First a bit of history. I started with Sony Alpha in 2014 with the NEX3 and went through the NEX6, a6000, a6300 and up to the a6500. When they then released the a6400, which is in some ways weaker and in some ways better than the a6500, and then added the a6600, I thought that Sony had had enough. The flagship model is a B-type in half a year and quickly loses value. Do you want better autofocus? Buy a lower a6400 with worse grip. Want a bigger battery? Then buy an expensive a6600 with IBIS. Want a good price? Go with plastic a6100. Too many options, just none optimal.
I took a break from photography and when I started missing it again after two years, I decided to try Fujifilm. I wanted to try to leave the technological/sterile/minimalist/perfect computer with an interchangeable lens and try something that „smells like oil“ that would change my approach to photography and bring back the joy.
X-T5 vs X-T3
I bought the X-T3: retro look, lots of buttons, better viewfinder, better colors, completely different world. For three days I walked around with smile on my face how perfectly beautifully crafted it is. I was absolutely delighted with the first photo shoot on the Christmas Hlavná street in Košice, the photographic joy was back again. And then when I saw the colors, I fell in love. But… After a while, it started bothering me that the beautiful machine doesn’t have IBIS, Fujinons tend to have no stabilization, the battery is small. Autofocus not as reliable as on the already surpassed a6500. So what about X-T4? Hmm, it has a fully articulated screen, which bothers me, and autofocus still not perfect. So I pondered and pondered and in the meantime they released the X-T5. After X-H2s and X-H2, maybe even unexpectedly early. But on paper it looks really ideal: IBIS, large battery, tilting display, slightly smaller dimensions, 40 MPx, promise of better autofocus, 2 SD cards. And so I ordered it and thus probably used up the stock of X-T5 in Slovakia. Maybe I am also the first and only owner?
Compared to the X-T3, it really holds significantly better/more securely. It’s not just the shape of the grip, but the camera is a bit fatter. And although it doesn’t have a grip as massive as Sony’s, it holds perfectly comfortably even with the heavy 16-55/2.8 lens. After the hour-long report, I had no unpleasant feeling in my hand at all. So if anyone is worried that the grip still isn’t deep enough, don’t worry, it’s really well made. It’s a small step in design but a big advance in ergonomics.
The battery is the same as in the X-T4, but the X-T5 has a more efficient processor, so it lasts longer. After an hour’s reporting, the battery was down by 15%, so it’s really good. I won’t use 10 batteries for the wedding like I used to 🙂.
I did a test and at 55 mm focal length I can hand-hold half a second, so absolutely great. Someone will say that IBIS is irrelevant, because moving subjects will be blurred anyway. And you can live without it. But in my opinion, stabilization is another tool that a photographer can use to their advantage.
The buttons on the back are different than on the X-T3. Probably a little better, but not revolutionary. I kind of feel like every button is different. For example AF ON is the most prominent, round. The AEL is flat and only slightly protruding. Q is flat, recessed. It looks a bit like optical chaos to me, but the designers probably had some requirements that the AF-ON had to be distinct so it was easy to feel, the Q had to be recessed so it wouldn’t be pressed by mistake, etc. And this is a good sign that ergonomics is moving forward.
The ISO and shutter speed dials are said to have better locking buttons. I don’t notice any significant change, they just push normally and it works well 🙂. Personally, I regret that the lever that used to adjust the photometry on the X-T3 now switches between photo and video. If it’s a „photography-first“ device, then this lever really doesn’t give much sense, but that’s the only small minus.
Speaking of such details, I was hoping that the protruding eyelets with hanging triangles for putting the strap through are over and we could have something recessed, inconspicuous, that won’t get in the way when I don’t want to use the strap. Something like „cannons“ have. So maybe next time; now let’s go to serious topics.
To tell the truth, the resolution of the sensor discouraged me from buying it. Why do I need so many pixels (7942 x 5295)? No one mentioned how big RAWs are in practice. So: without compression around 70 MB, with lossless compression 43-50 MB, with lossy about 27 MB, while I did not notice a drop in quality. I use lossless compression, so it requires slightly larger and faster SD cards and disk space. I process it in Capture One 23 and on a laptop with an i7 processor and 32GB of RAM there is no problem, it runs smoothly. So my worries subsided. It’s a bit of a shame that you can’t set the RAW size in the menu, as Sony already has. Maybe they will add it in the firmware. But those benefits are a fantasy. Crop half the photo and still have 20 MPx. When I just read about it, it didn’t excite me at all, but when I was able to make a 110 mm from a 55 mm lens and still have quality, that exceeds needs of social media, I stayed delighted.
Due to the high resolution, the pixels are tiny, and this raises debates as to whether noise will increase. However, this was not confirmed. The quality of the sensors in terms of noise seems to be about the same since the a6300. Some reviewers even presented that there is less noise at 40 Mpx, because it is averaged when the photo is sized down. From my point of view, it’s also completely normal, it’s no progress, no step back.
However, we have a native ISO 125 instead of ISO 160. I don’t use it in reportage, but if I were a landscape shooter or an artist, maybe I would. I would also probably use the 160 MPx resolution, which can be composed by pixel-shift from 20 shots, but it should be done from a tripod and only for static scenes.
Where Fujifilm is still tremendous is shutter speed. The mechanical shutter has been able to give a time of 1/8000 s for a long time, but the electronic one can now do 1/180000 s.
Compared to the X-T3, it’s a really big, big improvement. The processor is 2x more powerful, the number of focusing pixels is much higher. I’m starting to trust the object tracking as with the Sony a6500. With the X-T3, tracking could not be relied on, the number of poorly focused shots was large. Now the green squares are really stuck to the object, it is subjectively „hundred times“ more responsive. The same goes for eye focus – it finally looks reliable.
There are rumors on the Internet that it looks good on the display, but that the shots are not always in focus. There are objections to this, that it is probably a mistake of the photographer, bad settings or a defective unit. So I’m not reporting a problem with focus yet. All the photos I took were in sharp focus. I was using AF-C.
I know tracking a dog running towards you still doesn’t do it as well as the Sony. I also found myself needing to alternately turn eye focus off and on while shooting. When it is turned on, it sometimes finds faces even where there are none. I had no problem with this on Sony. But I hope that it can be improved with a firmware update.
At first I considered tracking animals, trains, cars, motorbikes and planes as a failed fad. Why should I choose what I want to track in the menu? But the Sony a7R5 is also like this. I haven’t tried it yet. According to the reviews, it looks good if you watch e.g. one car. As soon as there are more of them, there is a problem when your selected car goes beyond the obstacle. Then the camera switches to another car. So this functionality will probably have to mature a bit for sharp/professional use in practice.
Only since I have a Fujifilm do I understand what color-science is. With Sony, I considered it normal that I needed to selectively adjust the colors: it pulled red to orange, yellow to green, blue to purple, it absolutely could not render the color of natural wood, and on the skin it pulled colors from green to purple. I read somewhere that the sensor can be sensitive to infrared radiation, so the heat radiated from the skin can distort the colors. Who knows.
With Fujifilm, I don’t use any film simulations, I don’t have to touch the white balance and I don’t even think about selective color adjusting. Fujifilm has 80 years of photography experience and it shows. No, it’s not just Fuji snobbery; the point is that it saves me a lot of time in post-processing.
XT-5 vs a6x00
I was also thinking about buying an a6600. It definitely has a slightly better autofocus. It probably holds a little better in the hand. In addition, what I discovered after a year with Fujifilm X-T3 – those dials for setting ISO and shutter speed are just the stylish decoration for your quick reportage. It is appreciated by artists who spend several minutes on one shot. But what about the wheel that shows that the time is 1/100 s, when I can change it with the rear command dial? Then the wheel actually lies. Or what if I want to set a value that is not on the wheel? First, I set the wheel and then fine-tune it with the rear command dial – and it’s lying again. What if I want to turn the wheel quickly, but it’s locked? So first I unlock, rewind, lock again. And the moment is gone. And why can’t the exposure compensation wheel be locked? What if I accidentally turn it? The same applies to the aperture ring on the lens. So, the conclusion – the a6x00 body is completely fine, after shooting several weddings, I didn’t have a single problem with it, that the button was missing for something.
So why didn’t I choose the a6600? It’s the colors and – it has a microUSB. They can’t be serious. It has a lower resolution of the display and the viewfinder. It has a somewhat impractical menu in a horizontal layout, which is illogical, because it scrolls vertically, so there are not as many lines on the screen at once, as with other brands that have menus vertically. Well, it has a 24 MPx sensor. Which is more than enough. But once we get used to the cropping that we can afford at a higher resolution, it will be a shortcoming. And finally, Sony in the APS-C sector offers only 1 slot for a memory card, which is not the most pleasant to insert from below into the slot next to the battery. Fujifilm has a dedicated door on the side, offers 2 slots, whether we want to increase the total capacity or we want to backup, or store RAWs here and JPEGs here or even HEIFs.
It would be very interesting to know what Sony plans next with APS-C, whether it will be the a6700 or the a7000, which will finally get USB-C, 2 card slots. Maybe they will come with a sensor that will be 1 EV less noisy? Until then, those who want the best from Sony have to go full-frame, while Fujifilm’s best is in APS-C.
The X-T5 is a really beautiful-beautiful camera with huge potential. I can almost be sure that it will stay almost a flagship in its sector for the next 2 years. Let’s hope that the firmware will improve eye focus a little more.
In the gallery you will find some photos from the mini-report I mentioned. It is the inauguration of my friend František as mayor in the Košice-Myslava district. It happened at a local retirement club. The space there is not big, but it is relatively fully occupied, so I didn’t manage to take pictures for the cover of Forbes :).
For further reading and more photos from X-T5 see my next article about Viltrox in practice.