A question that I’ve been asked for a while now is “why did you switch?”, or “do you like it?”. I thought I’d answer that here. Note that I decided to answer it in form of a story. Far too many of the reviews/blogs that I’ve read about making the switch are too technical, and not helpful. You’re basically giving me the spec sheet in paragraph form. I’m the type of person that needs something more tangible and relatable. Hopefully this helps those of you looking for another opinion. I won’t put any pictures here as I don’t want to clog the reading space… So read on if you’re interested.
For those of you that don’t know – one of the biggest decisions I made over the winter was to finally make the jump from Canon to Sony. For the last 12 years, I’ve been a loyal and happy fan of the Canon brand and that’s the brand that I’ve worked with to learn all of what I know now. I certainly don’t dislike Canon but the spark between us has dwindled and it was time to move on. It felt like I was ending a relationship that I had originally thought would last forever – I didn’t see this day coming, but when it did – I couldn’t think of anything besides moving on. This must be what destiny feels like.
My love for photography started at the same time my love for cars did 12 years ago. I remember the days of browsing car forums and seeing amazing pictures of amazing cars and amazing pictures of not-so-amazing cars. I remember wondering what kind of magic this kind of art was and how game changing it was for me. A decade ago, photography was not a huge thing like it is today… There were a few well-known blogs with great photography, but for the most part – just standard point and shoot pictures are all that you would see on forums. I would say at that time, the rise of automotive photography was on the horizon. Legends like Easton Chang and his rig shots were the epitome of what automotive photography could and should be. Nowadays, everyone is a photographer as long as they meet 3 criteria:
- They just bought DSLR
- They write “Automotive Photography” in their instagram profile
- They put a watermark on their photo
It’s almost like that’s the path to becoming a real photographer – you need to front your game before you actually have game. It’s a bit frustrating to see because these same guys are asking for paid photoshoots, and some poor soul out there will pay because they don’t know any better. I’m not trying to discredit the guys that put time into learning the art – it truly does take time. Just because you can take a picture of a flower at an open aperture to create bokeh doesn’t make you a professional. It means you can read instructions. /rant.
Anyway that’s not why you’re reading this, is it? You’ve come here to see why I decided to make the jump from Canon to Sony. As I was saying, over the last 12 years, I’ve been disgustingly loyal to Canon – almost to the point of where I would not even acknowledge other brands because I felt Canon was superior. It’s not a good attitude to have, by the way. I’ll be honest though, there was that small 1% of me that was a little curious about what other brands could do. Over the last year, my loyalty to Canon has dwindled and my inspiration to shoot has faded. I’m going to be go out on a limb here and risk saying it – but I just felt like my Canon 7D was not performing the way I wanted it to anymore. “Jason, it’s not the equipment”, you say… “It’s the user” – and it may very well be the case. It wasn’t producing sharp pictures, it was always missing, it failed me during ‘once in a lifetime’ moments and thus, my trust and love towards my once trusted Canon camera just started disappearing. I didn’t want to pick it up anymore, my S8+ was more reliable than it, and despite numerous attempts at calibrations, cleaning and google searches – there just seemed to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Now you must be saying – “well Jason, my Canon is perfect” – and I don’t doubt that it is. But my story of ending my relationship with it happened to be because of imperfection – perhaps I expected too much, or it just wasn’t meant to be. This really starts to sound like a romance novel, but I assure you that it’s just a story between me and my camera.
The magic of user-tailored ads on social media can be amazing. You search one thing and it bombards you with deals and the magic of that product for weeks on end – forcing the little devil in the back of your mind to say “just do it. This is a sign”. And no matter how much you convince yourself that this is just showing because you googled “Sony DSLR’s” once, you start to fall into the obvious trap. It was like I was willing to step right into the bear trap even though I acknowledged and saw it and that’s where my Sony journey begins.
So I finally convinced myself that Sony was the next match that I was going to swipe right on. In order to give myself the push, I put my Canon 7D up for sale and within hours, it was sold. That did exactly what I was dreading but had hoped for – it solidified the fact that I was no longer a Canon user. That same day, I went out and bought the Sony A7II. Sony’s entry-level full frame camera – I wasn’t shooting weddings, I wasn’t shooting events that were going to pay me thousands of dollars. I was shooting my daughter, cars, and that was it. I just know that down the road, I’ll convince myself again that I need an upgrade, but for now – I had to ease into this new relationship slowly. Perhaps, we’ll take it to the next base in a few years.
As I said above, it’s been about a year since I’ve been thinking about Sony, so you can imagine that my expectations of its capability had grown exponentially over that time period. I was truly convinced that my Canon was done for and that Sony was going to be my savior. I won’t keep you in suspense – it was indeed everything that I had hoped for. You know when you leave a dull relationship where things weren’t terrible, but they weren’t great either? Then you find one where sparks fly every time you meet? That was how I felt. Taking pictures with my Sony was – trying not to sound cornier than I already do – magical. Pictures were sharp, they were clear and vibrant. It didn’t “miss” shots like my Canon did. When Aria smiled, Sony got them. Where Canon failed when Aria was jumping, Sony soared. That one particular spot of carbon weave in my Voltex wing that I wanted in focus was actually in focus. Suddenly, taking pictures felt like how it used to 12 years ago – I wanted to take more, I wanted to have free reign over my shots without worrying about something being out of focus when it got on the computer. Sony, Sony, Sony… You have revived my love for shooting again that I haven’t felt in a long time, and it makes me wonder where you’ve been all my life.
Dear Canon, I don’t hate you. I just think things between us weren’t working out the way they used to. You’ve done all that you could do and honestly, it’s just me. I don’t miss you either, but I’m thankful for all that you’ve taught me and I think it’s better this way. I hope you’re in the hands of another that will treat you with the same respect as I did. Perhaps you will inspire another to become a professional photographer – either for real or just by way of writing it in their instagram profile.
For those of you that want a little more technical and less drama, here’s a version that’s not so heart breaking. My Canon 7D was my trusty sidekick for the last 3 or 4 years. I had originally upgraded from a Canon 40D, and before that – the long forgotten Canon XT. As you can see, my history of SLR’s began with Canon and unfortunately does not end with Canon. The 7D was great at first and I admittedly bought it for its video capabilities which I never used. Still – it provided me with many of the successful photos and photoshoots that you see on the blog today. Over time, I just found that it was slowly declining in performance and it was the same for my two previous bodies as well. Those performance issues translated into (as mentioned above) out of focus shots, images that were once sharp were no longer sharp at all, and generally just lack luster photos. I did ensure that my lenses were calibrated and performing as well as they should have been and came to the conclusion that it was the body – right or wrong.
Upon choosing the Sony A7II, I honestly didn’t know what I was getting myself into. It was going to be my first full-frame body, and my first mirrorless body, AND I was also switching brands at the same time – so there was lots of change happening all at once. I paired it up with a Sony 35mm F1.4 – a very stellar and highly recommended lens. Again – right or wrong – the Sony just outperformed in almost every aspect when shooting the exact same subjects – most notably, Aria. One could say it’s because it’s a brand new body, others would say that it’s all in my head. Whatever it is, it’s now sparked my inspiration to shoot again and I love it. The tracking auto-focus is amazing when I’m following Aria around and taking snaps. It’s ISO noise control is superb, and separation between foreground/background is just so sharp and distinct. One of my favourite features of this mirrorless route is the ability to not only live view the picture you’re taking, but to see exactly what it’ll look like before pressing the shutter button. In other words – you’ll see exactly what your bokeh will look like, where your focus is, what your shadows and highlights look like and it ultimately gives a real (or as real as it gets) representation of what your final outcome will be. You’ll not only know what the picture will look like, but also WHEN to take the picture. I say “when” because timing is everything in photography, so when I know what the picture will look like and how it changes based on the subjects movement in conjunction with the surrounding light and all other factors within the frame – then I have a MUCH better idea of when to take the photo, if that makes any sense.
I’ve found that over the last month of shooting with Sony that I’ve just been much more satisfied with almost 95% of the photos I take prior to post-processing. With my Canon, my success rate was near 50% and that’s a very bad thing when it comes to taking pictures of people or “once in a lifetime” moments. If 50% of my photos turned out to be garbage, then that means I only have good pictures 50% of the time – this is assuming composition, lighting and everything else was ideal. I found myself taking multiple photos like a mad man, hoping that of the 10 I took, at least 1 turns out. I like to review my photos all prior to post-processing and determine whether they’re even worth processing in the first place. More often than not – I’ve been keeping all the shots coming from the Sony A7II and this time, only one shot is needed instead of ten.
Overall – am I satisfied with the leap of faith? Yes, absolutely. If I had a few words (and not a whole novel like above) to explain my reasoning: The Sony A7II has proved to create exceptional photos with outstanding colours, clarity and sharpness that I have not seen in a long time. Despite the critical reviews about “slow AF” or it’s bigger brothers (A7R**, A7S**) better performance – this is a perfect balance for someone like myself that wants awesome performance and quality at a price that won’t break the bank. I think you’ll see the quality translated over into my photos this summer and I hope that you notice the difference. A few of my recent posts are pictures from the A7II as well. Whether it’s the equipment or the user – when you feel inspired to take photos, you almost always take great photos.
Hope that helps!