Sony Nex-7 or Fuji X Pro1: which one rings your bell?

Sony Nex-7 or Fuji X Pro1: which one rings your bell?

Shot with the Fuji X Pro1 and the 35mm 1.4

Over the last few weeks, many of you emailed, wondering if the Canon 5D3 is a worthy 5D2 successor. The answer is yes. The other question I frequently get is which one to buy, the Fuji X Pro1 or the Sony Nex-7. Much trickier to answer. In general, I favor versatile equipment and expect my compacts capable to serve as B cameras on video shoots and as emergency back up on travel assignments. However, I always had and still have a soft spot for rangefinder cameras. Establishing a rapport with my subjects appears to be easier. Of course rangefinder cameras have limitations, parallax discrepancies during close ups and working with telephoto lenses isn’t much fun either. On the plus side, I can observe what is going on outside the frame and spot if the subject blinks at the moment of exposure. And the pleasant, almost inaudible shutter sound. check past the break to see what this means

Let me remind you I am sharing my personal views here and my findings are based on the subjects and things I shoot and my preferred workflow.
The shots below have been taken with the Fuji X Pro1, crops are 100%

I have been using the Fuji X Pro1 for the past two weeks, shooting street, portraits and models on go sees. The Fuji X Pro1 suits me like a custom fitted bicycle. I like the camera so much I forget it is even there.
The main controls are in the right place and I got used to working around the few quirks this camera throws at me. My models and street subjects have a positive reaction to it. The Fuji X Pro1 behaves like a rangefinder and mirrorless camera at the same time, providing instant feedback via built in EVF after the shot was taken. The hybrid viewfinder makes for a non plus ultra shooting experience. The image quality this sensor produces is out of this world.

The 35mm 1.4 is tack sharp wide open and the 18mm is no slouch either, regardless, on Monday I will return the Fuji X Pro1 to BH. Why, after all this praise? Auto focus? A week ago I would have told you auto focus sucks and that’s why its going back. Today I will tell you auto focus sucks though I would be willing to work around it. Just work with it and get rewarded with fantastic files. Ahhhh, gotcha, fantastic files, correction, fantastic jpegs. This is the real reason I am sending this baby back. Silkypix as the only and exclusive raw converter just doesn’t cut it for me. Sorry. As long as I am left with jpeg’s as the only practical output option, I will steer away from this otherwise amazing device.

All shots below were taken with the Sony Nex 7, crops are 100%, no noise reduction.


I have been shooting with the Nex 7 since the beginning of this year, everything from street to fashion, portraits, beauty and video. I enjoy shooting with it, the files this camera produces are amazing and I never hesitate to take it with me. I just bought the Gariz half case (ebay) which adds a few millimeters in height and makes it a little easier to hold.
I am also pleasantly surprised by the two lenses Sigma introduced, the 30mm 2.8 and the 19mm 2.8, crazy sharp, reasonably priced and the perfect size for the Nex 7. Speedy and reliable auto focus, sufficient buffer depth for shooting raw and the LA EA2 turns the Nex 7 into the most versatile mirrorless system camera. The EVF is fantastic and I really appreciate the articulated LCD screen, esp during video takes. Overall, this is the most versatile and useful compact camera I have used to date. Am I as passionate about it as I am about the Fuji X Pro1? Of course not. However I never hesitate in challenging situations, wondering if the camera will be able to nail focus, or handle whatever it takes to get the shot. :)

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33 thoughts on “Sony Nex-7 or Fuji X Pro1: which one rings your bell?

  1. mike.kobal Post author

    thanks Ken, yeah, looks interesting, I will certainly try to get my hands on one, a bit disappointed though, Canon should have introduced two models, the second one geared at the enthusiast/pro market, taking on the Nex-7 :)

  2. Ken


    Great reviews. Thank you for taking the time. I was about to purchase the NEX-7 and the the Canon EOS-M was announced (of course). I cannot wait to see you review of this camera since I am a Canon DSLR user with multiple lenses.


  3. mike.kobal Post author

    Hi Bob, I prefer the Nex-7 for video, much better ergonomics and I couldn’t detect a difference in video quality, they are very close

  4. Amal

    Great review! A real life test rather then just a Lab Shots. we need more of these!
    For me it was always the dilema between old-world-charm Cameras and a versatile one. like the Sigma-DP2 which i bought plainly for its great RAW files. The sigma has such a slow focus which make every shot a pain. in low lights its a horror story. but its so small and i can carry it everywhere! its such an advantage…less then 250 gr.
    So the fuji speak to the heart but from what i read to the nerve system as well (frustrating), and the sony speaks to the head.
    fuji is not that small or light too. The sony slightly smaller and lighter which is an advantage. one thing i noticed i that the Nex-1 detect patterns in the photo which the xpro-1 miss. At low ISO the NEX seems to detect more details then the fuji. i saw it in other reviews as well. True the fuji does slightly better in high ISO and the pics looks more like Film… but otherwise i am afraid the sony has the edge. shame the sony is not a sexy camera. more of a gadget, but a very versatile and user-proof one.
    last, i thought we can make it to be more secy by connect it to old leica 24mm lense with an adapter. the lens adds something to the camera appeal but at a price.

  5. carbish

    OK I had not seen you said that you had not reviewed it yet. Well I’ll be more than happy to read you if you can !

  6. carbish

    Thanks for your answer mike. In fact I wanted to ask you about the om-d and my message was already so long that it slept my mind.
    To answer you, yes and no. I only handled it in a shop, and I found it very very small even if I don’t have big hands. However, the grip is really great (at least the top part) and makes it a bit more easier to use and way more comfortable.
    So far I can’t say how well it performs but I’m not totally comfortable with the handle and the evf only (like on the nex). However the is and the reactivity sound great, and coupled with the recently officially announced 12-35 it could turn out to be a real treat.
    I have not seen if you have made a blog post on this one, I’ll check now since I have time. In case I ever get some m glass (I do like Zeiss M glass handling) the crop factor is also a bit of a turn down to me. But as now I’m very far from having some M lenses, so it is lots of thinking before choosing !
    I’m also very curious about canon’s move, like many of us.

    Well, I guess that if I had to sum up my problems and needs that would be : I love street photo, night photo, fast situational photo, I shake a lot and I have a very poor sight. Many of those things don’t correspond to the xpro1, but it was so delicious to use I’m always thinking about coping for its defaults… raah ! So hard to choose and settle once for all.

  7. mike.kobal Post author

    Hi Carbish, thanks for swinging by and for your post, have you checked out the Olympus OMD EM5 yet? haven’t had a chance to review it yet, very snappy af speed and virtually no shutter lag, a joy to use

  8. carbish


    I wanted to thank you for this brief but crystal clear review based on your needs and feelings.
    As many here I was at first surprised by the reason you gave for send the Fuji back but after reading more of your blog and your comments I understand better.

    I’ve been shooting with a entry level Pentax for three years, didn’t buy much stuff and focused mostly on my technique.I thought I had summed up well my needs after that and bought a 50D and lots of gear (primes,zooms, focusing screen…). After a year,all I have left is the 50D and the known tam ron 17-50 non VC, a flash and a couple of old m42 primes. Hopefully I didn’t loose much money seeking the previous stuff, but I did because of two things : weight and manual precision. On one hand, focusing with old lenses or newer ones with no ad is a real pain, even with the more than expensive focusing screen I got. And the weight ! I remember crossing Berlin or Nice with the 50D and the 70 200, always looking for something special in the street… my back ! Even with the crumpler neck hanger I have and find amazing.

    Since then I’m running after something that I can use with AF and some manual glass. First I really loved the nex7 but not very convinced by the handle. Then I discovered the xpro1 and after an hour spent with it I really fell in love with the thing. But no peaking, not much manual help, does stop me a bit since I don’t want to put a lot of money in something I may regret like the 50D (even if I do love some shots I got with this one). I’m also really curious by the zooms and primes to come for the xpro1.

    So thank your for this review that made me rethink about all these cards available again, hoping that I’ll finally manage to get something good for me this time :D

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  12. mike.kobal Post author

    Hi Phil, I agree with you on image quality and I am keeping an eye on upcoming firmware upgrades and proper raw support, planning to get one again, I miss it already :)
    The Nex 7 suits me better for now, a well rounded, versatile package, I use it for pretty much everything, studio, stills, portraits, video and street. Many of the street snaps from the Nex7 would be impossible to capture with the XPro1. I wish it would offer auto ISO in manual mode and better high ISO performance. Can’t have it all…..yet

  13. Phil


    Nice photos. However, I simply do not understand all this fuss about thet auto-focus on the Xpro 1. I’ve had mine for a few weeks now. And I am thrilled by the autofocus. True, it’s not the fastest in the world, but it is incredibly accurate. I have also found that it handles action fairly well if I press the shutter release in a single motion (no half-way depression).

    As for raw software. This is something of a pain. However, we all know that it’s coming. Right now I’m just shooting jpegs. And I am very happy with these. I am confident that there wil be proper raw support in the very near future.

    BTW. When I look at your Xpro 1 shots and compare them to your Nex-7s, it’s hard for me to see how you can give this camera (the Fuji) up.

    Well, I guess we each have our priorities. Mine is on image quality. And in this area the Fuji is a ‘no-brainer’.

    Thanks for the review.

  14. Mika

    Hi Mike,

    just wanted to thank you re your advice on camera choice. Thanks to Simon as well.


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  17. Sehmuzb

    My NEX-7 arrived today, the battery is still on the charger and I’ve been waiting for it for a while. Fuji X-Pro is exciting and I was tempted to go to Fuji but for me the show stopper is the lack of manual focus assist with the Fuji camera. I have a good collection of old glass and since I started shooting with 7D I can not use any one of them. Also I can’t wait to try it with Leica M glass.

  18. Sham Kien Yee

    I’ve tried both the NEX7 & the X-Pro 1. The image quality on the X-Pro 1 was really marvellous but I was very frustrated using it. The photos will take forever to load up when I need to preview them in the camera. I guess a faster card will be needed to minimize this lag. I also found it odd that the digital live view does not show the gradual coming into focus like any other digital cameras on the market at the moment. It will be completely blurred while I was auto focusing. When focus is locked, it will abruptly switch to the new, focused view. And yes, the focus is kinda sluggish but I think that I still can live with that. So overall, I tend to agree with Mike. I think I will be frustrated if I picked up a X-Pro 1 at the current market price.

  19. Matt

    > As of this writing Fuji has not cooperated with Adobe or Phase one to provide necessary raw codec info about their propriety sensor, therefore no raw support in the foreseeable future, corporate greed or plain stupidity on Fuji’s part, you tell me….once that changes, I will pick one up of course

    Mike—do you have a source for this? Adobe has indicated they are working on adding the X-Pro 1 to ACR/LR4, and there’s been no indication that Fujifilm was “holding out”. Adobe indicated that due to the new 6×6 array on the XP1’s sensor that support would take a little longer than usual.

    As said above, it looks like the support is coming in early May (I’ve heard the 7th).

  20. mike.kobal Post author

    Hello Simon, thanks for swinging by and posting, I love your statement >if I were on a budget, I would buy ….neither < and I totally agree :) as for jpegs and the XPro1, its like shooting with a Leica M6 and dropping the film at a one hour lab :) though I have a few friends who are really good photographers and never shoot raw, it is a very personal thing for me, I dodge and burn like I used to in the darkroom and there are quite a few clients out there requesting raw files these days. Once there is raw support, perhaps even a slight improvement with af, I will pick one up again or just wait for the successor

  21. Sgoldswo

    Mike, great pictures as always. I do think its a bit odd to return a camera because lack of RAW support (but then I have the luxury of waiting as an amateur). Personally, I use Aperture for processing and it took until March (I received the camera in December) for it to support the NEX-7. Adobe has stated they are working on RAW support to be provided in May. Look, Silkypix looks like photoshop compared to Image Data Converter (Sony RAW software that makes me shudder!)…

    To Mika, I own both the X-Pro1 and the NEX-7. The NEX AF is quick enough for most purposes but is sometimes less accurate. I am glad Mike likes the Sigma lenses as they look like great lenses at the price, the 50mm is a good lens but I think the 24mm is overpriced. The X-Pro1 AF I find quick on the 18mm, acceptable on the 35mm and slow on the 60mm (but it’s a macro lens). I think its great for street photography. The sensor in the X-Pro1 is a cut above the NEX, images end up with an amazing Leica-like 3d pop. If I were on a budget, I would buy.. Neither. I still regret selling my NEX-5N to buy the NEX-7. With unlimited money I would get the Fuji, it’s a much more satisfying camera.

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  24. mike.kobal Post author

    Thanks Mika, the files the X Pro 1 produces are breath taking and it definitely beats the Nex 7 at high ISO. However if you end up using the best lenses on the Nex, like the CZ 24mm 1.8, the 50mm 1.8, the Sigma 30mm or 19mm, the files in good light are very close to the XPro1 with a lot more resolution and if you shoot raw, you have a much better base for post processing. I wouldn’t let it boil down to image quality, the X pro 1 can be quite frustrating to use – why not buy both, shoot the things you like to shoot for a couple of days and return one.

  25. RJAMES

    I agree with your analysis of the Xpro1. I miss a lot of shots with the poor autofocus and using one is a love/hate relationship. I love the physical layout but with firmware bugs (camera lockups) and blurry images of anything moving it’s not a great tool for street photography especially in anything but good lighting. I’ve tried every possible setting on the camera to improve the autofocus with poor results. I’m considering sending mine back also. This is a major disappointment as I really looked forward to buying the XP1 and all three lenses. I believe Fufifilm needs to hire better engineers. An expensive camera with poor autofocusing today is really unacceptable.

  26. Mika


    really nice post as always. Though I know that this is a difficult question to answer-I’m currently contemplating exactly between nex7 and x-pro, I checked both in the store and each has their advantages and weaknesses so I guess it boils down to the actual image quality-since you had a pleasure to use both, in terms of image quality (both at base iso and up to 3200) would you say that there is a significant difference between the two?

    thanks in advance

  27. mike.kobal Post author

    As of this writing Fuji has not cooperated with Adobe or Phase one to provide necessary raw codec info about their propriety sensor, therefore no raw support in the foreseeable future, corporate greed or plain stupidity on Fuji’s part, you tell me….once that changes, I will pick one up of course :)

  28. PinkTerror

    That doesn’t make any sense. Apple and Adobe haven’t had time to release an update for the RAW format for the Fuji, and so you go taking it back? Do you realize that Apple and Adobe will release software updates to cover these new cameras?

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