Sony a6000 vs a5000 vs Fujifilm X-T1 Comparison

June 8, 2014

Sony a6000, a5000 and Fujifilm X-T1 cameras side by side

In this article I will compare the Sony a6000 vs Sony a5000 vs Fujifilm X-T1. All three are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras and all three were announced in 2014, so they are relatively new cameras as of the time of writing. If you are reading this article, you probably having tough time deciding between at least two cameras that are being compared here.

We’ll first take a look at the price comparison, inspect each camera key features and then move to the more in-depth feature/specs comparison itself, followed by a conclusion section at the end of this article.

Price Comparison

The price plays a significant role in many people’s decision.  Let’s take a look at the current pricing for each camera.

  • Sony Alpha a6000:
    ~$750 body + 16-50mm Power Zoom lens
    ~$600 body only
  • Sony Alpha a5000:
    ~$450 body + 16-50mm OSS lens
    ~$390 body only
  • Fujifilm X-T1:
    ~$17000 body + XF 18-55mm lens
    ~$1300 body only

*Prices via Amazon, rounded up, as of June 8th, 2014. Visit amazon.com for the latest and updated prices.

By looking at the prices for each camera as sold without a lens, we can see that the Sony a5000, the entry-level model, is the cheapest among the three. It costs $210 less than the a6000, quite a significant price difference. It’s interesting to see what are the added features that you get in return for that extra price. The Fuji X-T1 is much more expensive than the a6000, costs more than double the a6000 price. You can almost buy two a5000 and one a6000 for the X-T1 price.

This means that enthusiast photographer opting for the X-T1, should carefully examine its features, lens price and availability and accessories, prior for deciding to pay a premium price for this camera. If you already have one or more Fujinon XF lenses, this might be a different story, as Fuji XF lenses are more expensive than the equivalent ones in the Sony’s range in most part.

To give you an example, and if you don’t have any lenses available, you’ll obviously need to buy one.. The Fujifilm XF 18-55mm lens F2.8-4.0 zoom lens costs around $600 when sold separately (cheaper when you buy it as part of the Kit offering). The XF 35mm F1.4 lens costs around $600, the XF 55-200mm around $600 and the XF 27mm F2.8 compact prime lens costs around $450. Most of the Fujinon XF lenses are prime lenses (included those of Zeiss), and those are obviously more expensive. So expect to pay around $500 or more for a Fujifilm XF lens.

A friend of mine bought the X-A1 with the 18-55mm Kit, and he actually felt disappointed that a few months later, he couldn’t afford buying a second lens because those were very expensive and out of his budget. That something to keep in mind when you buy the X-T1 or any Fujifilm X camera.

OK, I hope that this price comparison and talking about the lens pricing gave you some indication about how to use the budget in your advantage. Some photographers prefer going with a cheaper camera and buy a second lens, which in return, gives them a way to shoot photos in different focal length and come home with more unique, interesting and creative photos. Buying a more sophisticated body doesn’t mean it’s better for your specific shooting habits, and you need to understand your specific needs prior to buying a new camera. If you don’t know what your specific needs are, you probably better off buying a cheaper entry-level camera instead.

OK, good — now let’s talk about those three cameras and see what each one offers.

Sony a6000

Sony a6000

Sony a6000

The Sony a6000 i one of the most popular mirrorless cameras as of the time of writing. It captured Amazon 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th positioning as the top selling compact system camera as of the time of writing this article.  The a6000 has gotten many awards and high ratings across most of the leading camera review websites. This includes a Gold Award from dpreview website.

What I love about the a6000 and in all Sony Alpha NEX cameras is how compact  and slim these cameras are.  As small as the a6000 are, it features a 24.3 megapixel Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor. This sensor is as large as those found in many other enthusiast grade DSLR cameras. A higher sensor, in most cases, even with such a high resolution, feature large pixels. Pixels that are larger than what the competition offers. When I say ‘competition’, I mean versus the Micro Four Thirds and cameras with 1″ or 1.5″ sensor, and obviously larger pixels than the what you get with any conventional point-and-shoot cameras.

Sensor size comparison: APS-C, 1-inch and Micro Four Thirds

Sensor size comparison: APS-C, 1-inch and Micro Four Thirds

Just for comparison: the Olympus OM-D E-M1, Olympus’ Flagship Micro Four Thirds camera has a 17.3×13 mm size sensor with 16MP. Each pixel measured approximately 3.75 microns. The Sony a6000 features a 23.5×15.6 mm sensor and 24MP resolution. Each pixel of the a6000 sensor measured approximately 3.92 microns.  So although the a6000 has a 8MP extra megapixels over the E-M1, it features larger pixels.

This should give, theoretically, a better low-light advantage. However, in practice, the high ISO performance might differ from one camera to another, but in most part, APS-C cameras have proven to produce better results (less noisier images and higher dynamic range) than that of the smaller sensors (Micro Four Thirds, 1-inch, etc.).

Alongside the large sensor, Sony also utilized its next generation Bionz X image processing engine, that provided the camera the speed and performance it needs to deliver superb image rendering results with less noise. The a6000 can shoot at 11 frames per second in continuous shooting mode with AF tracking and taking advantages of its 179-point phase-detection AF sensor for both stills and videos.

The a6000 offers a Hybrid autofocus system. This means that the camera can utilize both the 25-point contrast-detect AF system and the 179-point on-sensor AF system as the same time when shooting stills and videos. This gives the camera the option to enjoy both the speed of the phase-detection and accuracy of the contrast detection without compromises.  The a6000 has been tested by many photographers in the field and the found the a6000 autofocus to be very-fast and accurate. So if you give the AF performance a high weight, the a6000 won’t disappoint in that aspect.

Other features include: Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity with external mobile devices like smartphones and tablets (support easy sharing and uploading of images and remote controlling the camera. Sony PlayMemory app needed to be installed on your device). The a6000 can record Full HD videos in 60p/60i/24p and can also capture uncompressed clean-HDMI videos to an external devices via an HDMI connection.

At the back of the camera you’ll find a 1.4M dot Tru-Finder OLED electronic viewfinder. This is a feature that is very important for many photographer — some people just can’t live without it. The electronic viewfinder makes it easier to shoot in bright daylight and give you a more intimate connection with the subject you are shooting.

*video by Maarten Heilbron YouTube user.

The a6000 has a 3.0 921K-dot tilting LCD display that can rotate up 90 degrees and down 45 degrees, but it’s not a touch-sensitive one. The a6000 can also do 4K still image output by HDMI8 or Wi-Fi on 4K Tvs. The camera itself converts the image to 4K image size (8MP), so you can view the photos on a large screen in great details.

All in all, there is hard to fine any faults in this camera. Sony made this camera very easy to use, with extensive feature set (e.g. sweep panorama, auto-object framing) and with most of the features enthusiast want/need to have in their next ILC. There is a reason why this camera is so popular. Sony wasn’t cheap on features, and the price is really tempting to say at least.

Sony a5000

Sony a5000

Sony a5000

The Sony a5000 is an entry-level in Sony’s compact system camera’s range and replacing the Sony NEX-3N. If you are very interesting in this camera, I also recommend reading my Sony a5000 vs Sony RX100 III vs Samsung NX mini comparison as well. The a5000 is far from being as popular as the a6000, but as its own unique appeal, like its cheap price and much more compact size compared to the a6000.

I know that many people moving from point-and-shoot to ILC give a high amount of weight to the size of the camera, and find larger cameras to be quite intimidating. The a5000 will certainly help Sony attract new comers, those moving from point-and-shoot to ILC. Having said that, once you attach a lens to the camera, it loses its size advantage, and therefore no longer pocketable. So either way, whether you go with the a6000 or a5000, you’ll need a small camera bag anyways. So I personally wouldn’t recommend giving the a5000 size a big weight, and put more time in understanding the feature differences versus the a6000 model instead.

The a5000 is more simplistic by design compared to the a6000. It features less buttons, lacks any top dials, has less prominent grip and lacks an electronic viewfinder. If that didn’t put you off the a5000, you might find this camera to be a well-worthy alternative to the a6000.

The alpha a5000 features a 20.1MP Exmor APS-C sensor and Bionz X image processor.  However, this sensor doesn’t feature an on-sensor phase-detection AF points. Instead, the camera relies solely on its 25-point contrast-detect AF sensor. This means inferior subject-tracking performance for stills and videos in terms of speed. If you see yourself shooting lots of fast-moving subjects or use the camera for birds and sports photographer, this might not be the optimal camera for you, and you better off with the a6000 instead.

The camera also features 4 fps burst shooting, Full HD video recording at 60i (interlaced, not progressive frames) / 24p (progressive frames) and no clean HDMI output.  At the back you get a 460.8K-dots 3″ 180-degrees up tilting LCD (great for shooting selfies). The camera is compatible with PlayMemories installable camera apps, and you can find some useful apps that make it easier to share, edit and control the camera in very creative and interesting ways.

*video by John Sison YouTube user.

The Alpha a5000 features Wi-Fi and NFC capability, which let you to connect the camera with a nearby mobile device to control the camera remotely and also the share and easily upload your photos and videos to a remote location.

The great thing about the Sony Alpha a5000 is that for an affordable price, you get a very capable camera that can produce excellent image quality, with software-based creative functions, Wireless connectivity, 180-degree tilting display for selfie shooting and all in a very compact body.

Fujifilm X-T1

Fujifilm X-T1The Fujifilm X-T1 is the most expensive camera by far in out comparison. This is Fuji new flagship model in its X System. The X-T1 already captures the attention of many enthusiast and professional alike and had grabbed many awards and high rating across many popular camera review websites. This included a Gold Award from dpreview.com website.

The X-T1 means business, and it is aimed for both enthusiast and professional that wants to explore the Fujifilm X system, use Fuji’s finest ILC camera and be able to enjoy its spectacular XF lenses.

The Fuji X-T1 has lots of features and a lot to talk about. The camera has a 16 megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor and EXR Processor II. The X-Trans carries an innovative 6×6 pixel unique color filter array design  that eliminates the need for an optical low-pass filter.  This allows the camera to capture more details from the scene and produce a very sharp and detailed image. So you get an innovative large sensor, that has already proven to perform well in many lab test reviews.

The X-T1 uses a 49-point (7×7 grid) contrast-detect AF points and more than 100,000 phase-detection pixels that provides it with its fast and accurate hybrid AF functionality. According to the official product page, the X-T1 has the world’st fastest AF speed of 0.08 sec.  The camera features an Intelligent Hybrid AF that automatically switches between the two focusing systems based on the scene and conditions, so you get the optimal focusing performance. With the X-T1, Fujifilm also improved the AF accuracy using newly developed algorithms, so you won’t miss an important shot, whatever the conditions are.

The sensor is only one part of the magic that makes the X-T1 unique in its category. The X-T1 also features very large 0.77x magnification (world’st highest magnification ratio according to fujifilm.com) and it’s also the fastest one with only 0.005 sec. lag-time. The 2.36M-dot EVF has two modes: Normal and Dual. The ‘Normal’ modes is what you can expect with any EVF, getting the largest view of the scene and its perfect for making focus fine tuning. The ‘Dual’ mode displays a split screen. In one side you see the the regular view and in the right side you see the Focus Assist View screen (focus peaking and digital split image focus) — both at the same time.

If you are shooting mainly outdoors and find yourself shooting in harsh weather conditions, you’ll certainly be happy to hear that the Fujifilm X-T1 is both dust-resistant and water-resistant and can operate in temperatures as low as -10°C (14 Fahrenheit). The body of the camera is made of full die-cast magnesium alloy body, so it’s also very durable as well.

Other features include: a wide selection of auto  bracketing functions (WB/HDR/Film simulation/AE and ISO), time-lapse function (interval times), UHS-II format SD memory card compatibility,  8 fps burst shooting speed with subject tracking (high-speed subject predictive AF), 3.0″ 1.04M-dot tilting LCD with reinforced glass for enhanced durability, lots of dials and controls that offers quick access to frequently used camera settings and functions without getting your eyes of the viewfinder. The X-T1 is compatible with the VG-XT1 vertical battery grip which is sold as a separate accessory.  If you just want an extra grip and don’t need the extra battery compartment and buttons, you can buy the MHG-XT hand grip, which provides more secure holding and still maintain an access to the battery compartment and tripod mount without needing to remove the grip for that purpose.

Before we continue, let’s take a look at a X-T1 field test by TheCameraStoreTV..

The camera doesn’t have a built-in pop-up flash, but instead, Fujifilm included the EF-X8 tiltable flash (GN11, ISO 200 / GN8 , ISO100), which a small and portable.

The X-T1 is compatible with all Fujinon X Mount lenses. There are currently 15 lenses available: 3 Zeiss prime lenses, 5 Fujinon lenses and 7 single focal length (prime) lenses. The selection is very limited if you compare it to the Micro Four Thirds or that of Canon and Nikon DSLRs. Yet, I think that some of you will find that this selection is enough for their needs. If you look at the XF lens roadmap at fujifilm.com website, you can see that there are more lenses planned to be released at mid-2014 and most of them at the 2nd quarter of 2014. Most of those lenses are zoom lenses, so those of you who find the selection limited, will be happy to see that more zoom lenses are on their way and be introduced pretty soon.

The X-T1 is not for everyone. It comes at a relatively very high price, more if you are planning to buy a second or third lens. I will certainly think twice before committing to this camera system. You certainly get what you paid for, but if you are a novice photographers, a photographer on a tight budget or you are just after a large-sensor ILC, I would consider the cheaper options.  Buying the X-T1 means that you already know that you are going to take advantage of this camera advanced functionality. For some of you it might be better with a cheaper camera (one of the Sony alphas), and invest the rest of your budget in a better lens. The X-T1 is a professional photography tool, and if you have the budget and know that you’ll take advantage of this camera functions, there aren’t many cameras that can beat the X-T1 in this price range, especially not in the mirrorless category.

Side by Side Feature/Specs Comparison

Now that you’ve got a good understanding what each camera is all about, let’s dig deeper into each camera features in order to comprehend the differences. At the end of the day, you’ll buy one camera. It’s a good practice to pay attention to each feature, decide for yourself whether this feature is of any important to you or not, and if so, in what degree. Compare the features and see which camera comes on top conclusively.  By going over the features, I’m sure you’ll be able to eliminate at least one camera that doesn’t meet your needs, if you haven’t eliminate one already by reading the overview sections above. OK, let’s begin!

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Now let’s take a look at some sample videos..

X-T1 video sample

Alpha A6000 sample video with 16-50mm PZ lens

Alpha A5000 sample video

Conclusion

If you are reading these lines, this means that you are considering buying one of these cameras. As you can see from the above comparison table, there are significant differences between those three cameras.  If you take the price into consideration (and you should), you can see what made the Sony Alpha a6000 so popular. Although the a6000 is not weather-sealed and not built in the high standards as the X-T1 (although better than the a5000), it does features a large APS-C sensor with image quality not far behind the X-T1. It also utilizes a hybrid AF system which has proven by reviewers to be fast and accurate. The camera has a versatile tilting high-res display, good viewfinder (although not as good as the X-T1), faster burst in the group (11 fps), 1080p60 video recording, better AF coverage (92% vs 40%) compared to the X-T1, better battery life than the X-T1, it has a built-in Flash,Wi-Fi + NFC (X-T1 lacks NFC), smaller learning curve (for novice photographers), ability to move to FF in the future, cheaper lenses and many interesting built-in functions — and its small and much cheaper.

So in general, it is not positioned to far from the X-T1 in some aspects. Having said that, the X-T1 is the better camera overall, with weather sealing and more durable body, larger body that can be preferable when shooting with heavy/long lenses (better grip), higher LCD resolution, bigger viewfinder with split image (Dual mode) for manual focus, better high ISO performance, better UI (in my opinion), better lens lineup for serious photographers, many analog dials and buttons offer quick access to frequently used settings, retro-style design (I Like!),  2.5 mic input for videos and many bracketing options.

The a5000 is a very attractive camera if you are on a tight budget or/and not concerned with its shortcomings. If you have a budget for the X-T1 and the lens(es) of your choice, by all means, I highly recommend to buy this camera, and I would if I could afford it myself. However, for the amateur photographer, I am not sure that it’s worth the extra cost, if for the same price you can buy the a6000 (or the a5000) and invest in extra lenses, that should give you the option to shoot more unique and interesting photos and videos.

If you like manual controls, must have a weather-sealed camera, prefer Fujinon optics and don’t mind the big size, the X-T1 is certainly the one to get.

X-T1: For ‘serious’ photographers, those prefer a weather-sealed camera with many dials and controls, high-quality viewfinder and want to explore Fujinin XF lenses.

A6000: For both advanced photographers (or if upgrading from an entry-level model), looking for a highly-capable mirrorless camera, and don’t mind paying more in favor of a viewfinder, better AF system, higher-res LCD, might take advantage of the Multi-interface shoe and very fast burst speed. Those in this group might prefer the a6000 over the X-T1, and invest the rest of their budget in favor of one or two extra lenses.

A5000: For beginners looking to upgrade from their point-and-shoot, searching for an affordable mirrorless camera and don’t mind making compromises, as long as the image quality as good, the camera is small and handy and all that for an affordable price.

If I had the budget, I would probably went with the X-T1, otherwise, the Sony Alpha a6000 is an amazing camera and certainly worth the extra price over the a5000 in my opinion. If you compare it to the X-T1, you can see what for some photographers it offers a much better value.

Now it’s your time to make a decision. I think that the decision shouldn’t be so hard based on the price and feature differences that we’ve seen here. Happy shooting!

Buy the Sony Alpha a6000 via B&H by clicking here

Buy the Sony Alpha a5000 via B&H by clicking here

Buy the Fujifilm X-T1 via B&H by clicking here

via the three camera’s size comparison on camerasize.com



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