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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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