WEDDINGS

Switching from Canon to Sony Mirrorless

filed in: Business, For Photographers

October 28, 2019

After a few years of mounting frustration with my Canon gear, this summer I decided it was time for a change.  Ever since upgrading to the Canon 5D Mark IV in early 2018, I’ve felt like something was “off”.  I started to question my own technical abilities as a photographer because, all of a sudden, I was struggling with focus more than I’d ever struggled in my career.  My keeper rate was declining and even shooting at f/4 or higher, I was struggling to nail focus consistently.  I was SO frustrated.  On top of the technical issues I was experiencing, I was starting to have really bad wrist pain.  It got so bad this past spring that I couldn’t even hold my toothbrush to brush my teeth after a triple header wedding weekend.  I knew something had to give.

After a particularly tough stretch, I saw a conversation in one of my photography Facebook groups about how much better Sony was with focusing.  I was very much intrigued and started to do my own research on the topic.  The consensus from people who had previously switched from Canon to Sony was that it had been a good decision for them… so I decided to take the leap.  This is a decision I didn’t take lightly.  I’ve been a ride-or-die Canon girl for YEARS.  But after weighing my options and hearing all of the glowing reviews about the new Sony mirrorless system, I had to check it out for myself… and once I actually got my hands on it, I was pretty much instantly sold!

Coming from the Canon 5D Mark IV, I decided to go with the Sony a7riii.  From everything I had read, this would be the best camera for me as a wedding photographer.  While the super large RAW files were an initial concern at 42mp, it was a trade off that I was willing to make for better focus.  After all, storage space and memory cards are relatively cheap these days and I NEED a camera system that is reliable and consistent.  If I can’t trust my equipment to do what it’s supposed to do, then what’s the point?

I bought the Sigma MC-11 adapter so that I could still use my Canon lenses with my new Sony system.  I LOVE my Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II lens, so being able to keep my Canon lenses and still use them with the Sony camera body was a HUGE advantage.  To be honest, the thought of selling all of my Canon lenses and moving to native Sony lenses is daunting.  Sony lenses are expensive and I’ve invested a lot of money into Canon glass already.  The adapter works well and, even after shooting with a native Sony lens for a bit, I didn’t see any difference in the image quality… so I’ll be sticking with the adapter and my Canon lenses, at least for now.

My one and only stumbling block came when I went to photograph my first dark wedding reception using the Sony.  I had bought two Godox v860ii flashes to replace my Canon speedlites, but quickly learned that the AF assist beams on the Godox flashes do not work with Sony mirrorless cameras… and the on-camera AF illuminator on the Sony a7riii won’t work when you’re using an adapter.  BUMMER!!  Luckily, I had my Canon camera bodies with me as a backup and I was able to shoot that first reception with my Mark III and speedlights… but I needed to look at all of my options and find a more permanent solution.  After doing more research, I found that there are four options to “fix” this issue:

  1. migrate to native Sony lenses and use the on-camera AF assist beam
  2. buy all new Sony flashes, which have bright LED assist lights
  3. buy the Godox X1T-S wireless flash trigger transmitter, which apparently has an AF assist beam built into it
  4. shoot with Canon gear during the reception

 

Since I really loved the Godox flashes I bought – hello lithium ion batteries + fast recycle time – I initially decided to bite the bullet and order the Sony 24-70 f/2.8 GM lens.  After shooting a reception with this lens and the on-camera AF illuminator, I quickly realized that this wasn’t going to work for me.  I still struggled to lock focus once the lights went down and the dancing started.  I decided against buying the Sony flashes since the LED lights would be really distracting on the dance floor – and I want to remain as inconspicuous as possible during the reception.  The Godox X1T-S trigger wasn’t the answer to my problem either, since it was too redundant to have triggers and receivers for a flash system that already has built in triggers and receivers.  So I’ve decided that the best thing for me is to shoot receptions with my Canon gear.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that maybe eventually Godox will update the firmware and enable the AF assist beam for Sony mirrorless… but if not, I’ll keep shooting receptions with my Canon camera body because it works great when I’m shooting in dark spaces with flash.

After using the Sony a7riii for the past few months, these are my thoughts on the switch:

  • the colors are AMAZING!!  So crisp + vibrant, which works so well with my style!
  • the auto white balance is extremely accurate and makes shooting + editing so easy!
  • focus is tack sharp and reliable, although I will admit that there is a definite learning curve coming from a Canon
  • the what-you-see-is-what-you-get EVF viewfinder is great… you don’t really have to take a test shot before adjusting your camera settings (although I still do, out of habit)
  • being able to see the depth of field in the viewfinder is a game changer!
  • it’s a smaller, lighter system and it has definitely taken the stress off of my wrist

 

There are a few obstacles I found along the way:

  • although you can adapt your Canon lenses to the camera, you cannot adapt your speedlights… so be prepared to invest in new lighting.  I went with the Godox v860ii speedlights
  • if you are using an adapter or non-Sony flashes, the on-camera AF assist beam will not function… which makes shooting dark receptions very difficult
  • native Sony lenses “zoom” in the opposite direction that Canon lenses do… so there’s a definite learning curve there!
  • you’ll need larger SD cards since the RAW files on the a7riii are GINORMOUS
  • you’ll also need to shoot RAW+JPEG to utilize Photo Mechanic for culling; the native embedded JPEGs are too small to accurately assess sharpness in PM
  • when exporting photos from Lightroom, you’ll have to resize them in order to keep the file size under 50MB… otherwise, you’ll have issues uploading them to many online galleries; I’m using JPEGmini upon export and haven’t had any issues since

 

So far, I believe the investment has been 100% worth it.  I finally have gear that is reliable + consistent… the guessing game is finally over!  Having that peace of mind is such a blessing and allows me to focus on other things during the wedding day, instead of worrying whether my gear is actually focusing the way it should.  It also allows me to create with confidence and serve my clients even better.  It’s official… this former Canon girl is now a Sony girl.  I hope this helps anyone out there considering the switch – and if you have any other feedback or questions, please let me know!

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