Why This Pro is (sort of) Switching from Canon to Sony

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Throughout the internet, there are quite a few photographers trading in their DSLRs for shiny new mirrorless cameras. I never thought I’d join the crew switching from Canon to Sony, telling myself that it’s not the bells and whistles of brand new cameras that define a photographer’s abilities. That all changed when I took the plunge and ordered a Sony A7RIII.

After having it for about a month, I’ve fallen head over heels in love with this camera and use it almost as much as my Canon DSLRs. However, I’m not giving up on Canon yet. In this article, I’ll shed some light on why I’m straddling the Canon-Sony lines, and how my experience with Sony has been so far.

My History of Cameras

I’ll start off by admitting that I’ve never been much of a camera brand loyalist, to begin with. My first digital camera (I never shot film) was a Nikon D40. I played in the Nikon world for several years, eventually ending up with a Nikon D700, and host of accompanying Nikkor lenses.

In 2012, I traded in my Nikon gear for the Canon 5D Mark III and 6D, intending to dive into the video and filmmaking world. While that Canon has hardly been utilized for video, it has built my entire professional photography portfolio in the past 6 years. I haven’t bought a full-frame camera since then.

Why This Pro is (sort of) Switching from Canon to Sony

In 2015, I embarked on a month-long backpacking trip to Asia, which sparked my purchase of a Sony a6300. This dipped my toes into the Sony world, and although it took a lot of adjusting, I quickly fell in love with my little mirrorless camera.

It was much smaller than my DSLRs, image quality was on par, 4K video quality was exceptional, and the extra features such as face detect, eye autofocus, focus peaking, and more felt sci-fi compared to my Canons.

Fast forward to this year, when I’ve ramped up video production and am making as many videos as I am photos, and it just made sense to upgrade to the full-frame Sony A7RIII.

Why This Pro is (sort of) Switching from Canon to Sony - forest scene

What I Love About Sony Cameras

Eye Autofocus

You’ll never have another excuse for taking an out-of-focus portrait again when using a Sony camera. Their eye autofocus is fast, accurate, and very hard to live without once you’ve gotten used to it. Pair it with face detection, and you have the perfect camera for photographing anything with people in the scene.

A Truly Silent Shutter

When I first started shooting with the Sony a6300, I marveled at the silent shutter mode that helps you shoot candid shots much more stealthily. Canon has a Silent Shooting mode that is definitely quieter than normal, but hardly without noise. Sony silent shutters are truly silent, which can be very important while shooting in live performance venues or in areas where the extra noise is frowned upon.

Canon to Sony - Why This Pro is (sort of) Switching from Canon to Sony

Canon versus Sony side by side.

The Electronic Viewfinder (EVF)

Like most mirrorless cameras, the Sony A7rIII comes with an electronic viewfinder. Compared to DSLRs that use optical viewfinders (OVF) unless you’re shooting via live view, an EVF gives you a real-time preview of the image you’re capturing.

Generally speaking, I love the EVF for crafting and composing better images in-camera, but I do wish for the option to switch between EVF and OVF. This especially comes into play when photographing concerts with heavy LED lighting that can almost wash out the EVF and make it difficult to compose images.

Sony PlayMemories App

It’s far from perfect, but the Sony PlayMemories app and its ability to quickly transfer images from the camera to a smartphone via a QR code is genius. This approach is much easier and reliable than Canon’s Wi-Fi transfer system.

Sony also used to include PlayMemories apps that could be installed in-camera, such as a time-lapse feature. For unknown reasons, Sony removed these apps from the Sony A7rIII and A7III. Hopefully, they are restored in a future firmware update as these apps were incredibly handy.

Sony-Wifi QR code - Why This Pro is (sort of) Switching from Canon to Sony

The Camera Can be Powered Internally via USB

The ability to charge my camera by simply plugging it into a wall or external battery pack has been a lifesaver. This is handy not only if you happen to forget your external battery charger, but also for powering your camera through any extra-long photo (like time-lapse) or video sessions.

What I Miss from Canon Cameras

Ability to Shoot Smaller RAW Files

A feature I use quite frequently on my Canon cameras is the ability to shoot smaller RAW file sizes (M-RAW, S-RAW). This gives you all of the advantages of a RAW file but in a smaller file size.

Unfortunately, this is a feature that Sony cameras don’t offer. It would be especially helpful to have on the Sony A7RIII, whose uncompressed RAW files are 81.9 MB apiece. The only way to decrease this size is to shoot compressed RAW files (about 41.0 MB each) or shoot in JPG.

Needless to say, I’ve purchased two more external hard drives since I started shooting with the A7rIII.

Why This Pro is (sort of) Switching from Canon to Sony - night scene

Straightforward Features and Settings

Sony cameras, like Adobe Photoshop, are jam-packed with features. This can be either a blessing or a burden when you’re just trying to take a simple photo or video. More often than not, I find myself fumbling around with Sony’s menus and settings just to snap a quick photo.

Yes, you can customize buttons and menus to your liking. But it can get confusing when you have to choose between six focus modes and six focus areas at any given moment. In comparison, cameras like Canon DSLRs and even Fujifilm mirrorless cameras seem much simpler to operate.

Consistent Colors

Many photographers are quick to criticize the colors of Sony cameras, claiming that Canon has a much better color science. I tend to agree with the critics.

In general, photos taken with both my Sony a6300 and A7RIII have pretty good colors. But occasionally (usually when shooting indoors with artificial lighting), both cameras process colors oddly. This can usually be corrected in post-production, but compared to my Canon DSLRs that nail colors almost every time in a variety of conditions, this can be frustrating.

Why I’m Not Leaving Canon Just Yet

Canon gear - Why This Pro is (sort of) Switching from Canon to Sony

Even though I own two Sony cameras, I’m not fully giving up on Canon just yet. Here’s why.

Sony Lenses Aren’t Cheap

Across the board, Sony lenses tend to be several hundred dollars more expensive than their Canon equivalents. Even if I traded in or sold all of my Canon gear, it would take a significant investment to buy into the Sony G-Master line of lenses.

My compromise in the meantime has been a mixed bag. I sold half of my Canon lenses (mostly prime lenses that I never used anyway), purchased a few mid-range, all-purpose Sony lenses (i.e. the 24-105mm f/4), and invested in a Metabones V adapter (more on that below).

My Remaining Canon Gear is Hard to Sell

I’ve historically been very hard on my Canon DSLRs, and both show significant wear and tear. Trade-in and resell values for both of my DSLRs and remaining Canon lenses aren’t great. How many people do you see switching to Canon these days? In the meantime, I’m inclined to keep and use my Canon gear for now and wait and see what happens. After all…

A Canon Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera is Coming Soon

Photography news sites are abuzz that both Canon and Nikon may soon release full-frame mirrorless cameras. It’s hard to say how good these cameras will be, and if they will use EF and EF-S lenses, or a whole new lens mount. But I’m hanging on to the hope that Canon can get its act together and compete in the mirrorless world.

canon and sony cameras side by side - Why This Pro is (sort of) Switching from Canon to Sony

Canon body on the left, Sony body right.

Two Things Worth Mentioning

Sony Batteries Have Improved Greatly

Mirrorless cameras have long been criticized for poor battery life. This is certainly true for my a6300, which usually lasts for about 350-400 shots per battery.

However, Sony introduced the brand new NP-FZ100 battery to both the Sony A9, A7rIII and the A7III. More robust in build, this battery powers your camera for up to 530-650 shots or a little under 2 hours of video recording time.

In practice, I find that these new batteries last much longer and are almost on par with Canon DSLR batteries.

Sony-Canon Lens Mount Adapter Works – Sort of

Metabones V Adapter - Why This Pro is (sort of) Switching from Canon to Sony

There are several lens adapters which will let you mount Canon lenses to Sony cameras. The most popular adapters are the Sigma MC-11 Mount Converter ($199.00) and the Metabones V adapter ($399.00).

I’ve been using the Metabones V adapter to put my Canon lenses on the A7rIII and a6300. The adapter works most of the time with fast and accurate autofocus, and even eye autofocus works extremely well.

However, there are moments when my camera will simply freeze right after focusing on an object. This is easily corrected by simply switching the camera off and back on, but it seems to be a problem with the adapter. So far, this is the only real problem I’ve seen while using a lens adapter.

Canon lenses that work on my Sony cameras with the Metabones V adapter:

  • Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 II
  • Canon 24-70m f/2.8 II
  • Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 II
  • Canon 50mm f/1.8
  • Canon 35mm f/1.4
  • Canon 85mm f/1.8
  • Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro

In Conclusion

Canon to Sony

As a photographer charging into the world of videography, it made sense to start shifting away from Canon into the realm of Sony. Since getting the Sony A7rIII, I’ve seen a huge uptick in the quality of my videos and photos. However, I’m also hoping that Canon will soon release a competitive mirrorless camera that meets the video and photo needs of today’s creatives.

Have you made the switch to mirrorless cameras yet? If so which brand and model did you decide on and why? What’s your take?

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Suzi Pratt is an internationally published Seattle event and food photographer. Her photos appear regularly in Eater and Getty Images. She is also a blogger who teaches others how to run a successful photography business.

  • Anton Ivanov

    Hi Suzi, congratulations! You have developed not one, but two tallents. This article is by far the most enjoyable photography blog I have ever read and I have read tons of them: precise down to earth conversational language with straight forward clear message in a beautifully structured presentation… Wow ! And then I peaked at your work on Pinterest and was blown away . Thank you for the pure joy delivered both by the visual and the written message .
    My company and I are working on improving our message to clients . We are in an industry much more trivial than yours – personal finance . Would you be able to help me with a question-two that hit me while reading your article? You can reach me at anton@iassure.ca . Thank you very much! Keep being focused on your photography and writing and stay blind for shiny objects . These two tallents of yours will drive you beyond the reach of imagination. Cheers!

  • A little while ago, I bought an Olympus OM-D E-M5 because I wanted a smaller camera that I could take with me at all times. My Canon 60D was just too heavy to carry around every day, even with the lightest lens on it, and I felt I wasn’t advancing with my photography because I wasn’t taking enough opportunities to practise. I ended up using the OM-D waaaaay more than my Canon and I loved the quality of images, even from the basic kit lens. I asked myself: “Why should I have two cameras when this one’s much lighter and I’m happy with the quality of the photos it produces?” It didn’t make sense, so I sold the Canon and one of my lenses and bought two prime lenses for the Olympus.

    I love the OM-D. It’s so easy to use now that I’ve programmed all the special buttons and I would never go back to using a DSLR. The only change I’d make is an upgrade to the mkII body at some point. It works perfectly for me because it’s small enough to fit in my bag and powerful enough to create images that make me happy, especially with my lovely prime lenses.

  • Hal Mitzenmacher

    In regards to this …..” It would be especially helpful to have on the Sony A7RIII, whose uncompressed RAW files are 81.9 MB apiece. The only way to decrease this size is to shoot compressed RAW files (about 41.0 MB each) or shoot in JPG.”……

    While this statement is true, there is another way to get a RAW file smaller. Although you can use Sony’s compressed RAW, the disadvantage is that it is a LOSSY compression scheme. But by capturing Sony 81.9 MB RAW files and converting them into DNG files (an easy option when importing into Lightroom), the LOSSLESS compression of DNG shrinks the file size back down to about 42 MB. While many photographers are leery of DNG due to factual and/or fictional reasons, the cost savings and all the other efficiencies that come from reducing each image file from 81.9 MB down to 42 MB in a lossless way is tangible and significant.

  • Thanks for the suggestion, Hal. I was just thinking that there had to be a way to shrink the file sizes in post-processing and this sounds like a good workaround. I’ll give it a shot!

  • I have a few photographer friends who have also switched to the OM-D. They’ve showed me some features and I’m actually quite impressed with it! Sounds like another great mirrorless camera option for others contemplating the switch. Thanks for sharing, Katie!

  • Jeri Baker

    I traded my Sony A7rII for Canon 5D Mark IV. Never looked back.

  • Albin

    No surprise that, especially, a female photographer shooting video is looking for alternatives to the big Canon DSLRs. My daughter (Canon 6D) has been eyeing the same Sony but also Black Magic, for a move to 4K video, but a form factor suitable for small hands. I’d be curious if this writer has any experience with the latter. Also, ability to use an adapter for important Canon lenses is a big deal, and this is the first blog I’ve read causing concern about that. Camera reboots are not impressive in a commercial shooting environment.

  • I haven’t used Black Magic cameras, but I’ve heard good things about them. Since I’m already heavily invested in Canon and Sony bodies, Black Magi’s cinema camera isn’t for me at the moment. I do use Black Magic’s Da Vinci Resolve for video editing and absolutely love it.

  • Vargsson

    I’m fine with my 6D and the most used 70-200/4 IS: small (medium) enough and I prefer OVF.
    An A7 with 70-200/4 G OSS won’t be better for my purposes (and it’s and pricier too).

  • drdroad

    The Sony was at the A7R II when I ditched my Canon DSLRs for Sony. I sold all my Canon lenses except for the Sigma/Canon 150-600. My least used lens, I bought an adapter to Sony for it and have never had an issue. When I’m hiking up a hillside looking for an Archeological Site (like I was yesterday), I cannot imagine having those heavy DSLRs in my bag again. No issues.

    I’m wondering how Suzi likes her 24-240 Sony zoom?

  • Vlad

    I am with Canon (not a Pro: 5Ds, 2x EOS M, P900) but had no choice and got last year A6300 for 4k filming, very happy with.

  • Isn’t that A6300 awesome?? Truly wish there was a Canon equivalent for it.

  • Ooh the 24-240…I like it a lot! Big plus for the zoom range, optical image stabilization, and the fact that it’s a full-frame lens. Also a reasonably compact size for what it does. It’s on the slow side in terms of aperture, so not great in low lighting and not the sharpest lens ever, but it’s in my top 3 Sony lenses for shooting outdoors/travel.

  • Mike Fewster

    The Sony compressed raw files are fine. Try them. I have never been able to find any loss at all using SonyCraw. and I shoot professionally and use my files for big prints. It is possible (I am not sure on this as I dont use DNG although I tried it for a while) that auto lens correction profiles in LR dont work on DNG files.

  • Good to know! I haven’t heard much about anyone’s experience with compressed raw files. Sounds like it’s worth trying out.

  • Gerald Williams

    Suzi you are using the WRONG adapter. The MC-11 (with latest firmware update) works much better than Metabones for Canon glass on Sony bodies. I am a pro of four decades that switched from Canon to Sony and I have used both adapters with my Sony A6500, A7RII, A7RIII and A7III. Save some money and use the better and cheaper MC-11. You will see the difference.

  • VincentR

    Oh no DPS!!! Are you going to compete with the likes of Petapixel and bore us to tears with “why this pro switched form X to Z” now? What is going to be next, “why DSLR are a dying breed”, or “how this movie was shot with a smartphone”? Please, just please, stay the course! Your audience is here for your articles with substance, this is why we come to DPS (keyword: School)… not this crap above!

  • Interesting! I haven’t heard much about the MC-11, and haven’t actually tried it myself yet. Thanks for the tip!

  • Kyle Wagner

    Even if Canon joined the FF mirrorless game now, My move from canon to sony a year ago is complete and i won’t be returning. I don’t want to bat for a team that believes in dragging their feet, relying on their prestige alone to do business, and playing catch up to a camera that has been out for 5 years now.

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