Why I Never Switched Over To Sony and How It Turned Out To Be a Good Decision for Me

Why I Never Switched Over To Sony and How It Turned Out To Be a Good Decision for Me

During the previous years, many of my photographer friends and colleagues switched over to Sony, often for good reasons. I also considered a switchover, but I never did. Now, I am grateful I never did.

When I bought my first DSLR back in 2005, I decided to choose a Canon camera because of its ergonomics. At first, I wanted a Nikon, but the Canon felt so much better. I liked the design and how the camera operated. It just felt good in my hands. This was a personal decision, of course, and it doesn’t say anything about the quality a camera produces.

Through the years, I discovered how pleasure in photography is also determined by the way a camera is designed. If it's enjoyable to use the camera, there will be more fun using it. Otherwise, photography may become a frustrating thing to do. This is something I see a lot with my workshop participants. If they are struggling with settings, buttons, or even withholding a camera, it takes all the fun out of photography.

I didn't chose Canon. The camera chose me. It felt as if the camera was designed for my hands.

I didn't choose Canon. The camera chose me. It felt as if the camera was designed for my hands.

The Switch to Sony

When Sony introduced their mirrorless cameras, many photographers decided to switch over. Often, they were talking about better quality pictures, better autofocus performance, and the ability to customize the camera. The Sony cameras were also smaller and lighter weight. And indeed, the mirrorless system offered options that could never be achieved with regular DSLR cameras. But, I wondered if those options made those cameras better or just different.

Switch over to Sony mirrorless? Or stay with the Canon DSLR. I wondered often which path to choose.

Switch over to Sony mirrorless? Or stay with the Canon DSLR? I wondered often which path to choose.

I often wondered if switching over to Sony could benefit my own photography. I could keep using my Canon lenses through an adapter, so I wouldn’t need to invest in new lenses. According to many Sony users, it was the best decision they made. They were praising their cameras as if these were the answer to all problems. This made me very suspicious since the perfect camera still has to be invented, if something like that is even possible. So, I kept being skeptical about these cameras everyone was talking about and kept on shooting with my Canon.

Using a Sony a9 and Sony a7R III

When I got a chance to review the Sony a9, I didn’t hesitate. During a couple of months, I used this small camera exclusively, ignoring my Canon 5D Mark IV. I took the Sony a9 with me on vacation and used it for a series of action shots next to my Canon 1D X. I used it for some portraits and for my landscape photography, of course.

Photographing with the Sony A9 left me with a lot of great images. It was okay to use the camera, but it was not as much fun compared to my Canon EOS 1Dx.

Photographing with the Sony a9 left me with a lot of great images. It was okay to use the camera, but it was not as much fun compared to my Canon 1D X.

The results from the Sony a9 were great, but not that different from what I could shoot with my Canon cameras or any other camera I had used in the previous years, for that matter. Its autofocus with eye detection worked great, but I never felt I could completely rely on it. I guess this was something I would need to learn and get used to. 

I enjoyed the 20 frames per second with the Sony A9. But there were a lot of downsides that became frustrating after a while. One of those downsides was the camera buffer. It took me a lot of careful planning and prevented continues shooting.for a extensi

I enjoyed the 20 frames per second with the Sony a9. But there were a lot of downsides that became frustrating after a while. One of those downsides was the camera buffer. It took a lot of careful planning and prevented continuous shooting for an extensive amount of time.

There were a couple of things I didn't like about the Sony a9. First of all, I found the menu to be terrible. It lacks a logical structure, which made it difficult for me to change settings in a quick and easy way. It was possible to assign buttons to meet your type of shooting, but that is not a solution for the difficult menu. It is a workaround. Many participants of my workshops, who used Sony cameras for many years, still had difficulties in using the menu.

Another issue I found is about the design of the camera body. It handles terribly, and many buttons don’t have that quality feel I would like from a camera of that caliber. Sony had already improved the buttons and rotation wheels on the Sony a9, but it was still not up to par. The small-sized bodies don't have much clearance between the grip and lens, which makes the use of the camera uncomfortable. It becomes worse when wearing gloves.

The Sony is not build for my hands. It is too small, even for my hands that aren't that big. Perhaps other photographers find it okay. This is very personal, of course.

The Sony is not built for my hands. It is too small, even for my hands that aren't that big. Perhaps other photographers find it okay. This is very personal, of course.

I found the Sony a7R III to have the same issues. Although the camera produces great images and the customization is very versatile, I find it far from user friendly. When I got my hands on the Sony a7R IV, I discovered it was more comfortable than its predecessor, and the buttons were improved even more. But it still felt as if it was cheap and fiddly. I believe the newest Sony a7S III camera finally has an improved menu structure, something a lot of Sony users have been asking for for years.

Sony knew its menu wasn't that good, but it took them years before they listened to the complaints. Now in 2020 they released the first camera with an improved menu.

Sony knew its menu wasn't that good, but it took them years before they listened to the complaints. Now, in 2020, they released the first camera with an improved menu.

Enough Reasons To Not Switch Over... Yet

All the things I have seen and experienced with Sony cameras made me decide not to switch over. It is not about the quality of pictures or the possibilities Sony cameras offer. They produce stunning images. But it's about the way these Sony cameras operate and how the cameras feel in my hands. Although I shot really great images with the Sony a9 and Sony a7R III, I cursed the handling and menu structure many times. For me, it took the fun out of photography.

I never felt very comfortable when using a Sony camera. That was one of the reasons I never switched.

I never felt very comfortable when using a Sony camera. That was one of the reasons I never switched.

When Canon finally introduced their first full frame mirrorless camera, the Canon EOS R, I was excited. Although I love my DSLR, I do know the benefits a mirrorless camera offers. The eye autofocus abilities can be of great help with my wedding and portrait photography. Unfortunately, the excitement about the Canon EOS R turned into disappointment when I was confronted with the infamous touch-bar. It made the camera terrible to operate.

Canons first full frame mirrorless camera was a big step towards a great camera. But why did they incorporate that terrible touch bar, and strange locations of the buttons? Enough reason to leave the camera aside.

Canon's first full frame mirrorless camera was a big step towards a great camera. But why did they incorporate that terrible touch bar and strange locations of the buttons? They were enough reason to leave the camera behind.

On the other hand, the Canon EOS R also had a lot of things that Sony cameras lacked. It had an amazing electronic viewfinder, the well-thought-through menu structure, a very useable touchscreen, and a great ergonomic design despite the touch bar. I experienced similar superior features with the Nikon Z7 and also the Panasonic S1. Altogether, I found operating all these cameras much more intuitive compared to Sony.

The Canon EOS R6 in use for some landscape photography.

The Canon EOS R6 in use for some landscape photography.

Now I’m Happy I Didn't Switch Over to Sony

Now, Canon has introduced a couple of amazing cameras that at least address all the flaws of the Canon EOS R. When reviewing the Canon EOS R5 and Canon EOS R6, I realized it was a good decision to stay with Canon and wait for the right moment to switch over to a mirrorless system.

These two cameras have the amazing eye autofocus for which Sony cameras are famous, together with a good ergonomic design and a user-friendly menu structure. They also have a good touchscreen, which Sony lacks altogether.

The autofocus of the Sony is not perfect, but it works very well indeed. For a long time I wished Canon had the same quality of autofocus. Unfortunately it didn't. That is why I wondered for a long time if a switch to Sony was wise.

The autofocus of the Sony is not perfect, but it works very well indeed. For a long time, I wished Canon had the same quality of autofocus. Unfortunately, it didn't. That is why I wondered for a long time if a switch to Sony was wise.

It made me realize something. If I would have decided to switch over to Sony, I would have had a camera that would make great quality photos, but which wasn’t perfect for me. Perhaps I would have had very useable eye autofocus in the previous years, but that would have been the only benefit. Sony was the first to make a mirrorless up to par with the DSLR and even beyond it in some ways. But I believe Sony kept its cameras in puberty for too long.

Sony paved the path for a mature mirrorless camera. Unfortunately Sony kept its cameras in puberty, I think.

Sony paved the path for a mature mirrorless camera. Unfortunately, Sony kept its cameras in puberty, I think.

Something to Think About

When I imaginemyself now, using a Sony camera, I am sure it would have given me a lot of great images with high quality, just like any other modern camera can produce. And I know I would have gotten used to the menu. After all, you learn to find settings by using it over and over again.

I am glad I have waited for so long. Now, I feel the mirrorless world has matured enough to make a switch. The newest mirrorless cameras now have the best of both worlds: a well-designed camera body, a good menu structure, and all the benefits like amazing eye AF tracking.

I would love to read your opinion about this subject. Please leave a comment down below with your thoughts about a camera switch and the newest series of mirrorless cameras that hit the market in 2020.

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Previous comments
Photo US's picture

canon and nikon were definitely complacent. sony woke them up. as canon fanboy you should thank sony or else you might be writing about new canon 5d mk 4.3 release with same sensor.

Nando Harmsen's picture

So I believe you think Sony saved the world of photography.
That's funny.
Okay: thank you Sony
(there you have it, my humble thank you).

Bjarne Solvik's picture

Can I say that you behave like a jerk? Or is it a violation of the Fstopper user terms?
So you write to provoke and stir reactions, and having fun doing it?

For years and for every new release from Canon, Canon users have been complaining about Canons Lack of invention and minor upgrades, and the way they hold back on stuff. Even the R5 have a crappy cooling solution that could have been much better with proper engineering. Some DIY guru modified the camera with some simple steps, and improved it a lot. Giving the heat a place to exit.

I don’t give a shit about video or 8k, but I think Canon does have a weird way of limiting there cameras.

Evidently Nikon was bragging about how there DSLR was crushing mirrorless cameras for sports and action photography, maybe a year before the A9. Then suddenly the tune changed. It’s a fact that due to Sony’s development of mirrorless Nikon and Canon came to the point they was forced to make mirrorless.

Did Sony save the world of photography? Is Canon the world of photography? He is talking about Canon, right? Was Canon on deathbed and needed saving? Actually according to multitude of Canon users, yes. Many complaint and switched to Sony because they where not happy. Even yourself was tempted. If Sony saved Canon by means of being cutting edge I am sure it was totally not there intention or desire. But yes, chances for you to enjoy your new R5 would be dim without Sony pushing the development of mirrorless.

Please! Enjoy you Canon gear but give honor where honor is due. Even if you want to provoke by bashing Sony, at least try to be a little objective.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

I wouldn’t bother with this writer... Having read his responses to others here, myself included, he’s a snarky jerk that just likes to provoke people thru ignorance, sarcasm, and patronizing, all for article clicks.

Patrick Rosenbalm's picture

All this article has done is piss everybody off except the site owners and advertisers. Got lots of comments and clicks so it's a great success. Conflict sells. Sad.....

Nando Harmsen's picture

Nobody is forcing people to comment on the article.
Funny thing is, when I write something about phtographing techniques, or a nice new product, nobody feels it's worth commenting (except a few).
It looks this is what most people love, and feel obligated to comment to.

Patrick Rosenbalm's picture

That's exactly right Nando. My comment wasn't a jab at you personally but you had to know what the results would be when you wrote the article. I do want to commend you for communicating with me and the other commenters. That says a lot. Certain others like, Jason Parnell-Brookes, Never reply to anybody. Dump and run....

Here's another article that got a lot of people worked up.

I can't help but wonder if you were under any pressure to write and post such an article by the site owners as this article is unlike your other articles you mention. I like your articles about technique and such.

Elliot Sander's picture

I just had to reply to this one because I feel exactly the same with Jason Parnell-Brookes hahaha

Steve McKenzie's picture

So why the clickbait title if you weren't looking for a reaction?

Rich Bind's picture

The global camera industry at a critical crossroads. Three factors driving this shift in sentiment. The roll-out of new expensive mirrorless cameras in rapid succession. The power of Sony as the primary maker of sensors. And camera / lens price increases at an alarming rate.

The future will bring many advances and crown the winners. What happens when the music stops? Canon in the strongest position with the Chinese market as their goldmine. Perhaps Sony has captured a large chunk of that consumer market. Everyone entitled to take a point of view and state their case?

Patrick Rosenbalm's picture

Good points Rich. The consumer will get the crowns and be the winners. The music might slow up a little but it will never stop.

Adam Palmer's picture

I was a super loyal canon guy from 1993-2015. I do still like they way the canons fit my hands. Other than that and the way you have to wait for the buffer to clear before changing settings I am pretty happy with sony. A grip is a must.

Nando Harmsen's picture

That buffer thing is something strange. I wonder why they did this. Good to hear you're happy with your camera :) That is what counts

Mark Bohrer's picture

Sony never enticed me. My first mirrorless camera was a beat-up used Leica SL. I have many M-mount lenses and needed a backup for a Leica M10. But the M10 has been unreliable, so the SL became the primary camera for my M-mount lenses.

I've also been a Canon and Nikon user since 1978 (FD series, then Nikon F-series AF, then EOS AF digital starting with the original 1D in 2003).

I bought an EOS R 18 months ago and loved it. It became my primary camera for real estate clients and everything else, relegating an EOS 5D mk IV to backup status.

Then I waited 3 months for an EOS R5 after ordering in July 2020. Got fed up and had a recent inheritance, so I bought a Leica SL2 and Sigma's 85/1.4 DG DN Art, Sigma 14-24/2.8 DG DN Art, Sigma 100-400/5-6.3 Contemporary and Lumix S Pro 24-70/2.8. Those lenses are all optically excellent and individually about 1/3-1/5 the price of not-that-much-better comparable L-mount Leica lenses.

But then there's the RF 50/1.2L, RF 70-200/2.8L IS and RF 24-105/4L IS. Perfect for action, portraits and events with the EOS R5's eye tracking AF, 12fps sequence shooting, and 45MP IBIS sensor. And all my EF-mount lenses work great on mirrorless R-series bodies with Canon's adapters.

Leica and Canon menu systems are simpler and better than anything else I've tried. That and large collections of EF-mount, M-mount, and now L-mount and RF-mount lenses keep me from even thinking about switching..

Nando Harmsen's picture

I just read about the Leica SL2S, the new "action" camera from Leica. It shoots 25fps ! But without AF tracking. hahaha
Nevertheless, I loved the Leica SL. But again, switching over to another brand with another lens mount is something I cannot affort.
If the camera you use gets the job done, why switching? That is something you can also do in the future, when your camera fails on you.

Photo US's picture

canon needs to make some small lenses pronto. these rf lenses are wayyyyy to big. imagine toyota only selling trucks.

Nando Harmsen's picture

They have also smaller sized lenses. The 24-105 and 24-70 are perfectly sized lenses. Also the new 600 and 800 are nice and small.
More are on its way.

Deleted Account's picture

This reminds me of Chevy vs Ford, or Apple vs Samsung. Competition is what drives innovation and we as consumers reap the benefits. I’m so happy my dad introduced me to this hobby many years ago and gave me my first camera an AE-1 which I still have and use occasionally.

Roland Ayala's picture

"Why I Never Switched Over To Sony." Smart man. It wasted $$$$ on Sony gear influenced by spec weenies and tubers until realized other 'inferior' systems produced better results for me. Gotta love what you shoot, and all cameras nowaday are plenty capable.

Photo US's picture

i use sony, nikon and maybe will get canon. i make very good money from the sony and nikon. i was making money with the nikon d1. this is the main feature I care about in a brand at this juncture: is it making me money.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

Good god, what an asinine, obtuse, ignorant comment 🤢

Photo US's picture

gad i switched to canon from nikon. my r5 blows away the f4 which can only shoot 36 photos at a time.

Jasper Stone's picture

I have been using a T7i with an SL@ as B roll for a while. Been wanting to upgrade. So after a year of looking at cameras ...recently switched to a Sigma fp and am very happy. It is the right camera for me.

Chris Duzynski's picture

I switched from Canon to Sony a few years ago and overall I am pleased with the system. My only real concern is losing access to CPS. I had found CPS to be invaluable. I am a member of Sony‘s alternative but have yet to need It. I am not confident it will be as prolific as Canon’s.

Mike Ditz's picture

Sony Pro is very good IMO. I have not had a problem (yet) or anything returned with free dust on the sensor and a note from the CPS tech saying "Could not replicate customer's problem. Upgraded FW and cleaned sensor".

Adam Palmer's picture

I was a CPS member for 10 years or so and now use Sony pro services. No real difference in my mind. Both great.

Steven Dente's picture

I think Mr. Harmsen has summed up why he chose the tone of this article in a couple of his own statements. "I didn't choose Canon. The camera choose me". This kind of hyperbole shows both a lack of imagination, and an inability on the part of the author to add any meaningful conversation to the community. Very weak writing. Mr. Harmsen may be a good photographer, but he has weak writing skills as this article demonstrates.

Regarding why he choose to frame his choice to finally switch to Canon mirrorless cameras, I think he has been very open. "Funny thing is, when I write something about phtographing techniques, or a nice new product, nobody feels it's worth commenting". That quote shows his motivation. To generate clicks, and comments. The definition of "Click Bait", admitted to by the author himself. One can see why he finds the need to frame the article this way in order to attract interest. His core writing skills lack the imagination and elegance to do it in a positive manner. It is much like the politicians when asked why their campaigns resorted to negative ads. "Because it works" is the common response.

Mr. Harmsen may be sincere in his desire to be a positive influence on the photographic community. He may want to communicate his opinion on what a great camera Canon has produced. If so, I suggest he work on originality in concepts, presentation and writing skills. He has a great opportunity to do so. Otherwise, he is just a "click baiter" working towards the lowest denominator in search of some small remuneration. His articles will not be contributing anything of value to the photographic community.

Mr, Harmsen, you could have done much better with this article as evidenced by the tone of responses here. The are primarily not about what a fine camera Canon has produced. They are not about the advancement of the state of the art in the Canon R5/R6 cameras. They are not about why the Canon fits your needs and preferences so well.
They are not even about how "smart" you were to have waited to switch (a neurotic's need for affirmation perhaps?). This has all been lost in the cheap "click bait" tone of your article.

It seems to have worked as your article has risen to the top of the Fstoppers home page. I hope it was worth your "piece of silver".

Momchil Yordanov's picture

The real reason to go Sony is more the lenses than the bodies. Because they opened their mount and AF algorithm to 3rd party manufacturers, there are models that are unparalleled with either the DSLR side or with the other brands' mirrorless lineup. The Tamron zooms, the Samyang AF primes and the newest Sigma DG DN line are amazing. They are new design, corrected for CA, smaller, sharper, quieter, cheaper lenses. Exactly what the original "promise" of the mirrorless systems was. I guess they will come for Canon and Nikon soon, but as of 2020, they are present only in Sony world (and some for Panasonic FF). I'm perfectly happy to live with the quirks of a Sony FF body, in order to use them.

Tammie Lam's picture

Lenses were the reason why I got my first Canon camera while shooting a Sony (A7r at that time) :) It was severely lacking lenses but I could adapt anything. The adapted AF was horrible, even on the A7r2...
Eventually I got a bunch of Canon lenses, and decided to "downgrade" my A7r2 to a 5DsR in 2016. I was missing the IBIS but everything else was amazing. About a year ago I've rented an A7r4 and wasn't impressed. While it's definitely evolved from the a7r2 it still feels half-baked. The menu and ergonomics don't seem to improve. Now I'm shooting the R5 while keeping my old R as a backup. Lenses are again the reason while I like those two cameras. The RF 70-200/2.8 is the smallest, lightest and arguably sharpest 70-200 on the market. The 85DS gives me the smoothest bokeh ever. Planning to get the 28-70/2 next. There is no 3rd party lenses to replace those.

Mike Ditz's picture

I switched about 5 years ago when most of my Canon gear was in need of replacement and both Nikon and Canon were still asleep. Fast forward to today and all three brands are putting out excellent cameras. Part of me wishes I kept with Canon but I would have been griping for 4 years about the crappy AF in 5Dmk2 and lack of dynamic range in Canon compared to Nikon and Sony. OTOH have a bunch of new stuff and learning a new system was beneficial to me.

Regarding menus, after using Canon forever it is still imprinted on my brain. Sony menus are ok once you figure out what you need (about 10% of the things on the menu) but give me a Nikon and I'll give it back to you.

Steve McKenzie's picture

And the point of this is? I think it's about time we added camera brand wars as an Olympic sport. Why does everyone see the need to defend their camera of choice by listing all the shortcomings of other brands, particularly Sony. Oh and btw, your R5 wouldn't even exist if Sony hadn't dragged Canon and Nikon kicking and screaming into mirrorless. And as the for that old chestnut, the Sony menu system, take some time to learn how to use it. You may just find it's OK. Try picking up a 5DMKII and quickly changing exposure compensation on the fly or switching from your preferred landscape settings to your preferred action settings with the flick of a dial.

Andrew Broekhuijsen's picture

I worked at a camera store for a few years, and used to stay all up-to-date with the latest gear, etc.

It took me a long time to realize (or perhaps just to admit to myself) that my camera was not the limiting factor in my photography, and hadn't been since perhaps I first upgraded to my first DSLR from a point & shoot with manual controls.

There are legitimate reasons to upgrade cameras or hop brands. I have a good friend who shoots almost exclusively astrophotography images. The bump in image quality when the camera body is pushed to its limits was worth all the other tradeoffs for him, so he shoots a Sony.

I shoot primarily nature photos on a tripod. Sometimes I shoot portraits - outdoors with fast primes, or in a studio with artificial lighting. In all of these use cases, I'm rarely if ever exceeding ISO 800. My Canon 5D Mk II is quite capable at ISO 800 and below. Perhaps I just don't know what I'm missing having 328 diagonal cross-type AF points or AI-based AF that locks onto eyes for me, but if I'm even using autofocus, I haven't found it to be difficult to just use the center AF point (I have 9 available), and recompose before clicking the shutter. Bottom line, I don't think I have any images in my portfolio that would be better if they had been shot on a newer camera body.

I'm finding I get a lot more return on investment by spending my time and money on practicing and learning than I do from gear.

For everyone who switched from Canon to Sony and are really happy with their camera, congratulations. I'm happy with mine too. For that matter, I'm happy with the various film cameras I still shoot as well, some dating back to the first half of the 20th century.

Michael Fraser's picture

Let’s address the more important issue, shall we?

Watermarks are both annoying and useless.