Why I’m switching to Sony…sort of.

You’ve probably been seeing articles and blog posts about photographers who are quite a bit more famous than me – including Trey Ratcliffe – who have switched from Nikon (or Canon) to Sony in the past few months. Now, I’ve joined them – sort of.

Because of the unusual nature of my job, I’ve always owned and used a full array of cameras from Canon, Nikon, and Minolta (now Sony), dating back to the ‘60’s when I used Nikon Fs, a Canon Pellix, and Minolta SRT-101 as a newspaper photographer/photojournalist. I even used a few Pentax cameras, including the Spotmatic, a pair of Olympus Pen F/Pen FT models, and, while shooting weddings, portraits, and fashion, a Pentax 67 120/220 SLR.

More recently, my work writing camera guides has kept me diligently using a variety brands in my everyday shooting. For the past decade or so, I’ve maintained a full “permanent” complement of Canon, Olympus, Minolta/Sony A-mount, and Sony E-mount lenses. I have rotated into my “semi-permanent” collection my favorite cameras for each of those platforms, with an EOS 5D Mark III eventually replaced by the latest EOS 7D Mk II, or the Olympus OM-D E-M5 bumped in favor of the newer OM-D E-M1.

Through all that, my Nikon cameras had remained my “go-to” models that I turned to for my most demanding assignments.

Because I own roughly 30 Nikkor lenses, every Nikon SB-model flash unit, and most of the other accessories, it’s only natural that I’d come to use Nikon products more than, say Canon (10 lenses, and every Speedlite made.) Then, Sony made the transition from quirky to increasingly professional, and I was surprised to find myself using my Sony gear in preference to Nikon (or other) equipment more and more.I took a massive amount of equipment to an air show and spent a full day photographing the Navy’s Blue Angels and other performers. After a few shots with my D4s and 300mm and 70-200mm Nikkor lenses with 1.4x and 1.7x teleconverters, I ended up switching to a Sony Alpha a6000 with Sony 70-200mm f/4 zoom for the next 4,200 exposures. The darn thing has lightning-fast focus, and, as an ASP-C camera, gave me the equivalent field-of-view of 105-300mm for 24 megapixel images at 11 frames per second.

A few weeks later, at a concert where “professional” cameras were considered an annoyance by the performers (even though I was an official photographer for the venue), my Sony a7r worked like a champ. Its low-light image quality didn’t match my D4s or Df in terms of noise (although an a7s certainly would have), but I ended up with some 36MP shots that I liked very much.

The a7r and Nikon Df were my main cameras during my month shooting in the Florida keys earlier this year. But, in planning for a month-long photo trip in a few weeks, decided to leave my Nikon gear at home and trust the Sony equipment to do the job. I was confident that there was nothing I couldn’t do with my new array. Everything I needed fit into one small LowePro backpack:

* Cameras. Sony a7r and a6000. I have my choice of shooting the a7r in full frame mode for 36MP images with full frame lenses, or in APS-C mode for 15MP with either full frame or APS-C lenses. If I’d rather end up with 24MP resolution, I can use any of the lenses on the a6000, with the “advantage” of its 1.5X “crop” mode.
* E-Mount Lenses. The 16-35mm f/4, 24-70mm f/4, and 70-200mm f/4 FE (full frame) Sony/Zeiss E-mount lenses comprise a “holy trinity” that’s nearly the equal of Nikon/Canon’s equivalents, and can be used on the a7r or a6000. I’m also taking several Sony APS-C lenses, including the 16-70mm f/4 Zeiss, 16mm f/2.8, as well as 12mm f/2.8 and fisheye adapters.
* A-Mount lenses. Although Sony’s LA-EA4 adapter isn’t compact and sort of counters the advantage of the tiny size of the a7r and a6000, they do let me use my full assortment of A-Mount Sony/Minolta lenses with fast autofocus. I’m taking the adapter and Sony 50mm f/1.4 full frame “normal” lens for low-light photography, and Sony 35mm f/2.8 macro lens for closeups.
* Accessories. I have the Sony RMT-DSLR 2 IR Remote, and Sony HVL-F43M flash. That’s all I really need, except for a Gitzo Traveler carbon fiber tripod.

Actually, a normal person doesn’t even need all that stuff to take great pictures. Either Sony camera and a lens or two will do the job. However, I love the fact that I can tote along a whole bag of gear (including lots of extras for experimentation) without worrying about being loaded down. I’m certainly not ready to abandon Nikon yet, but I’ve found that a part-time switch to Sony no longer requires making any sacrifices. Stay tuned.

4 thoughts on “Why I’m switching to Sony…sort of.

  1. Great article. I’ve gone from the Nikon ftn all the way through d800 and have finally settled comfortably with the Df. But I wanted a lighter travel camera package and through a lot of research settled on the Sony a6000. That coupled with the e-mount 70-210 and Zeiss 16-70 have found Sony to be a wonderful camera. But I think like you said the a6000 does not have the dynamic that the Nikon’s have. I could see myself going with the aR series in the near future. I did purchase the Ar7 but returned it for the lack of dedicated lenses for the then new system.
    Thanks once again and am eagerly awaiting for your guide on the a6000.

  2. Just received my new Sony A7M2 with the kit 28-70mm and I’m loving it. Hopefully Sony will be releasing those new FE lenses in a timely manner. I have now sold all my Nikon gear and I really don’t feel bad as I thought I would. I’ve been a Nikon user since 1967.

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