Austin Skyline – Sony A7C Final

I finally got to do the image quality comparison I wanted to do two days earlier during the first Fuji+Luminar Photowalk. As I explained, that photowalk turned into a model-shooting event — really fun, but I didn’t have the best gear for it. I was set on the second photo walk, confident that we would be shooting the Austin skyline.

About five years ago, in the summer of 2019, I bought a used Fujifilm X-T10 from Precision Camera. Dabbling with the camera, I never expected to make the relatively quick switch from Olympus to Fujifilm. Since then, I estimate that I’ve created at least 1,500 blog posts using the some model of Fujifilm.

In April 2023, I started shifting from Fujifilm to Sony with the discovery of the compact full-frame A7C model. While I don’t have as many posts with the Sony, I’ve shot almost exclusively with the Sony A7C for about a year. One of my primary mantras is using the smallest and lightest camera system that produces the highest possible image quality.

While I knew the Sony A7C created a less noisy and sharper image than my Fujifilm X Cameras, I never made a detailed comparison until that night when I was shooting the Austin skyline during blue hour on the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge. So here are their results.

Come pixel-peep with me.

As the titles indicate, the image above is my final post-processed image from the Sony A7C using the Sony 24mm f2.8 lens. Below is my final post-processed image from the Fujifilm X-S10 using the Fujifilm 16mm f2.8 lens, which produces a 24mm equivalent. You can hover over each picture with a mouse to see the exposure details. Incidentally, both cameras create 24MP images.

Austin Skyline - Fujifilm X-S10 Final

Austin Skyline – Fujifilm X-S10 Final

I shot both images on a tripod at the base ISO — 100 for Sony and 160 for Fujifilm. I used to believe the base ISOs for any brand, having the lowest noise, were the same. As we will see below, this is not the case.

When I started photography, I never anticipated how different a post-processed image could look from the original RAWs. There is a very big difference, as you can see below. This is often the case with landscapes, both urban and natural.

While I was able to post-process the two images to look as close as possible, the originals are very different and very dark. I typically underexpose urban landscapes so that I don’t blow out the highlights, such as the lights in the windows.

Austin Skyline - Sony A7C Final

Austin Skyline – Sony A7C Original

Austin Skyline - Fujifilm X-S10 Final

Austin Skyline – Fujifilm X-S10 Final

The most significant difference is how much bluer the Sony version is in the original version. It took some effort to get the colors to match in the final version.

Fujifilm X-S10 vs. Sony A7C Base ISO Comparison

Fujifilm X-S10 vs. Sony A7C Base ISO Comparison

Here is the 400% detail from the center of the frame. The Fujifilm picture is on the left, and Sony is on the right. The most visible difference is with the noise level at base ISO. To best see the results, click on the picture to see a larger version on a computer.

I saw other differences, too, which are harder to show at these lower resolutions. Of course, the white balance from both cameras was different, and I thought the Sony image was slightly sharper. But these are minor differences compared to the noise level. Why is this important?

Remember that these are the lowest possible noise levels from each camera since I’m using the base ISO. As you use higher ISO values, the differences multiply. For example, I think the Sony is at least one stop better for noise. So a Sony A7C at ISO 12,800 is equal to or cleaner than the Fujifilm X-S10 at 6,400.

A lower noise level also helps increase dynamic range. When you brighten the shadows in post-processing, you see less noise with a cleaner base image.

I realize that noise level and picture sharpness are only one aspect determining your ideal camera. On my free monthly magazine, I did a four-part analysis of all the pros and cons between the Sony A7C and the Fujifilm X-S10. While I generally liked Sony’s image quality, I preferred Fujifilm’s colors. The ergonomics and other intangibles made it evident that there wasn’t a clear-cut winner. Still, I continue to use the Sony since my calculus of all the factors gives it the edge.

Despite this detailed post, I don’t often pixel-peep. And while Sony gets the most hands-on time right now, that can always change.

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Last Update: 06/08/2024