Updated 2017 01 02: Regarding LCD/EVF auto switch, it is possible to customize one of the buttons to toggle between finder and monitor, thanks to Steve W who pointed it out in a DPReview thread.
It was exactly a year ago when I bit the bullet and treated myself with a Sony A7R II. I had been using a Canon 5D Mark II since 2011 and though it’s an excellent camera, at the end of 2015, it has been released for more than 7 years. Whether Moore’s Law is still valid or not is debatable, a 7-year camera certainly shows its age.
How do I feel about Sony A7R II? What are the pros and cons compared to Canon 5D Mark II? Do I still miss the Canon?
1) I can use all my Canon lenses! Lens compatibility was my number one concern before switching to Sony. Over the course of 20 years I have had access to almost a dozen Canon lenses. A7R II certainly exceeds my expectation in that auto focus works on each and every of these lenses when coupled with the Metabones Smart Adapter Mark IV. Here is a list of lenses I have tried:
AF speed is pretty fast for the newer lenses and adequate for the older ones. Because the camera was mostly used for travel photography, I was rarely bothered by its AF speed. As a matter of fact, I even used the camera with an EF100-400mm lens to shoot birds and wildlife in Ottawa area.
2) Higher resolution opens up new possibilities: When I made the purchase decision, higher resolution offered by Sony A7R II (42M vs. 21M) was only considered as nice to have. I never felt the need of more pixels until recently when I made a 20”x30” print of a Horseshoe Bend photo of mine. At size this large, 5D Mark II is quite stretched. In comparison, A7R II can easily handle 20”x30” prints. For this reason, 20″x30″ prints in my Etsy store are only available for photos taken with the Sony camera.
3) Much Better high ISO performance: The highest ISO I feel comfortable to use with 5D Mark II is about 2000, above which, noise is too high to my standard and not suitable for commercial purpose.
The following Milky Way photo was taken at Bryce Canyon National Park with an EF28mm f/2.8 lens, @f2.8, ISO2000 and 20 seconds. Noise is visible even at reduced size (click on the photo to see the large version).
As a comparison, here is a night photo from A7R II @ ISO12800 (click on the photo to see the large version).
4) 4K video: This is another reason why I favoured A7R II over EOS 5DS. Canon has been slow in including 4K capability in its DSLR, and a year ago there was no DSLR from Canon that supported 4K video. Even though 4K video is not a necessity at present, I plan to keep the A7R II for five years at least, by then 4K video will be the norm.
I am an occasional video shooter who has made promising progress this year. A 4K footage of moose grazing in Algonquin Park was sold on Pond5. I have added a handful clips to my Youtube channel, which has gained more than 2000 views.
5) Versatile lens mount: Metabones adaptor allowes me to use all my Canon lenses, but the excitement doesn’t end here. This summer I purchased a Selens Minolta MD to Sony NEX adaptor for 50RMB (7 USD) so I could use MD135 f/2.8, a very sweet and creamy portrait lens I bought 20 years ago.
1) Rear dial is too small: To make things worse, it has almost no click.
Pressing the outer rim of the dial (e.g. when changing the settings or navigating menu) could make dial to rotate. It is almost impossible to operate the dial when wearing gloves.
2) Annoying LCD/viewfinder switching: The camera switches off the LCD monitor when it detects your eye looking through the electronic viewfinder, and vice versa, when the eye moves away from the viewfinder, the viewfinder is turned off and the LCD is powered on. It is a great idea on paper, but in reality, the sensor is way too sensitive. Even holding the camera 10cm (4 inches) away from your body would trigger the switch. Fortunately (or unfortunately), Sony allows you to deactivate either the LCD or the viewfinder through a menu setting. It would be much better if you could customize one of the buttons to toggle between LCD and viewfinder.
Do I still miss 5D MK II?
I am quite happy with the A7R II even though it has a few shortcomings, but there are two things I really miss about 5D MK II.
Camera Landscape is my favourite. You will understand why by looking at the following examples — it makes the colour pop especially when there is lots of red and blue in the photo.
Now check out the two photos below to see how the Camera Landscape profile looks like for A7R II. Yikes, it adds too much green and yellow. In fact, Adobe Stand is the only profile I use for A7R II.
2) Magic Lantern for video: I was spoiled for being able to shoot video in raw format using Magic Lantern and 5D MK II. No need to worry about white balance at shooting and there is so much exposure latitude when using the VisionLog profile. Every single frame can be adjusted in Adobe Camera Raw. Magic Lantern is just amazing.
Even though A7R II comes with slog2 for improved dynamic range, ISO has to be at least 800, which means variable neutral density filter is always attached to the lens. Not to mention A7R II doesn’t have either Waveform monitor nor Vectorscope. Life without Magic Lantern (or raw) is totally different.