The start of 2018 has seen some big releases from the main manufacturers in the mirrorless market, most notably the Fujifilm X-H1 and the Sony A7iii. They both sit at the more premium end of the CSC spectrum, with an RRP of £1699 and £1999 respectively. While these two cameras share a 24MP resolution, built-in image stabilisation and a tilting touchscreen, when you dive deeper into the specs there’s plenty of differences between the two. Let’s take a closer look and find out which will give you the most bang for your bucks!
Sitting at the centre of the Fujifilm X-H1 is a 24.3MP X-Trans CMOS III APS-C sensor. There’s no Optical Low Pass Filter to maximise sharpness, and instead the imaging chip uses a colour filter array to minimise the risk of moiré. As the X-H1 uses an APS-C sized sensor it comes with a 1.5x crop factor, so lenses have an increased effective focal length. The Sony A7iii on the other hand uses a full frame Exmor R back-illuminated sensor with a 24.2MP resolution. This physically bigger sensor and innovative design makes it more efficient at gathering light than the X-H1, giving a better ISO performance and enhanced image quality.
The X-H1 is powered by Fujifilm’s X-Processor Pro and the sensor has a native ISO range of 200-12,800, though this can be expanded to 100-51,200. The A7iii uses an updated version of Sony’s Bionz X processor and gives the camera a native ISO span of 50-51,200, expandable up to a whopping ISO 204,8000. When it comes to low light capabilities the Sony far outperforms the Fujifilm, and that’s one of the key benefits of choosing a full frame sensor.
To also aid low light shooting, both cameras employ a 5-axis image stabilisation system to help keep camera shake at bay when using slower shutter speeds. The X-H1 provides up to 5.5stops of compensation when paired with the XF 35mm f/1.4 lens, though generally it’ll work effectively up to 5-stops with most lenses. The A7iii is also billed as providing 5-stops of image stabilisation, so both cameras perform pretty much on a par here.
When it comes to shooting speed, the Fujifilm X-H1 will shoot at 8fps with the mechanical shutter, though this can be boosted to a rapid 11fps if you combine it with the VPB-XH1 grip (sold separately for £319). If you just use the electronic shutter, you can achieve a blistering 14fps even without the additional power booster grip. When shooting continuously the X-H1 can fire for 80 JPEGs or 31 RAWs before the buffer fills. The Sony A7iii has a similar top shooting speed of 10fps with either the mechanical or electronic shutter, yet outperforms the X-H1 on buffer capacity, being able to capture 177 JPEGs or 89 RAWs consecutively.
To store your images both cameras feature dual SD card slots, so you can either designate one for RAW and the other for JPEG or alternatively as an overflow capacity. Both the SD slots on the X-H1 are UHS-II compatible, whereas on the A7iii only the primary SD card slot will work with the faster UHS-II cards.
One of the headline features of the A7iii is the AF system, which it inherits from Sony’s flagship A9 camera. It boasts an incredible 693 phase detect AF points covering 93% of the frame area, and 425 contrast detect AF points further towards the centre to enhance speed and accuracy. It also uses Sony’s new 4D focus system which increases the AF-C tracking performance by predicting the movement of subjects. The Fujifilm X-H1 still has an impressive AF system with 325 points in a 13×25 grid, with the phase detect points covering 50% of the frame side to side, and 75% from top to bottom. You can also adjust the tracking sensitivity to suit your subject and enhance the AF-C performance when shooting things like sport or wildlife.
Both cameras come with an 0.5in EVF, but the Fujifilm viewfinder outperforms the Sony on resolution – 3.69m-dot versus 2.3m-dot – and also has a faster refresh rate of 100fps against 60fps. The A7iii only has a slight edge when it comes to viewfinder magnification; with a 0.78x times against the X-H1’s 0.75x.
The specs are similar for the LCD screen, yet the X-H1 again has the edge. It features a 3.0in 1040k-dot tilt and touchscreen, and can rotate on 3 axis, making it more versatile for vertical shooting. The A7iii has a 3.0in LCD with a lower 921k-dot resolution and only tilts on 2 axis. The touch functionality is limited on both to things like setting the AF point and touch shutter, and neither can navigate the menu using the touch functionality, as you might expect of a top billing camera in 2018.
If you’re looking to shoot video then both cameras are very capable, offering 1080p at 120fps for super slow motion and 4K at 25fps. The A7iii does have the slight edge when it comes to movie capture as clips are capped to 30 minutes, yet are restricted to 15 minutes on the X-H1. Both cameras come with a microphone jack for capturing better audio, but only the A7iii has a headphone jack allowing you to monitor the sound.
In terms of build and durability, both cameras are constructed from tough magnesium alloy and are weather-sealed to keep out dust and moisture. If weight is a factor, then there’s not much to separate the two: the X-H1 tips the scales at 673g and the A7iii weighs in at 650g, both with a battery and memory card. On the top plate of each camera you’ll find rotating control dials. The X-H1 is set up to adjust the shutter speed and ISO with the dials, whereas the A7iii lets you choose the shooting mode and adjust exposure compensation. Both cameras feature a deep finger grip for secure handling and share a rather similar button layout. There’s a decent and growing range of lenses for both cameras, yet Sony has been boosted by third party manufacturer Sigma offering optics for the Sony E-mount.
The X-H1 sits at the top of the Fujifilm line up, above well reviewed models the X-T2 and X-Pro 2. It’s a decent if not overwhelming upgrade to the X-T2, sharing the same sensor and many shooting specs. But the addition of the 5-axis image stabilisation system – the first one in a Fujifilm X-series CSC – will be a welcome addition to those thinking of investing or upgrading. The A7iii on the other hand is the entry level camera in Sony’s mirrorless lineup, yet inherits a handful of exciting features from the flagship model. As such, it employs an advanced sensor and AF system giving a truly excellent performance. This is reflected in its heftier price tag, yet concedes ground to the X-H1 on both EVF and LCD resolution, as well as the maximum shooting speed. Both cameras will no doubt become firm favourites with fans of either system, but the Sony will more likely be considered by professionals.