Sony vs Fuji - How important is full frame for a hobbyist?

TL;dr Looking at buying into a system - FF Sony vs APS-C Fuji. Both have incredibly similar lens options in terms of size, weight, specs, and price for my needs.

Let me start off by saying I have no preference for either brand, or any brand. I’m at the point where I feel like it may be time for an upgrade. My first camera, my Nikon D3300, seems to be finally holding me back… or at least, making things somewhat annoying. The D3300 has just about zero features that are useful for landscape photography, although I do enjoy the small size and weight. My main objective is to find something that will be an upgrade in image quality, add useful features (tilting screen, weather resistance, intervalometer, bracketing, etc), and keep things light weight. For the final reason I’m sticking with mirrorless options.

For mirrorless options, it seems Sony and Fuji are really the only two that cater in some degree to the hobbyist, with a good mix of cheap and mid range lens options available. So I have a few questions about comparing the two and hoping for some insight as I know a few in here use both.

The main question seems to be FF vs aps-c. How important is the sensor size for landscape? How does that change if I’m interested in Milky Way? Surprisingly enough, for the lenses I’m looking at, there’s practically no difference in size, weight, or options between the two, which would seem to favor Sony as it’s FF. But I do have some confusion when it comes to comparing the two.

How do you compare light gathering abilities? For example, how would f/4 on a FF compare to f/2.8 crop, in terms of light transmission and DoF? Astro aside, is it often even that important to get faster than f/4 for landscape photography?

The main lens I would be interested in is something in the 24-70mm range. Both mounts have very similar options in size, weight, and price, and in either f/2.8 or f/4. If i feel the need for a faster Astro lens, again both brands have a very similar, lightweight 35mm f/1.4 or f/1.8 equivalent. Fuji has the advantage with a cheaper and lighter mid-price telephoto, but i’m not as concerned there.

I do enjoy the features of the Fuji better… 3 way tilting screen (that’s a big one to me), intervolometer, focus stacking. But I assume Sony will eventually catch up, so I feel like buying into a system with lenses is more important.

Long post but would love to gain some insight! Thank you!

I own a Sony A7R II that I use with Canon lenses and a Fuji XT-2. Prior to this I had a Sony A7R and a Fuji XE-1. The only thing I use Fuji for is travel photography. It’s a great camera system and compact but the resolution simply doesn’t compare to Sony. That’s something to keep in mind if you ever want to make large prints.

When it comes to dynamic range both are really good. Each treats color slightly differently as Fuji tends to skew more cyan / green. You mentioned astro- I personally find EVF based cameras to be difficult to shoot at night as the lights from the viewfinder make it nearly impossible to see stars without some workarounds. With that said, I’m not a serious astro photographer so perhaps others might have a different opinion on that.

If you’re interested in landscape photography I would opt for the full frame. Not sure I’d base my pick on how a LCD tilts around. I almost never pop mine out to be honest. Just about everyone starts off as a hobbyist then some decide to do more later on then that’s when you might wish you had chosen the best sensor earlier on.

My take is the full frame gives you a lot more real estate for cropping, large prints and overall resolution. I have a Nikon 810 FF and a backup D5500 that is APS. Using the same lenses, pulling the images into photoshop and zooming to 50% or even 100%, the differences jump out bigtime. Given other system comparison factors being fairly equal for you as you stated in your post, I would not even consider the APS-C system. Why would you?

Also, wide angle lenses are much more wide angle in the full frame system. This a definite advantage for landscape photography.

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I’ll play devils advocate here :smiling_imp: I use a Fujifilm X-T3 as my only camera for landscape and I love it. I personally think everyone gets a bit too obsessed with full frame. The argument that you can’t produce large prints is simply not true. I just produced a 40x60 from the X-T2 that looked fantastic, last year I made a 72" print from a 12mp D90 that the client was exceptionally happy with, pixel peepers wouldn’t like it, but when you view it at a reasonable distance it looks great. The only area where full frame still has a major advantage is with night photography, you can get around this with stacking and good processing (here’s an example), but it is something to consider.

My recommendation would be to rent both and see which one you enjoy using more, in my opinion this is much more important if you’re concerned with creativity over resolution. I made my decision because I love using the Fuji and I hated using the Sony. To me the Fuji is more intuitive and fun to use which helps with my creativity, but that’s just me.

Everything on this page was taken with a Fuji (except the last 3 which shouldn’t be on this page :smile:)

You will need a f/2.8 lens with a crop sensor at least, ideally on a full frame as well, but you could get by with an f/4. For landscape there is no reason to have an f/2.8 lens, they do tend to be a little bit sharper, but this gap is closing more all the time and you would be hard pressed to tell the difference.

Fuji is coming out with a 16-80 f/4 (24-120 equivalent) at the end of the month which will be the perfect landscape lens and is just under 1lb.

I use the tilting screen all the time in every direction conceivable, this is a big deal for me as well. I also use focus stacking a lot, it makes shooting so easy that I can just forget about the technical stuff and focus on composition, etc.

This really isn’t true, Fuji has a 8-16 which is equivalent to 12mm full frame, that’s ridiculously wide and only Canon has wider than that with the 11-24. Even the 10-24 is 15mm equivalent and that’s all I usually need.

No offense guys, just have to defend my Fuji because I love it!


Appreciate the responses from both ends of the spectrum, that’s what i was hoping for! I will say in regards to prints and resolution, i don’t care much. I doubt I’d ever do a big print for myself. I do enjoy more cropping leeway however.

My current astro lens is Rokinon 16mm f/2 for the aps-c and it’s ok, but i don’t love the results, even with 15 frame stacking. What lens did you use in the image you linked? I’m more than happy with image quality like that.

I’m an ideal world, i wouldn’t need a separate lens just for astro, which is a big reason I’m asking this question now. The native 2.8 from Sony is way out of my budget, so I’d likely go with the f/4. There is the Tamron f2.8 that looks great but I don’t love that it starts at 28mm and may require i get another lens for wide angle anyway. Fuji also has more options for wider aperture primes, like the 23mm f/1.4, but i think 35mm f/1.8 on the Full frame would probably be sufficient as well.

So i guess my question still kind of comes down to why exactly FF is better there? I know how good the results can be with full frame and pro lenses, but assuming I’m sticking with the more mid priced lenses listed above, I’m not convinced Fuji would really be any better. I guess the question is whether the wider Fuji apertures are more important or whether the full frame sensor is?

Yeah, this honestly is a big deal for me. Half the time I’m shooting blind with my D3300 since the camera is so low to the ground i can’t see the screen. Sony does have the tilting screen but not in vertical orientation. I’m trying not to get too wrapped up in features, since like i said I’m more interested in buying into a system long term, but there’s not exactly a guarantee that Sony will ever catch up on some of these features.

Ha, exactly my thought process! I’m finding it hard to see the advantage of the Fuji other than most people just enjoy using them. I don’t go out shooting enough though that i would base my decision on that. Fuji does have some lighter and cheaper options when it comes to extra wide aperture lenses, but I shoot night images so rarely that i don’t want to base my decision completely around that.

This is exactly what I was going to write. I’m an unabashed big time cropper. Every image I take is done with the intention of cropping in photoshop. In some cases it can’t be helped - if you have a square composition you’re going to crop off 1/3rd of your image. If you don’t like tall verticals you’re going to crop to 4x5. But more importantly you’re never going to see an image standing in changing light as well as in the privacy of your room where you can look at it day after day trying different approaches. And then there is moving water. Nobody can predict how it will come out when the shutter is pressed.

Check out this image. There is no way I could have seen this exact composition and set up the camera to take it. This is a fraction of the image. You can’t get a good print of this on anything larger than a postcard now.

So in my opinion the fuss about megapixels is not just talk. There is something to it. Get the full frame camera with as many pixels as you can crammed into it.

This is good advice. I would add that during your trial, print your images and see how they look. Crop images and see how they look.

Fuji now has a great mirrorless camera with greater resolution than Sony’s full frame that is virtually the same price.

I’m still not fully decided, but i think i have kind of pivoted to definitely a full frame setup. In pretty much all cases of what I’m looking at, the FF hits the same or similar size and weight of the crops.

I did more research and discovered the Nikon z6 may be a very viable option for me as well, so i think it’s between that and ones of the second gen Sony’s, each with likely the 24-70 f4

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Thank you Mr. Kingham. As a former Canon FF user, which I cared for because of its performance, I now use Fuji T-2 and T-3. I love using them. Smaller, somewhat lighter, depending on the lens, and the lenses are great. I am a landscape photographer and found no disadvantage in switching. Your comments are much appreciated. I do feel, like you mentioned, the FF is much over-hyped. After all the camera sellers make more money on them.


Before the advent of FF DSLRs, those of us who are old enough had no choice but to shoot with crop sensors. So the argument regarding a need to shoot FF seems ambiguous to me. I had a Nikon D2X and the landscape images I shot with that vs a D800E are comparable. I have also used a Fuji XT3 and a Sony A7R4. And the Sony is where I notice a difference especially for avian images. As one can program a button to switch between FF and crop, the 26MP crop is perfect for avian images compared to the A7R3 where the crop mode is a barely adequate 18 MP, especially if you crop the already cropped 18 MP view. There is a lot more leeway with 61 MP FF. So, it all depends on how one uses the camera but for most of what I shoot, the A7R4 is the way to go.

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I have been grappling with this same question for the last six months as a Sony A6000 user who is getting back into photography. In the end it is such a personal choice but I recently purchased a very lightly used A7RIII and the 24-105 lens. I have to admit after getting the new camera I did have a bout of buyers remorse since there is a significant difference in weight.

However I am now getting very used to it and once it is in my bag I really don’t notice it all that much. While renting is certainly a viable option, the cost of buying used and reselling isn’t really all that much and provides you with a long term test. Time will tell but at least I will be finally able to answer the question for myself and my needs and preferences.

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Thanks for t his response. I’m 70 yrs old, recently had one (very slow healing) knee replacement and another one in my future. I just can’t carry my 5D IV and 3 lenses around any more and must lighten the load or just quit doing photography that involves any hiking or even just walking. I have been fearful that I would be completely unsatisfied with a smaller sensor system, so your comments are encouraging.