The Sony A7 III as successor to the Fujifilm X100S

I have written about my experiences with my Fujifilm X100S before. I have developed a hate-love relationship with it during the years I’ve used it. It’s a camera which combines compact size with the good image quality of a relatively large APS-C sensor. The sensor works together with an integrated and capable 23mm lens (approximately equal to the angle of view of a 35mm lens on a full frame sensor). The way in which the camera is designed, such as the omission of a mode dial, makes the camera enjoyable to use. However, the camera’s behavior to structurally underexpose scenes was quite annoying. In theory you can fix this by using the exposure compensation, but in practice it’s often a gamble to determine how much compensation is needed. Because of this issue I couldn’t rely on the JPEG files and had to edit RAW files far too often.

Because this problem was so frustrating I was looking for a new camera. As a replacement I had the Sony A7 III with full frame sensor in mind. My beloved Stephanie knew this, led me blindfolded to an electronics store and gifted me this camera for my birthday. The idea is that this camera will replace both her Nikon D5100 and my X100S. That’s why we chose the standard kit SEL 28-70mm F/3.5-5.6 zoom lens and the Samyang 35mm F/2.8 lens. The zoom lens is for Stephanie, de 35mm lens is for me. Much has been written about why 35mm lenses are a good choice, but for me it boils down to the perspective of these lenses, which resemble so closely what I see with my eyes. If we are too lazy to change lenses often while we are on holiday the zoom lens will probably be used more often for its flexibility. But the Samyang has a slightly larger aperture. And according to reviews the optical performance is also better; more sharpness and less distortion that the zoom lens.

The 35mm lens transforms the A7 III into a more potent version of the X100S. As you can see on the photo both camera’s don’t fit into a pocket anyway, so the small difference in size isn’t very relevant. Because the A7 III is slightly larger and also features a grip for the right hand, it handles better than the X100S for me. The 35mm lens weighs much less than the body, so the camera balances nicely if you hang it around your neck.

Sony A7 III versus Fujifilm X100S

For € 315 the Samyang lens is the cheapest 35mm lens for Sony full frame mirrorless cameras. There are also some other 35mm lenses:

  1. Sony Sonnar T* FE 35mm F/2.8 ZA for € 671
  2. Sigma 35mm F/1.4 DG HSM Art for € 800
  3. Sony Distagon T* Zeiss FE 35mm F/1.4 ZA for € 1.367

The Sonnar is barely better than the Samyang but is much more expensive. The Sigma and the Distagon are much better, have a larger aperture and are sharper. But they are also much bigger and heavier. Besides that, I don’t want to spend so much money on a lens with a fixed focal length. The important thing is that the larger aperture of these lenses doesn’t offer me added value. For my purposes (and probably for most people who use 35mm lenses) a large aperture doesn’t benefit me because it results in smaller depth of field. I want large depth of field. The Samyang is cheap and compact, that’s why it’s most suitable for me. Do beware that the supplied lens hood and cap don’t work in combination with a filter.

Finally some words about the A7 III itself. The reason why I chose this camera is simple: the reviews seem to be unanimous in their judgment that this camera steamrolls the competition of Canon and Nikon at the € 2.300 price point (the price for the body without the lens). The video capabilities are good, the X100S was unfit for video. Still the A7 III misses some of the user friendliness that the X100S does have. The X100S has dedicated dials for aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation. The A7 III misses these, just like most other DSLR’s and mirrorless cameras. I keep thinking that I had preferred a successor to the X100S without the underexposure issue. At the same time I know that I will certainly enjoy using the A7 III. The only thing which I’m missing in the A7 III is the option to record 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) video with 60 frames per second. The A7 III doesn’t go further than 30 frames per second at that resolution. The Panasonic GH5 can do that and is a lot cheaper at € 1.500.

Now that I have the right camera I can work on my greatest challenge: be at the right place and time to take interesting photos and videos. Because of my limited time I used the X100S primarily on holiday, because I didn’t see much interesting things in the Netherlands which were worth photographing. They are there of course, but you have to go looking for them. Otherwise those thousands of euros spent on the camera and lenses will be catching dust when you’re not on holiday.

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