There are many reasons why people may like one brand of camera equipment versus another. Ask a room full of photographers which camera manufacturer they like the best, and you’ll get a lot of brand names thrown out there. Ask that same room of photographers WHY they like what they like best, and you’ll get an even wider set of responses. Usually the reason why has to do with the photographer’s subject matter, or maybe the way they edit, or even as simple as what feels best in their own hands.
We have to remember that a camera is a tool, a little box of moving parts that helps us share our story and vision. That’s why this article is about why I personally switched to Sony. Not why you should, not why they’re better cameras for everyone, and not why you’ll be farting glitter if you use this camera. I began on Canon, I switched to Nikon for a while, I went back to Canon, and now I’m with Sony. I may or may not go back to Canon in the future. I’m not a camera brand loyalist. If I can achieve the look and feel that I want for me and my clients, then at the end of the day that’s all that matters. I am now using a Sony A7iii with Sigma lenses. I don’t care about camera body brands, but I absolutely DO care about my Sigma lenses.
I was over my shutter click rated limit on my 5diii, so I needed to pick up some sort of replacement before it just failed utterly. I wasn’t impressed with the 5d mkiv, and the Canon mirrorless EOS R didn’t seem much better. Sony had been doing mirrorless for years and owning the market there, so that’s where I looked first. A photographer pal of mine rented the Sony A7riii and we compared it side by side shot for shot with my Canon 5dmkiii. The Sony was WORLDS sharper with the exact same lens.
I shoot children and families outside, and dancers inside. In my personal time I go hunt lizards and dewdrops with a macro lens. I use continuous focus servo with back button focusing so keep the camera focusing at all times on moving subjects.
What had and what I got (or will get in the future)
Favored lens: Sigma 135mm 1.8 Art
Other Lenses: Sigma 50mm Macro 2.8, Yongnuo 35mm 2.0
3 CF cards and two batteries
Favored Lens: Sigma 105mm 1.4 Art
Other Lenses: Sigma 70mm macro Art, Sigma 30mm 1.4
2 SD cards and 2 batteries
1 battery charger
Used Metabones adapter
Read why I picked up the Sigma 105mm 1.4 art vs the Sigma 135mm 1.8 Art here.
What I knew before I switched
I did a LOT of research before the switch. I knew that the colors would be different so I’d have to do all my editing steps differently. That’s fine, I was looking forward to less lime greens in the spring here in the south.
I knew that I’d have to buy new memory cards because the Canon used CF cards and the Sony has dual SD cards. That’s cool too because they’re cheaper and easier to find.
I knew I’d have to buy all my lenses again and get new batteries.
I knew I’d have to get used to the way the camera worked so that I could still be as fast as possible for my clients.
What I wish I’d known before I switched
I wish I’d have known about lens availability. In all my copious research on the camera body itself, it never once occurred to me to research lenses also. Specifically, which lenses were available for the Sony E mount. When I switched to Nikon, I was simply able to go out and get the same lenses I’d had for the Canon and just rebuy them in the Nikon version. Not so at all with the Sony. I adore my Sigma lenses, but while they’re all made in Canon and Nikon versions, they’re not all made for the Sony! What?? So my lens selection changed and I have to just cope with that.
I wish I’d have known that the lens adapters aren’t always reliable. So since the lens selection isn’t as wide, I thought I could just buy the Canon versions and use an adapter.. problem solved. Not so easy. In my research I learned that there are really only two good lens adapters for Canon to Sony.. the Sigma MC-11 and the Metabones adapter. I ended up with a used Metabones since it was cheapest. I didn’t want to spend a bunch on something that I wouldn’t use every day. Eventually I want to just have E mount Sigma or Sony and toss the adapter, but that’s not where my budget is right now.
I wish I’d have known that Sony doesn’t include a battery charger in the box. It’s not a huge deal because you can charge the camera with a cord plugged into it or you can get a charger on Amazon, but still. Seriously Sony? I was totally petty and bought a third party one too. If Sony’s too cheap to include that in the box, they’re not getting my money again when I have to buy one.
I wish I’d have known that Sony cameras do not tether directly to Lightroom. Canon does. Nikon does.. you just plug it in and tell Lightroom to start tethered capture. So easy. Not Sony. Adobe apparently just hates Sony users because you have to get a third party tether program and then tell Lightroom to watch that folder they’ve saved to and import those images. I seriously spent an hour one day getting that crap to work.Why Adobe?
I also wish I’d have known that the videos you shoot on the camera are stored in a different folder from the images. So I have to go fishing for them through several subfolders. Not a dealbreaker by any means, but a pain in the butt where it doesn’t need to be.
What I love so far
The main reason I started looking hard at Sony was the image sharpness. The images that came out of the Rental A7riii were what I have been wishing for from every camera I’ve shot for the last 15 years. My heart went a little pitter-pat because I could see everything and it was sharp! I’m not talking ‘good enough for prints’ or ‘pretty good for that light’, I’m talking ‘holy crap I can see her pores on this overcast day’ kind of sharpness.
Eye AF, or eye autofocus. It’s downright magical. Press a button (you can tell the camera which button you’d like that that) and the camera overrides the focal point you have set to go find and focus on the eye closest to the camera. Human eyes, not animal yet, sadly. For me, this is a downright amazing thing. Running toddlers and swaying babies, no more noses or hair in focus instead! And when the camera can’t find an eye, it just reverts back to the focal point you have set.
The focusing system in general is better. I get almost no trashed shots dues to missed focus even when I don’t use Eye AF. I still have to anticipate where the subject will be, but it’s less time that I have to be fussing with my gear.
The low light capability is amazing. I don’t know how, but the Sony just sees better in the dark. I tend to overshoot a bit for fairy sessions, so I run out of daylight quite often. I can shoot in way less light now than I needed for good images before the switch.
I love being able to customize literally every button on the camera. I can tell it exactly what I want it to do at any time. I like back button focus, so that’s one of the first things I set up on the camera when it got here. I also shoot with my left eye. The default button on the camera for focusing was closer to the viewfinder, so on my left eye, I was spearing myself in the other eye with my thumb. Not fun. So I simply switched that to a button on the outside edge of the camera, easy peasy! Except now that I am using Eye AF more, I need to put THAT on the outside button instead. I can also add things in the menu to shortcuts. So instead of having to hunt down where to format the card every time, I just put it in the shortcut menu.
WYSIWYG – I’m a nerd, I know. So if you’re not a computer nerd like me wysiwyg (pronounced wiz-ee-wig) is an acronym for What You See Is What You Get. Because the mirrorless Sony now has an electronic viewfinder, it shows you exactly how dark or light your image will be, and exactly what is or isn’t in focus in your camera. No more taking a shot and chimping on the back of the camera to make sure it’s properly exposed.. you can SEE it as you shoot!
It also has a flip out screen on the back. I like this a lot because I cam put the camera on the ground for macros and not have to lean over with my hair in the dirt to make sure it’s in focus. Handy and my back likes it better too.
Side by side
I went from a Canon 5D mkiii to a Sony A7iii, so some of these points are camera specific.
|Great things about the switch||Things that are not so awesome|
|Eye AFSharper images in generalFocusing system is more accurateLow light capability is stunningCustomize any button on the cameraFlippy screenWhat you see in the viewfinder is what you getSilent shutter that is actually truly silentSmaller and lighterSD cards are less $$ and can be bought in local stores||Lens selection for E Mount – not all lenses availableAdapters not always reliableNo battery charger included – Seriously Sony?Does not tether directly to Lightroom – Seriously Adobe?Painful grip, especially with heavy lenses.Videos in another folderSony menus just suck – They really do.|
The test images so you can see for yourself
My poor model was bored out of her mind, as you can see. 🙂 My photographer friend Teena and I tried to recreate the same shot with two different camera. Both cameras had the Sigma 135mm 1.8 on it, and you can see our settings in each. Only color adjustments to match the two together.
Left Canon, Right Sony
First off we realized how hard it was to get in the same position.. because I’m 6ft tall and she’s not.
We did a bit better here after comparing angles.
As you can see we both missed focus here, but the hair that we DID focus on is still sharper on the Sony. There are more highlights n her crown as well.
So in this one you’ll notice that the ISO isn’t the same at all. Because we didn’t know that the Sony wasn’t set to show us what we were getting, it was set to show us what the scene looked like. We had to bring up the exposure on the Sony in post. Even underexposed.. it’s still sharper than the properly exposed Canon.
So then we set both cameras to the same settings and tested that in low light. They were both dark, but the Sony was showing us a great photo at the time on the back of the camera. User error!
BUT when brought up in Lightroom, we can see that the Sony is clear enough to use but the Canon is just a wreck.
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