The Sony Alpha 7 and 7R… I assume most photographers have heard about Sony’s game changing cameras (we’ve certainly posted an article or 5 about it) and many, just like myself, have spent hours picking apart specifications or just hugging the computer screen with a picture of those beauties on it.
The A7R looked like a godsend especially to landscape photographers. 36MP, no low pass filter, the possibility to use my Canon lenses, especially the superb Canon 17mm and 24mm TS-E lenses, and a rather affordable price tag seemed to make this camera a no-brainer. I also had just sold my Blackmagic Cinema Camera in favor of my Canon 5D Mark III (which is another story altogether…) so I had some money to spend and wanted a second full frame camera at hand while the Canon 5D Mark III was occupied with video work. In the end however, to my own surprise, I bought the Canon 6D and here is why.
Objects of desire: Sony Alpha 7R (left) and Canon EOS 6D (right)
I think I read every review on both cameras ever written before I got a chance to handle the Sony A7R for a little while. What I had was the camera, the Metabones Canon EF to Sony Nex adapter, the Canon 24mm TS-E and Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.4L and a few hours to spare. After these few hours I learned a few things:
1. The A7R is a Fine Camera
It is nicely laid out, although visually not my thing (I just don’t like this edgy retro rangefinder look) and it doesn’t handle too well either… but this might just be because I am used to holding a Canon.
2. Image Quality Seemed Very (Very, Very…) Good with Plenty of Detail
Why does Sony apply some in camera RAW processing and compression? It’s beyond me. If you have the best sensor on the market, why not give users the chance to access its full potential?
3. AF with the Metabones Adapter Works
Barely. It’s good enough for stationary subjects, but as soon as something is as much as wiggling, the AF struggles.
I don’t like adapters, I never did. The more elements you screw together the more unstable the whole set up gets. Don’t get me wrong, the Metabones adapter does a good job (despite the fact that it was designed for the NEX cameras), but because of its size and bulk, to me it just feels wrong. There are rumors of Novoflex working on a dedicated EF to Alpha adapter which might be smaller and less obtrusive, which might improve the overall package.
In the end, I didn’t feel too convinced after my time with the A7R and placed my order for the Canon 6D knowing I might regret it in a few weeks. After my first week with the 6D however, I was pleasantly surprised.
1. It’s a Canon
With all its flaws and strength, it’s the smallest FF DSLR camera currently available. It handles very well and simply has a better feel to it than the Sony (if you are shooting landscapes, however, this wouldn’t matter as the camera would be sitting on a tripod anyway).
2. Lower Resolution, but Still Great Image Quality
Despite the significant lower resolution compared to the Sony, the Canon 6D delivers very good image quality and detail, even at high ISO. Noise only becomes visible at ISO 1600 and starts to become obvious at 3200.
3. Autofocus at Low Light
AF is good overall and amazing at low light (Just like the feel and high ISO capabilities this won’t matter to hardcore landscape photographers, however…).
I don’t regret my decision. The Canon 6D is a great camera – a bit like a Canon 5D Mark III – light. For my work, the 6D just ticks more boxes (this includes the price: If you add the adapter, that’s around $1k between the 2 cameras). With the Sony A7R, I would have been more or less restricted to landscape work. If you are only shooting landscapes, the Sony should still be your choice.
The Canon 6D allows me more freedom and so far, I have used it to shoot a drama festival and a radio broadcast. On both occasions, the ability of the AF in low light and the great high ISO came in very handy. As for landscapes, the Canon 6D does a good job, too. I couldn’t do a direct comparison. but I assume that the A7R would obviously have the edge here. Having said that, I can produce 40MP images with the Canon 6D and Canon’s TS-E lenses and as the print still is the final state for most landscape images, it would be very interesting to compare what the A7R and Canon 6D can produce.
All this doesn’t mean I have written Sony off. The Alpha 7R is still on my wanted list and the recently announced firmware update makes it even more interesting.
What are your thoughts? Do you own either or both cameras? Which one would you choose?
CREDITS: All photographs by Carsten Krieger are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.