The mirrorless camera market moves quickly and there seems to be a new model out every month that pushes the envelope of what is possible in small, powerful camera bodies. If you don’t need or want a full-frame mirrorless, the market for crop-sensor cameras is highly competitive and a smaller sensor doesn’t have to mean less features.
We’re weighing up two flagship crop-sensor models; the Fuji X-T4 that was announced recently in February and the a6600, Sony’s flagship crop-sensor mirrorless camera, which was announced back in August 2019. Both are packed to bursting with cutting edge tech, but which one better suits your needs as a photographer? Let’s drill down into the specifications to find out…
Design and ergonomics:
Let’s start with the newest camera to market, the X-T4 and, as we’ve come to expect, Fuji has built an absolutely beautiful model. Dripping with retro-chic styling, the body design is very similar to the popular X-T3 it replaces – though a function button has been relocated from the top plate. At the heart of the X-T4 is a 26-megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS 4 with primary color filter – the crop sensor generates a crop factor of 1.5x meaning that a 50mm lens actually turns into a 75mm optic. The Fuji sensor features no Anti-Aliasing (AA) filter meaning images should be sharper at the increased risk of moire and the X-T4 of course uses the Fuji X-mount, meaning there are plenty of lenses available from both Fuji themselves or from third-party manufacturers.
Meanwhile, the Sony a6600 is a more discreet camera with more subtle styling. Heading up Sony’s successful range of crop-sensor APS-C cameras, the a6600 features a 24-megapixel sensor, which is paired with Sony’s latest powerful BIONZ X processor engine. As you’d expect, the a6600 uses Sony’s popular E-mount so like the Fuji, there’s plenty of lens options available to photographers.
The Sony is the smaller of the two camera; measuring just 120x67x69mm compared to the Fuji’s 135x93x64mm dimensions. The Sony is also lighter (503g with battery and memory card) compared to the Fuji, which tips the scales at 607g with battery and memory card – though both cameras can easily be considered as lightweight options.
Both cameras feature professional quality weather sealing, enabling photographers to use the cameras in harsh environments, which will be of particular interest to landscape shooters who will regularly be greeted with rain.
Although the cameras have a number of similar features (the resolution is virtually the same in real terms), there are also a number of key differences. First up is the gap in burst speed as while the Sony posts a rapid rate of 11 frames per second (which can capture up to 44 RAW files in one burst), the Fuji X-T4 offers up to 15 FPS using the mechanical shutter or 20 FPS using the electronic shutter, and these extra frames can make a huge difference in genres such as wildlife photography where every split second counts.
However, the Sony strikes back when it comes to the focusing system, offering a hugely impressive 425 points compared to 91 from the X-T4. The X-T4’s AF system includes Face/Eye Detection, but the Sony’s also includes the brand’s acclaimed Real Time Tracking and Real-time Eye AF for not only humans but for animals, too.
Both cameras offer IBIS (In Body Image Stabilisation) technology, with the Fuji offering up to 6.5-stops of compensation, while the a6600’s 5-axis system offers 5-stops. This feature is of great use to those who shoot handheld, with the support of a tripod. In low light conditions, the presence of IBIS can make the difference between a sharp image and a blurred mess.
Images on both cameras can be composed using an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF, with the X-T4 featuring a higher resolution option (3690k v 2359k dot) or via an LCD screen – the X-T4 features a 3-inch touch-sensitive LCD with 1.62 millions dot resolution, while the a6600 offers a 3-inch touch-sensitive LCD with 921,600 dots of resolution and a tilting design. Another big difference between the two models is that the Fuji X-T4 features dual SD card slots while the a6600 is restricted to a single SD card slot.
Both the Fuji X-T4 and Sony a6600 are capable of producing professional quality imagery and can shoot 14-bit RAW files. The X-T4’s max file size is 6240 x 4160pixels, while the a6600’s max file size is very close behind at 6000 x 4000pixels. This means that both cameras will easily be able to provide images that users can print up to A3 and also enable photographers to crop frames without overly compromising image quality. Both cameras also have impressive ISO ranges, with the Sony coming out on top, offering an expanded range of 100-102400 compared to the X-T4, which offers an expanded range of 80-51200.
If huge resolution isn’t needed (perhaps you’re shooting for social media) both cameras also offer options to capture reduced file sizes and each also offers extensive in-camera picture filter options to add creativity without the need of a computer. For example, the X-T4 carries all of Fuji’s renowned Film Simulation modes, while the Sony includes a number of Scene selection modes (including Portrait, Sports Action, Macro, Landscape, Sunset, Night Scene, Hand-held Twilight, Night Portrait, Anti Motion Blur).
Both the X-T4 and the a6600 are true hybrid cameras with plenty to offer videographers as well as stills shooters. This will mean each model will appeal to both Vloggers and aspiring film-makers. Let’s start with the X-T4 which can shoot 4K 4:2:0 10-bit video at 60p internally or 4:2:2 10-bit at 60p externally using an external device via the HDMI port. What’s more, the X-T4 supports H.264/MPEG-4 AVC as well as H.265/HEVC, and supports both .MOV and .MP4 files too.
The a6600 shoots 4K footage with full pixel readout and no pixel binning up to 30p or Full HD up to 60p. The a6600 also offers Sony’s popular S-Log3 gamma setting, which provides 14-stops of dynamic range. Each model also offers a Full HD fast frame rate to help you produce epic slow motion sequence and both units include ports for an external microphone and headphones so enhanced audio can be both recorded and monitored.
Extras and verdict:
As we’ve seen, both of these flagship crop-sensor mirrorless cameras offer similar features, such as IBIS, decent resolution and the ability to shoot 4K video. However, there’s also plenty that separates them as well. Along with the burst rate speed and differences in focus modes, there are additional differences such as battery life; the X-T4 posts a decent capacity of 500 shots (or 600 shots when used with the X-T4’s innovative Eco mode). However, the Sony blows this away, offering users up to 810 shots on a single charge, which is fantastic for a mirrorless model and puts it in the same range as some DSLR cameras.
Some may prefer the faster burst rate of the X-T4, whiles others (perhaps who are out for extended hours without access to charging) will prefer the longer battery life of the a6600. With plenty of lenses available for each model and with both models serving up a compact and lightweight proposition for stills and video, either of these amazing mirrorless offering will be a welcome addition to any camera bag.