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Canon Glass on the Sony a7 III: Another Reason to Switch Systems

If there's one thing that makes long-time Canon users twitchy about making the jump to Sony, it's glass. Switching systems can be an expensive decision, and the cost of Sony's lenses only makes this worse. "What about adapters?" you might ask. In this video, photographer Jason Lanier tackles that question head-on and gives his verdict.

With the Sony a7 III making it even harder for DSLR users to ignore the shift to mirrorless, many photographers are wondering how they can make that transition without having to swap not only a body or two, but also an entire fleet of lenses. For Canon users, making this jump might feel a little easier: if the apparent lack of innovation from Canon isn't enough, the adapters that are available could make switching systems relatively painless.

In his rather distinctive style, Sony "Artisan of Imagery" (a.k.a. ambassador) Jason Lanier is blown away by the autofocus performance when using Canon lenses to shoot stills using an adapter. In this case, the Sigma MC-11 certainly seems to do an incredible job in various AF modes, notably with the Canon EF 135mm f/2 and the EF 85mm f/1.2 — wide open. Personally, I'm keen to see if this performance holds up with Canon's zoom lenses, particularly the EF 16-35mm f/2.8.

So if autofocus performance when adapting Canon lenses is not really a concern, what's preventing Canon users from making the jump? Possibly ergonomics, color science, after-sales care, resale value, and a general lack of availability outside of bigger markets are factors to consider. Throw in the button layout, a lack of budget lenses, and a car crash of a menu system, and there might be enough to give many photographers second thoughts.

Be warned: In this video, things go a bit weird, especially during the last three minutes. That said, this is Jason Lanier, so what do you expect?

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50 Comments

David Stephen Kalonick's picture

Pretty cool stuff. I don't see myself ever switching. I have nothing to complain about ever since Canon introduced the dual pixel system. Plus the thought of Canon making a mirrorless system that matches or is better will be cool if it ever happens. I can wait. ​

user 65983's picture

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Giovanni Aprea's picture

I wonder about Nikon lenses on Sony A7III, anybody gave it a try?

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Depends on a lens. Some just slow, some unsupported. And there is only one reasonably good adapter on the market - Commlite.

Same goes for Canon glass. Just there are twice as more of the adapters :)

Maximillian Schwan's picture

Forget about it. I switched over to nikon after alot of research and there is barely any documentation of this: the only way to change aperture with adapters is manually. Problem: Nikon and 3rd party manufacturers already started producing lenses without the mechanical lever on the rear mount of the lense. Meaning you can effectively NOT adapt new nikon glass without electronical adapter (only available for sony i think. In my case (gh5) i am screwed. Anybody please correct me if i'm wrong cause i really want to be wrong. But so far it doesnt seem possible. And i was actually kinda pissed cause it is not mentioned anywhere. Not in this context. I suppose cause people just assume that nikon lenses have that lever but like said - they start not to build them like thay anymore...

Maximillian Schwan's picture

I mean obviusly you can still adapt it - but you won't be able to change aperture at all

Alexander Petrenko's picture

My experience: 7r3+Commlite+Sigma Art 35/50/85 - can control aperture.

Tamas Nemeth's picture

So in broad daylight with a very contrasty makeup a slowly moving model is covered. Cool.
I wonder what does it do with indoor sports or quicly moving animals... I wish I could try this sigma adapter (the rest I can find in some closets)...

Dragan Medakovic's picture

this is not to be taken as a serious test.

i'ts Lanier.

Don Julio's picture

I always hate these 'tests' as all they do is show the AF under perfect lighting conditions. Useless for me since I shoot events - almost always low light.

I switched to the A7R III recently, using Sigma Art lenses (12-24, 50, 135), the MC-11 adapter and a few Canon L series.

Everything I do is super low light (near darkness, shooting at up to 16,000 - 20,000 ISO) and the A7R works great with the MC-11. The AF is spot on, EyeAF works great. At the moment (while waiting for a new Sigma Art 24-35) i'm using an ancient Canon 20-35 f/2.8 L on my A7R with the Sigma MC-11, it actually works quite well. It's a damaged lens (been dropped on the floor a few years ago), made in the 1980s and doesn't even have USM, but I find works great even in low light.

In terms of high-speed movement - I've shot live music and recently a fast-paced ice skating event (in low light) with the MC-11 and it works amazing here as well, the AF is spot on almost every time.

The only issue I have with the MC-11 is in some AF modes it doesn't seem to track the face or eye in EyeAF mode right to the edge of the frame. I don't find it too much of an issue - and saw recently the Metabones V doesn't have this issue, so keen to try that too.

Andy Day's picture

Great response, Noah. Thanks for your input. That's answered quite a lot of my questions!

Dan Donovan's picture

Reasons given to switch and my take on each:
1. Ergonomics - Agree, a smaller camera body could be a disadvantage for some people.
2. Color science - I know people using Capture One for Sony and they are very happy with the color. I'm not sure how the Adobe folks like their Sony color.
3) After-sales care - sounds like Sony is working on this seriously right now.
4) Resale value - I would say more people are moving from Nikon and Canon to Sony and not the other way around. So, Sony is in more demand, thus will retain value.
5) Lack of availability outside of bigger markets - this is changing. Even in my medium-size market, Sony is now available for rent at the local pro camera store.
6) Button layout - People seem to like the button layout more on the latest Sony cameras (a9, a7III and a7RIII)
7) Lack of budget lenses - Sigma and Tamron are coming out with lenses for Sony
8) Car crash of a menu system - Once you get it set-up, you don't need to access it frequently. Plus, you can store frequently used items in a custom menu.

Now, what about things you are missing by sticking with Nikon and Canon instead of using one of the latest Sony full-frame cameras:

1) Camera body stabilization
2) The electronic viewfinder shows you the exposure BEFORE taking the photo (less chimping needed later)
3) Very accurate eye and face detection autofocus
4) Focus points covering most of the image area
5) Never calibrate a lens again
6) Using a crop mode fills the viewfinder with the new image area, instead of just showing crop lines in the middle of the viewfinder.
7) Smaller camera bodies (I don't care about this, but some people might like it)
8) Adapters allow a wide variety of non-Sony lenses to be used on Sony cameras.
9) Manual focus lenses can be focused easier (percentage of in-focus shots with a manual lenses is much higher with Sony due to focus peaking)
9) You can see a histogram in the viewfinder.
10) Zoom into 100% in the viewfinder to place a focus point exactly where you want it.
11) Silent shooting (This is HUGE in some situations!)
12) Did I mention Eye AF? ;-) I'm a people photographer and this is a BIG DEAL!!!

What am I forgetting?!

And for me, I still shoot Nikon. But, will definitely switch to Sony if Nikon does not come out with a competitive mirrorless full frame camera this year. Hope I can wait that long! Those 12 points are not hype...they are real benefits that can be of help when shooting.

Jeff Gillisroy's picture

For usability...and since it was something I didn't think about before switching... it's important to point out that, when working with manual lenses, you still have the AF point to move around. Now, you say, that's useless with a manual only lens. Well, it would be, but the AF point directs where the viewfinder zooms in when you direct the camera to zoom in for focusing or simply turn the focus wheel (depending on lens and setup). No focus and recompose....so, I've found I can shoot manual lenses at lower fstops and shoot more moving subjects. It's really a great usability bump.

Andy Day's picture

Thanks, Dan! Really useful comment. :)

Kevin Lane's picture

Great comment.

"Never calibrate a lens again" yes! This is a huge deal for me. Realized halfway through a job on the weekend that my 24-70 2.8L II is slightly out on my 7D2 which I was using to shoot basketball.

In body stabilization is also a huge consideration.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

After this video I feel that blind will see again if they just touch a Sony body. And lepers will be healed with just a light of the viewfinder.

PS disclaimer: I shoot Sony a7r III ;)

Deleted Account's picture

You act like leprosy is a bad thing!? ;-)

John Dawson's picture

Ha!

Mokhtar Chahine's picture

Event and wedding photographers that rely on Canon-Like flash photography speed and accuracy should not even think about switching. What a lot of these silent youtube salesmen/women are doing is reveal what these cameras are great at and not talk about what they are terrible at.

I love using my Sony A7rII and A9 for nearly every photoshoot that relies either on natural light or continues studio lights. But they definitely failed me when i took them to a wedding where flash photography was necessary, Canon just focuses way faster and is way more accurate when it comes to flash photography.

These salesmen tests truly decieve beginners. When they say its easy to make a switch, Who are they referring to ? surely not event photographers.

Kevin Lane's picture

You should watch Jason's youtube channel for more than 3 minutes... he uses all kinds of flashes with Sony bodies... in fact I don't know any Sony shooter who has a hard time with flash.

I'm not sure what using flash has to do with the speed of the focusing system. Unless you are saying "flash photography" to mean quick photography.... if that is the case then you should watch any video of Sony's Eye and Face AF systems at work....

Mokhtar Chahine's picture

I do watch his videos, And yes he uses strobes with Sony bodies, But i am referring to speedlites (hot shoe mounted camera flash). You barely see any Sony shooters using Speedlite Flashes in areas where its dim and contrast is low and asking people to make the switch.

Kevin Lane's picture

Since the cameras have an IR focus assist built in, I don't see how attaching a speedlight to the body would affect focus speed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkdbxMiUrHE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0n3cIBJLM4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-QVKJN1Lo0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9Lz0_uxpDc&t=711s

another Jason video where he shows some low light focusing results

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95QtDQkfj6Q

I could keep going but come on.... you don't have to like Jason if you really don't want to but accusing him of "asking people to make the switch" with deception is just a scummy thing to do.

I work in low light all the time and my Canon bodies aren't exactly champs in those situations. They surely don't have face detect or eye at all.... let alone in low light.

Mokhtar Chahine's picture

All these videos are exactly why people are bring fed incomplete information. I truly believe you need to use a Canon 600 Speedlite to understand what i am talking about.

The built in IR beam on Sony bodies cant keep up after a certain distance, Thats me jus talking about acquiring autofocus, still didnt get into white balance with flash and also exposure meters accuracy.

https://youtu.be/r_cNY_pthtA

Kevin Lane's picture

Oh my goodness why did I bother giving you any replies at all????

So the Canon can have an IR beam that supposedly goes farther IF you have a speedlite with an IR transmitter attached to it, AND IF you use the centre focus point only.... yay.... that was something when it was the only option.

The Sony has an EVF with focus peaking. It also has an IR beam built into the body that works no matter if you have a speedlight or not... and with whatever focus point you want.

Talkinga bout exposure and metering? The Sony has an EVF where you can see your real world exposure in real time. You can also have it meter for exposure using the focus point, no matter which focus point you choose.

If you think the Canon technology which has been used forever is superior, and you hate everyone who ever held a Sony on YouTube, and you think Jason Lanier is lying to everyone... well enjoy budz. You can do all those things.

You might notice however that people complaining about what you are complaining about are AWFULLY hard to find. You're the only one I have ever heard of.

I am beginning to suspect you are a #RussianBot hired by Canon to scare us into not switching. :D

Mokhtar Chahine's picture

Dude Relax, I own Sony bodies ( A9, 2xA7RII, A6500 )

To educate you more, My 1DX meters on all points, Not only in thr centrr, Wherever the spot focus point it thats where it will meter from. Did you ever use a top of the line Pro Canon, if yes, then you should have known.

Second, Sony IR on my Sony bodes dont match what the speedlites offer, For a few reasons, But mainly IR blockage caused by larger lenses, also the Laser beam that Cankn speedlites throw has a Grid is shaped as a grid that works with Autofocus system hand in hand.

Its okay if you love Sony, But facts are facts, until Future technology changes that.

Kevin Lane's picture

Yes I know the 1DX does but no one is replacing a 1DX with an A7III now are they? LOL

I have shot extensively with every 1D since the Mark III.

You're the one claiming people are lying and misleading people. Perhaps you should relax a bit? Just a bit though because if you relaxed too much I wouldn't be able to laugh at you.

*noting that the only Canon stills body to have one of the same exposure metering modes is the one that costs $5,000 more than the A7III kinda makes the whole point....

Have a nice life Mokhtar. I hope you are better at making friends in real life. :)

Kevin Lane's picture

I've now had the A7III for a couple of days. I've had it in my hands shooting for more than 14 hours. Which isn't a lot but it is enough for me to come to some conclusions.

I turned the IR beam off. I shoot politicians and they don't tend to like to have red beams aimed at them. :) hehehe

Anyway focus in good and poor light is like beast mode. In extreme low light on low contrast subjects it does hunt, but I'm not convinced any of my Canon bodies would have grabbed focus in those situations.

Anyway I'll be buying another Sony body. I'm an event photographer and it will be my primary camera this weekend coming.

Mokhtar Chahine's picture

Kevin i really think you are missing the point. I specifically talked about how wedding photographers that spend lots of their time photographing dim dancefloors that require flash photography.

Most of the salesmrm scenarios that we see are great scenarios that highlight what is great about thr camera and hide what is not. That is the truth, and that is what marketing is all about.

Haha man you are so random with the whole being worried about me making friends, thats sweet of you. Thanks !

Michael Coen's picture

I can tell you from personal experience that Canon lenses on Sony bodies produce some quality work, but do so at a cost. I can't speak to the Metabones or other adapters out there, but I own the Sigma MC-11 and trying to use auto focus is painful with a Canon lens attached. Initially I purchased a used Canon 70-200 f/2.8 and paired it to my A7RII with the Sigma adapter. The autofocus worked okay when shooting in high contrast areas, but when shooting in shade using strobes the lens hunted forever, and sometimes never quite found focus. I eventually returned the lens and ate the $2700 for the Sony version of that lens. After some time I thought maybe the issue was unique to that lens, so this past weekend I purchased a Canon 40mm f/2.8 to use with my A6000. Same issue, but markedly worse. Even in high contrast scenes it took between 4 and 7 seconds to find focus.

Again I can't speak to other adapters, but my experience with auto focusing Canon lenses on the MC-11 has been pretty awful.

Tony Northrup's picture

I'm not totally comfortable recommending people, especially pros, rely on the Sony bodies with Canon lenses. Yes, they work. Yes, the Sonys will draw a box around the face and the eye. Yes, the a9, a7R III, and a7 III are better with adapted lenses than earlier bodies.

But our own real-world experience with these three bodies and both the Sigma and Metabones adapter is that the focusing is inconsistent, especially for shallow depth-of-field portraits. You'll see the green box around the eye and it feels like you're nailing focus during the shoot, but when you actually go back and process the images, less than 1/3 of them will be perfectly in focus. (often MUCH less, depending on how shallow the DoF is and how picky you are).

We still use an adapter with our 24-70 f/2.8, because the DoF isn't as shallow and missing focus a little bit is OK. But these Canon lenses have focusing motors designed for phase detect autofocus. Those motors are designed to make big jumps. Sony's eye-detect autofocus uses both PDAF and contrast AF, and the contrast AF requires the lens to make many tiny little adjustments in order to nail focus. I think that's why we aren't getting great results with the adapted lenses.

I guess I need to make a video on it, but it pains me to think that people are spending thousands of dollars switching systems when they might not get the results they're hoping for. Switching systems is often still a good idea, but I'd tell you to plan on buying native Sony glass for your Sony bodies.

Mokhtar Chahine's picture

I totally agree Tony. I would really love to see you make a video highlighting how mirrorless is still far behind when it comes to flash photography + acquiring autofocus in dark scenes, such as dim nightclub photography or wedding dance floor photography where flash is a must.

So far most people rave about the good stuff mirrorless offers. Yes its amazing where mirrorless was and is now. But there is something about the laser metering that Canon uses that no mirrorless even came close to.

Andy Day's picture

Thanks, Tony. And yes, please make a video - and drop me a message when you do so we can get it written up straight away! :)

Nick Anderson's picture

Thanks for your helpful videos, Tony. I'm switching from the A7rII to the A7III, and keeping my 24-70 L 2.8II (with Metabones adapter) partly from watching those. I'm hoping that 24-70 works well enough with it. I typically prefer primes, but need that zoom range occasionally.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

I had a bunch of old Canon lenses, a couple newer ones and a Sigma. I used the Metabones iv with mixed results. Not so good with old and really old Canon, no AF or constant search, perfect with a 85mm1.8 and sometimes with the sigma.
Be sure metabones has the latest firmware, that helped.
With native Sony glass, easy peasy.

Noah Stephens's picture

Thank you for cutting through the hype, Tony.

Jason Frels's picture

Sony does offer great support, up until the moment that they get your money.

Vincent Alongi's picture

Your money, your decisions.

I get 'upgraditis', I get wanting the latest and greatest. It's for some, not for everyone. I've spend a nice penny in the last year investing in a Nikon system (with Tamron glass) and I'm not done learing it in the least bit. The gear is the tool, not the focus of the art itself.

I can't put a timeline on how long it will be before I look to upgrade / replace anything, as I've got plenty of work to do with what I've got now, and that includes mastering the equipment while I hone my overall skills and eye. There are pictures I've taken and am thrilled with on a crop sensor Nikon with a sub-$200 prime lens. The money spent on good glass was for utility- a pair of portrait lenses; one a prime, the other a zoom. The other zoom was for indoors / events and low light. Everything is serving me well.

Bottom line, there's no need for me and my system (as both currently constituted) to think mirrorless, etc. But, mileage will vary for everyone. I went through upgraditis with cycling - another expensive endeavor. And, have learned about marginal gains by heavy investment. So.... I will wait until technology further evolves why I exhaust my gear's usefulness (it should be years, by all accounts...).

Until then, this is going to be great theater... I'm getting my popcorn ready :)

Lui Cardenas's picture

Really cool and to the point... I've been thinking on making the jump from Canon to Sony, but its a hard one. My last "excuse" is that I have to buy a hole new set of glad... well... yikes! LOL

Ted Nghiem's picture

Sony is putting out some seriously enticing gear and I won't lie, I did think about switching systems from Canon. But, there really isn't anything the Sony setup is doing that I can't do with my Canon gear. If I was starting fresh, I would definitely go with Sony.

Nick Anderson's picture

"Personally, I'm keen to see if this performance holds up with Canon's zoom lenses, particularly the EF 16-35mm f/2.8."
-I switched from Canon to Sony. I currently have the A7rII, and I've preordered the A7III. Be warned that even when autofocus works well, you don't get good results with wide angle lenses. Ken Rockwell has written a lot about the physics of this (curved field sensors vs flat field or something like that). I'm keeping my 24-70 L f2.8 II, but selling my 17-40 f4. I just haven't gotten good results from the 17-40. The results are not sharp. The results with the 24-70 are very good, but the autofocus is unreliable in dim light (as has been reported). I hope that improves as much as I've heard for the A7III, because I don't want to sell the 24-70 for $1300 and buy the Sony for $2200. Ouch. Plus I think the Canon is a better lens, overall.

Andy Day's picture

Thanks Nick. The EF16-35 f/2.8 is an absolutely killer lens and I'm not sure what else compares to it. Knowing that I can't be confident of using it on the Sony could be a decisive factor. I guess I'll find out for sure when I rent an a7iii later this year.

Nick Anderson's picture

Well, DXOMark recently rated the Sony version the "Highest-rated wide-angle zoom."
https://www.dxomark.com/sony-fe-16-35mm-f28-gm-lens-review-highest-rated...

But switching is expensive....

Andy Day's picture

Interesting! Thanks! (And yes, expensive...)

Eric Salas's picture

My 17-40L works perfectly on my A7Riii. I haven't had any problems with autofocus with a MC-11 until low light conditions come into play but any F/4 lens will have problems then. I did make sure to update my adapters firmware and got my lens calibrated before adapting it. That might be an issue in your case but who knows really?

Nick Anderson's picture

Yes, this video gets a bit weird. Does Jason Lanier ever take that stupid hat off? Does he wear it when he's in the shower? In the bathroom? While having sex? (with his Sony gear)?

EL PIC's picture

Mirrorless is no reason to switch or use adapters with lenses !!
When someone makes a good Bayer Technology replacement .. multi layer color sensor ..that might be reason .. but i expect all camera makers to make that switch.
Camera makers switch not photographers.
But then there are some pretty DA photographers in this world ..
LMAO !!

Uneternal Van de Dood's picture

I was a fan of the A7 III at first. But I guess a lot you see online is just influencer BS. Especially from Lanier. He always does those "it focusses so great" videos outside in contrasty, bright, sunlit conditions. Even his "low light" test is outside at sundown which is still over 10 EV. Ridiculous. Even a toy camera can focus in these conditions.

After some research I found a video that tests the indoor AF at conditions which need ISO 4000-6400. As you might already guess, the Sony didn't do so great with Canon lenses in this kind of low light.
You can watch the video here, skip to 10:00 and watch how it fails with the 50mm 1.4.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j05qiBLJl5I

Jay Lapointe's picture

Test Canon glasses in easy conditions is pointless. Try it in hard conditions and your paid review will worth something.

Frank Zimmermann's picture

I was a Nikon user once upon a time, switched to canon because of the glass and 1mm (longish story). I bought the A7r and Voigthlander 10mm E mount for my needs, Upgraded to A7r lll recently, I own the Metabones lll adapter which just got sent back to hong kong for a firmware update, and bought the V adaptor, I read through many comments and what appears to be missing even in the video, is that there is software involved in the adapters and in the lens-Body communications. The sigma canon mount adapter is designed for SIGMA canon mount lens only all bets are off if you use something else according to sigmas instructions. Reading Metabone's cryptic instructions theres a led that shows a color when communications are good .I am pretty sure red is bad and may require a firmware update, not sure what blue means and Metabones instructions reveal a "green Mode" But not sure if green refers to the led color or battery conservation tech. I carry both canon 5dsr and A7r lll cameras on the job, Why ? i work wide mostly, Sony and 10mm Voightlander is tiny compared to the canon and the 11-24 - the sony with the 10mm on it takes up no more in the case then one of my canon lens alone. and its so much wider ! 1mm at that end of the spectrum is huge. Before i sent the lll version back i noticed the canon lens working kinds funky is my best description. so it went back for an update. Current adapters are user updatable. the new one seams to work better, and my interest is how to best take advantage of the stabilization features.
A great review would test a same lens focal length. different brands , Say Canon 24-105, vs sigma and sony/ziess glass. The question i would answered is it better to go Native ? or Adapter. If i were to guess i would say yes for best performance