At this point we've all read or at least scrolled past opinion pieces and blogs about mirrorless cameras. And more specifically articles predicting, or even hoping for, the death of the DSLR at the hands of the camera worlds apparent new chosen one! The beaten-dead-horse narrative being the the sexy, thin mistress that is the mirrorless camera has arrived, so you should immediately dump your faithful, dependable, loving DSLR wife! In fact, the level of vitriol from these articles authors has always been the biggest takeaway for me. Far more telling than the point they are trying to make in the first place!
Something I live by is to always consider the motivations of someone as much as I consider the base layer of what they are saying. It has never made sense to me why someone would be so determined to influence what camera a completely different person would be using. If I couldn't care less what camera the next photographer wants to use, why do they?
Answer: It's either financial or personal!
They're either financially gaining from their persistence, like for example, photographic "celebrities" such as Manny Ortiz, Jason Lanier, Scott Kelby & Zack Arias who misrepresent truths to pressure consumers in exchange for kickbacks, or they are acting in defence of their own purchase history or brand loyalty (these can be found in any comment section/photography forum/camera club). If you like a piece of gear, GREAT! And if you want to sing it's praises from the rooftops, GO FOR IT! But I question the motivation and maturity of someone determined to make you immediately feel shame & inadequacy, change your preferences and open your wallet!
Now that I have that off my chest, I can move on with my main point...
I have been an avid, loyal Canon user for my entire photographic existence. Like most people I gravitated towards a camera system and with no real experience elsewhere & stuck with it. I have owned 20d's, 550D's, 7D's, 7D2's, 5D2's, 5D3's, 5DS' & 5D4's. All cameras I have enjoyed using to varying amounts, with the higher end cameras offering vastly improved features, but all sporting great menu systems, ease of use and an abundance of applicable lenses and accessories. All that being said, the lack of progress, apparent disinterest in what their own consumers want & the never-ending conveyor belt of unnecessary lower level products & underwhelming "updates" to their pro level gear has jaded me. Ignoring cries for things like EVF's to instead give us multiple incarnations of the same lens with almost no difference or point and possibly the worst arsenal of mirrorless crap that the camera world has to offer. Their lack of commitment to the mirrorless lens line in particular shows their utter disinterest in their consumers wants, outright punishing people that were daft enough to invest in the neglected system.
This has been the standard for the relationship between Canon and its shooters for years now, but like any relationship where one side feels neglected, patience has worn thin! The only sticking point in this abusive relationship being that I didn't see an option that I could transition to that had enough positives to justify the crazy expense. I have previously attempted a transition to Fujifilm. Enamoured with their ease of use & aesthetic, but bitterly unimpressed with the image quality, the XT-2 didn't last long. If Fuji gets their image quality on the same level as their usability they might have the perfect camera!
Sony has always been an interesting prospect to me, though littered with small, irritating drawbacks. The menu systems, battery life & non-existent lens choices being three off the top of my head. I first tried the original A7 a couple of years ago, but a misfiring metabones and the worst camera salesman in the history of anything ever put me well off.
Having been made aware of the fairly huge changes of the new A7R iii and upcoming A7 iii, I reopened my interest. The including of dual card slots, eye & face AF, overall improved AF and the well documented amazing low light performance all peaking my interest. Throw in the joystick and I was ready to take a seriously ambitious punt. But I was cautious and decided instead to pick up an A7 ii first. Try and feel out Sony's menu system, work on some portraits and generally get to grips with the prospect. At worst, it would be a decent full-frame travel camera. I picked up the Sigma MC-11 and off I went. It gave me a chance to compare it side by side with my war-tested 5D4.
So what did I think?
Most importantly, the image quality is fantastic. Great rich files, pretty much on par with the Canon that costs £2k more. The only real difference I found was in the highlights, I just preferred the improved depth in the highlights of the Canon. Other positives included the face and eye AF, and of course the EVF, that really is a game-changer! The downsides were the commonly discussed short battery life, the ridiculously over-complicated menu and the size. I actually found it to be too small without a battery grip.
And finally the question I keep getting asked, will I switch?
Yes... and no.
Do I like the A7 ii enough to invest in a more expensive updated version? Yes, I have just purchased an A7R iii.
Will I get rid of all my Canon gear? No. The 5D4 is just too robust and workmanlike of a camera to discount it. But I think the Sony/Canon combination might be the best idea I have had yet!
I will follow this up with a comprehensive review and some Raw samples of both systems for comparison.