Update: I want to update this post to clarify that again…..we made this switch because it was best for our workflow at the time of this writing…at any point in the future if that changes, and I have a history of changing camera systems often, it will be because that is what’s best for our clients and our business at the time. Point of this article, is that business loyalty needs to trump brand loyalty…period. I do understand that some wedding photographers do look to me for advice when it comes to purchasing a camera system as a speaker or educator. That’s why it seemed to come as a shock to many of our photographer friends, students and fans when I announced we were switching to Sony in October of 2017. At the time that I made the switch, I had just gotten my hands on the Sony A9. I appreciated the new technology that Sony was developing for their mirrorless Camera system. In a photography world that was catching fire with the orange Sony flames, it seemed like a logical move to switch our team over to Sony for more than a few reasons. The autofocus made shooting moving subjects much easier. The low light performance was said to be amazing. A boost in Dynamic range was going to be a welcome improvement. DPReview also said that Sony had a higher number for color depth. So what could go wrong? We sold our Canon equipment and made the switch to Sony. Now, for me to say all of the specs I mentioned above turned out to be incorrect would be untruthful, Sony really has pushed the photography world forward with technological improvements that have ushered a long-awaited response from both Canon and Nikon. The rush to make better cameras is a good thing for all of us. However, after shooting a full season with the Sony system, there were some things that I longed about shooting with my Canon system. Come 2018, we have made the full circle back to Canon, and after getting many e-mails, some of them even angry, I feel like I should give everyone an explanation as to why I decided to go that route and bring us back to team red. Please note that this article is not designed to sway you to one system or another. There are a lot of “why I switched to Sony” videos you can watch if you want to be convinced. This article is designed to give some balance to the other side of the argument.
I mentioned above that the review sites all put the Sony color depth at a higher score than all of the Canon bodies. That may be true, but there are some things that a spec sheet cannot measure. It’s like trying to argue what is better between Apple and Windows. The look that each camera renders is different, and after a long period with Sony, I have been rendered neutral on the subject. For me, documentary day to day shots all look better on Canon, however the “epic, cinematic shots have a better look on Sony.” Mainly, my opinion is based on the way that colors render and how that style affects an overall brand. Color science is a real thing, but I won’t be the one to tell you that one is better than the other. I can only say that for our work, Canon’s color harmony brings the aesthetic that I truly love. It took an examination of our old work vs our Sony work to really see where we were missing the Canon color science. Skin tones are an obvious answer, I think it’s well accepted by many photographers that Canon delivers beautiful skin tones. I found this to be true, but Sony also left our images with a green/orange hue that was not easily corrected in post. In fact, I had a hard time even when I tried to correct it to match the Canon system. The Sony A7III produced the most neutral colors, while the A7RIII files seemed a bit more saturated. At the very core of our brand, color is one of the things that defines our style. When looking at our older images, I was missing the way that the colors were rendered, specifically in the more vibrant channels. And I know what you are going to say…..It doesn’t matter if you shoot in RAW. Sure, if you have Capture one, and you want to individually adjust every image to taste, you can almost match colors. But as a wedding photographer that is not a practical workflow, and it’s much easier to get it close to the end result in camera. As you adjust things like white balance and tint, the color profile changes and matching becomes impossible from image to image. Again, this is personal preference, so I am not attempting to sway you in any direction, but I feel that I should share my opinion based on the number of people that are interested in it.
When I was first introduced to the Sony system I loved the fact that Sony had a smaller camera system, it seemed like it would be great for travel! The problem was, the lenses were significantly bigger, and while I may carry 2 camera bodies to a shoot, the extra length of 8-9 lenses actually erased any size difference that I enjoyed with the bodies. Moreover, Sony’s grip sucks for those with medium to large hands, I don’t have a more elegant way to say that. While adding the vertical grip helped a bit, the camera always felt out of place in my hands. I really do appreciate the larger grip with the Canon bodies, and after a few weeks relearning the system, muscle memory kicked in and the button placement allowed me to get to my shot just as quick as with the more advanced autofocus system that was in the Sony bodies.
I am an active photographer, photographing hundreds of clients a year. It goes without saying that at some point my cameras will need service. That includes anything from standard clean and checks to full on repairs. After buying Sony, I had signed up for Sony’s SPS service. There were a few times that I required the service, and while my major repairs did get taken care of, it took nearly 2 weeks to get back my camera. That is a lot of time to be without a body. Canon’s CPS however never disappointed and always was able to return our cameras in a short period of time. As a working professional it is a HUGE advantage to know that if you have gear that goes down, you will be able to get the issues fixed quickly. Service is something that never comes on a spec sheet, but again it is an incredibly important factor in choosing a platform as a professional.
Wait, what? How can I argue that Sony isn’t innovative? Let me be the first to tell you that I am not making that argument. Sony has been the cause of our industry moving forward in technology at an alarming rate. But Let me explain why Canon’s underreported innovation in their new mirrorless system is important to the future of photography. When Canon released it’s EOS R, it received relatively meager reviews from the world of photography media. Does it have its shortcomings? Depending on what you do with the camera then you could definitely argue that. Lack of dual card slots makes it a tough sell for wedding photographers, but for what it’s worth, I think it’s the best portrait camera that Canon has on the market right now. Skeptical at the initial reviews, I got my hands on the R, and within a few days of using it, I could see the areas that Canon is focusing on. The R has LIGHTENING fast autofocus. It has an amazingly easy menu to use. The screen and EVF are both much better than Sony’s best offerings, and the R was released with a couple of excellent adapter options to be able to use their EF line of lenses which are both more affordable and, at least in my opinion, better in color and sharpness than the Sony offerings. But that’s not where the real innovation came. The reason Canon took so long to develop this system was that of the new RF Mount. The larger mount was created in order to be able to create photography lenses as we have never seen before. Canon teased us with the release of their 28-70 F/2 Lens. But with a larger mount, Canon is now able to push the larger optics in a lens backward toward the mount, allowing for better balance in their lens systems while allowing much larger apertures on lenses that typically didn’t get those features, like zoom lenses. In addition, the new mount will allow for edge to edge sharpness, autofocus coverage, and much less chromatic aberrations. In other words, Canon is setting themselves up for the future. I have no plans to switch platforms again for the rest of my career, so I chose to keep with Canon who’s platform has been created with the future in mind. With rumors already circulating toward a 100-megapixel version of the EOS R, I feel confident that we made the right decision for our studio.
I have been attending photography conferences since 2012, and since then there has been a common occurrence at every single one. Canon has a presence that cannot be ignored. Canon has been at all of the major shows in our industry for years, including Imaging, WPPI, PhotoPlus, & Shutterfest, at every one of these conferences they have some of their amazing Explorers of Light, which is one of the most accomplished titles in our industry, presenting free educational topics to photographers without selling the product (something I can’t stand when I listen to booth speakers, and refuse to do when giving my own booth presentations). Now, I am not basing this factor on the marketing dollars they spend to be at conferences. I am actually basing it on the education that they offer to photographers at these events. In addition, the Canon learning centers continuously help to better our industry by offering free education all around the country to photographers everywhere. To me, that shows dedication to our industry. It also lets me know that while Canon may not be the first to rush out a new camera, they will put the time in to listen to their photographers and make a solid product that has room to grow and perfect over time.
So Why did I switch to Sony in the First Place?
After I announced our switch back to Canon, I was actually surprised at the feedback I got from people. Understandably many photographers that follow our education Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook Group had questions about my switch back. That is the reason I am writing this article. But I want to stress something important….. Your camera really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things The thing that matters the most is your ability to create, and any of the modern cameras will allow you to do that. Switching platforms is not only expensive, in many cases, but it’s also just bad for your business bottom line. Part of my education platform for photographers is that as an active photographer I am very open to sharing my mistakes in business. I feel like in our industry there is way too much ego inflating, with people bragging about success, and in the grand scheme of things that is not authentic and will not help push our industry forward. The only way to give great education is to share both successes and failures, and explain how we learned from both. The reason I made the original switch was that I bought into the marketing hype. Sony has been great at influencer marketing, using Instagram, YouTube, and other social platforms to get the word out about their excellent new products. I have nothing against that, every business should be as good at leveraging affordable advertising as Sony is. But it wasn’t until I took an objective look from an arms distance that I realized the “switch to Sony” movement is based on pretenses that shouldn’t matter to us. We are businesspeople first, remember that, and cameras are tools that we use to create. So the tribal mentality that we form around our camera or lighting brands is not healthy to our industry because we should be focusing on business education, and not what label was on the camera we used to create the images that our clients will be the ones buying. So stick with your platform, and if you are currently thinking about switching from one to another, really consider the impact it will have on your business and your overall look.