It’s been about 10 months since I changed over from Canon to Sony. It was one of the toughest decisions that I have ever made! I know that sounds a bit crazy but I am a very loyal person and if I love a brand I stick with it. I have been a Canon user for the passed 7 years. My first camera was the Canon 600D, then I upgraded to the 5D Mark 3 until I smashed it face first into a rock in South Australia last year. So let me tell you why I changed from Canon after all this time. Finally my thoughts on the Sony A7R II.
Why did I change?
You may be wondering why I changed over to begin with. I was happy with my Canon 5d Mark 3 setup. It did the job nicely and I was always happy with the images that I was taking. It wasn’t until my camera broke in South Australia that my mind started wondering about Sony. I knew some Aussie photographers that had made the switch to Sony and were loving it. It wasn’t that simple for me though. I knew nothing about Sony and jumping ship when this piece of equipment is what I use for work was a bit daunting. My camera still seemed to work after it hit the rock in SA, it was just my lens that was broken. It wasn’t until I was on a job in Indonesia that the camera started playing up (of course ?).Luckily I took my backup Canon 6D with me to Indonesia.
Once I returned home I got the camera assessed and the error that it was getting was a fatal one. Basically, it couldn’t be fixed and got written off in insurance. At this point in time the new Canon 5D Mark 4 had just been released. Canon had been lagging behind with their technology, mainly the shadow recovery and dynamic range. The Mark 4 didn’t really improve this feature that much. Not to the standard of Nikon and Sony but they were charging an extra $1,000 more than the Mark 3. The only improvements they really made was to video which didn’t interest me at all. So I had a dilemma. I didn’t want to pay close to $5,000 for a camera that wasn’t much better than it’s predecessor and I didn’t want to buy another Mark 3 as technology had surpassed it. So I started looking at the Sony.
The deciding factors
I talked to a lot of Sony users and a few Canon 5d Mark 4 users. It was quite confusing because of course they all recommended the cameras that they were using. Things I was worried about with the Sony were:
- Batteries not lasting – apparently the battery life was a lot shorter due to the Electronic Viewfinder (which is understandable)
- Being a fragile camera – from everything I read a lot of people deemed the Sony not as robust as Canon or Nikon
- The expense of changing over all the lenses – Sony lenses are ALOT more expensive than Canon
- The menu system is renowned for being very complicated
- Problems with auto focus if I was to continue using my Canon lenses which I planned on
Things that I liked the look of that the Canon doesn’t have:
- Electronic viewfinder – what you are seeing on the LCD screen and through the viewfinder is actually what the photos turns out like
- Tiltable back screen – great for shooting down low, you can tilt the screen up so that you can see what you’re shooting rather than lying on the ground or twisting into uncomfortable positions
- Amazing dynamic range – the shadow recovery blows Canon and Nikon out of the water
- Focus Peaking – when you are focused (manually) the LCD screen highlights all the areas that are in focus with a yellow or red outline – very handy when doing astrophotography
- Size and weight of the camera and lenses. So much better for travelling due the smaller size of the camera and lightness of both camera and lenses
What I wish I had done sooner…
So as you can probably tell, I bought myself a Sony A7R II with the intention of using a my Canon lenses. I bought the Metabones adapter which attaches to the front of the Sony Camera and the back of the Canon lenses. Straight away I was having dramas with the camera not being able to find an F Stop or focusing. After I updated the firmware on the Metabones adapter, it performed a lot better but I would still get the aperture dropping out occasionally which meant I had to take the camera off the tripod to unscrew the lens and screw it back on to reconnect it.
I was having lots of trouble with the focusing. I found out later that the auto focus only works on 1 point when using non native lenses which meant my photos weren’t as sharp as they could have been with the possible 399 focus points.
My 16-35mm Canon lens that I got repaired, started playing up with the focusing and while I was in Cairns. I noticed that even though the camera was saying that the image was focused, when I zoomed in it actually wasn’t. So that was the turning point. I decided to go all native glass. Especially as Sony had finally released a broader range.
I ended up purchasing the Ziess 16-35mm F4, the Sony 24-70 F2.8 and the Sony 55mm F1.8. As soon as I started using native glass I noticed a massive improvement in sharpness and clarity in my images. I only wish I hadn’t waited so long to change over to Sony lenses.
Things that I love about the Sony A7R II
This feature is awesome. It took me ages to get used to this after coming from Canon but it’s so cool being able to see what the photo is actually going to turn out like before you get it home and upload it to your computer. It is also super handy being able to review your images when it’s a really bright day. The only way you can review images on other DSLR cameras is by viewing them back on the LCD screen which impossible to see on a really bright day. With the Sony you can play back your images through the view finder where you can clearly see the images that you have just taken! Genius!
Tiltable LCD Screen
As mentioned above this feature is great when you are shooting down low. You just tilt the screen up and can see exactly what you are shooting. No need to lie in dirt, snow, wet grass, sand, etc anymore!
The image quality far surpasses the images I used to capture on my Canon. Firstly, it is basically double the megapixels which helps. 42 megapixels on the Sony compared to 22 megapixels on the Canon. But it is also the unbeatable dynamic range of the Sony that blow every other camera out of the water. As you saw in the comparison images above, you can pull up the shadows dramatically to reveal a noise free image. If I had done that on my Canon, firstly I don’t think it would be possible and secondly the image would have way too much noise to be viable.
Size and Weight
It’s crazy to think that this powerful camera is so light and compact. It is half the weight of my old Canon 5d Mark 3 and my backpack is now so much lighter and more compact than when I had all Canon gear. This enables me to travel with camera body, lenses and my Mavic Pro Drone in a small camera back pack that doesn’t hurt my back after walking around for hours.
Focus Peaking is like insurance on your images. It’s an extra way of making sure that you are in focus. Although the native lenses are incredibly sharp that there really is no need to be concerned. If the green light comes on in my viewfinder I know that the image is in focus. But it does come in extremely handy when I am trying to focus when doing astrophotography. I flick my camera over to Manual focus and search around until my focus peaking picks up something in the sky. I then focus manually until that dot or star becomes sharp. Easy!
Things I don’t like…
The one and only thing I didn’t like when I first started using the Sony A7R II is the “feel” of the camera. It just doesn’t sit as comfortably in the hand as the Canon does. And it’s kind of awkward to move the shutter wheel. I have change the setup of the camera so that the shutter wheel is at the back of the camera now and I don’t have to twist my hand up and over to reach it. That is one other bonus of Sony, you can customise the entire camera. I am used to the “feel” of the camera now and if I went back and used a Canon it would probably feel weird after using the Sony for so long. It was one thing that took me ages to get used too.
The extensive menu is quite complicated too but after using the camera for 10 months I have finally gotten my head around it.
So to answer the things I was worried about, yes the batteries don’t last as long as Canon. It’s not something that has bothered me though. I can shoot all day on one battery. I don’t think that’s anything to worry about.
It is not a fragile camera. I’ve had it in rain and got splashed by a wave and it’s been fine. It did feel fragile when I first started using it because I was used to the big robust Canon but after using it for 10 months I am not precious about it anymore and I throw it around like I used to with the Canon.
Yes, it was expensive to change over compared to Canon but the quality of the lenses is not even comparable. The difference that I noticed in the quality of my images now that I am using native lenses is mind blowing compared to using Canon lenses with the Sony. Canon cameras and lenses have jumped dramatically in price recently so it’s probably not that much more expensive to buy Sony these days.
Should you get a Sony?
If you are thinking about changing over to Sony I highly recommend going straight to Sony lenses. Don’t even bother with an adapter. If you are new to photography you don’t need to get a Sony A7R II. My partner got a a Sony A7 II and I use it as a back up camera. It is half the price of the Sony A7 r II still with a full frame and is an absolutely awesome camera.
I am in love with my Sony A7R II and I am so happy that I changed over. When I get orders on my prints now I am 100% confident that the client is getting the best quality image because of the Sony. This camera got rated Number 1 on nearly every single review when I was researching new cameras.
Some more pics taken with the Sony A7R II: