I’ll give the disclaimer that this blog post might scare – and shock – some of you. I’ve been on the fence about spilling all my tea about this because – well, it is scary. Especially to clients who depend upon our gear to work properly at their wedding. Also, in the event this blog post makes it to Petapixel, I have to arm myself for a battle against the internet trolls.
To be clear, I’m not talking about the scary financial investment and commitment of moving to Sony. Though I got hives after I maxed out one unused Citi credit card to go all-in on Sony one sunny November afternoon.
Don’t worry, that credit card has long been paid off.
No, I am talking about the definitive factor as to why I made the switch from Canon to Sony as a professional wedding photographer.
For the seasoned pros who grew their photography careers within the midst of a dark room, I can already hear your eye-rolls. While telling my family about the switch over tacos one night, my brother-in-law’s eye-roll was so audible I thought for sure there was seismic activity from it.
“Stefanie, every professional is going to go through this. It happens. That is why you are a pro and fix it. Gear breaks, it is a fact of life.”
I agreed with him. Truly.
For the record: My brother-in-law went to photography school in the ’90s and is a former photojournalist for the Boston Globe. I feel like an infant every time we talk about photography, he is amazingly talented and then there is me. Someone who picked up a camera 7 years ago and made it a career in 2017. For the old-timers in this industry, I am dubbed “the problem with the industry.”
But what are the odds that my AF sensor, top camera assembly (controls the flash), the mirror box, the touch screen, my camera sensor, and my shutter, would all have issues in the same year on a camera that is only three years old and has never experienced trauma such as a drop?
It wasn’t just one thing that went wrong with the camera, it was multiple malfunctions at once and at different times of the year. All at weddings, too. It was terrifying not to mention embarrassing and I am so thankful key moment photos were not compromised in the process.
I made the switch from Canon to Sony because this photographer had it with her main body, one Canon 5D Mark IV that was sold at a devastating loss. Also? I was tired of waiting on Canon to get their crap together and make a pro-mirrorless body. I could no longer stand behind their prosumer EOS-R because of the single card slot issue though I loved that camera something fierce.
By the third time – that time the shutter dying – I came to a crossroads: Do I pay for yet another repair and keep using my camera and hope that it was repaired “just enough” to make it until Canon releases my unicorn? Or do I pay for the repair and sell it then buy another Mark IV? Or, do I just go all-in on Sony? This was something I’ve contemplated for most of 2019. Especially after my first camera malfunction.
After the gear failure I encountered in 2019, I didn’t want to take that gamble using the EOS-R as my main body which happened to be my backup body. I actually had nightmares about a card slot failing me. After all, if all that I stated above went bad, what were my chances of a card corruption or worse, total loss?
In short – to those who are reading this and aren’t sure what a card slot is – a card slot is where we photographers insert storage such as an SD card or CF card so our cameras can write the images we take with the camera. Think: Film but digitally.
One card slot means the camera is writing your photos just to only one card. Photographers either put a large one SD card in their camera or swap out smaller ones at weddings. OR they have a camera with two card slots and write to two cards at the same time. Redundancy is always better.
Couples who are reading this: Ask your photographers what gear they use and if they carry backups. Gear failure or breakage on a wedding day is more than likely than us becoming so sick we can’t photograph your wedding.
For the record: I am not knocking those who do use cameras with one card slot. For me, I prefer two and like that extra insurance.
“You should write to Canon and let them know what you went through.” My good friend Liz texted back after I vented off some steam via my thumbs.
“You know they won’t care,” I replied as I sighed. Liz agreed.
After mulling it over, I didn’t want to invest another DSLR because that technology is a sinking ship and it is going down fast. Also, I didn’t want to wait for Canon to release a pro-mirrorless body with two card slots. And the one rumored to be coming in 2020? That thing is leaked to be a wee beasty at 100 megapixels. Totally unusable for weddings, in my “problem” opinion.
Size doesn’t matter at all when it comes to cameras, 100 megapixels can actually be a wedding photographer’s worst nightmare. Not only because of the file storage – that would be a 1TB SD card at least on a wedding day – but because more megapixels doesn’t make for a better photo. The photos will produce more grain and motion blur will be more apparent. To a landscaper, however, this supposed camera is the field of dreams.
After weighing the pros and cons – and consulting with my Chief Husband Officer – I decided it was best to repair my Mark IV, sell it, and go all-in on Sony.
Que: Dear-Jesus-what-Camera-do-I-invest-in-now brain map and how I would make the transition. What would the cost be? What would the loss be?
I researched and there were two clear paths I could take: Go all in at once or sell gear and buy new gear as you go. I decided to go all in.
Like a bandaid over a freshly healed scab, I pulled it off. It isn’t every day you walk into a photo store armed with a credit card thirsty for use. I felt like a camera pimp for a split moment. I bought two bodies – the A7RIII and the A7III – and the two lenses I knew I would use the most: G-master 24-70mm f/2.8 and the G-master 85mm f/1.4. I also bought my husband his own body the A7RIV and the 24-105 f/4.
Steve won’t admit it, but he did shed some tears when I brought our new babies home. For the longest time, he wanted a camera for himself, one he could enjoy while I am out shooting weddings. He was so happy, it made me shed some tears too.
There was no turning back. We did it. Later, I had to research a new flash system and refused to pay for Sony’s steep price of $500 for one new flash. Again, I had a month before a wedding to figure this all out.
I took mid-November until late-December to make the transition and learn the entire Sony system before my last wedding of 2019. My husband got to work selling our fleet of Canon gear and thinking it would be easy, it was difficult.
The EOS-R, ring adapter, and the RF 35mm f/1.8 went the fastest. No surprise there. Again, DSLRs are dying and people are becoming curious about the new mirrorless technology. People would claim an interest in our other gear for sale, but never follow through. Slowly, the interest came in more once we slashed the prices. Things started moving and we paid off the credit card.
I type this post with one more flash to sell and the EF 85mm f/1.4; both in pristine condition, just waiting for them to sell on eBay.
Am I happy with my transition? Absolutely. Was it painful? To my pocket, yes.
Like cars, gear depreciates in value fast as soon as we take it out of the box and use it. We buy a lens at $2400 and sell it for $1900 two years later. Worse, we buy a brand new camera three years ago at $3700 and sell it for $1000.
I know that my new Sony bodies will not be immune to gear failure, new doesn’t mean better nor does it make me a better photographer. But, I am now with a camera system that is innovating continually and I will not have to keep waiting for it to catch up. Sony is pioneering the mirrorless technology, something I wish Canon would do so desperately.
But Canon is stuck, you see. The moment they make a pro-mirrorless is when they will become cannibals to their pro-DSLR lines which is their current market. The kiss of death, possibly.
My advice for those reading this and wondering if they should make the switch: Do it now. Waiting will cost you more.
Steps for going all-in on Sony…
1. Weigh the pros and cons, the cost and loss. Make a spreadsheet.
2. Invest during a slow season and learn all the things about it. DO NOT – I REPEAT WITH SHOUTY CAPS – DO NOT invest in new gear and show up for a wedding the next day. Take time to learn your new system, the AF system, the menu system. I spent weeks honing in my technique and YouTube-ing on how everything worked. Spoiler alert: AF-C not AF-S will be your bestie.
3. Go all in or go slowly. I was lucky where I had put money aside for this transition and was able to go all-in and sell the rest of my gear to pay for the new gear. Also, the credit card I used was interest-free with cashback. Though I could have milked it the 0% APR, I chose to pay it off as fast as I could. I learned in my 20s that revolving credit is not a good idea.
4. Sell your gear: I sold my old gear on Facebook Marketplace, local photography groups, eBay, and finally sold my Mark IV to a camera store. It takes time, do not expect to sell it all at once. Of all of the places I sold to, eBay was the most hassle due to scammers, people winning the bid then backing out.
5. Consider the future. If you are a Canon user reading this and still on the fence and are still enamored with your Mark III, you do you. Stay with the camera whom your soul loves. Stay in or go all in when you think the time is right.
Was this article helpful? What are your thoughts on going all-in on Sony? Nikon and Canon peeps, chime in below.