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Best Used Price Sony A7III Alternatives: NX1, X-T2, A7RII

These budget minded options will save you money, but is it worth it (hint:probably)?

Highlights

  • Until Canon & Nikon figure out video, they’re left off the list for a hybrid shootout
  • The A7RII used represents a poor value proposition when compared to the A7III at the new price
  • NX1 may be a dead system, but near term expected price erosion makes it an unprecedented value

Last week, we had a discussion regarding how the Sony A7III will absolutely disrupt the primary and secondary market across all brands. What we didn’t discuss, however, are some alternatives to the A7III for budget minded photographers. So, let’s have a chat…

Best Budget Hybrid Cameras

This article will specifically focus on “hybrid” cameras that offer both to quality video abilities as well as being amazing stills photography cameras. Since our definition of “budget” is more illustrative of “value” or bang for your buck, one could argue that the A7III would fit in the category of “best budget hybrid cameras.” They’d have a solid argument. But we’re going to push our price a little lower and see how much value we can get and whether it’s worth ponying up for the $2000 A7III instead.

A7III baseline pricing

Before we compare, let’s talk about a couple of different bundles/kits for the Sony that we’ll be comparing against for pricing:

"Basic Bundle"

Total Used: $4580
Total New: $4996

"Bad Ass Bundle"

Total Used: $6071
Total New: $6942

To be Considered as Best Budget Hybrid You Need:

  • Good 4k video
  • Great stills capabilities
  • Affordable ecosystem

In before anyone says “dead system.” Yes, Samsung launched an amazing camera in 2014 with the NX1 and then a couple years later bailed (without actually saying it). But I did a piece earlier this year naming the NX1 the best hybrid camera for the money, and I stand by it – even after the Sony announcement. Here’s some highlights of the NX1

Pros

  • Phenomenal 28mp APS-C sensor
  • True Cinema 4k at 24p or UHD at 30p
  • 1080p at 120p
  • Good autofocus
  • Best menus and ergonomics in its class
  • Some jaw droppingly good glass (as well as some stinkers)
  • Bitrate hack abilities
  • Efficient h265 codec

Cons

  • Lacks long primes and zooms
  • No professional fast primes
  • Lack of true IBIS
  • Dead system
  • OK Low light

The NX1 is a video monster. They set the standard in 2014 with a product superior even to the fan favorite Panasonic GH4. It was quickly adopted by many professional video shooters, while developing a cult following for prosumers who demand great stills and video.

The NX1 represented an option for micro 4/3 shooters who previously had to forego great stills capabilities for good clean video. (Yes, you can still get great stills from a m43 system, but that’s a discussion for another day).

The NX1 has some tremendous lens options, especially the 16-50mm and the 50-150mm “S” lenses. And while it’s a dead system, prices have held up enough that those willing to get out didn’t completely lose out (some made a profit). However, prices eroded enough that a good kit is affordable.

Since the A7III announcement, prices have fallen significantly. Bundles with the 16-50S lens are going for a steal and body only prices are going for about $70 less ($1020 vs $950) than before the announcement.

Our priced out basic bundle:

  • Body: $950
  • Standard Zoom (16-50S): $620
  • Portrait prime (45mm): $200

Total Used Price: $1770

This would cover an entry into both great video (the 16-50 is a wonderful video lens and has OIS), as well as a good sharp portrait lens. Both are excellent autofocusing lenses.

Our priced bad ass bundle

  • Body: $950
  • Standard Zoom (16-50S): $620
  • Portrait prime (45mm): $200
  • Longer prime (85mm 1.4): $500
  • Long-ish zoom (50-150mm): $1050

Total Used Price: $3370

Why the NX1 beats the Sony

The price difference here is significant. The basic package in the Samsung is over $200 less than JUST the Sony body. And I actually like the 16-50S and 50-150mm zooms better than either Sony zoom. The primes are also cheaper. Samsung demolishes the A7III in terms of ergonomics and menu system. And aside from low light performance, I’d put the NX1 up there with Sony in terms of the quality of video shooting capabilities.

Why the Sony beats the NX1

One word: glass. Sure, the main complaint with Sony is their glass is expensive, and it is. But at least Sony has options available in focal lengths that the Samsung lacks. There’s no long zooms beyond the 50-150 (or the far inferior 50-200) for Samsung. The 45mm 1.8 is a good portrait lens, but it’s not as good as the Zeiss 55mm. And the 85mm Samsung is tack sharp, but the AF is blah.

Sony is also going to trounce the NX1 on low light, general shallow depth of field, and the fact that it’s not a dead system.

The NX1 is an absolutely solid alternative to the Sony. You can also pick up a 2nd camera in the NX500 (same sensor) for around $400 used. Try doing that with a a6500. It’s also worth noting the NX1 is the only one of these 3 options that’s got good battery life.

I suspect the price erosion everyone thought would happen when Samsung exited will finally start to happen over the next few months. A system that’s a steal at current prices will only become more appealing for the budget minded shooter.

Fuji’s APS-C shooter the X-T2 is another cult following fan favorite. The manual feedback of the beloved three top dials, a great 24 megapixel sensor, and the ability to punch above its weight class make it a worthy consideration. Here’s our quick bullets on the Fuji:

Pros

  • Beautiful color science
  • Excellent stills shooter
  • Nice 4k video capabilities
  • Great (but expensive) glass
  • Good autofocus

Cons

  • Ergonomics
  • Clunky menus
  • Video limited to 10 minutes without battery grip
  • Expensive glass

Basic Bundle

Total Price Used: $2405
Total Price New: $2686

Bad Ass Bundle

Total Price Used: $4633
Total Price New: $5186

Where Fuji beats Sony

Fuji still beats Sony on price. But if you move into the bad ass bundle, you’re closing the considerable gap the NX1 had over the Sony. The 56mm is a phenomenal lens, and surprisingly fast at 1.2. But like the Samsung 85mm 1.4, it’s slower to autofocus (for this reason, many prefer the 50mm 2.0). I prefer Fuji’s color science over Sony’s and jpegs are probably better (not confirmed). Menu systems, for me, are a draw.

Where Sony beats Fuji

Sony’s got advantages similar to those over the NX1: lenses, ecosystem, adaptable while retaining autofocus, full frame, low light. But a place where the A7III specifically has an advantage is ergonomics. Sony going a little larger on the grip with these bodies is a significant step up over the Fuji’s shallow grip.

If you’re staying in the basic bundle range of gear, I’d recommend the Fuji over the Sony. If you want to expand into longer primes or zooms, I’d probably step up to the Sony.

Like the Samsung, the Fuji X-T2 and companion X-T20 bodies are trending down. We’ve seen them hovering used around $1085 pretty consistently. And there have been a couple sell with grip for around $1250. This is considerable since the body/grip combo was going for about $1450 back in Jan 2018.

Naming a Sony as an alternative to a Sony, specifically one that’s not intended as a hybrid camera isn’t cheating, I swear. Yes, the A7RII is very stills photography centric with its 42mp sensor. But it’s also a solid video performer. The full frame 4k video isn’t as nice as the NX1 or the A7III (it’s not oversampled 6k to 4k). But the Super 35 mode gives you really nice results. The benefit here is that you also get an exceptional stills camera.

Pros

  • 42mp sensor for great stills detail
  • Good (not great) 4k video
  • Sony/Canon lens ecosystem
  • Lot of camera for the money if bought used

Cons

  • Battery life
  • Autofocus lags behind
  • Overall operation is rather slow
  • 4k video worst among the contenders (still good)
  • 42mp files may be too large for many
  • Not a low light monster like A7III or A7SII

Basic Bundle

Total Used: $4471
Total New: $5394

Bad Ass Bundle

Total Used: $5771
Total New: $7340

Where the A7RII beats the A7III

Really not a lot of areas. With the announcement of both the A7RIII and the A7III, the price on this sucker is going to drop. But right now, it’s not a good value, especially new. This is the first camera we’ll see significant price erosion as an example of Sony willing to cannibalize itself. The $2398 new price and $1700 new price is unsustainable in the post A7III era.

Street price is trending even below our price guidance, because things are moving so fast. We show $1720, but it’s really around $1650 (down from $1900 before the A7RIII announcement). And you can find them for below $1500 in good shape if you’re patient.

If you want high megapixel performance, the A7RIII is probably a better long term option and worth the extra coin. Either way, if you can wait 6 months, you’ll save a TON of money. If you don’t truly need the extra MP, you should definitely pick the A7III instead. Even compared to a used A7RII, the A7III is a much better overall value, even at a couple hundred more.

Hey Wait, Where’s Canon and Nikon?

Since this is a hybrid “bang for your buck” shootout, there’s unfortunately not room for Canon and Nikon. They both have issues with video performance from Canon’s refusal to have nice 1080p, much less 4k in most of their bodies to Nikon’s inability to figure out live view autofocus.

I imagine the pressure from Sony will force both to produce a great all arounder and up their video game. But until then, they’re left off the list.

If we were doing a stills focus budget alternative list, Canon and Nikon would have both had entries.

OK, So Who Is The Winner?

I’m sticking with my month ago assertion that the Samsung NX1 is the best value hybrid camera around. For what you get in our basic bundle at a $1700 used market price, there’s still nothing that can touch it. And you don’t have to compromise either. That’s a wonderful camera and two incredibly capable lenses. Eventually Samsung being a “dead system” will be a big enough issue that I can no longer recommend them, but for now, they’re my clear alternative for the budget minded hybrid shooter.


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