From Sony A to Canon EF or R
Way back in April 2018 I announced that I’d begin switching from my Minolta/Sony system to Canon. This blog post is a follow up to that, and to give Miles of Color some more details in my response to his question on Twitter. Well, making the switch was scary to do, but it’s mostly done. What’s the scary part? I had a great range of capabilities with the following gear (of course I’ve had other cameras and lenses, but this was the core kit):
- Main body: Sony A99
- Backup body: Sony A200
- Film: Minolta A7
- Wide angle zoom: Konica-Minolta 17-35mm
- Regular zoom: Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 SP
- Telezoom: Sony 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 G
- Low-light: Minolta 50mm f1.4
- Macro / portrait: Minolta 100mm Macro f2
- Funky fun: Lensbaby 50mm Composer Pro
Note, with this gear, everything was compatible with no need for adapters, which was one of the reasons I kept away from the E-mount cameras.
The thing is, my Tamron 28-75mm was on the front of my cameras about 90% of the time. The remaining 10% of the time was mostly the 70-300mm, then wide, then the others. When I traded almost all my Minolta/Sony gear, I guessed I’d get at best USD$800, but hoped for more. I’d need at least $1,300 for the 6Dmkii alone, plus I could budget another $1,000 for a new main lens. In fact, all I could get was $800 on trade in, and it turns out my main lens, despite the fantastic quality, is actually quite obsolete (think, no internal focusing motor, needing the in-body motor), and… it was full of dust. It’s been very, very well used. I kept a few things, especially for the Minolta A7 film camera.
Sony has never really demonstrated any commitment to their pro & amateur photography community. They took years to establish a professional support system. Prior to that, we had to line up with kids who needed to have their Play Stations fixed. When they did establish their pro support, it was/is expensive, and with no real benefits. It still took over a month for a repair turn-around. Very uncool if you wanted to work in that month. Despite Konica-Minolta never releasing a 35mm sensor camera, it took Sony years to release theirs (later known as “full frame”). At that time, APS-C was assumed by KM, Nikon, Canon, and others to be the sensor we’d want, but it never was.
Additionally, Sony have basically abandoned the Minolta AF / Sony A mount in favour for the E-Mount. It took Sony nearly ten years to release pro level e-mount lenses. Also, their first A-E Mount adapters did not support electronic communication. That means, a two-thousand dollar Minolta lens could only be used in manual focus. It took another year or so for them to “figure out” how to create an electronic communication system. Even their flagship store here in Nagoya Japan doesn’t stock the flagship A99mkii anymore, or any A-mount camera for that matter.
Frustratingly, it appears that Sony never or has stopped all lens production from the former Minolta factories in favour of their subsidiaries Tamron and Carl Zeiss. Minolta lenses were considered second only to Leica, and occasionally bettered the Red-dot brand. The whole point of me sticking with Minolta was for the quality of their glass. Consequently, there’s no point in staying with Sony. Furthermore, Canon, since the digital era, has developed some fantastic lenses. I’m still not sure how they compare, but all experiences so far suggest they’re better than Sony.
Finally, a point that everyone is talking about on social media is that the colour science of Sony is not so good. They’re too strong on the green hues so skin colours look off. I’ve not seen the greenish hue on my A99, but have struggled a bit to pull out natural colours. In contrast, the colours, saturation, and vibrancy of the Canon M6 is way, way, way better than the flagship Sony A99 and a bit better than the Canon 6Dmkii. It was the M6 that convinced me that it was time to ditch Sony. The only real advantage my A99 had was that it was full frame, and the variety of lenses I had, though in terms of focusing speed, they were getting quite obsolete.
What did I change to?
Well, having seen the M6’s iPad and iPhone connectivity giving me so many advantages, the 6D Mark 2 was a natural choice for a main camera that is full frame.
My main lens for so, so many years was the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8, which was meant to be a stopgap until I could afford a Minolta 24-70mm f2.8. It turns out that that Tamron lens was simply awesome. At that time in the camera world it was second only to the Carl Zeiss and Minolta equivalents. So, I thought the thousand dollar Tamron 24-70mm SP f2.8 G2 would also be good enough and high-spec enough. It turns out to be softer in the corners and with green-magenta slivers of chromatic aberration issues in unexpected places, so might only be marginally better than the older 28-75mm that is nearly two decades older. However, the G2 is so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so much quicker in finding focus. Further, I opted for the Tamron especially as other affordable Canon options were f4, which reduced my ability to be creative with depth of field. That is the main reason why I didn’t opt for the Canon R just yet. The Canon R main lens is an enticing 24-105mm, but off-putting f4. I considered I’d eventually go mirrorless, but I’d wait a bit until the R system is both a little more affordable (read, ‘available on the second hand market’) and mature (with a better lens selection, and lenses already on the second hand market). Besides, the adapters for EF to R seem way awesome.
For the longer lens, I opted for a second hand 70-200mm L lens. Since at longer focal lengths f4 is good enough for interesting depth of field, it’s lighter, and cheaper. The image stabilised version was only ¥10,000 (about USD$100) more, I opted for that. The experience I’ve had with the image stabilisation in the Canon M6 convinced me that in-lens stabilisation is so much better than the Minolta/Sony in-body stabilisation.
For a wide angle lens? I’m conflicted. My Minolta 17-35mm was rarely used, and when it was, it distorted the hell out of any picture that wasn’t taken gravitationally level. The only good options are perhaps the Tamron 15-30mm f2.8 behemoth (it’s huge and heavy, very bad for a travel photographer), or perhaps the Canon 12-24mm at over USD$3000! Remember the 24-70mm was on the front of my camera about 90% of the time. I can’t justify either the back breaking weight or the massive cost. So, for the time being I’ll wait and hope for a Canon M-mount $300 equivalent to be released.
Other lenses? Not got them yet. Currently, I don’t feel a need for a new 100mm macro/portrait lens; if anything, I might get an 85mm as a portrait lens (v.low chance though). To replace the 50mm f1.4 I might consider a Tamron 35mm f1.8, as that focal length is more versatile than 50mm, whilst still giving me low light performance. The Lensbaby is a tough one. Should I get another Composer, the 35mm Burnside (gorgeous), or the 85mm Velvet (my eyes are watering as my mouth would for delectable food).
Should I consider Sigma lenses? Absolutely not! They had very serious quality control issues. A US lens rental company once announced that a third of their Sigma lenses were unusable fresh out of the box straight from the factory. Hence the “Art lens” rebranding Sigma did. Perhaps they’ve fixed these issues, but I’m not testing those waters.
Here’s what I currently have:
- Main body: Canon 6D Mark II
- Second body: Canon M6 with Canon 15-45mm f3.5-5.6
- Film: Minolta A7 with Minolta 50mm f1.4 and Lensbaby 50mm
- Wide zoom: x
- Regular zoom: Tamron 24-70mm SP f2.8 G2
- Telephoto: Canon 70-200mm L f4 IS
- Low light: x (K&F adapter for Minolta A to Canon M and Minolta 50mm f1.4)
- Funky: Lensbaby 50mm Composer with K&F Sony A to Canon M-mount adapter
- Macro: x
- Other: Canon EF-M Mount adapter