For various reasons, I have migrated from Canon to Sony. Initialy the change was with hesitation due to documented red flags on going mirrorless. However, as I am mostly time-lapse photographer, my travel kit has evolved to Sony bodies and an interesting choice of lenses. Here I will explain my reasoning for the switch.
Initially I was looking for a second camera body for my storm time-lapse photography. I was considering a second 6D as I know this camera inside out, a good work horse for what I do. I also wanted to add some movie footage to my work. At the time, Canon’s limitation was their ability shoot 4k Video on a full frame sensor without a crop factor.
Looking at the video aspect, Sony offers a very good system. They can record 4k video on the full sensor. A client recommended Sony A6300, an entry level APSC which has a similar focus system the A7rii, and shoots 4k. The 16-35 kit lens is ok, but at f3.5 when wide, not really an option for low light. My first addition was a E35mm f/1.8 OSS, giving me some low light ability combined with image stabalisation (lacking in the A6300).
This kit, along with my 6D and Canon 16-35mm f4 accompanied me for my Indonesia trip. I had a dumb adaptor – no electronic communication between lens and body. When using Canon lenses on the Sony body with this dumb adaptor, the only way to change aperture was to set it on the Canon first and then swap bodies, somewhat inconvenient.
I am wary of investing in a smart lens adaptor as clients have told me they are slow and lose some functionality. The best option would be Sony body and lens combination. However, as most of my work is time-lapse, the great focus system on the Sony body/lens is not required for most of what I do. After my experience of using Canon lenses on a Sony body with a dumb adaptor there is an advantage for manual aperture lenses. This led me to the fully manual Canon FD range. For very little money, I have picked up a FD50mm f1.4, FD50mm f3.5macro, FD25mm extension tube and an FD24mm 2.8. All this for far less than the cost of one Sony lens. When combined with a full frame and APSC body, this kit gives me a nice range from 24-75mm. If you pick up a good FD lens, you will appreciate the build quality. They are reasonably compact. No real gain in weight (heavier than todays equivalent) as the build has metal components, but the image quality is fairly good.
I have also invested in a Sony A7rii (time of purchase was when Sony released the A7riv, ouch, A7riii prices dropped there after) for my Ladakh trip. This new body was well under half the release price a few years ago. I accept the A7riii is a better camera, but for my purposes, the same small battery as a6300 means less to carry. Given that I mostly use an external power supply (easily achieved with a 5v power block via USB) for my time-lapse work, the argument for a bigger battery is null and void. This camera offered me an economic route to the large 8K sensor, while reducing my travel kit size.
To summaries my move to the Sony system with Canon FD lenses.
- Compact travel Kit
- Focus peaking on the mirrorless system means I can use manual focus with the FD lenses
- Manual aperture means no flicker in post production for time-lapse
- Price of old FD lens
- Build quality. The sony bodies feel like quality kit.
- Future development. It now seems all major manufacturers are investing in mirrorless development and not so much DSLR
- Live view within the view finder. Both image and menu are displayed in the eye piece, eliminating any glare on back screens. Using the eye piece rather than the back screen will also helps with battery life.
- Sony menu system (although I an slowly getting the hang of it)
- Camera body size! I am so use to the Canon DSLR and ergonomics of a full size body, the smaller cameras are a bit too compact for my fingers.
- Price and size of Sony full frame lens. If you wish to go this way the Sony lenses seem to be more than the Canon equivalent. Also, there is no advantage in size compared to a DSLR, the sony full frame lenses being rather large.
- Reliance on electronics. To date, I have had no issues with the Sony bodies, but with advances and reliance on an electronics system, I am still sceptical.
Travel Kit Summary:
- Sony A6300 – used for 4k movie covering full sensor + time-lapse to 6k
- Sony A7rii – used for 4k movie covering full sensor + time-lapse to 8k
- Canon FD24mm f2.8 + dumb adaptor
- Canon FD50mm f1.4 + dumb adaptor
- Sony E35mm f1.8 – takes advantage of the sony focus system and reasonable for low light
- Sony 16-35mm f3.5- 5.6 Kit lens, an option for wide movie in good light, also small and light
- Samyang 14mm 2.8 – for wide night shots + dumb adaptor (this may change)
I would like to ditch the Samyang and replace it with something more compact. My Samyang is a canon fit, requiring an adaptor. Current line of thinking is the Laowa 9mm f2.8 Sony E mount (cropped sensor) or the Laowa 15mm f2 Sony FE mount (full frame). Both require a bit of investment to save a bit of space. The 9mm offers a compact design which may swing my decision, however it is for cropped sensor. I am open to suggestions on something wide, fast and compact. It will be some time now before we can all travel again, so no hurry.
On a side note, I am really enjoying the Canon 50mm 1.4 and 50mm 3.5 macro on Sony bodies for my time-lapse work. The image quality is pretty good. They will both come into play when paired up with my motion control gear, more on this soon.
For those interested in time-lapse, do check out my DIY motion rig.