Sans mirror

A few years ago I was out with some members from the camera club, we were waiting for the raining to stop so we talked about all things camera. The first mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras had just entered the market and while I was not interested in getting one myself, I thought there was a lot of potential in it. Potential, as in producing a full frame mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera. That would solve the size issue; in my opinion, full frame SLR’s just simply were too big and heavy to carry around on hikes. That was obviously before Canon released the 6D, which is actually a bit smaller and lighter than the APS-C 7D MkII.

Fast forward to last year when I had realised that I’m just not happy with the 6D, and was eagerly anticipating the release of 7D MkII so I could go back to APS-C which at that point seemed like the promised land. And then jump forward to today, when I’m completely disillusioned by Canon and I don’t know which I regret more, swapping the camera and almost all of my lenses, or just with sticking with Canon in the first place. Had it not been for the Mega-Tamron, I really wouldn’t have had any reason to stay with Canon if I was going to change all the other lenses.

So now the camera and the Canon normal zoom have been to service and come back with improvements. The Sigma zoom has gone to service and I hope they can do miracles with it. And I have zero confidence left in the system. Granted, this is not all Canon’s fault – one of the new lenses is a Tokina and one is a Sigma, and the customer service that is giving me grey hairs is Rajala’s. Having to wait for a week to get a reply from them, what kind of service is that? But it all contributes to me thinking of the 7DII as radioactive waste at the moment.

But then I also have (or had) the Olympus MFT system as a backup. While I have nothing bad to say about it, it’s not good enough to use as the primary system on these big trips I’m planning to do. I would be very disappointed if I was stuck with it in Greenland in May (have I mentioned that I’m going to Greenland?). So I started thinking about it… maybe I could kill two birds with one stone. Get a second system which is equal (or better) than the current Canon system, and then in the long term let that second system completely replace all my Canon gear.

With that said, I introduce to you my new camera, the Sony Alpha 7! It’s a full frame mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera that seems to combine the best of all worlds – it’s almost as small as the Olympus MFT, it’s full frame like the 6D, and most importantly, it’s not a Canon!

Everybody is saying good things about the Sony Alphas and as far as I can see, the only thing going against the system is the lack of proper telephoto lenses. The longest lens is the 70-200/4 zoom, and for anything longer, you would need to use an adapter and then cross your fingers that AF still works (the Mega-Tamron apparently works, but focus is slooooow). But my idea was that this is a new system and longer lenses will come… until yesterday when I read somewhere that Tamron and Sigma are not betting on the system to stick around so they are not making long zooms for it. Oh well, alea jacta est. For the time being, the Sony system will be my primary landscape kit, and Canon is for macro and telephoto. And for my travels, both kits are coming with me to ensure that I can keep shooting even if one camera fails!

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Sony A7 & Zeiss 16-35/4
Sony A7 & Zeiss 16-35/4
Canon 7D MkII & Tokina 11-16/2.8
Canon 7D MkII & Tokina 11-16/2.8

The picture is just a test, I put the Canon+Tokina 11-16/2.8 and Sony+Zeiss 16-36/4 head to head. The Tokina was stopped down to f4 and Zeiss zoomed in to 17mm to make it equal values. The surprise was that the full frame Sony isn’t terribly good at high ISO, I mean even after a lot of pixel peeping (shame on me!) I was not able to pinpoint any area in the picture which stood out as being radically better than the crop sensor Canon. The 6D was far superior in this respect. But then the lenses, there’s absolutely not surprise in that the Zeiss wins over the Tokina. Especially in the corners, the Zeiss wins hands down even though it was fully open at f4.

And yes, I know you can’t possibly form an opinion yourself based on these small web pictures, but that wasn’t my intention either. The biggest shocker of this test was the difference in colour; the WB is the same in both pictures. The Zeiss (or the Sony?) is more contrasty and although the exposure values were the same for both pictures, I had to decrease the exposure by 1/3 stops for the Canon version to get roughly the same darkness in the sky as the Sony.

But obviously, this is just one picture. I need to do a lot more shooting to find out exactly how the Sony (and the lenses) perform, it’s just such a shame that the landscape is like it is at the moment, anything but photogenic with the melting snow.

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