Fujifilm X-T2 vs. Sony a7S II – Which One is the Best Mirrorless Video Camera?

October 3rd, 2016
Fujifilm X-T2 vs. Sony a7S II - Which One is the Best Mirrorless Video Camera?

Fujifilm X-T2 vs a7S II

The Fujifilm X-T2 mirrorless camera is quickly becoming a candidate as the new gold standard in affordable 4K video. But will it be replacing the famous Sony a7S II as the best mirrorless video camera for cinematic shooting?

Fujifilm X-T2 – Best Mirrorless Video Quality?

Video shooters live in good times. Every few months, a new video shooting mirrorless camera rocks the market and gives us better cinema-like quality and features. Last year, the Sony a7S II quickly became the best mirrorless video camera you could get, with a nice 4K image, numerous useful video features and impressive lowlight performance.

Just two weeks ago, the Panasonic GH5 was announced and raised the bar once more with its specs, offering internal 4:2:2 10bit in 4K, though this camera will only see the light of day in 2017. For now, the Fujifilm X-T2 has landed on our desk and stands a serious contender against the Sony a7s II as the new gold standard. Let’s take a look.

Fujifilm X-T2 camera body with 56mm Fuji lens

We recently tested the Fujifilm X-T2 in a documentary style situation (check out our review). Few people expected that this camera would be quite so interesting for both photographers as well as video shooters. This is only Fujifilm’s first attempt at implementing 4K video into one of their mirrorless cameras, yet they got a lot of things right, and even since our review some new features have been implemented via a firmware update: Now you can get extended dynamic range (H-2, S-2) when recording internally.

Comparison: Fujifilm X-T2 vs. Sony a7S II

Both the Fujfilm X-T2 as well as the Sony a7S II are designed as mirror-less cameras in a photo body. The Fujifilm X-T2 has the Fuji X-Mount and houses an APS-C sized sensor. The Sony a7S II has the Sony E-mount and houses a full-frame sensor. There are fans for both sensor sizes, but in terms of the lens-mount, there are only a few adapters for Fuji right now, while there are many options for Sony E. This could change in the future, if user interest for Fuji X-Mount adapters rises.

In our cinema5D Test Lab we have tested and compared many cameras. In this review we will take a closer look at how the Fujifilm X-T2 sensor performs in comparison to the one in the Sony a7S II.

Fujifilm X-T2:

  • Max Resolution: 4K UHD
  • Max Framerate 4K: 29.97fps
  • Max Framerate HD: 59.94
  • Log Gamma: F Log
  • Sensor: Aps-C
  • Mount: Fuji X
  • Codec Bitrate 4K: 105mbit
  • Price: About $1600

Sony a7S II:

  • Max Resolution: 4K UHD
  • Max Framerate 4K: 29.97fps
  • Max Framerate HD: 120fps
  • Log Gamma: Slog2 & Slog3
  • Sensor: Full-Frame
  • Mount: Sony E
  • Codec Bitrate: 95mbit
  • Price: About $3000

Use the Fujifilm X-T2 with “F Log”

The Fujifilm X-T2 has some unique properties, most notably “F Log”, Fujifilm’s very own log gamma setting that creates the most neutral and natural image with the highest dynamic range. Unlike the Sony a7S II which records Slog 2 (or Slog 3) internally, Fujifilm has restricted F Log to external recorders.

Why did Fujifilm decide to do that? We actually talked to Jun Watanabe from Fujifilm about this recently, and it seems that they are open to implementing internal F Log should user interest be there (see the whole interview here).

Fujifilm XT-2 Closeup

Considering that the Fujifilm X-T2 comes at half the price of the Sony a7S II, and how beautiful the X-T2 image is (more on that later), it’s still quite a valid option to connect a $1300 external recorder (eg: Atomos Ninja Flame) to it, in order to get that nice 4:2:2 8bit F Log image in 4K.

Fujifilm XT-2 micro hdmi port

The Fujifilm XT-2 has a micro hdmi connection to output F Log in 4K to external recorders.

Back at the editing desk you will notice that the XT-2 has the same problems when it comes to external recording as the Sony a7S II in Slog2 gamma. In practice, this means you will lose 1 stop of dynamic range unless you find a way to turn those video levels into their proper values. This can be done with our Slog FIX LUT either during recording or in post with no quality loss (Get it here).

Flip out lcd monitor on the Fujifilm XT-2

Flip out lcd monitor on the Fujifilm XT-2

If you use this camera for internal recording only, the X-T2 also offers some very nice film simulations (picture profiles) and still has very good image quality. But if you are dependent on a Log gamma for your post workflow, you will need an external recorder. We hope Fujfilm will include internal F Log in a future firmware update.

Dynamic Range

A good dynamic range rating allows us to capture a larger range of shadows and highlights in high-contrast scenes. An important property when it comes to evaluating the best mirrorless video camera. We’re testing with a DSC labs XYLA-21 transmissive test chart. For this review we used the Fujifilm 56mm F/1.2 lens instead of the Zeiss 50mm Cp2 macro (more on how we test HERE).

Our software measured about 12 stops of usable dynamic range on the Fujifilm X-T2. This is very similar to the rating of the Sony a7S II and Canon C300 mark II. Here’s a screenshot of the dynamic range of a few popular cameras compared.

Fujifilm X-T2 dynamic range

Usable Dynamic Range (SNR 1/0.5) – Blacks adjusted in the chart above for your convenience.

12 stops is very a good rating for a cinema camera. Many videographers today praise the Canon C300 mark II for its dynamic range qualities and when we take a closer look, the Fujifilm X-T2 isn’t far behind. High end cinematic productions still use the Arri ALEXA, as it outperforms all other cameras we have tested with its 14 stops of usable range.

Image Quality

This is where the Fujifilm X-T2 blows away most other cameras we have tested. The image of the X-T2 is very homogenous, clean and has a high resolution that dissolves lots of detail with a nice filmic grain.

In the shot below you can see that the Fujfilm XT-2 offers slightly more detail than the Sony a7S II and seems to have better aliasing properties than both the Canon C300 mark II and Panasonic Varicam 35:

fujifilm-x-t2-resolution

Image resolution. 100% crops from 4K images

In the star graphic above, the a7S II and X-T2 look very similar. However, when you compare the image detail of other shots of the X-T2 vs a7S II (see below), you quickly see that the Fujifilm X-T2 always produces cleaner and more accurate shots:

fujifilm-x-t2-detail

Image detail. 100% crops from 4K images

In practice, of course most users will downscale their images to HD, and for this purpose all mentioned cameras perform admirably. Still, the kind of quality you get out of the Fujfilm X-T2 is impressive and leaves even our beloved Sony a7SII behind. This is also true for internal recordings and certainly makes the XT-2 one of the best mirrorless video camera when it comes to image quality in 4K. The only comparable camera in this field is the wonderful Sony a6300 (see our test here). the a6300 however has strong weaknesses in other areas.

Despite the lack of internal F Log, as mentioned earlier, the Fujifilm X-T2 comes with a variety of film simulating picture profiles in-camera. This is a very nice feature that we haven’t seen on any other camera yet. Others do offer “video picture profiles”, but none of them simulate filmic colors and contrast. Here are two different film simulations, recorded internally (105mbit H.264):

Fujifilm X-T2 colors

Fujifilm X-T2 colors. 100% crops from 4K images

As you can see image quality is just as impressive for internal recordings as it is when recording external 4K with an Atomos Ninja Assasin, like we did, or any other external 4K recorder.

And HD Quality?

Image quality in HD is not as impressive as in 4K mode. It is comparable to the Sony a7S II, but unfortunately there is also a lot of aliasing which creates lots of moire artefacts in contrasty image areas. The Sony a7S II performs better there and also offers 120fps, while the X-T2 only reaches 60fps. Below is a shot of the star chart and sieve comparing HD on both cameras:

Fujifilm X-T2 HD mode

100% crops of HD image

Best Settings for Video on the Fujifilm X-T2

Fujifilm X-T2 Settings Menu

Fujifilm X-T2 Settings Menu Accessible via the “Q” button.

Sharpness
Sharpness should always be set to -4. Otherwise artificial sharpening is added in-camera and gives you a video-ish look. If needed, you can also add sharpness in post.

H-Tone and S-Tone
These two settings add a smooth highlight and shadow rolloff and increase the dynamic range of your image when set to -2 and -2. This was recently enabled via a new firmware update.

Film Simulation
There are several film simulation settings available for in-camera looks. Try them. We liked their “Ns” setting best.

All other settings (besides “white balance” which you set as needed) should be left untouched for best results. You should always shoot in 4K and downsample as needed later on, to get the best results.

Rolling Shutter

The Sony a7S II suffered from severe rolling shutter effect, a phenomenon also referred to as “jello”. Unfortunately, the rolling shutter that we see on most CMOS sensor video cameras is also present on the Fujifilm X-T2, but in comparison it is less pronounced than on the a7S II.

Fujifilm X-T2 rolling shutter performance

Lowlight

The Sony a7S II is an absolute miracle when it comes to lowlight performance. In comparison, the Fujifilm can’t reach the same high ISO’s but holds up well until ISO 3200, which is not bad in comparison to other mirrorless video cameras. Unfortunately, beyond that the X-T2 should be used with caution, because there is heavy and visible noise reduction going on that does not even look nice when downsampled to HD. We wish it could be disabled.

The following shot compares the Fujifilm X-T2 in F Log (ISO 800) and Sony a7S II in Slog 2 (ISO 1600) at both their base ISO’s and then at higher ISO’s.

100% crop from 4K image

100% crop from 4K image

The a7S II retains image detail much better up until high ISO’s. This is especially visible in motion.

Conclusion

If you thought the Fujifilm X-T2 is just another ordinary attempt by a stills manufacturer to implement video as an additional selling point, then you were wrong. This small mirrorless camera shows us how image detail and an organic in-camera look is supposed to be executed and in our opinion brings it into the class of best mirrorless video cameras.

The 4K (UHD) image from the Fujfilm X-T2 is nicer and cleaner than that of the Sony a7S II, and outperforms our favourite low cost 4K camera in the rolling shutter test while achieving the same dynamic range rating of 12 usable stops.

fujifilm-x-t2-vs-sony-a7s-ii-avatar

When it comes to HD quality and frame rates, internal log recording and lowlight, the Sony a7S II still has the upper hand. Considering the availability of E-mount adapters for Sony, available accessories (like the Sony XLR-K2M audio module) and the compatibility of the Slog 2 gamma, the a7S II currently remains our camera of choice and holds the position of best mirrorless video camera.

For those interested in the built-in film simulation, outstanding stills camera performance and superb image quality at half the price of the a7S II, the Fujfilm X-T2 should be a clear winner.

Whichever you choose, both are outstanding cameras that leave most competition behind. Only the Sony a6300 is another camera you should look at if the budget is tight (see our a6300 review here).

We hope this review helped you. Please consider getting your gear from one of our recommended retailers and let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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 Larry Segwell
Larry Segwell
Member
June 11th, 2017

As far as the best mirrorless hibrid camera for both stills and video I vote for the Samsung NX1. Still is a killer camera.

 Larry Segwell
Larry Segwell
Member
June 11th, 2017
Reply to  Larry Segwell

Hybrid, meant to write.

 ROGER INCIONG
ROGER INCIONG
Member
March 6th, 2017

i’m an aspiring photographer and i love to really learn photography.. I have used point and shoot camera for nearly 5 years and have also tried sony A 6000 mirrorless last December 2016 and i really love it… i have just played with it and have shown good quality photos and learned a bit for just a couple of weeks, then i returned it back to best buy ‘coz i planned to upgrade it to a6300 but then i changed my mind and just want to wait for newer models and going to youtube to look for best cameras for my beginner level and i see a lot of recommendations… i am more than willing to attend photography class or even go to classes here in our area but i am still deciding which camera to buy… i spent many hours watching youtube reviews and stuff on Fujifilm XT2, XPRO2 but turned out it’s EXPERT level, then Sony A7R ii but also for EXPERT and the Sony salesman at BestBuy told me to get A7ii instead and then I can invest on lenses… on youtube, they say it’s best to go for Fuji because of so many cheaper and more available lenses compared to Sony which are costly too.. i also looked into D810, D500, DSLRs but are also for EXPERT.. i have used A6000 before and have used the lenses it came with as well as the telephoto lens.. i’m willing to put up to $4k for a one-time big time purchase really good one that i will stick with and learn and willing to go to photography class with…

Can you please give me your best recommendation for beginner/starter like me with BIG passion in photography. By the way, I do love traveling and nature hopping and just really love taking pictures of gorgeous places. I also produce great photos from my phones and old cameras and many actually do admire my shots and creativity. I just really want to be a pro but I want to know which camera to buy. I also googled the best cameras to buy for beginners and D3300 came out on top. I noticed though that those top 10 cameras are way cheaper with less pixels/resolution as well. I really do love to get one camera that already has high MP and great perks on it and really willing to learn no matter how it takes. Having said that, please give me top 5 recommendations. Thanks very much!

 Ruben van Peursem
Member
December 6th, 2016

What about the GH4? Does it hold up against the mentioned cameras?

 Chris J
Chris J
Member
November 19th, 2016

How would you compare the XT2 to the A6500? Granted, compared to the A7 range and even the A99ii the sensor size may play a major factor – but between those three (XT2, A6500 and a99ii) for a camera able to take 4k video and great photos I’m lost (haven’t invested in lenses for either manufacturer, but am seeing a trend in Sony’s A line of diminishing value and increase in focus for e-mount, whereas the consensus for Fuji is great quality at a great price?)
Thank you!!

 Shamsheer Yousaf
Member
October 24th, 2016

Sebastian, did you do any tests on XT-2’s video autofocus?
I’m leaning towards the XT-2, but I’d like the video autofocus to be in the same league as the Sony a6300.

 Ivan Uskov
Member
October 24th, 2016

Look this for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GONFv8fUyc8
This is my recording with 50-140/2.8: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghpFfY6KBpE

 Chris Joy
Chris Joy
Member
October 20th, 2016

Looking at the DR chart for the a6300, I don’t see how the XT2 has 12 stops and the a6300 has 11, I can see the next bar on the a6300 chart better than the XT2’s and high ISO’s look cleaner and more detailed on the a6300.

 Michael Sundberg
Michael Sundberg
Member
October 20th, 2016

do you have any Idea abut exernal recorder in 1080P and f log

 Joan Jordi Savall
Joan Jordi Savall
Member
October 6th, 2016

Very sweet article.
Such great cameras both. I think you did great explaining in what they perform the better.

Thank you

Member
October 6th, 2016

Guys, the high iso shot comparison with the two cameras at f/11 was not the best idea since on a crop sensor and high resolution like fuji the difraction already hits hard while on the sony not since its just 12 mpx and FF.

Tyler McCool
Guest
October 5th, 2016

Feel like you should have mentioned sensor stabilization for video on the 7S II.. big plus for some shooters.

Tyler McCool
Guest
October 5th, 2016
Reply to  Tyler McCool

But great article, thank you, looking to rent an xt2 and try it out.

Peter Kent
Member
October 5th, 2016

Wow, remind me again why I decided I couldn’t use this camera for my work lol. Good Price, Good Build, Good Lenses, Good Image; looks like my dream camera now. I think Egronomics for video was my only concern but they look perfect for photos.

Do you guys know the highest dynamic range stops you can get with the internal recording and did you guys have the new firmware with H-Tone and S-Tone when you had the camera for testing?

If so how are the Highlights and Shadow tones working?
I’m wondering if they are like Panasonic’s “Highlight and Shadow” adjustments that seem to be raising the black point with the shadows, introducing higher noise in absolute black. I know Johnnie mentioned that the pre-production XT2 had an issue with clipping when using the internal recording; is that better with the internal recordings now and how much does the Highlight adjustment help?

On a lesser note, were the following operating annoyances “fixed”?
1. “Currently changing ISO values while recording is not possible.”
2. “Currently changing WB while recording is not possible.”
3. “Currently ‘punch-in zoom’ in order to verify manual focus is not possible.”
4. “… if one starts an interview looking at the picture in the viewfinder and then move away from the camera, the LCD will not turn on.”

Thanks guys, love the site!

Peter Kent
Member
October 5th, 2016
Reply to  Peter Kent

Sorry just read this part more carefully “…since our review some new features have been implemented via a firmware update: Now you can get extended dynamic range (H-2, S-2) when recording internally.”

One day I’ll learn to Ctrl+F before hitting submit lol.

Member
October 4th, 2016

Just something to consider: on these small body/high image quality cameras, autofocus is becoming a huge selling point due to the pervasive demand for gimbal operation. I’d be dead in the water without the bang-on AF of my Samsung NX1. How well do these stack up?

 Nicola Verdi
Nicola Verdi
Member
October 4th, 2016

When is the Canon 5d MKIV test coming?

 Ivan Uskov
Member
October 4th, 2016

Hi Sebastian,
I believe you could to get better details at high ISO if you set a negative NR (noise reduction) parameter.
And it could be possible that sharp=-4 will not just turn off sharpening but add some blur. At least camera manual says “Sharpen or *soften* outlines”
http://fujifilm-dsc.com/en/manual/x-t2/menu_shooting/image_quality_setting/index.html#sharpness

 Dee Gee
Dee Gee
Member
October 4th, 2016

Someone has a biased opinion on dynamic range of specific cameras.
Combined 2 screenshots of these and a6300 from another article, increased the brightness.

https://www.cined.com/sony-a6300-vs-sony-a7s-ii-how-good-is-it-really/#comment-37006

the comparison screenshot:

http://take.ms/GKEfi

Georges Rabbath
Guest
October 4th, 2016

I definitely expect Sony and Fuji to offer internal 10 bit for S35 at least, and fast!

There’s no time to waste

 Dan Patrutiu
Dan Patrutiu
Member
October 4th, 2016

I think these comparisons of image quality cannot be 100% accurate, because by example one of the cameras may oversharpen and in that way you are tempted to say that it has better quality. You can try to push a bit the sharpness on A7S ii and compare again.

Steve Yokeley
Guest
October 4th, 2016

May be my eyes are off, when I look at their dynamic range chart, a7sii has more range. even though they drew the lines at the same length, I see more detail in that last box.

Palmer Woodrow
Palmer Woodrow
Member
January 4th, 2017

TOO high

 Chema Garcia Mumford
Chema Garcia Mumford
Member
October 4th, 2016

Best mirrorless compact camera? Blackmagic pocket & micro

Angel Vera
Guest
October 3rd, 2016

7SII best video … low light.. plus 24/70 mm G Master…or any Zeiss…who else?
Soon taking pics in Peru…. a beast of trip..!

James Manson
James Manson
Member
October 3rd, 2016

Why do you continue to peddle your false conclusion regarding C300MKII dynamic range? You have continually been proven wrong by better credentialed individuals with much better testing methods. You continue to knowingly perpetuate a lie.

Johnnie Behiri
Admin
October 4th, 2016
Reply to  James Manson

James Manson, here is the deal:

You continue to use and enjoy your C300MKII (assuming you have one) and we will continue to do our best and test all those different cameras currently in the market. We are consist with what we do and stand behind the results. It is up to you if to consume some or all the information being written here or get it else where. Don’t like our findings? move on and look only at those “credentialed individuals with much better testing methods”.

Thank you.

Johnnie

James Manson
James Manson
Member
October 5th, 2016
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

It’s not about ‘liking’ your findings, it is about trusting your findings. Just unsure why you guys are so resolute about the DR findings on the C300MKII when they have been proven 100% incorrect. Surely some kind of responsibility needs to be accepted when numerous websites and sales people to this day are still quoting your original article as fact.

Johnnie Behiri
Admin
October 5th, 2016
Reply to  James Manson

James Manson

We are standing 100% behind our findings!!!

Thank you.

Johnnie

 Nicola Verdi
Nicola Verdi
Member
October 4th, 2016
Reply to  James Manson

where are the C300 tests? Please share a link…

Member
October 4th, 2016

Hi Sebastian,
Curious whether the c300 mark II chart you posted in this article is the same one that you published earlier, or if you re-tested with the current firmware. Not trying to hijack this article, which is really about the Sony and the Fuji Cams, but inquiring minds would like to know if your opinion about the Canon has changed since the update. Certainly we are seeing less noise in Clog2 than before, which, given your methodology, should have some impact on it’s C5D Usable DR score.

 Nicola Verdi
Nicola Verdi
Member
October 5th, 2016

Thank you :)

Palmer Woodrow
Palmer Woodrow
Member
January 3rd, 2017
Reply to  James Manson

James, you fail to say how it’s false. The chart is right there on the screen, showing other cameras as well. How is that “false?”

 kaleng kalpiko
kaleng kalpiko
Member
June 23rd, 2017
Reply to  James Manson

James dude, you just cant accept reality? LOL

 Ian Swarbrick
Ian Swarbrick
Member
October 3rd, 2016

Good comparison, thanks.
Good for us punters that you survived that crash landing on the back of the Inspire a while back!

Georges Rabbath
Guest
October 3rd, 2016

Panasonic GH5?

Antoine Laguerre
Guest
October 3rd, 2016

and the winner is Sony A7RII…

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