I switched to Sony mirrorless cameras from Nikon in 2014. It was gradual, but over the last three years, I have divested of all but two Nikon lenses. Why? Well, many reasons but for the sake of simplicity here’s a list.
8 Reasons I Switched To A Sony Mirrorless Camera
1. Sony’s Sensor Technology
The first Sony camera I bought was the A7s. The 12-megapixel sensor, to this day, makes it the best low light camera on the market. The ISO goes to 409,600, and I consider it usable to 80,000. It’s miles ahead of anything else. At the time I was creating lots of videos, and I needed something I could stick into auto ISO without issues. Let me tell you; noise has never been an issue. Nikon uses many of Sony’s sensors for a good reason. Their dynamic range is unmatched and allows you to recover deep shadows with very little artifacting. Even the 42-megapixel sensor in the A7rII gives tons of detail while still managing high iso noise. Also, except Leica, Sony is the only full-frame mirrorless camera on the market and is less than half the price.
2. Video Features
When I switched, I was increasing the amount of video I was doing. The XAVCS codec is the sharpest 1080p video hands down of any camera I’ve used. Plus, the 120fps slo-mo is a great tool for movie making. Note I haven’t made the leap to 4K yet because my computer would burst into flames if I tried to render it. However, that’s a shortcoming of my computer, not the camera. But if you think these are only appealing to hybrid video shooters I will have you know I use my A7s just as much for stills and have never been disappointed. In fact, the A7s is an excellent choice for astrophotographers.
Video by Mike Flowers and Anthony Perez
3. Eye Auto Focus
I can program any of the function buttons to locate my subject’s eyes. In the case of the 6300, 6500 and A7rII, it can even track the eyeball of my subject producing some of the sharpest portraits I’ve ever taken even wide open with 1.4 lenses. It’s effortless, and if the camera says it has the eye in focus, you can be sure it does. The 399 points of the Sony a6300, 6500 and A7rII make it a snap to get the finest detail in sharp focus.
The 5-axis stabilization of my a7rII lets me use non-stabilized lenses like my Sony/Zeiss 55mm 1.8 at slower shutter speeds without the worry of camera blur; Making a great low light lens even better. Besides, I can use lenses that are 40, 50 even 60 years old and still have them be stabilized simply by telling the camera which focal length I’m using.
Expanding on #4, not only are the native Sony and Zeiss lenses great but, I can use any lens, and I mean any. Just like any mirrorless, due to the short flange distance (lens mount to sensor), the entire history of photographic and cinematic lenses are at your disposal as long as you have the right adapter. If you are fortunate enough to have Canon EF lenses you can even retain autofocus and metadata. If not, focus peaking makes manual focusing a cinch. Case in point, I switched from Nikon and was able to use many lenses until I could buy the native glass. I still use my 40mm micro and Tokina 11-16mm. I also use a Pentax 50mm 1.4 and Pentax 135mm 2.5. Adding 5-axis stabilization is the icing on the cake.
6. Live Exposure Readout
What you see is what you get. Just as with any mirrorless camera I can see my exposure before I take the shot. I can even see the histogram in the viewfinder. I take it for granted so much that when I use a traditional DSLR, I often screw up the first few exposures thinking that what I see is what I get. It may seem amateurish but if it makes my work easier I’ll take it.
All the custom buttons let me choose where and what I want at my fingertips depending on the situation. I program the down button to be input volume. I program custom one button to be focus magnify, the trash button is my clear image zoom button, my ISO button is now white balance, and I change ISO by just turning the bottom thumb dial. In a nutshell, you can program it to fit your shooting style, just like I did.
The cameras themselves are smaller than traditional DSLRs however that changes once you add pro level lenses to the mix. Mirrorless cameras are not that much smaller or lighter than a full frame DSLR with a pro lens on it. That said, for the prime shooters, there are small and light native lens options, the 28mm f2, the Sony/Zeiss 35mm 2.8 the Sony 50mm 1.8, the Sony/Zeiss 55mm 1.8, and the soon to be released 85mm 1.8, which I will buy. If you are willing to adapt manual glass, you can pocket some camera/lens combos. If size and weight are your priority and you are ready to sacrifice some image quality, you’ll do fine by going with a Micro 3/4 camera like Olympus or Panasonic.
People will say let the pictures speak for themselves. Well, you can make great images with any interchangeable lens system as long as you know how to use it. By no means do I think Sony is perfect and its certainly not for everyone. However, for me, it’s the best that I’ve found that works for me and the way I shoot. And with the advances in mirrorless technology, I find it hard to imagine a switch back to traditional DSLRs.
If you are still on the fence on whether to go with mirrorless or DSLRs, check out this blog post on how we compare the benefits of both systems. You’re also invited to join us at Rockbrook Camera located on 168th & W. Center for our Sony Tips & Tricks Free Seminars on March 24 & 25, 2017!