From Canon, to Nikon, to Sony

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Colin Franks
Colin Franks Senior Member • Posts: 1,712
From Canon, to Nikon, to Sony

How I wound-up at Sony.

Using a Canon 5DIV, 500 f/4 II, 7DII, 100-400 II, + extenders, plus a smattering of other lenses for some time, I was reasonably content, although frustrated at times with the AF.

Then the Nikon D850 arrived on the scene. With its superior AF, added resolution and other perks, it haunted me for some time until I finally caved and switched to one, with a Nikon 500 f/4E + 1.4 III.  That was only 7 months ago. I sold all my Canon gear, except for the smaller 7DII and 100-400 II package for use in the kayak.

I’m not one to jump around with gear, I would prefer to stick with one brand, but now I have been pulled away from Nikon. There have been a few things lately that have swayed me over to the Sony Camp, and of course Canon & Nikon’s conservative movement forward has also played a role. I feel that they’ve been dragging their heels, or at least resting on their laurels, and even intentionally holding back with some features. Sony meanwhile has had their foot firmly on the gas, and more recently delivered some serious body-blows.

Body blow #1: AF
While enjoying my D850 in the last half-year, a friend using the a9 seemed to be getting shots that were bewildering. We’d be shooting together at some location, and as a small, distant bird would fly by at great speed, I would notice him attempting to shoot it. I would be thinking to myself: “Why even bother? You know it’s going to be a throw-away image!” Then he would email me the photo later that day, and I was stunned. "How was this possible?" I thought. It was the superior AF of the D850 that pulled me away from Canon, and now it was happening all over again with the a9.

Body blow #2: Glass
Sure, Sony was going full throttle on FF mirrorless, but they didn’t have any glass for us bird photographers. Then they recently go and release the stellar 200-600 and 600 f/4 lenses. This really had me sit up and take notice. I subsequently had the opportunity to try the a9 and 200-600 on some BIF, and while I loathed the EVF, the AF seemed to not only grab the subject in a mind-blowing manner, but also hang onto it like a magnet. It was truly upsetting. When I then started to see the online results of how incredibly sharp the 200-600 is, I began to lose sleep. The internal focusing and short zoom-throw just added to the mix. And for those who can afford it, the Sony 600 f/4 with its light weight, superior AF motor drives is also the best big prime going.

Body blow #3: Extenders
With all of the recent ~150-600 zoom lens offerings from Tamron, Sigma, Nikon 200-500 etc, it’s just a given that they just don’t handle extenders well. So to see the Sony 200-600 working well not only with the 1.4 extender, but also the 2X extender (granted, in good light), I was stunned.

Body blow #4: FPS and silence.
The 20 FPS silent shooting of the a9 is simply other-worldly. With the D850, one has to spend a considerable amount on a battery grip just to go from 7 FPS to 9 FPS (yawn). With the a9, we get 20 FPS SILENT shooting out of the box, albeit with compressed files. With the D850 (aka howitzer), I was actually startling and scaring off birds with the very loud shutter.

My knees started to wobble.

Body blow #5: a9II
And then, the rumours of the a9II started. It was purported to be an absolute beast at something like 36MP and other big improvements. That was it, I buckled. I simply couldn’t NOT make the switch. Instead of having the big, heavy D850 & 500 f/4 + extender, plus the smaller 7DII and 100-400 II for the kayak, I would have the a9II and 200-600, and that’s it! A smaller, more hand-holdable do-it-all package with the versatility of a zoom, and extenders when needed.

So my plan was to buy the 200-600, and get a used a9 until the a9II came out, then immediately upgrade to that. Unfortunately, the a9II’s now-known specs are disappointing to many, including me. It does have slightly better ergos, and loses the SD-1 card, but I was crossing my fingers for better memory cards, increased resolution and a better EVF. While I’m still happy with the switch to Sony, it leaves many of us wondering if an update to the a9II is justifiable. And hey, maybe Sony will do what we were all hoping for with an a9III.

So here I am, my last DSLR item sold a few days ago, and it feels good to have a very concise, versatile and capable kit. I will be picking up some smaller lenses like the Tamron 28-75 and upcoming Tamron 70-180, and perhaps their 17-28 to round things out.


Black Oystercatcher

 Colin Franks's gear list:Colin Franks's gear list
Sony a9 Sony 2.0x Teleconverter Sony 1.4x Teleconverter Tamron 17-28mm F2.8 Di III RXD Sony FE 200-600 F5.6-6.3
Canon EF 100-400mm F4.5-5.6L IS II Nikon D850 Sony a9
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