Why I Chose the Canon EOS 6D Over the Sony A7R: A Personal Decision

Gear & App Reviews March 10th 2014 1:12 PM 7 Comments

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.

REWIND: The Sony a7 & a7R Field Review: History in the Making?

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.

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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.

REWIND: 5D Mk III vs 6D, Not A Case Of Which Is Better, But Of Which Is Better For You

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.

Synge's Lodge

First outing with the Canon 6D: Synge’s Cottage in Co. Clare, Ireland

Why I Chose the Canon 6D over the Sony A7R

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.

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First challenge for the Canon 6D: Theater shoot at ISO 1600

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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…).

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… and fast action under low light conditions.

Conclusion

I don’t regret my decision. The Canon 6D is a great camera – a bit like a Canon 5D Mark IIIlight. 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.

 

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Carsten Krieger

About

Carsten Krieger is a freelance photographer based in Ireland. He is covering a wide range of subjects including architecture/interior, portrait and food (and with a proper supply of of tea and chocolate he is able to shoot about anything), but his true love is landscape photography. He has published and contributed to a number of books on Ireland’s landscape, nature and heritage and has written for various print and online magazines.

7 Comments

  1. Shaun

    I opted for the 6D because the price tag on the 5DM3 is too high in my opinion. I’ve upgraded camera bodies every 2 years for the last 10 years. And I’ve stated this on other websites, but if Canon and Nikon don’t innovate with something new like Sony, Olympus, and Panasonic, my next camera will not be a Canon. Sure the wifi and GPS are nice features, but I expected more from the leading camera manufacturer. Mirrorless and micro four-thirds are not going away. The only thing that would keep me away from the A7R is the small lens choice (I’m not a fan of adapters either) and slow focus. However, those are two minor things that can change by leaps and bounds in the next 24 months.

  2. Ramon Elias

    What about the light leaks in the Sony. Also, the overall picture quality (including colors) of the Canon is very good…

  3. David Wei

    Great choice either way, I choose A7 at the end instead of 6D or A7R. Mostly because I used to own a 5DII, and I know myself. I’m NOT going to use the camera very much if it is too bulky to carry.

    5DII’s size and weight does not concern me when I’m shooting or carrying, but it does affect me when I’m deciding if I’m going to take it out with me. The lackluster AF also contributed somewhat, since if I feel the scene is too dark to properly AF, I won’t even bother pulling it out of camera bag.

    I sold 5DII 2 years after I got it, anticipating 5DIII’s arrival, but the price kinda stopped me from going for it, instead I just jumped from one econo-cam to another (Sony A55, Canon G1 X, Sony NEX-6). With great AF experiences on NEX-6 (yes, it focus faster, and focus in darker scene than 5DII), I feel it should be safe to jump to A7 with similar AF ability.

    Well, it does not focus as fast as NEX-6, but isn’t bad either, until the recent firmware upgrade that is. The firmware upgrade is pretty damn amazing. It felt faster than NEX-6 from what I could remember.

    Too bad the update doesn’t seem to give you the option to turn off lossy compression on the RAW file. Dumbass Sony execs, why can you get so many right and go wrong on one of the most critical area…

  4. Antony Pratap

    I was confused as well, the right article at the right time. Thank you much, Carsten Krieger – Canon 6D it is.

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