Renowned Photojournalist David Burnett Announces Move to Sony Gear After 50 Years of Using Canon

Famed Photojournalist David Burnett has today released a video both announcing and explaining his decision to move to Sony equipment after more than 50 years working with Canon gear.

Despite his lengthy career, including co-founding Contact Press Images, Burnett is very much still an influential photographer in the industry. He’s noted for being published repeatedly in the likes of Time Magazine, has worked at the White House, and has won a plethora of awards, not least of which was the World Press Photo of the Year award.

In the above video, he declares: “I’ve decided to swap […] It’s the new technology, the cameras have a lot of things going for them that cameras never did before.”

Listing his reasons for the move, Burnett said he had been trying out Sony cameras for the last month, citing that the a9 and a7R III both shoot very quickly (the a9 up to 20 fps), which he says can be a real advantage, particularly in sports photography.

Secondly, he rates the large resolution of Sony cameras. Speaking to PetaPixel, he describes the files as “big and beautiful,” and heaps praise on the weight of the cameras, adding that the Sony equipment is lighter than what he’s used to.

He’s also intrigued to adapt his old Canon lenses onto his new Sony bodies: “Since the Sony cameras are mirrorless, the bodies are thinner, enabling a huge variety of legacy lenses to be used with them.”

Naturally it’s a big change, and one that isn’t with consequence. Burnett did admit the biggest struggle was having to learn from scratch how to operate a different menu layout, but remains optimistic that in time, the experience will feel normal.

“I have to say, I kind of feel like I’m finally stepping into the 21st century with these cameras,” said Burnett.

[via PetaPixel]

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David Penner's picture

But... Youtubers are saying Canon is better 😛

bert duarte's picture

this article brought to you by Sony

Stas Aleksandersson's picture

Not a native speaker but “has today released” sounds wrong to me...

Dallas Dahms's picture

Photographers use gear. Gear shouldn't use photographers. Yet here we are again...

Mark Holtze's picture

True! Part of why I love using “old” lenses and camera gear to achieve results. Some of my fave lenses are my grandfathers old SLR lenses. Finding them got me right back into photo taking.

Well, the guy has probably more experience than most of the readers of these pages, so don't belittle him. He knows what he is doing.

Mark Holtze's picture

I think it's not about be-littling him and just having a different persecutive. Doesn't matter how many readers or how experienced someone else is, it's all about personal preference when it comes to this topic. Yes his points are valid, but users demand different things. There is no right or wrong, it's art and that's what makes it brilliant IMHO.

Mark Holtze's picture

Ummm where did I say it was exclusively an art? I didn't, wouldn't ever make that statement either so clearly you misunderstood my point. I simply inferring that photographers have various degrees of what's important to them. Technical abilities are always a factor but the importance will vary per the photographers needs. Read camera reviews and you will see the example of this...polorized and divisive this is better on that cam, that is better on this cam debate that never ends.

You simply have to understand the science to craft the image so ya, I'm in full agreement with your statement and wouldn't ever suggest otherwise.

Mark Holtze's picture

Well glad I had a chance to clear that up then. Because simply saying 'it's an art" doesn't negate the technical side. No art is simply just art, in every element of the craft there is an underlying technical side. Music, painting, singing, cinematography, photography, editing, acting...etc.

I also have huge respect for that photographer, he's had an amazing career, I just personally find "i'm switching because" videos to be quite subjective.

Mark Holtze's picture

I agree, I can see why my statement now given your explanation might have triggered that based on your past experiences. I would just assume anyone who downplays the technical side of the craft doesn't know what they're talking about so I just assume it's a given ;)

Reason I didn't single it out. Anyway thanks for the clarification Bob! Appreciate it.

Tomash Masojc's picture

and video was posted on vimeo, it looks too old school for me :D

don't be impatient, Simon Cowells newest boyband will be right out-lol

"...trying out Sony cameras for the last month..." - He said in the video "For the last eight months or so".

He also said he switched from Nikon to Canon 40 years ago - so I'm imagining the title should read "after 40 years...." not 50 years of using Canon. I wonder if sometimes they bother actually viewing the video before reposting it.

"Naturally it’s a big change, and one that isn’t with consequence."

Big change that isn't with consequence? That sounds wrong.

chris bryant's picture

I tried an A7 for a number of months and sold it because I disliked the colour output. I much, much prefer the colour output from my 5DS R and that sole fact was the deciding factor.

Kenneth O. Soto's picture

Not that it matters much to you, but the first few A7s were not so great in color and AF performance.

Mark Holtze's picture

I have both, I love both for different reasons. Mirrorless have less optical “stuff” inside so ya they will always be smaller than the DSLR. But the cold weather crushes my already strained Sony’ll have to carry more batteries as well because the Sony is always using them.

I don’t love these kind of statements. Camera brand selection is complex (depending on user)and always feels like a compromised statement.

Wonderful photographer though and it’s about time canon started stepping up their game. I also think they have too many cameras on market now with not enough variation.

No 4k on 6D m2 because it will hurt sales of 5D mIV.

Also canon glass with adapters isn’t nearly as effective as one would think. I have started to collect Sony glass just because of this.

Also my Sony is mostly used with vintage slr lenses.,but .it’s always nice to have native glsss for your camera.

Enjoyed the read none the less :) thanks!

Mark Holtze's picture

Simply they're not as effective. It's not buy the $350 adapter and expect the same results as you would if you're shooting natively.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

Depends on the Canon lens. And be sure the firmware on the Metabones 4 is updated.
I have/had old Canon glass. The (fairly recent for me)85mm1.8 is as good if not better on my a7r2 than 5Dmk2. It was marginal on the old version 1 (15+ years old) 24-70 and 70-200 2.8 (sold them for Sony) non-existent on my really really old 300 2.8.
From what i have heard if the Canon lens is not too old it will work (AF, AE) pretty well on new Sonys.
Also have a Canon mt 24-105 Sigma that does not play well with an adapter. I wonder if there is a firmware up date for the lens....

Mark Holtze's picture

Ya it's just added complications. It's all good, just expect some maintaining work surrounded by it. Once you stick something else between your body and your lens you're going to have to compromise. In my experience anyway ;)

Lens age is definitely a factor for sure.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

Mark, it depends. I feel the adapter is not a compromise because it allowed me to use my oddball Canon lenses on the Sonys. I kept a 14mm. 15mm fish, 24 and 45 TS, 85mm 1.8, and the 300 2.8. and now they have IS! The middle of the road workhorses I replaced with Sony as they were so old they didn't adapt 100%.

Mark Holtze's picture

Thanks for additional info. I’ve not been Tom happy with it personally but prob the older lens issue. I keep vintage or native for now both Sony and canon. (Only haven one 16-35 Sony lens) I use that with vintage SLR mostly.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

No Bob, not yet. I have looked online and there is some sort of Sigma pod that connects lens to computer for firmware upgrade. I think I decided I would keep that lens for the rare time I use Canon.

It doesn't seem to be as much of an issue on the latest bodies due to the increased AF speed and continued improvement on the body / adapter with hard & software.

He metioned that he was missing shots at the Olimpic Games. If the reported inaccuracy of the 20 fps of the Sony is true, I’m not sure he will do any better.

Eric Salas's picture

I haven’t experienced inaccuracies in the AF with the A9. If anything, I’ve experienced higher hit rates and end up with more keepers than usual when I should have missed.

What we’re you shooting at the time you had your difficulties ?

And sometimes it is very tiring to see all the bashing of a brand that actually innovates at a very fast pace and tries to introduce new technology and really brings something new to the table.
The same old, the same old gets defended by some fanboys.

Why always bash Sony and pretend that Canon is the greatest. When was the last time Canon actually introduced a real innovation that meant something?

They introduce new cameras that are worse than their predecessors or they introduce a new camera that hardly catches up with cameras that were introduced a year before and are severely handicapped because Canon don't want to cannibalise their higher-end products.

Marius Pettersen's picture

"When was the last time Canon actually introduced a real innovation that meant something?"
Dual Pixel AF.

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