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The SWITCH – 7 Stages of moving from Canon to the Sony A7r.

The Leica Boss loves Leica. This is established. But this doesn’t mean I have an “M-only” view of photography.  Actually – I always shot Canon. My Dad shot Canon and I caught the “bug” from him. In 1996, I saved enough to purchase my first SLR (an EOS Elan IIe) and I received my first “Nifty 50″ in 1998. I really loved that camera!

Later, my (completely unexpected) college graduation gift was a Canon D30 – a 3 megapixel beast that changed everything. A digital camera that worked like my SLR! It was a pretty wild concept around then. The local camera shop had only one available and I got it, used it.. and loved it… until it died on a glacier in Alaska, in a heavy rain (~2008).

 The excitement and the switch:

I grew a Canon kit over time. A SICK kit with an 85L, Zeiss 50/2, 135L, 24L, 70-300L, 17-40L, 24-105mmL. There were other lenses and goodies along the way, but those were the main ones. The problem was that I knew it was too much, and I also shot Leica –  having two of everything made me sick. Who was I, Noah?Honestly, I had too much crap and didn’t really love most of it. I cannot say anything really bad about the Canon, but having the SLR was a practical matter rather than any real enjoyment or passion. Outside the 85L, 135L, and Zeiss 50mm, nothing really made me excited. It was a blunt tool and it did a great job.

untitled-_MG_4384

My “for sale” photo – goodbye old friend.

 

When the Sony A7 and A7r were announced, it was immediate lust. Finally, I could share a set of “passion” lenses with a convenient, modern NEX-style full-frame body AND my Leica M6 / M9. ONE kit of lenses for beauty and aesthetic perfection, and maybe a few odd pieces for convenience and specialty shooting (i.e. zooms & macro) would be everything needed. Lenses are the main event, and now I really didn’t need parallel, incompatible systems. The wait felt like ages. I quickly sold everything Canon on eBay… except for a few flashes, the tiny EOS M, and my trusty old Elan IIe and 50mm f1.8 (for sentimental reasons).

The problem was that I knew it was too much, and I also shot Leica –  having two of everything made me sick. Who was I, Noah?

I converted a Sigma 35mm f/1.4 from EF to A mount, as it was a gift from my lovely wife. (P.S. I was the 12th person on Earth to do this). I also picked up a Sony A77 APS-C camera  and a 180mm Macro for long work and an old Minolta 70-210mm beercan. Having a very simple, zoom-based APS-C “backup” system is a concept I’ve always been behind – as I feel a good APS-C body is the best accessory one can get for a full frame system.

Finally, the A7r arrived. Stage 1 began…

The SEVEN Stages of moving from Canon to the Sony A7r…

STAGE 1: GLEE.

In this phase you are completely over the moon, relieved to be without the burden of that vanilla DSLR and in possession of something very exciting. I actually took a day off of work, and went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC to shoot for a day. I felt like Sony had literally gotten into my head, read all my dreams and put them into a tiny, beautiful little 36MP camera.

A7r Arrives

Right out of the box – and ready to be paired with a Leica 35mm f/2 v4

STAGE 2: EXPLORATION.

In this phase, you try everything. Every menu option. You shoot constantly. You’re learning. It’s exciting. You are in awe of the wild 36MP files and how flexible they are. You shoot test scenes, the cat, color profile images, the cat, your wife, a wall, tilted lines of trees, a plastic flower, the cat. It’s awesome!

FE35mm-0479

My unimpressed cat… sick and tired of me photographing her, sitting in various things.

STAGE 3. SHOCK & DENIAL.

In this phase, you realize that your new camera is not, in fact, perfect and that your photos have not improved. You learn about the Sony flash system and come up with excuses for why the Sony flash system sucks worse than any blight on humanity ever unleashed. You try in vain to get sharp corners with RF glass. You blame the adapter. You realize the inadequacies of the Sony lens ecosystem. You make the awful mistake of visiting the Sony forum on Digital Photography Review. You realize everyone is busy actively and creatively trying to break the camera. You see pictures of houseplants in the corners of image frames, a d they aren’t TACK SHARP! You are shocked by these things. Denial sets in. It cannot be that your new A7 or A7r isn’t a perfect, infallible, forged-in-heaven, divine gift to mankind.

untitled-0902

No matter how many of these you take, the corners of your Summicron 35mm will ALWAYS suck on the A7r

STAGE 4. ANGER & BARGAINING.

In this phase, you’re mad at Sony for luring you into this wild, wild web. You’re mad a Canon for not making more compelling gear. You’re mad at B&H for selling you a “bad copy” of your FE lens. You start to bargain… “Maybe I’ll get the Canon EF adapter and use some of those great Canon lenses again”  ”Maybe I can get a Nikon 14-35mm”

You start to play with the DxO comparison tool (which you should NEVER do) and throwing things when some other lens/camera combo gets a higher make-believe lens score than the make-believe lens score for your new lens and A7.

 

STAGE 5. REGRET.

You start to check eBay auctions for “Used Canon 7D” and find yourself browsing Canonrumors.com. You’re mad at Andrea from SonyAlphaRumors.com for getting you all pumped up about this switch! You want a great native zoom, but worry the 24-70mm is too flawed (some knuckle-dragging data fetishist got you all worried about how the corners look at 24mm). You decide never to use auto-ISO again. You realize you’ll never shoot birds in flight with any confidence. You kind of regret going Sony.

have a camera mug

 

STAGE 6: UPTURN & GAS.

You start to come out of regret and depression, slowly. Maybe you start to feel connected with the body. Maybe those beautiful RAW files start to grow on you. The characteristic Sony Colors start to make sense. You realize that resolution of flat black and white test targets at 100% on your monitor is not how you should evaluate a lens.  But you need a JOLT… you start to search frantically for your next purchase. A flash? (One of those mortally flawed Sony units?) A new lens? A native lens? Sigma maybe? Or maybe a bargain basement A77 and LA-E4 adapter so you can go DSLR when you need to? (That was my GAS purchase)

untitled-4955

The cure for gear disappointment – spend right through it! GAS GAS GAS!

STAGE 7: ACCEPTANCE AND HOPE.

In this stage, you are now a Sony person. You know this means constant head-scratching, dealing with bizarre pricing and more camera body releases than lens releases. You accept that you’ll never see a meaningful firmware release. But you’re all-in. You love your A7 system. You’re an e-mount guy. You’ve got your eye on a Summilux 50mm. The world is your oyster, and you’re capturing it 36 megapixels at a time…

untitled-2005

O.M.G. THE CORNERS OF THIS PHOTO ARE SO SOFT!

 

Today, my often used kit  consists of:

  • Bodies:
    • Leica M6
    • Leica M9
    • Sony A7r
    • Sony A77
  • Prime Lenses:
    • Zeiss ZM 18mm f/4
    • Leica 50mm f/1.4 ASPH
    • Leica 35mm f/2 ASPH
    • Sony STF 135mm t/4.5  (Portrait master)
    • Sigma 35mm f/1.4  (When AF and corners are important, which is infrequently)
    • Sigma 180mm f/2.8 APO Macro
  • Zoom Lenses:
    • Minolta 70-210mm f/4  (Convenience Lens)
    • Sony FE 24-70mm  (Convenience Lens)

This is SO different from what I was used to, but I really couldn’t be happier. Wait it out – Stage 7 is really worth it!!!

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About Leica BOSS

I heart grain. I'm also an unapologetic Leicaphile - bringing original content and photography goodness from around the web with gear, photos & tutorials. Pay it forward.

31 Awesome Comments So Far

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  1. Max
    April 8, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

    Leica Boss – there is a cure for all that ails you. The Zeiss Apo-Sonnar, the Otus and the 21mm Distagon. There’s an opening in the 25mm – 42mm that I have yet to figure out.

    • Leica BOSS
      April 12, 2014 at 7:58 pm #

      I have the 18 distagon. 50 Summilux. Happy man.

  2. PCoraJr
    April 12, 2014 at 1:14 am #

    You nailed it Boss, currently in stage 6. Getting the A6000 for the fast AF. Came from the Nikon world (D7000)Current gear breakdown:

    A7r
    A6000 (Pre-Order)
    35mm Fe
    A bunch of FD Glass + Adapter

    Future purchase include 70-200 Fe and a UWA zoom. Hurry up Sony!

    Lots of head scratching with the current state of firmware but one thing I have noticed is that the Sony community is a very vocal one…. Hopefully they will listen to our recommendations.

  3. Rodger
    April 12, 2014 at 1:29 am #

    I made the switch from a Canon 7D to Sony A77 and NEX 7 a couple of years ago. Living in Dubai means suffering at the hands of a useless Sony dealer, buying mail order from B&H (who I have had 100% good experience with! and who charge very realistic prices for shipping all the way out here) or picking up the odd bargain from eBay back home in the UK and having to wait until my next trip home to pick them up. Some of the pictures have been absolutely stunning, particularly with the few Zeiss lenses that I have been able to afford along the way. Adding the A99 took things to another level altogether, and buying a “job lot” of Minolta primes and zooms on eBay was a lot of fun.
    Initially I wasn’t sure about the A7r, mostly because I was so upset that Sony had launched a stonkingly good camera that made most of my existing lenses redundant without the use of an adaptor. This led me into an affair with an Olymous OMD-EM1 which is still the camera that my hand falls on when I go out shooting casual pictures.
    Then, while browsing eBay one evening, I found a nearly new A7r on sale by auction (sadly, a rare thing these days) with an adaptor, a grip and some spare batteries. Clearly the seller had not got past stage 4!
    It’s now sitting, waiting for me at my parents’ house, along with a 35mm FE lens and an Olympus 24mm shift lens and a bunch of other lens adapters. My holiday in May cannot come soon enough!

  4. Weilli
    April 12, 2014 at 7:06 am #

    Dear LeicaBoss
    Could I translate your post into traditional Chinese and post it on http://www.mobile01.com ?

    It’s much appreciated if you agreed.
    Thank you so much!

    • Leica BOSS
      April 12, 2014 at 8:00 pm #

      Sure

  5. Seth
    April 12, 2014 at 7:59 am #

    This is just fantastic. Great writing. And true!

  6. Christian
    April 12, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    At first … apologise my english. I am an emotional german (that’s a rare combination) amateur with a Sony Alpha 900 a long Minolta-history and i have to comment your text fast and right now.

    What a text! Stunning, authentic and … welcome inside Sony. Since the Minolta/Sony change, I have been a user inside the cushy Minolta world. With my A900 things changed rapidly … i have been thrown into reality.
    Sony is life:
    -nothing is sure,
    -expect the unexpected,
    - you ‘re on your own (until now)

    firmware updates which could improve the product? rrrrcommmon … let’s make a new product instead. never look behind my son.

    consistent model history? He … we call it NEX! No, we call it Alpha …. ah, let’s ask the playstation people what they would call this thing, ok?

    questions about handling or support? I am sorry sir. We buried the last surviving Minolta engineer behind the lens plant just a few weeks ago. He knew too much …

    Ok. zynical comments off.

    nearby on my table there is a used EOS 1DIIn, which only weeks ago, should have led me into a bright future, testing the EOS-universe to become a member of all those canonists. A safe, well known path, accompanied by veterans and the Jedi of photography who will prepare me a safe home.

    Nonsense!!

    Those Sony people brought the A7. And i walked into the store, plugged my ancient Minota 85mm 1.4 and the 200mmm APO 2.8 on- awesome! AF, faster and more silent than on the A900. Image qualitiy … jawdropping experience.
    And my A900? Those colours, the viewfinder, all of my good old lenses fit … image stabilization inside!
    Come on leicaBoss. Stay with me! This is not about safety – this is about adventure. And Sony Alpha System is pure adventure. This system has one message for us:
    “Get an alpha, idiot. And then fasten your seat belts and take your pictures with it like hell.
    As long as we decide …
    …something else.
    Who knows.
    Maybe next week.
    Before it’s too late.”

    The Alpha-system does not bother you with boring evolution. EOS 5D, 6D, 7D …? zzzzzzzz
    Stay with me. Together we make it. Together we do not have to resist the Alpha-wave, together we surf it. I am going to sell the 1DIIn. And maybe my roadster. Because those Zeiss-lenses are soooo beautiful!

    Read you first time today – and staying with you from now on ;-)

    all the best
    Christian (Germany, Ruhr-Area)

    • Leica BOSS
      April 12, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

      Bravo!

  7. Mike
    April 15, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

    My first SLR was a Minolta Maxxum 5, my first dSLR was the Maxxum 5D, which I shot with for greater than 4 years (Weddings, even, gasp! [I had spares]).

    I have gone through all 7 stages with each camera manufacturer, not as an owner, but as a day-dreamer. I have read, researched, compared, priced out, the works, only to stay A-mount.

    “Stay A-Mount?” you ask, “You mean stay Sony, certainly.” No, I mean stay A-mount. I kept the lenses (and flashes [I hate the god awful Minolta Shoe, but it HAS saved me an expensive body repair more than once]) and simply went digital. I now own an A900 and an A700 (an A7r someday). For me, Stage 7 was more of a “A tool is a tool, use it. If you have a chainsaw that works and the chain goes, get a new chain (the flip-side for if you own $n*K in chains).”

    So, ultimately, I can’t say I *really* went through the same as you, but what I *can* say is this:

    Abandon hope all ye who enter here; Sony does not listen. Oh no… I have been A-mount for the duration, and my strongest advice is this: “Hold on, enjoy the ride, but don’t for a second think your voice will be heard. Everything Sony does they do as a business choice, the contributing factors to which you will never be privy to, and (to a degree) that is a good thing.”

    • Christian
      April 17, 2014 at 5:24 am #

      same experience here. Staying A-Mount is the only thing to do at this time in this situation (as an A-Mount-Owner with A900 and good (old Minolta)lenses). Anything else is burning money.

      But what to do now, if you need a new lens? I would like to invest in a 24-70 Zeiss, and a good 50mm because my good old Sigma EX reaches it’s end of life and the Minolta 50, 1.7 lacks AF-Speed for me. Eveyone tells you to invest in good lenses, which is, i.e. for an Canon L-Lens really the right choice.

      But will an investement in an A-Mount-Lens (which can be very expensive compared to Canon) be a good decision?

      That’s why I am a little bit scared about staying with A-Mount for the future.

      • Leica BOSS
        April 17, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

        The Sigma A lenses may be an option – if you really are scared. Their mount conversion service is great. I actually had a Canon EF mount lens converted to Sony. It’s perfect.

  8. Pat D
    April 16, 2014 at 12:26 am #

    Well, it wasn’t quite the perfect Opera, but I got the plot. I think Sony is on a roll with its digital photography. Nikon and Canon have no answers for the A7, A7R, A7S, RX10 and RX100. They have their DSLRS, but until you go pro, Sony has them matched. The Sony A6000 is going to compete with their entry level DSLRs. especially as the e-Mount lens range broadens.

    • Leica BOSS
      April 16, 2014 at 10:24 am #

      Sony has some very interesting products – but I fear that their commercial and distribution infrastructure just isn’t up to par in North America. I really want to see them steal say 5-7% share from each Canon and Nikon – this would be good for consumers overall.

  9. David
    May 15, 2014 at 5:41 am #

    Hi
    I went from 1 to 7 in two days.
    I use an 850 and 2 900s with Zeiss 50/85/135 permenatly attached and added the A7r so the 24 Zeiss could be permenatly attached.
    I went for the LA-EA3 because I will only use the 24 on this body, AF is abismal but I mainly use MF so with peaking and assist fine.
    My standard print size is A2 the occasional A1 and some 3 image stitches to 2.5 mtrs,no problem with the 850/900s you just need good post technique but I am falling in love with the extra size an resolution from the A7r, the camera is not perfect but then non are presivere to 7 it is worth it.
    David

  10. John
    May 15, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    Gosh, life is really hard.

  11. XSi4io
    May 17, 2014 at 8:23 am #

    I’m with the a7r since 4 months now. Sony 35, 50 1,4, and a contax g 90… I’ve sold the 90 and I’m thinking to buy the 80 1.4 planar… And I don’t know what to do with the flash… Do I take the sony? And maybe the 20mm sony… Really I don’t know. I’m everyday looking to something. Something small… Like zeiss or Leica manual focus… Or la-ae4 adapter… Ebay ebay…

    But the a7r with the 35 it’s mystic. Everyday with me.

    • Leica BOSS
      June 15, 2014 at 8:41 pm #

      I don’t know – sounds like you’re very excited and want to buy something, but not sure what. I have the Sony mid-size flash (the *43?) Does the job. Like having it as an option.

  12. Edwin
    May 19, 2014 at 5:58 am #

    Zeiss ZM 18mm f/4 play nice with A7R ?

    • Leica BOSS
      June 15, 2014 at 8:36 pm #

      Not like on film. Corners still smear some – but overall, it does exactly what I want it to. It is an AMAZING 21mm lens. And a good 18mm one.

  13. Xsirio
    May 22, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    Ehmmmm… I’ve bougth the 85 1,4 with the la-ea4… stage 8…

  14. Lucas
    July 16, 2014 at 9:02 pm #

    Hello,
    Thanks for writing the article, I went through a shorter phase before when switching to RX100, end up loving the camera to bits, one of the best compact ever. I recently bought a Sony A7, finally stepping back to full frame, no more cropping and compromise!

    I am currently looking at LA-E4 adapter and getting Minolta AF lens (35-105/3.5-4.5) with the A7, can you share some of your experience using the LA-E4 with AF lens? Do you find them fast and accurate? Good enough for fast action (I shoot dance and theatre) or only enough for day to day?

    Thanks!

    • Leica BOSS
      July 16, 2014 at 9:28 pm #

      The LA-E4 is actually very nice. You get snappy, phase-detect autofocus that is superior to the more deliberate on-sensor phase detect focus on the A7. Now, some of the older Minolta lenses are a little buzzy and wonky with focusing, but the adapter will get the most out of each lens. The focus points are kind of crowded around the center – that’s really the only negative from my view.

  15. Marcelo
    July 27, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

    Great post! Really enjoyed reading it!
    I’m so close to taking the step into Sony World… :-)
    I used to shoot with Canon. Then I switched to Nikon (D800, heavy lenses and so on). I am pretty happy with the results that beautiful Sony sensor gives me on my D800. Its dynamic range is just fantastic!
    But after spending 3 weeks traveling to New Zealand and Dubai I felt that I needed something lighter and more practical for “not so serious” photo shoots. Being mostly a landscape travel and photographer, I’ve grown some interest in street photography which led me to the quest for a smaller camera system. I’m definitely keeping my Nikon gear, but I need something smaller and lighter.
    I guess photographers are never satisfied… Lol!
    In my case, I can’t decide between Fujifilm X-T1 or Sony A7. They both seem to be wonderful cameras and I am quite excited to try them. Problem is that after reading tons of reviews, downloading and examining RAW files on my computer, I still have no ideia what to do! :-)
    Reading your account on the 7 stages on moving from Canon to Sony kind of helped me realize that I am hardly going to be entirely satisfied with either system.
    Thanks for that!
    Just one question: how is your experience with third party lenses and adapters? Any relevant issues to point out?
    Have a good one!

    • Leica BOSS
      August 18, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

      Thanks for you message. Right now, I would say that Fuji offers a much better native lens experience. I personally got the A7r for 3rd party lenses. In a general sense – I have had nice success with Metabnoes adapters and not terrible experiences with cheap, eBay stuff. There are some issues with decentering, but that doesn’t really disrupt the photos I take. If you pixel peep, you may end up with an adapter that throws one edge a little out of focus. Most decent retailers will allow you an exchange if you need one.

  16. Sunil Somarajan
    August 23, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    I moved from Nikon to the Sony A7R a year ago and I have been very pleased with it. I primarily shoot with Leica lenses on this camera with a novoflex adapter. For portability and image quality especially with lenses that are 35mm and longer you cannot beat the performance considering how small this camera is. I love the EVF. The only quibbles I have is the battery life and rolling shutter.

    And sometimes the fast auto-focus from the Nikon D700 that I still possess.

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