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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Previous comments
Jan Kruize's picture

Well Terje.... show us the great images you make with this great sony.

Przemek Lodej's picture

I laugh out loud whenever I read responses from people who have zero photos in their portfolio to back up their claims. Gotta love it :) lol

Dylan Bishop's picture

I had a Sony a7R II for a couple weeks, got it used but the sensor was damaged so I had to return it. But my experience with the sigma adapter was that auto focus didn’t work very well on any of my Canon lenses. One day I was rushing out the door to work on a project with very limited time and I grabbed my Canon EOS RP instead of my Sony a7R II, knowing I wouldn’t have issues with autofocus. Do I have a bad adapter or something?

The A7Rii doesn’t have the focusing advances that the mark iii bodies have (a7iii a7riii). The sigma adapter (when fully updated) works incredibly well on the mark iii and a9 bodies. The mark ii bodies are great for the price, but if you’re looking for optimal AF performance gotta check out the iii

I would be hard pressed to argue with you if shooting night & landscapes are your thing. It’s smaller, more compact, easier to travel and carry, and as you observed the DR is superb. But for me as a wild life guy there are no real advantages. Still need long, heavy lenses which defeats the purpose and the Sony lenses cost more than Canon. Right now Nikon has that niche with better af and small, compact long lenses such as the 500 pf. Their only hole is a lack of a good 100-400 which canon and Sony have..

I own a Canon 7D, M50, snd Sony A6300. With that said, in response to this article:

1. Yes, Canon is 5+ years behind. My 3 year old Sony has superior video specs and 11 fps on still photos vs less on my Canon 7D and the new mirrorless Canon R is even slower, less than 6 fps. Canon, this totally unaceptable!

2. Be forwarned; the Sigma adaptor praised in this article for Sony cameras is useless on sports photography when using either my L series 70-200mm or L series 400mm. The autofocus just keeps hunting forcing me to go manual focus. Same goes when using the metabones adaptor. If you are thinking of jumping ship, going to a Sony body, bring all your lens in the camera shop, try them on the Sony body with the adaptor first.

3. Sony A7 III is super cheap for its specs but also consider Sony lens are more expensive so all things considered, not cheaper.

4. Sony menus and ergronomics are seriously bad. I really suggest you use one befire buying. It isnt just different, it flat out sucks and it matters in the field. In addition, no flip screen, poor and limited touch screen by Sony.

As far as Canon is behind in the latest camera specs, Sony is equally behind in ergronomics. Canon and Nikon have decades of feedback from professional photographers and it shows. In contrast, Sony is pushing the limits with camera specifications but it feels like they never bothered to get feedback from camera users in the field. I feel like Sony cameras were designed by electrical engineering geeks given a task my management to design a camera with better still photo and video specifications but no real photographers were involved in the camera design process.

5. I shoot surfing photography. The Sony body is smaller, more fps, quick autofocus with native Sony lens make it my go to camera shooting in the water with a water housing. My Canon 7D is superior as soon as you use Canon lens. I still use my Canon while shooting on land for sports photography abd due to superior ergronomics, prefer Canon in my hand so only use Sony in land when Canon body specs won't do the job.

At this point I am hoping Canon can improve their new mirrorless bodies. I need 120 fps video for slow motion, 10+ fps still photos, and sharp, fast, autofocus for stills and video. Neither Canon or Sony make a camera body that does all that with my lens. I am in the waiting mode. My hope, Canon makes a 2020 camera with 2020 specifications vs the 2019 Canon R , a $2700 camera with 2012 chip and 2012 specs to match and inferior spec wise to a $800 Sony camera body. Eventually I will need, not want a new camera body. If Canon cant get its act together I might be forced to jump ship meaning sell Canon lens off, switch brands. If that happens, Canon will not only lose the sell of a camera body, it looses sells of all future lens.

A side note: The Canon dual pixal autofocus is fantastic for video photography being able to touch screen to change focus from one subject to another.

David Pavlich's picture

My son is a wedding photographer. He was considering a switch from Canon to Sony, but he called me first to get my opinion since he knows I do a LOT of research when considering making any considerable purchase. I told him before he decides to go to the local camera store and actually take a look at a Sony. He was going to upgrade his 5DIIIs.

He did and ended up with a pair of 5DIVs. The in hand feel really put him off and going through the menus, the final nail was driven. Some of us consider ergonomics paramount. Certainly a subjective issue, but for me, a deal breaker. Doesn't matter to me a whit about the 'pluses' in Sony's favor if the camera feels like it came from Toys R Us.

"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."

This is simply wrong, or at the very least appealing to availability and confirmation biases. Look at the D850, D500 and previously the D800/e as examples. Look at all the recent lens innovations that Sony still doesn't have (e.g. diffractive optics). Oh and the Z6 and Z7 didn't just pop up out of nowhere. That was years of R&D.

Patrick Rosenbalm's picture

Just another click bait Canon vs Sony article. I skimmed over it. Same reasons given by a different photographer. What's the point really? Shame Canon? Shame Canon users? Promote Sony? Yes, I saw the Not Sponsored comments by Alex. Another article that guarantees more clicks? Beating a dead horse in my opinion.

This has been a hot topic for the past 6 years. Canon is going to be Canon because all the shaming hasn't seemed to motivate them to change and it is costing them. As for Sony they can't keep up the "new innovation" pace forever. And if they did I can see, and have seen it already, where some are complaining "I just bought this for $XXXX a year ago and now here's a new version with a new feature that everyone is raving about." Kinda like smartphones. But like with them just skip a couple generations.

My point is that I like Fstoppers and I don't want to see it turn into what DPReview is. Click Bait and Troll Kingdom.

As for me I'm "currently" happy enough with my Canon gear. I would like to see them do better too but it's not worth it to me to selloff all my gear and change systems to any brand. If I did it wouldn't be because I feel "left behind", "shamed" or "brand trend".

And I certainly wouldn't write and post an article about it to advertise and brag that I did.

user-197686's picture

This loyalty thing is absurd, camera is a tool, if you can get a better tool, good. That's all. At the end you have to ask yourself, has my work gotten better with the switch? If not it doesn't really matter because it makes no difference.

Will Murray's picture

Camera is to photographer as car is to driver.

If you were a terrible driver before buying a Ferrari, fair bet you'll be just as bad afterwards.

On a less snarky note, I'm uncertain as to why anyone would purchase an unsealed camera for landcape.

lovely night cactus :) I'm curious about the sigma adapter, does this change the focal length of the lenses used? Thanks

Milenko Đilas's picture

Million, and I do not know which number is in order of usual comments and titles: I switched from Canon to Sony and I'm very happy, Sony blew away Canon (I'm speaking generally on the Internet/blogs etc)... bla, bla, bla... But everyone forgets to say that they previously used "Fred Flintstone" Canon's released cameras.
Try to upgrade Your currently Canon's or Nikon "Fred Flintstone" released cameras with new Canon/Nikon FF Body and will have the same WoOoW effect. Sony has become boring as Alfa Romeo car drivers in Europe which were previously driving the Golf 2.

I too wanted to see what all the fuss with Sony mirrorless was about. My reasons were similar to yours. So I bought a used A7R3 and a metabones adapter. While I like the image quality, the A7R3 is not a fun camera to use. The ergonomics suck. It’s too easy to accidentally bump the control wheel a change camera settings. It’s not a tool I enjoy using. I’m going to rent a Canon R and see what I think of it. I still have my 5DM4. The Sony is for sale...

Thomas Macioszek's picture

I am fine with people leaving the Canon line in favor of (flavor of the year). Means cheaper used glass for me. Thanks!

Mu Tru's picture

"Lighter and smaller"

(requires adapter to use lenses, adding bulk and weight)

Pick the camera that serves your shooting style and artistic impulses. Articles that argue for one make and model over another without mentioning this only salient question are ... meh. IMHO.

Jan Kruize's picture

For me it’s clear that all these people who write these articles on one or another way are supported by sony. Four articles in one week wich are writing bashing canon down and sony up is just stupid. And than all those sony fanboys who are commenting on them have one thing in common. Theyre almost all have no single picture in there profiles here. And all that makes me think that all those guys are influenced by the guys who yell all day here.... buy that sony, buy that sony are a lil disappointed by the results from their great and glorious sony camera. Why? You still must know how to make a photograph.

Poor timing on the change. Stood by Canon for years while they get left behind by Sony and Nikon -- at least strictly in terms of technology in their bodies -- and jumped ship just as Canon is developing some amazing (albeit costly) glass for their mirrorless body offerings and, oh by the way, most accounts would indicate Canon is a handful of months out from releasing a pro-level mirrorless body with IBIS to partner with that amazing glass.

Just admit you had camera envy and GAS. I get it often but then realize that new gear won’t make me a better photographer. And I also realize that you will never be able to figure out what body/ lens combo a photo is shot with by just viewing the image on social media (or 95% of most prints).

Kawika Lopez's picture

I don’t understand why so many people are so butt hurt about the fact that a person likes one camera over another. Everyone seems to think that their camera is the only answer to make a photo.

Why is it so hard to understand that a camera is a tool and whether you’re honest with yourself or not, the reality is that each camera/brand has different strengths.

Is it so hard to believe that people pick the camera that is best suited for their type of shooting style? It doesn’t mean they’re talking trash about the camera you have, so just relax.

And for those of you who think this article isn’t relevant or interesting, NOBODY is forcing you to read it. There are plenty of articles on fstoppers that just don’t apply to the things I’m interested in. You know what I do? I don’t read them, but I’m not so self absorbed to think that I’m the only one these hard working writers are putting out content for.

Hmm . . . . lighter? If internet sources are accurate, the Canon 6D body weighs 680 grams. The A7III body weighs 650 grams, and the Sigma MC-11 adapter weighs 125 grams. How is 775 grams lighter than 680?

While the Sonys and ML may be lighter and smaller ( I hope the A7R4 is more DSLR like with the Sony tech and the Canon menus :) On many jobs I still take a Think Tank Airport Accelerator with 2-3 bodies, too many lenses, 2 adapters (Nikon and Canon) gadgets and doodads and grip and lighting gear in pelican cases. I am not measuring in grams I am hoping I can get the cases under 50lb to get on a plane.

Keith Meinhold's picture

This is why they make vanilla and chocolate - not everyone has the same taste. As a Canon user all the way back to the AE1. I had looked for something to replace my big heavy DSLR in their line. (I hauled an AgiFlight around for men first career - that was enough thank you) There was no way I was going to haul the DSLR, lenses, and accessories on an upcomming multi week internationals trip, and frankly the DSLR was getting left at home more and more often. With limited space and remaining loyal, I purchased a Canon point-n-shoot superzoom. That little camera rekindled my interest in the hobby - but its image quality limitations left me wanting more. Again I looked to the Canon line - and there was nothing. After exhaustive research I purchased a Sony Mirrorless and have been enamored ever since. Assuming Sony had the magic, I later purchased a Sony RX100. While an exceptional camera for its size, it didn't meet my needs. Living in Miami I see lots of tourists with kit DSLRs purchased for their vacation of a lifetime - I assume they think the bigger the camera the better the pictures. I wonder how many get packed away and never used again afterward.

Kim Bentsen's picture

Why would anyone be loyal to a camera company unless you own shares?

Keith Meinhold's picture

Compatibility - when I switched to Sony it meant all new lenses, filters etc.

Robert Teague's picture

I did something similar, in my case going from a Nikon D800 to the Nikon Z 7. But, I also have a lot more years using Nikon than you did using Canon.

Campbell Sinclair's picture

I dont like electronic viewfinders

Do we actually have a side by side of images made by Sony, Nikon and Canon where we can see what brand sucks?
I am thinking (given my experience with all three) that the differences show up at 200% but IRL not so much.

Oh my god, WHO...THE HELL...CARES?

Adam Palmer's picture

I was all canon from 1993 to 2015. I was such a loyal canon guy that I surprised a lot of people by switching. They metabones lens adapter was probably what did it for me. I figured if I kept my lenses I could always switch back. The only thing that I want now that canon has is the 28-70mm 2.0. That does tempt me a lot but not enough.

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