Tag Archive for cameras

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.

Sony A77 left, Minolta A7 right. My cameras with ribbons that take evil spirits away given during the Konomiya Naked Man Festival.

Sony A77 left, Minolta A7 right. My cameras with ribbons that take evil spirits away given during the Konomiya Naked Man Festival.

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.

The moment when I traded in my Minolta / Sony gear

The moment when I traded in my Minolta / Sony gear. It was an emotional moment.

Why change?

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.

My Minolta / Sony gear drying after a day at the seaside

My Minolta / Sony gear drying after a day at the seaside. Photo taken on iPad.

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.

Lifestyle of a Japanese girl at home during the hottest days of summer.

Lifestyle of a Japanese girl at home during the hottest days of summer. Photo taken on Sony A99.

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.

Lifestyle photos of a Japanese girl at home during the hottest days of summer.

Lifestyle photos of a Japanese girl at home during the hottest days of summer. Photo taken on Sony A99.

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.

The 2019 calendar Inside Japan

The 2019 calendar Inside Japan with the Canon 6DMkII with Tamron 24-70mm SP f2.8 G2 at the Foreign Artists’ Exhibition

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.

The Mexican Team wins the 2018 World Cosplay Summit with their crowd stunning acrobatic Street Fighter performance.

The Mexican Team wins the 2018 World Cosplay Summit with their crowd stunning acrobatic Street Fighter performance. Photo taken on Sony A99 with Sony 70-300mm G lens. This photo went viral on Twitter.

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.

A snowboarder at Iimori Hakuba. Photo taken on Canon 6DMkii with Canon EF 70-200mm F4 IS lens.

A snowboarder at Iimori Hakuba. Photo taken on Canon 6DMkii with Canon EF 70-200mm F4 IS lens.

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).

Two personal friends. Photo taken on Canon M6 with Lensbaby 50mm Composer Pro (with Sony A to Canon M mount K&F Concept adapter)

Two personal friends. Photo taken on Canon M6 with Lensbaby 50mm Composer Pro (with Sony A to Canon M mount K&F Concept adapter)

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.

Current sitch?

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
Andrew photographing autumn scenes at Gifu Park (self portrait)

Andrew with Canon 6D Mark II photographing autumn scenes at Gifu Park (self portrait taken on Canon M6). Note the brown ‘legacy’ Sony wrist strap.

Frustration with Sony

That’s it! I’m declaring Sony Japan institutionally racist. I don’t know about other parts of the Sony company, but Sony Japan has got to change. The new Sony A77 and A65 cameras were announced on the 11th August 2011 (Sony A65, DPReview.Com), and yet the Sony Store and all other electronic and camera stores in Nagoya Japan do not provide these digital cameras with multilingual options nor overseas models. In other countries, the cameras that are exported are multilingual, and the menu language can be changed, so French people living in China are well catered for. However, the models sold in Japan are Japanese language only. I do have a Sony Bloggie, but I had to pay extra for “the overseas model”, that is, the model with multilingual menu settings. However, it seems that now there is only one multilingual Sony product available inside of Japan, the Sony Reader.

In 2005 Sony took over the Konica Minolta camera division, and so Sony inherited millions of SLR camera users like me. The picture below on the left is the Konica Minolta Alpha Sweet I bought in Japan in 2005. It was exported to North America as the Maxxum 5d and all other parts of the world as the Dynax 5d (DPReview.Com). These models in Japan included multilingual settings. The camera on the right is the Sony A200 sold in Japan, and just like the current models the menus are only available in Japanese.

The Minolta digital camera on the left provides multilingual options, but not Sony cameras sold in Japan.

The Minolta digital camera on the left provides multilingual options, but not Sony cameras sold in Japan.

In contrast to Sony, Nikon, Fujifilm, and other camera makers do provide in Japan a menu setting to allow the user to set their choice of language. I do have some reading ability in Japanese, but there are some menu options I just cannot understand, and there are some information displays that are beyond me. Also, if consumers pay as much as ¥140,000 (USD$1,700) for the Sony A77 or Nex-7, they would surly feel at least slightly disappointed in not being able to make full use of all of the features of the camera. Wouldn’t some feel at least slightly insulted? Otherwise, I’m sure they would just buy a Nikon or Canon instead. Well, why am I with Sony? I didn’t intend to be with Sony, I started with Minolta, and stayed with the Minolta system when the camera division was handed to Sony, and therefore I had to take on the Sony system. How do I feel now? Well, Nikon is looking like a good option, but they often use Sony sensors in their digital cameras, and I don’t particularly want my money going to Sony right now.

The Sony Store in Nagoya, Japan.

The Sony Store in Nagoya, Japan.