Fujifilm GFX100S vs Sony A1: What If You Could Have Only One?

Fujifilm GFX100S: B&H Photo / Amazon / MomentAdorama
Fujifilm GFX100: B&H Photo / AmazonMoment / Adorama
Sony A1: B&H Photo / AmazonMoment / Adorama

I did a GFX100S vs Sony A1 comparison above for those that can only pick one since the Sony A1 came up during the X Summit. I have also considered the Sony A1 myself and decided to share some of my thoughts about the two cameras below. Feel free to just check out the specs or read my ramblings. Needless to say, I am conflicted because the GFX image quality is out of this world, but I want more than IQ out of a camera that costs almost as much as a Leica M.

During the Fujifilm Summit Q&A, someone asked the Fujifilm representatives what they thought of the Sony A1 and all agreed that it looks like an impressive camera, but the Fujifilm photographers pushed back a little due to user experience. This was particularly interesting to me because I enjoy most Fujifilm cameras over competitors, but I find Sony’s technological prowess to be remarkable because every time Canon or Nikon start to catch up Sony goes beyond my wildest dreams. This is also likely why Fujifilm never will release a full-frame camera because Sony isn’t worth fighting with in my opinion, which Canon and Nikon will figure out someday.

I was already considering a comparison before the launch, because there is a small part of me that wants to jump over to the Sony A1 (largely because of the new improved menus and crazy specs) from the GFX100 simply because the GFX100 doesn’t have that magic Fujifilm shooting experience that I have grown to love. The image quality of the GFX100 is unrivaled, but I hate where Fujifilm is going with many of their cameras. PSAM is not for me and I dislike using menus on cameras and the GFX100S seems like another design that I personally find uninspiring like the GFX100. Thankfully I have a Fujifilm X-T4 that still makes me love working with Fujifilm cameras.

So if I am thinking about how the Fujifilm GFX100S and Sony A1 compare other readers must be doing the same thing, which led to the above comparison. Fujifilm needs to stop trying to be more like Canon/Nikon/Sony and stick to what they do best. Even if users are coming from DSLR cameras they should learn to love the way Fujifilm does things instead of Fujifilm making its cameras dull/frustrating like the competition. I doubt the Sony A1 can produce better images than the GFX100 99% of the time, but if I was into video work I would have ordered a Sony A1 today and listed all my GFX equipment for sale.

Since I largely capture images with my Fujifilm GFX100 I will be sticking with it as the superior camera for image quality, but if the Fujifilm GFX100S had 16-bit RAW I might have saved myself some money and downgraded/crossgraded to the GFX100S. If you hope to create the highest quality photos that can be created today then GFX is the way to go and the GFX100S is an incredible value. On the other hand, if you want to shoot objects in motion or with AI AF that is second to none then the Sony A1 might be the better camera for you. The Sony A1 also has great 8k footage that looks Amazing on every display I have tested it with and it makes me wish the GFX could shoot 8k, but since I shoot video with my camera 2-3x a year that feature alone isn’t worth the trouble.

If I can get a crazy deal on the Sony A1 in the future I might still pick one up because it is an amazing camera, but I would still use my X-T4 over it for most projects. Currently, I go back and forth between my GFX100 and X-T4, but when I had a GFX50S and X-T3 I almost exclusively shot the GFX50S just because I found working with it to be a pleasurable experience. I hoped the GFX100  would be similar to the GFX50S, but it is not for me and the GFX100S seems to be more of the same. So for now I will pull out the GFX100 for projects that require it or when I want some additional detail, but I really just want one great halo camera and Fujifilm seems to be getting further away from what I love about its cameras, while Sony continues to build more attractive cameras.

This is not good and I hope it changes soon, but I expect we will see the same GFX design philosophy continued in the Fujifilm X-H2 next. If that is the case I hope Fujifilm preserves a “traditional” layout for the rest of their cameras. Otherwise, I might even consider going more retro with a future Hasselblad 907X 50C/100C (if they ever got 102MP). I’m sure there are many photographers that love what Fujifilm is doing, but Fujifilm needs to maintain its base while attracting new photographers.

Fujifilm has always inspired something in photographers, but the GFX100 and GFX100S do not have it in my experience. I still recall being at a Leica photographer event around the release of the X100 and how everyone in attendance was discussing how great the X100 was and how they couldn’t wait to get an X-Pro1. To the best of my knowledge, everyone at the event bought both cameras, and most loved them even though they were flawed. Fujifilm knocked the user experience out of the park for rangefinder fans and left every rangefinder fan I know wishing Leica would copy Fujifilm back and released an M camera with an advanced hybrid viewfinder based on Fujifilm’s design.

Years later when I brought one of the first Fujifilm GFX50S cameras to a similar event the reaction was the same as the X100 and it even impressed Leica employees from Germany, many thought the Leica S3 should match the GFX50S and some sold their Leica S2 for a GFX50S after trying mine. Then just 2 years later when I brought my GFX100 to another similar event almost no one found it compelling they were actually more interested in my Sony a7RIII. It’s hard to use a camera that isn’t compelling when you have been spoiled by incredibly compelling camera designs and if you have never used an M camera you definitely should to get a better idea of the feeling that now seems to be lacking in the GFX lineup. I get it some love PSAM, but I do not.

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Update the specs have changed on retail sites, but several reviewers still have 14-bit RAW listed…

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