My Sony FE 24-240mm just arrived so I did some testing on the Sony A7R and also compared it against my Nikon D800 and Nikkor 28-300mm. This quick review covers a bit of my progression from DSLRs to Sony mirrorless, compares sizes between systems, and has a few images to give a general idea of how the lens performs. This isn’t a scientific test in a controlled lab. Just some general thoughts of a cityscape/landscape photographer.
Moving from DSLRs to Sony Mirrorless
For a while I was shooting with a Canon 5DMII and a bag full of lenses. Lugging around 30 lbs of gear and constantly switching lenses wasn’t really working well. I wanted to scale back on gear to go lighter and work more efficiently. I looked into the Canon 28-300 but it’s a monster. The Sony NEX-7 and 18-200mm caught my eye. A small, light, and versatile combo. But how good could it be especially compared to a 5DMII? Well, surprisingly good. Surprisingly, meaning when I first got it I wasn’t expecting great results from a utility 18-200 on a new and relatively unproven mirrorless camera. I took the NEX-7/18-200 and 5DMII/24-70 both out shooting so I could compare side-by-side results. I was pretty shocked. I opened two photos in Lightroom at 100% and thought I had accidentally picked two 5DMII photos. Nope. The two were so close in sharpness at the center I had a hard time telling the difference and in some areas the NEX-7 was better. Can you tell which is the Sony or Canon?
Yep, it’s that time again. The switch of camera brands. This time I’m moving from Canon to Nikon. Happens every few years. Just picked up a Nikon D800 and a Nikon 28-300mm to get started. Well, maybe “switching” isn’t the right word. Camera equipment makers leapfrog each other every few years. I’ve moved back and forth between Nikon and Canon a few times so I may end up holding onto some of my Canon stuff for the next switch in a few years. I’m not brand loyal. I go with whatever brand that meets my needs and my client’s needs.
One thing is different for me this time. I want to simplify. I’ve been picking up more and more equipment over the years and I’ve realized that for the type of subjects I shoot I don’t really need a lot of it. Do I love my Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II? You bet. Do I really really need it? Probably not. I’ve realized the more equipment I have the more locked down to a brand I become. And I don’t want to be locked down anymore. Things are changing quickly in the camera industry. My Canon S100 compact is collecting dust now that I have an Iphone 5. And I credit the Sony NEX-7 with taking off my blinders to what’s possible with a mirrorless camera. The NEX-7 has changed my shooting and mindset. A lot. I shoot a lot of city skylines and travel subjects. Lugging around 50+ pounds of pro lenses and other equipment for days gets old. With the NEX-7 I can carry a small bag with a Sony 18-200mm and 35mm f/1.8. And to my surprise the image quality has been on-par with the 5D Mark II. Seriously, it’s that good. I’ve found this Sony two lens combo covers 99% of my shooting. So why do I need even a DSLR? Well, uh, hmmm, good question. For now, I need the D800’s higher resolution. And in the studio people are expecting a “pro” DSLR camera. But I don’t think it will be long before mirrorless cameras become recognized as pro equipment. So for me it’s not really Nikon vs Canon anymore. I need multiple brands. Sony is innovating. It’ll be interesting to see what they have coming next. Maybe a 36MP full frame mirrorless?
So, I have a clean slate. Switching brands gives me an opportunity to start fresh. Maybe you should too. It’s probably less difficult than you think. What’s stopping you? I have no regrets so far.
Here’s one of my first images created with the Nikon D800.
Photo of the Sugar Shack in Deep River County Park in Hobart Indiana. In the Sugar Shack, tree sap is turned into syrup using a wood burning evaporator. (Paul Velgos)