camp has a good point - Fuji has a unique value proposition that isn't easy to quantify, but is very clear to the folks who want it.

I loved the results I got with the Sigma 35 and a D750, but hated carrying it. Same with the 17-55 2.8 on a Nikon DX body - amazing lens, but huge. An X-H1 isn't incredibly tiny, but the lens selection offers tremendous choices in size, and the feel in hand is better than anything other than a D500(which I love everything about except it's sensor) and a D850(which is a beast and a half).

Am I 'full frame shooter; no, but I'm not an 'APS-C shooter' either. I'm a 'I like this one right here' shooter, wherever that falls.

I can summarize my love of Fuji (currently X-H1) by simply pointing out the differences between that new Sony 35/1.8 lens and Fuji's 23/2. The size/weight/cost difference between FF lenses and Fuji's primes is what keeps me in the Fuji camp.

Kenneth Tanaka is right: "I advise everyone to just enjoy this cornucopia of choices while you can. It almost certainly will radically shrivel in the coming years as the main customers for ILCs exit the stage."

Today, there is something to satisfy everyone from at least one of the major camera makers. That almost surely won't be the case in five years, except via the used market. Arguing which brand has better products or marketing today is like arguing about the color of carpets on the Titanic after it hit the iceberg.

Also, Dave Jenkins wrote, "Regarding the fact that the Fuji 100-400 zoom is about the same size and weight as the Canon 100-400 zoom, there is actually no comparison, because the Fuji is effectually a 150-600mm lens." On a 7DM2, the Canon 100-400 is also effectively a ~150-600 lens. I respectfully suggest it is a valid comparison.

Finally, Mike wrote "It's possible it boils down to being a cultural thing: the Japanese tend to be charmed by exquisite, small, gem-like objects." I prefer functional over exqusite, small, gem-like, et al. As the owner of both a Fuji (XT-1) and Nikon (DSLRs), I can only say that when I need a reliable camera that can deliver without getting in my way, I grab the Nikon 100% of the time. Only if I need a small camera for a social event or local outing where my priority is that it be small or unobtrusive, do I take the Fuji with the 23/2 lens.

Fuji has the best APS-C system and I'm saying that as a Sony shooter myself; Fuji has a well rounded system offering nice cameras and lenses for competitive prices. Many people I know have abandoned DSLRs and bought Fuji precisely because Fuji's balance of size, weight, price, body and lens options and overall look and feel.

That said, I don't think your size example is well picked. The Sony with the 35/1.4 lens will gather twice the light at max aperture compared to the Fuji, leading to one stop advantage. [Say what? Not true. —Ed.] Choosing a Sony 35/1.8 lens instead removes the weight and price advantage (though likely not volume). But with that change, what's the advantage of full frame anymore? It's dynamic range at base ISO, the Sony has a higher achievable dynamic range.

But what I say to people is that while APS-C may not sound as cool a full frame, it's however clearly cheaper and typically smaller and more lightweight. There are valid reasons outside image quality to buy full frame, such as access to the latest technology or a "natural" angle of view when adapting legacy lenses, but those do not matter for most people.

Thom is entitled to his opinions, but I don't always agree with them.

I use a camera on long walks, travel, or if I plan to spend time in the city (London). I make images from what I see around me, and make prints. These are up to around 24X16, but usually 17X11 on A3+ (19X13) paper.

So my criteria for a camera system are simple:

1. It has to fit into my tatty nondescript canvas satchel along with my daily stuff (mini-umbrella, phone, small tablet for reading, copy of Evening Standard, reading glasses, etc).

2. It has to produce prints that will stand up to close scrutiny at my largest normal print size up to at least ISO 1600.

3. I have to like using it.

So here's how my Xpro2 matches up.

1/ It is slightly on the large size, but doesn't have a VF hump, so it slides right in. Paired with the 23 f/1.4 or the 18-55 it makes a useful street/travel camera, and if I leave the brolly at home, I have room for a 55-200 and a 14mm.

2/ During its evaluation against my Nikon D800, it was in distinguishable in any meaningful way at 24X16 and even moreso at the smaller size.

3/ I like using it more than any other camera I ever owned.

I would not want anything bigger, but Fuji gives me the option to go smaller. I can put a 27 pancake on an XE2 and slip it in a pocket, but I'm not running two systems with incompatible lenses and batteries, so I always have a backup.

I once compared the cost of what I needed with a Sony A7R or A7 kit and more recently a z6 kit. To cover the same bases, they would cost at least 50% more than with Fuji, weigh 50% more, would not fit in my bag.

If there is a sweet spot on price, it relates to the system, not the body, and I am comparing a top-end Fuji (Xpro2) with bottom end FF kit (A7iii and Z6 with kit lenses and a few primes).

Sweet spot at $400? Who are we kidding.

Is the XH1 an outlier? Sure, but they had to prototype IBIS in a body and cover the cost. The upside is that IBIS works better in a heavy body with a well damped shutter. Newer versions will hopefully be more compact.

While I am late in responding and have no particular adverse view on Fuji gear have heard much good about them over time, I have no experience. Nevertheless, I might as well add one more set of views that may be of value to someone.

I currently have three cameras I most typically use, plus three others I sometimes use. As far as I can tell in my pixel peeping, they each make "good enough" photos...for me. Also, I am one of those who have drunk the Koolaid causing folks to say that m4/3s sensors are now as good as APS C. Plus I shoot raw and know how to use LR, since its first beta release.

My most recent addition to my camera stack is a Pany G9, likely the most technologically advanced camera I have owned...maybe ever will own as a 72 yo fellow. It replaced an Oly EM1.1, which took me more than a year of "thinking about it" before I picked the G9 over the EM1.2. I even considered the XH1 during this period, mostly because Kurt Tuck switched to Fuji. But my existing m4/3s lens collection and the smaller size of Pany lenses kept me with m4/3s.

My downside issue with the G9 was, and sort of still is, size and weight. But in the end, I went with the G9 because (1), although I did figure it out, I actually dislike the Oly menu system for all of the reasons many have written about, (2) it is a Panasonic that matches best with its lenses, and (3) I decided the G9 size and weight was actually the right size for the Pany 100-400 I wanted to add to my lens set, which also includes the too heavy and big Oly 12-40 Pro lens that I will likely now keep for the G9. (Most Oly Pro zooms are too heavy and big, which is another reason for me to stay with Pany.)

Second, my most favorite camera kit for travel is a GX8, due to its form factor and handling, on which a Pany 14-140ii is glued most of the time. My travel kit also includes a P/L 25 for when I need low light or to just use a 50mm FL, a Pany 100-300ii for travel birds or critters like kangaroos last year, and a tiny Rokinon 7.5mm fisheye just for fun. This all fits with room to spare into a small shoulder bag that can convert to a fanny pack, which I bought years ago at a sporting goods store. This filled bag drops into the bottom of my carry-on backpack for air travel.

My travel kit also includes a GX1 with a Pany 14 as a backup camera, and this sets in a small pouch inside and at the top of the backpack stack, just in case I quickly want a camera during air travel.

Next, prior to the G9 purchase, I sold my Canon 6D and bought a used Sony a7ii that came with an adaptor for my Canon glass. I am still trying to decide whether that was a good move. The Sony does produce nice images (true too for the 6D) and has a small size, plus I wanted mirrorless and IBIS, but the Sony menu system is truly worse than Oly's. I am not all that sure that the Sony photos are better to me than those from my m4/3s. The a7ii does have a nice DR, but the DR of the GX8 has not been a source of grief for me and DR of the G9 is even better, so say the reviews. For now, the Sony still gets to stay in the mix, at least until I decide to part with my beloved Canon glass or another reason yet undefined appears. There is, however, an ongoing shootout between the Sony and G9 that could cause the Sony to find a new home.

As for the other two cameras on my shelf, the Sony RX100M2 finds its way into my pocket somedays when wandering around and the $100 used Nikon AW100 gets to go fishing, rafting, or snorkeling somedays.

Now, what does all of this have to do with Thom's and Mike's Fuji comments? From this background, I think Fuji's focus on using C sensors is correct for the reasons they discuss. But, for me and for many others, the difference between m4/3s and a Fuji C sensor is not enough to make me move to Fuji. If I did, it would likely be the XH1 for IBIS, but I have read that the photodiode size of that sensor is essentially the same as that on the G9 (and GX8) so I likely would not gain much or anything from a system switch, except for a bit more light gathering and heavier glass. Also, I agreed with the view that FF is not necessary for maybe any of my photography needs, which is likely true for most of us. But I do and have long owned a series of FF cameras. There are many large SUVs on the road that I wouldn't own. So, diversity in cameras and cars is likely a good thing for special needs or ego reasons. Different strokes for different folks, as the old saying goes. And as another old saying from that period kind of went, regarding pixel count, I never trust one over 30, at least for my needs.

I think technology has reached a point where every camera in the market is ‘good enough’ for most people.
I’m a micro 4/3 user who shoots 99% of the time with adapted manual lenses (mostly a 50mm 1,4 Super Takumar).
On paper, I’m extremely happy with my camera and the results I get with it, so I have no reason to switch to FF.
But the thing is, I’ve spent years using those old manual lenses in film cameras. I’d switch to FF in a heartbeat just so they can behave (visually at least) the way they use to.

"Still, I'd tend to say that today X-Trans isn't as much a liability as I thought it once was. But nor is it a big gain as Fujifilm marketing suggests."

Oh it's a liability. It's the main reason why I haven't bought a Fuji. I don't want to deal with their RAF proprietary format files. If there's no major benefit, why stick with it? Go to DNG and I'd seriously consider switching to Fuji.

I caught this train too late...but I think Thom is very focused on wildlife shooting, which means long lenses, high DOF, and high shutter speeds. If you can stand the size and weight of the lenses, you'll always do better with a bigger sensor because this kind of photography is light starved. If you shoot in a regime that is not light starved, then sensor size is far less important.

If you feel defensive about using a crop-camera, do as Hollywood does. Call it Super35. This will confuse the illiterate, because Super35 must be better than Full-Frame—why else would it be called Super 8-)

Regarding my statement "The Sony with the 35/1.4 lens will gather twice the light at max aperture compared to the Fuji, leading to one stop advantage. [Say what? Not true. —Ed.]", f1.4 is of course f1.4 regardless of format, but the full frame sensor is twice the size of the asp-c sensor and thus there will be twice the light on the sensor for a given exposure. E.g. f2, 1/125, ISO 1600 should produce an identically exposed image on both systems, except that full frame will have better dynamic range if they have equivalent sensor technology and equivalent output resolution. Measurement bears this out, see http://www.photonstophotos.net/Charts/PDR.htm#FujiFilm%20X-T3,Sony%20ILCE-7M3

Of course if the maximum achievable performance and large apertures are not that important then crop sensors have clear size advantages. E.g. the Fuji 60/2.4 weights 215 g according to Fuji, there's no equivalent AF macro in full frame with the same angle of view.

I wonder if those who claim Thom just persuades technogeeks that he knows something about marketing, but doesn't much, could let us know about their own marketing expertise and experience in general, and in the electronics and camera fields in particular?

PS: what does n=1 mean nowadays? I hear and read it often.

No matter how rational we are in our discussion here about camera choices, I think Thom is right and he is talking about something different: camera choices! Different thing, same name, and different because Marketing Works, and it works because rationality often doesn't have the final say, especially when averaged across all camera buyers.

He is right because People Do want the biggest sensor with he most megapixels for the least dollars. On average. Across the market.

P.S. I would much rather have a 60 or 80 MP full frame camera with a 100-400mm lens for wildlife and birds, than a 16 or 20 MP m43 camera with the exact same lens. Such a nice wide view! Easy to find, easy to track.

Funny, but I am currently transitioning from a FF Leica SL to an APS-C CL. I am doing so because of the size and weight factors and also because the autofocus APS-C TL lenses are much smaller and less expensive than the FF L lenses. I had heard from other Leica users that there is little difference in IQ from these two camera systems, and my own experience bears this out. The two prime TL lenses that I own (Summicron 23 f2 and Summilux 35 f1.4) are as sharp as any lenses that I have ever owned, especially the Summilux. The only sacrifice that comes with APS-C is loss of extremely shallow DOF.

From what I can gather, the CL is selling quite well by Leica standards. It looks as though they have scored another hit within their niche market.

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