DPR recently declared the a7RIV the best landscape camera. They didn’t consider the GFX 100. I’ve done some tests of the two cameras, with the Fuji coming out on top in image quality. Today, I did a comparison of the two cameras aimed particularly at landscape use. I used very sharp lenses: the Fujifilm 100 mm f/2 on the GFX 100 and the Zeiss Otus 85 mm f/1.4 on the a7RIV.
Here’s the scene, with both camera/lens combinations:
I made exposures with the following equipment and settings:
- RRS 4-series Versa legs
- Arca-Swiss C1
- 2-second self timer
- Electronic shutter
- ISO 100
- AF-S for the GXF 100, manual focus for the a7RIV at taking aperture
- f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8 for the a7RIV, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11 for the GFX 100
- 1/3200, 1/1600, 1/800, 1/400 second shutter speed for the a7RIV
- 1/1600, 1/800, 1/400, 1/200 second shutter speed for the GFX 100
I developed the images in Lightroom with
- White balance set to Daylight
- Adobe Color Profile
- Sharpening: amount 20, radius 1, detail 20
I picked the sharpest of the three exposures. If you’ve seen these here before, just jump to the images. If not, I need to spend some time telling you how to interpret them. They’re at roughly 200% magnification, enlarged to 700 pixels high on export from Lightroom. If you just want a rough idea of the differences, just look at the images as displayed in-line in the posts. However, if you wish to compare these images in detail, you should view these images by clicking on them to see the source files, then set your browser for 100% zooming. Even better, download them and make Photoshop stacks.
No matter what you do, these crops are all going to look horrible. I’m blowing them up so much so that they will represent the original file after JPEG’s discrete cosine transform has had its way with them. If you want to get a good idea of what the images would look like printed, get far away from your monitor. No, farther than that. Put a bunch of the images up on the screen and back up until the best one starts to look good. Then look at the others. There’s another reason why these images won’t look like the best thing the camera/lens combination can deliver. They’re demosaiced with Lightroom. Lightroom is not awful, but for a particular image, there are usually better raw processors. I use Lr because it’s a de facto standard, because I know it well, and because it’s got good tools for dealing with groups of images.
Here’s how to use these highly-magnified crops. The dimensions of the a7RIV sensor is 9504×6336 pixels. If we make a full-frame print from the a7RIV on a printer with 360 pixels per inch native driver-level resolution, like the Epson inkjet printers, we’ll end up with a 26.4×17.6 inch print. The 365×283 pixel crop you’re looking at will end up 1×0.7 inches. Let’s imagine that you or your viewers are critical, and will look at the 26.4×17.6 inch print from about 20 inches (conventional wisdom is that the distance would be a little greater than that, or 32 inches (the diagonal). The dimensions of the GFX 100 sensor is 11648×8736 pixels. If we make a full-frame print from the GFX 100 on a printer with 360 pixels per inch native driver-level resolution, like the Epson inkjet printers, we’ll end up with a 32.4×24.3 inch print. The 448×347 pixel crop you’re looking at will end up roughly 1.4×0.9 inches, but the field of view for a same-sized print is the same as for the a7RIV crops.
The next step is dependent on your monitor pitch, which you may or may not know. Turns out, you don’t have to know it. Just take the crops and view then at 1:1. How high are they? Get out your ruler and measure, or just guess. Let’s say they are 6 inches high. 6 inches is about 5.5 times 0.7, so in order to view the crops the way they’d look from 20 inches on the print is to view them from 5.5 times as far away, or about 8 feet.
In the center, at about 100 meters distance:
The GXF 100 image is much crisper.
The GFX 100 is a better image.
Even with easily-perceptible diffraction, the GFX 100 image is still distinctly better.
Surely one more stop will even things out, right?
It’s closer, but the GFX 100 is still distinctly better.
I’m sure there’s an equivalent f-stop pair narrower than the above that reduces the differences between the two cameras to a virtual tie, but I’ve just shown you the most common landscape apertures.
Why didn’t I use the Sony pixel-shift feature for this scene. I have found that for landscape use in general, that motion artifacts make it unusable. There are some landscape subjects — like roots and rocks — that work fine with pixel shift, but foliage does not, even when you think the wind is still.