I've always identified myself as a Canon photographer. I've shot Canon for 10 years going from the Canon 350D, 7D, 5D Mark II & 5D Mark III to the Sony A7, but around 3 years ago I got bored and I felt I needed a change. The camera, in general, felt "too easy". I just clicked the shutter and everything was done. Somehow I missed the feeling of actually doing any kind of craftsmanship, I decided that day to sell all my gear and start shooting fully manual using only manual lenses.
Making the switch
Moving on to another system wasn't an easy decision. I only thing I knew was that I wanted was something that was easier when traveling and if possible, full frame using small fast lenses. At this point in time, I only owned 2 lenses for my 5D Mark II. I've gone through a lot of different Canon lenses but quickly realized I shot these two 95% of the time, and if I ever needed something else I would usually rent or borrow it from a friend.
The gear I sold
- Canon 5D Mark II
- Canon 35mm ƒ1.4 L
- Canon 50mm ƒ1.2 L
The new gear
- Sony A7
- Voigtländer 35mm ƒ1.2 (Leica M-type) w. Novoflex adapter
- Voigtländer 58mm ƒ1.4 (Nikon mount) w. Novoflex adapter
What I decided to get was the Sony A-series specifically the Sony A7, the cheapest full frame they had in their line up. I wanted to match the quality from the Canon 5D Mark II as close as possible without spending too much money.
Shooting the Sony
The first thing I noticed using the Sony was how easy it was to walk around with. This was of course expected since the Sony is at least half the size of the Canon. What was unexpected was that the Voigtländer 35mm ƒ1.2 (the first lens I acquired) was extremely heavy compared to the Sony A7 body. I didn't mind it that much at that time, I decided to get the best I could get from Voigtländer in the 35mm range. 3 years later I started to get annoyed by it. Keep in mind it wasn't that heavy compared to the L lenses I was used to when I used the Canon 5D Mark II.
The image quality
I'm not going to get scientific on this one. I'm not really the pixel peeping type. My goal with the Sony A7 was to be able to match the quality of the Canon. For me that meant a couple of things:
- Finding lenses with the same/close enough image quality as the Canon L glass. Sharp with buttery bokeh.
I strongly believe that I managed to do this. There are so many amazing alternatives to choose from when you decide to use manual lenses. I decided on using Voigtländer lenses because of their image quality, availability, price point and build quality.
- Having good of dynamic range for shooting backlit portraiture.
This is something I feel the Sony could've been better at. I don't know if it's just me, the lenses or the Sony sensor. But when using the Sony, I had to make sure I underexposed shots by 1 to 2 stops to make sure I didn't blow out any highlights. With the Canon, I never felt that it was a problem. Granted. I started shooting more and more JPG because of the easy transfer from the Sony to my iPhone.
- Getting a sensor with the same ISO range or better than the Canon 5D Mark II.
When it comes to ISO range I think the Sony had the Canon beat, no problems what so ever with shooting between 6400 - 12800. For the most part I never go above 6400. There's really no need to when you use fast primes.
Going fully manual
Using the Sony A7 in manual mode was remarkably easy. This was all because of Sony's EVF (Electrical View Finder). Getting perfect exposure and seeing the result even before taking the shot made going fully manual a cake walk. All the wheels work swiftly and everything is adjustable using your right hand without having to leave the viewfinder.
Focusing overall is a pleasure on the Sony. Setting the peaking level on high works wonders for most shots, except for portraiture.
Getting the focus on point when shooting portraits takes time, a lot of time. First off, using the highlighted peaking levels to get an idea of where the focus is. Secondly, having to zoom in whilst focusing to make sure I was getting the eyes in focus. The problem is, I have no idea what my model is doing while I spend 30-40 seconds between each shot to make sure the focus is correct.
There's no real way of getting around this. The problem I noticed was that most of my portraits looked the same since I had to make sure the subject was standing still for me to be able to nail the focus. It might work for most portraits but if you are trying to catch movement in your shots, you are going to have a bad time.
The final word & am I staying with Sony?
I must say that transitioning to Sony was overall very easy. It already had all the convenient features you'd want in a camera. It's a great tool and it definitely gets the job done. I do miss the bulky-ness of a DSLR at times and I've considered reverting back to it. But at the end of the day, it's not worth it for traveling.
With that said, I am looking into moving on from Sony. Mainly because the Sony lens line-up isn't that great. They're either too bulky for the small Sony body and for the most part too expensive, especially if you want a decent lens.
I am looking into the Fuji series again. They have improved a great deal since I last tried the X100 & X-Pro 1 back in 2014 and the Fuji lens line up is simply amazing.