Sony to Canon?

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
RDM5546 Senior Member • Posts: 1,946
Re: Sony to Canon?

2ndLook wrote:

I thought I’d share my experience with the R5. I’m coming from a Sony A7R3 which I have been using for about 3 years. Prior to that, I had a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and was with Canon since the early 2000s.

Before I get comments that it is not fair to compare the R5 to the older A7R3 - this is meant to be an honest post of my personal experience with switching back to the Canon system, why I switched back, and the reasons why I moved to Sony after so many years with Canon. As such, I’ve focused on writing about the areas that matter to me as a photographer.

I’ve had the R5 for about a month now and it’s been a joy to use. Compared to the A7R3, the biggest change I can say is that it feels exciting to take pictures again and not just because it’s a new camera. It’s hard to describe, but it’s the same feeling I had with the 5D Mark series that was always missing from the A7R3, and is probably due to an accumulation of all of the points that I’m about to cover. If I had to sum it up, I would say that the R5 feels like using a creative photography tool whereas the A7R3 feels like using a high tech point and shoot compact.

In use
With the R5, the body/form factor, buttons and menus feels so much more refined, logical and just intuitive to use. Perhaps its because I’ve used Canon for a longer period of my photographic life than Sony, so it’s more hard-wired to my muscle memory, or perhaps it’s because it’s simply a more evolved and battle tested system. I’ve read enough user opinions and reviews to suggest that the latter is more likely.

Whilst the R5 grip does fit like a glove I do miss the smaller size and retro inspired design of the A7R3. For some reason, I could always be more inconspicuous with an A7R3 especially with the 50mm f1.4 PlanarT* (up there with the EF50mm f1.2L as my fav prime lens). People always seemed less bothered about me pulling out an A7R3 from my bag than my 5D Mark IV.

I do miss that the R5 is not as extensively customisable as the A7R3 although Canon has such a great system that arguably it doesn’t need to be as customisable. I also love that Sony’s rear control wheel also works as a directional pad to allow extra functional buttons - the less I have to go into menus the better! I hope Canon adds this at some point!

Speed and responsiveness
Another area that I’ve missed, and a key reason for moving back to Canon, is the overall responsiveness and speed of the R5. Whilst the A7R3 is quick on paper and has a burst rate of 10fps, strangely it just felt more laggy compared to the 5D Mark IV - the write speed and buffer is slow and most importantly, the one shot focus (yes I still use this a lot) is prone to hunting especially in low light and always defocuses before focusing. I believe this is because the Sony system stops down to focus, although I’m sure someone will put me straight on it! I do think the A7R3 is almost a perfect landscape camera, but for low light or street photography, there were frustrations.

With the A7R3 I also missed being able to turn on the power switch and immediately being able to take a shot. Whilst the R5 isn’t as instantaneous as the 5D Mark IV in this regard, its not that far off. With the A7R3, I always had to slow down my shooting to allow the camera to catch up or to ‘think’ - the main culprit was the memory card write times which effectively locked up the camera (I used the super fast SDXC II 300mb cards).

Image Quality
Prior to buying the camera, I would say the biggest area of insecurity with the R5 was image quality. I have always loved that the Canon images had a certain character to them (yes I shoot RAW); images were more contrasty with a tonal range that seemed to look filmic, particularly in regards to skin tones but the high banding when lifting shadows was an annoyance. The Sony on the other hand, is almost technically perfect to the point of being too clinical. The images are flatter which makes the files more pliable especially under low or bad lighting (I rarely shoot with a flash) and I’ve been spoilt by the exposure latitude available. Overall the Sony files allowed me that neutral starting point to get the look I wanted. Once you get used to this level of quality, it’s hard to go back :). Yes the Sony RAW files do look more yellow/green (in both Lightroom and Capture One) vs the more magenta colour of the Canon but it’s such an easy fix nowadays that I don’t find it a big issue. However I would also like to add that I always missed that ‘something’ that I always got from a Canon image.

Having used the R5 for a few weeks, I can say that it strikes a great balance of having that Canon look but with more resolution.

I’ve carried out loads of comparisons of the R5 + RF 50mm f1.2L vs the A7R3 + FE 50mm f1.4 Planar T* Carl Zeiss(call it too much time on my hands during the pandemic!). The R5 has improved drastically in terms of dynamic range vs my old Mark IV and noise is also excellent despite the bump in resolution. However the A7R3 still has slightly less noise in the shadows at high ISO and when shadows are lifted (maybe 1/2 a stop better). Dynamic range is a tough one, they both seem to be pulling back the same detail except in the blacks which are a little more crushed in the R5 files. The A7R3 also retains slightly better colour fidelity when exposure is being pushed - the R5 just shows a little more colour smearing when files are pushed hard, probably due to some noise reduction within the RAW files? All in all, the margins are so small as to no longer make a difference in real world use, unless of course you like pixel peeping!

It’s been hard to switch to the R5 knowing that the A7R3 is the platinum standard in image quality, but in the end I’ve weighed up the pros and cons and decided that as an overall package, the non-image benefits more than outweigh the negligible difference in sensor quality.

The R5 is excellent at focusing - at least on par with the A7R3. Both cameras seem to nail focus on the eye with the same success rate, however the R5 allows you to intuitively select which eye to focus on - this was always a frustrating limitation of the A7R3 (although you can use certain workaround techniques). The R5 does stick to the eye better e.g. when the subject turns away, and also picks up the eye from a further distance. Both cameras have issues with focusing on the eye in backlit situations and when the subject is extremely close up, but in these instances I just switch to single shot (using my customised shortcuts). I’ve only briefly tested animal eye AF but I need to use it more before I can form a fair opinion on it.

It’s worth noting that the A7R4 has improved upon the AF on the A7R3 so the performance between the A7R series and the R5 is probably awash now.

Wrap up
Incidentally I had been waiting intently for the A7R4 because I had zero faith that the successor to the Canon ROS R would be anything but an exercise in poor incremental design - typical of Canon in the last few years. To my surprise it was the A7R4 that was disappointing, a huge bump in resolution but at the expense of noise and zero gain in speed and buffer. Yes there are some small improvement in autofocus (selectable eye focus) but not enough to warrant an upgrade. The R5 on the other hand, hit that right sweet spot for me (on paper) in terms of resolution, noise and dynamic range so I immediately put my order in. Having used them both side by side for the least few weeks I am now getting ready to sell off my entire Sony system and glass. The biggest negative of this is that I will no longer be using the FE 50mm f1.4 Planar T* which is such an amazing sharp lens with great AI, cheapies and just looks and feels the part.

I was looking at the Sony cameras until the R5.   The A9 look ideal but changing would be expensive if I had to switch lenses.   I do several kinds of photography related to my work as engineer and then I have a family with four children to shoot too.     However I learned adapting of EF mount is less than ideal and I have more than 20 great expensive EF lenses.   So I would need at a couple of new expensive lenses at least.   In addition the A9 was not conformatable and the menus were like a foreign language for most the items.    I wanted a high fps and the electronic shutter of the A9 has the least lag because of the ultra fast sensor readout.   My fastest Canon camera is the 7D mkII ATSC with 10fps using the preferred lenses and a mechanical shutter with not LED light issues.  The A9 is slower in mechanical but it is full frame and it is much faster than the 7D Mk II by using the electronic shutter.    The learned about the hassles of the A9 slow buffer draining and sensitivity to LED lights and worried.   Nothing felt right and I worried with the feel of the camera in my hand and the slow buffers it would not be the joy of the 7D or 5D Mk IV I had as alternatives.    The new R5 has even better buffers and like all recent models it feels great in my hands accustomed to the "Canon feel and familiar menus" with 12 fps trouble free mechanical shutters in bad lighting.  The indications were clear that R5 was what I was looking for.

 RDM5546's gear list:RDM5546's gear list
Canon G5 X II Canon EOS 70D Canon EOS 7D Mark II Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Canon EOS R +38 more
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