Dumping My 20+ Year Canon Loyalty for a Sony Mirrorless

Dumping My 20+ Year Canon Loyalty for a Sony Mirrorless

I've been a long-time Canon shooter, back to the film days, then a Canon 10D, 20D, 5D, and 6D. I do mostly landscape work and some nightscapes. They've been great cameras, close to state of the art at their release, and frankly, I've never needed a single repair on any of them.

So, why the switch to a Sony a7 III? Did I benefit? What about lenses? Using the camera in the field in terms of design, ergonomics, and usability? It's complicated, but let me explain my progression, noting in advance that my experiences and reasons likely won't be the same as yours.

When evaluating cameras, most of us, myself included, look backwards. In my case, Canon always satisfied. It worked in poor weather, never corrupted a CF or SD card, autofocus was reliable, and my photos came out as intended, whether as single shots or sometimes, bracketed HDRs.

A couple of years ago, I took a trip up to Page, Arizona with another photographer who had just purchased a Sony a7R. I was prepared to tell him Canon was so reliable, why stray off (from Nikon in his case) to something untested and without the glorious history of Nikon or Canon. It was about the images and the size and weight of the camera he said, and I had to admit, his images were beautiful, in low light, at night, in the canyons with mixed lighting. I loved the dynamic range in difficult lighting conditions. I also noticed his enthusiasm about using the camera in the field.

I didn't succumb just then, but kept my eye on Sony. A year ago, I was seeing more and more rave reviews, this time for the Sony a7 III. It was less expensive, was purported to have great dynamic range, and there was a feeling that somehow Sony had learned a hell of about photography and image quality while adding features photographers wanted. 

I also sensed that Canon was moving slowly, perhaps protecting its DSLR line. Firmware updates were more about bug fixes rather than adding new features. Sony, in contrast, was adding or improving features rapidly. 

So, as far as I was concerned, looking backwards at my camera experiences with a particular brand was not the only way to evaluate buying a new camera. I tried to see how aggressive the camera brands were about new technology and where they were going in the future 

For me, that was the moment of revelation. I liked where Sony was now (mirrorless, IBIS, dual SD card slots) and the easy ability to use my Canon glass using a Sigma MC-11 adapter

I liked where Sony was heading with solid incremental improvements to their camera line. They acted like a company with something to prove, not a company that had already proved their worth and was relaxing.

I almost never buy the most expensive product from a manufacturer, settling on a middle ground that gives me the most bang for my buck, so pricewise, the a7 III fit right in.

After using the Sony for almost a year, I'm happy with my choice. My Canon lenses and my third party lenses have worked fine on the Sony a7 III, even my wide field Rokinon that I use for Milky Way photography. Here's the Sony fitted with my 14mm Canon mount Rokinon lens using the Sigma adapter.

I like the increase in dynamic range, and although the menus take some getting used to, I like the many customization options. 

Sony has delivered firmware updates regularly, with new features and not just bug fixes. And the market seems to have validated the Sony camera as many pros and semi-pros have made the switch. 

It's not, however, a decisive change. Most pros are sticking with their DSLRs out of familiarity and comfort. That makes sense, as any new technology tries to upset the status quo meets resistance. And, of course, there's nothing wrong with the image or build quality of the best of the Nikons and Canons. Still, Sony is winning over a lot of photographers.

Still, I feel that Nikon and Canon were too comfortable and were protecting their high end, rather than pouring R&D into new camera bodies and technology.

It's not productive to start the religious debates over cameras anew. That's not my intention. I'm just one photographer who made the switch, and I'm glad I did. It wasn't so much image quality or color science, but the a7 III satisfied me in those criteria. All the major companies have their fans and detractors. It was more a matter of my liking Sony's direction and aggressive stance. To many, the new Canon mirrorless entries have been less than overwhelming, and I think Canon needed but failed to get an early home run.  

So, my main reasons for moving were:

  • New camera (my Canon was 6+ years old)
  • The Sony could use my Canon and third party Canon mount lenses (with a Sigma adaptor)
  • Better dynamic range
  • Faster focusing
  • Better low light performance for my night work
  • Lighter and smaller
  • Better resolution (20 versus 24 mp)

I'm hoping that the more competitive the field becomes, all the manufacturers will step up and offer better technology at lower prices. I doubt the Sony will be my last camera. I'd like to see Nikon, Canon, and the others step up with even better products. And who knows who else might be out there to surprise us all with something with innovation and breathtaking image quality. 

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139 Comments

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Timothy Gasper's picture

Yes sir...that is true and not true. I was always told (from at least 50 years ago) that it's not the camera but the photographer. Hell even Ansel Adams said it and who are we to question him? But that verbage has gone out the window a while ago. With new technologies we see more and more increases in 'better' photos. But i still ask myself if it's the camera or photographer. Maybe both? Maybe that old verbage should be revisited? What a quandry.

Jonathan Brady's picture

Exactly! Gear may not make a bit of difference in some cases. In fact, it may lead to worse results, hypothetically speaking. For instance, if something is too big and heavy and it demotivates someone and they don't even bring it with them then the lack of an image is necessarily a worse result than what they would have taken with even the worst gear. Conversely, gear which has capabilities that other gear doesn't have can lead to a shot that never would have existed otherwise.
So, the only time gear doesn't matter is when all gear is capable of achieving the exact same result given the circumstances. Then, all that matters is the photographer. Otherwise, it's some combination of the two (gear + photographer).

David Love's picture

"too big and heavy" this argument is tired as f&+#. When the bonus point of a camera is that it's light then we've gone off the deep end. A pic is taken in raw and then edited. Everyone acting like they never edit pics and the camera did the magic. No it's the person that gets up early or stays out late to shoot the sun rise or stars or the way a photographer makes people feel at ease and knows how to direct a model that makes the image good. I've seen way too many bad images shot on the latest and greatest to start camera worshipping. But hey at least it's light.

Jonathan Brady's picture

It appears as though you've confused an example with THE reason. There are many other examples I can give which illustrate the differences between two or more pieces of gear which will result in better output. Hell, you gave one yourself. Jpeg vs. Raw. In that case, proper editing software to develop the raw file can produce a superior result versus a JPEG image. It doesn't necessarily guarantee it. But it can absolutely result in it. Would you not consider software and computers to be gear?
Thank you for supplying a second example to complement the first.

Ryan Davis's picture

I left my 5D and my lenses at home a few years ago, when I walked the Camino, and used my iPhone as my principle camera. When you are walking 800 kilometers, and humping gear already, 3 extra pounds feels like lead in your boots. I sure wish I'd have had one of those Fuji x100s.

Will Murray's picture

When you are climbing a mountain, weight matters.

David Love's picture

I just got back from shooting in the mountains in Canada and in snow I carried my mark 4, 70-200 II, gh5 with 24-105, a b800 with light stand and a tripod. Yeah it wasn't fun but it didn't kill me enough to go shopping for a lighter camera.

Will Murray's picture

That might apply had you been "climbing a mountain" as posed to "shooting in the mountains and in snow". There are very good reasons people spend a great deal of time and money on ultralight hiking/climbing kit.

My colleague bought a full frame camera with some heavy lenses. After the holidays I asked him if he liked his pictures. He told me that he left his camera at home because it was too heavy. My comment was that he bought the wrong camera. He should have stayed with a ligher aps-c camera.

Will Murray's picture

Deleted

Doesn't make one produce better work, just makes the gearhound rationalize their decision.

Jonathan Brady's picture

I never said it "MAKES" one produce better work. I said it CAN. Gear can unlock possibilities. Just like processing a raw file can unlock possibilities that a jpg can't.

Eric Myre's picture

How many of those articles are you guys gonna put up?
Well written article, but seriously who cares at this point?!

Timothy Gasper's picture

Exactly. If you're happy with what you have then stick with it. But writers do need to write about something. Perhaps they could look for more creativity or originality?

K G's picture

Don't you know the whole world needs to know every single time some random nobody photographer changes gear? It's beyond old at this stage. They push the 'it's all about the photography' spiel unto us on sites like this yet every other article is gear based and we get a tonne of these "I'm switching to X system, here's why .." articles ... YAWN

Mohammed Alamin's picture

Well said, it's exhaustive at this point, to be honest. I've shot Sony alpha for the past 9yrs and tried other cameras as well. It's fair to say most of the cameras are more than good enough for most photographers but the way Sony articles are popping up you'll think its the best thing since sliced bread. It's a camera that's all.

Rob Mitchell's picture

Yay for peer justification blog posts.

Justin Punio's picture

Canon are definitely very late to the party. But the RF lenses look like they will produce amazing results. I'll wait to see a genuine Pro mirrorless from Canon before I make my own judgement.

Mike Stern's picture

Canon should continue making lenses. And they better make them cheap. So we can use’em on our sony cameras with adapters.

Timothy Gasper's picture

Now THAT is funny.

That is, probably unintended, extremely funny.

michaeljin's picture

I don't see how someone is going to produce an adapter to attach Canon RF-mount lenses to Sony E-mount bodies. It would have to be 2mm thick and reduce a 54mm throat diameter to 46.1mm within that 2mm distance. Is that even possible?

michaeljin's picture

You know this for a fact from an engineering standpoint or is it just conjecture? It doesn't seem like a whole lot of space to fit the required electronics and I wonder how the abrupt change in diameter would affect the coverage without some optic to correct for it.

Rob Davis's picture

I can’t think of many things I care less about than the camera someone uses, let alone their journey to getting it.

Jonathan Brady's picture

Yet, you read the article and commented on it. Are you sure you're being honest with yourself what you really care about?

Rob Davis's picture

I care not to see weekly sponsored content being paraded as authentic. Cameras really do not matter this much to have this many conversion stories every few days.

Alex Cooke's picture

This article isn’t sponsored.

Rob Davis's picture

Do you receive ongoing sponsorship from Sony itself in any way? Anything I’m which you’d be motivated or pressured to to provide favorable coverage for them?

Anything indirect? Like extra commission form B&H or other affiliates for Sony products?

Alex Cooke's picture

Nope, nothing.

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