Why JP Danko Is Not Ditching His DSLR For A Sony A7R II

September 6th, 2015

SonyA7RIIA couple of weeks ago I featured a YouTube video by Michael Reichmann raving about the Sony A7R II. And then just a few days ago I ran across this post by JP Danko over at diyphotography.net that takes a little different view of the Sony system. I think JP Danko’s post is an interesting counter point to Michael Reichmann’s video.

Here is a high-level summary of JP’s points:

  • When you by a camera you are investing in a camera platform, not a camera.
  • Sony is not a complete camera platform.
  • There is no market for used Sony gear.
  • The marginal size difference isn’t worth investing in a new camera platform.
  • The A7R II is especially attractive for those wanting to use it for video

Be sure to read JP’s complete article.

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8 Responses to “Why JP Danko Is Not Ditching His DSLR For A Sony A7R II”

  • I do find it very interesting that there is so much talk on the internet about the new Sony alpha series though. Must be something. Yes, lens selection and wireless flash systems are wanting but, here is a new flash system I’m about to purchase. If this works to my expectation, there are only 2 things I would change about my a7ii. Those are 1) Better AF and 2) I want to do in-camera HDR with flash. I can do bracketing with flash on my D7100 but would like to do it on the a7ii as well.

  • Btw, why is there no market for used Sony gear? If so, it can’t be that Sony is the only one. I guess I’ll find out soon since I am putting a Sony flash on the used market.

  • Read the article and the slew of comments following it.

    As some of you might recall, last year I went through the whole ‘platform change’ thing myself. Chatted with plenty of folks, did a ton of study, some hands-on. At the end, my own views mimic’d most of his observations.

    As my older Minolta began showing signs of age (doesn’t like 15F temps any more), I evolved into Sony (who’d bought Minolta) letting me continue to leverage my lenses. As my favorite (and oldest) lens went into retirement, deciding where to invest became a major consideration.

    For my purposes, the Sony mirrorless platforms (a key distinction) is not yet complete. The last year was full of new e-mount lenses ‘about to be’ released ‘soon.’ The selection was meager…and I wasn’t looking for much. The ‘platform’ and aftermarket considerations were big factors for me.

    I’d been through this sort of situation before (not photo-related) and spent 3-4 years waiting for a supporting market to develop. Trust me, that’s just not much fun.

    There were two things I definitely agreed with from the original post. One was basically, ‘the body’s smaller, but everything else is the same…and you’ll need to carry 10 batteries.’ That was a consistent observation I saw last year…needing more batteries, more batteries, more…I can shoot all day, typically, with one battery in my 5D’3. Must be made by Energizer or something ;). Yes, I’ve a spare, but I’ve yet to change it out during a multi-day shoot. ’10’ batteries? Ugh.

    The second item was using Nikon and Canon lenses with adapters. That’s also an extremely common post by many of the ‘I’m switching to mirrorless cuz its so great’ folks. Ok, so the only thing you’ve shrunk is your camera body. Now, because it’s a complete platform, you’re excited about how you can use an adapter(s) to use all the old stuff from other platforms now?

    In general, I’ve found ‘adapter’ to equate to ‘patch job’ which is never as good as w/o adapter. This second item was one of the final bells signaling the death knell for Sony, for meeting my specific needs. ’10’ batteries, anyone?

    I am very fond of my Sony SLR. Fond of it’s EVF, the smaller size, light weight, makes it a very good travel camera. But it’s a platform I simply won’t be evolving much more.

    My favorite comment was Frank Nazario’s (2nd, I think). I own a modest set up , growing with time. I’ve approached it very pragmatically as a business. In another 5 years, perhaps the Sony solution will be a more-fully developed platform. But for now, enjoy it if you’re using it. Or whatever you’re using.

  • A few counter points to his counter points!

    1&2) His platform comment is mostly true, BUT: It isn’t as fully rounded out as Nikon or Sony Systems, but the gaps are constantly shrinking, and if you need doesn’t fall in a gap it’s still a viable option. I use third party flashes, triggers and remotes, they work great. Sony’s PlayMemories App works a lot like Camranger, that those systems have to spend $300 on. Lenses are limited but that’s getting better. Adapted lenses aren’t great, but what other system even gives you that option? Again, look at what you need and what Sony does.

    3) No market for Sony gear is just wrong. I’ve never tried Canon, but I’ve bought and sold a lot of used Nikon. I’ve also bought and sold a decent amount of used Sony now. Nikon has higher volume and maybe slightly easier, but do your homework first and find the market price and you won’t have trouble buying or selling. There isn’t as much supply or demand, but it’s there.

    4) Mirrorless is Smaller. His conclusions seem pretty accurate here, except his last line about D810 / 5DIII. I can’t substantiate this since I don’t have either to test with, but I read that someone tested one of these bodies to have the same battery life when used in LiveView mode. So if D810/5DIII drops the pentaprism, guess what, you’d need 10 batteries and they are physically larger than Sony’s. Personally I miss the size of DSLR a lot of the time. However, it greatly reduces the need for support for photo and video.

    5) I mostly shoot stills, I don’t really like video, but some big agents wanted video. I didn’t want an entirely separate system for video. Nikon is not great in this regard so I was left looking at Sony or Canon. This was actually a decent part of my switch. That said, I’ve really loved the stills side of it as well. If you want to use any manual glass, it’s much easier than it is on Nikon. Again, if Sony’s benefits fit what you enjoy…

    I switched from Nikon DX to Sony crop. It fits my needs perfectly, so for me it’s a perfect camera. It does great stills, it’s real good at video, it’s smaller and needs less support, and it’s a blast to use with MF lenses. I get 400 shots+- out of a battery so it lasts for a full house shoot no problem and I have all the platform pieces I need.

  • I look it at it another way – I’ve invested in a group of lenses, then I buy bodies to suit the intended purposes. So it isn’t decide on a A7rii body and then try to figure out lenses, it’s more that I like for instance the Canon 17-40L or the 16-35L, and I wish to shoot video (but it’s often in low light), so maybe I’ll mate my 15-35 to a Sony A7s via Metabones. So that’s a video shooting platform, not a camera platform, built to accomplish a particular task.

    With the number of options and adapters these days, we’re not so constrained to any particular system in regards to RE Photography. Fast moving sports is a different animal where a homogeneous platform might be a must.

    I am currently using 6 different brands based on lenses I like, or weight considerations, or what the body or lens might perform better on a given task. Yeah, maybe I could do it within a single brand, but I have no desire to be limited. So the order of acquisition is based on: purpose, glass, body, accessories.

    If I have any aversion to the Sony A7 line, it’s that I’m not sure of their durability over time given the price. My Canons & Nikons are built like tanks, whereas my Samsung (while it performs a certain task extremely well), is wearing faster. It’s not been banged around, it’s just lesser-built. But, at $700, it’s no big deal. At $2000+, I would expect the A7 line to be as durable as my DSLRs, but I’m betting they aren’t. I’ve handled them, and they feel like big brothers to my NEX-7, which is both fine and potentially fragile. I’ve had many Sony’s over the last decade, and each one failed IMO prematurely, and simply weren’t worth rebuilding (if it was even an option). The rate of tech advancements antiquates them within a couple of seasons. That’s less-so with DSLRs.

    I do respect Sony’s unusual focus, which seems to be on the capability of how their products can be used, rather then on the product line itself.

    And how about weight? A Sony A7rii weighs 625g (1.38lbs), and a Canon 6D weighs 770g (1.7lbs)… not really much difference there, but the 6D can be had for 1/2 the cost, and it’s probably more durable. But, suppose your quest was for super-sharp 4k video? It’s the task that determines the acquisition. For my purposes, a Sony A7r/sii would be about right :). (4k, low light, super-sharp) And even then, what good would that do me without a 16mm 2.8 pancake to stick on it (without having to use an adapter, which defeats the whole reason for a pancake)? Why build such stealthy cameras and then have to mount a brick-like LAEA4 to them? That’s not sleek & streamline anymore. And, could they even make an A7rsii work? I bet the “r” would mess with the “s”, and produce a grainy effect.

  • Interesting. Taking today off and wife and I went to a nearby National Wildlife Refuge. Too soon for migratory birds but had (unfulfilled) hope when sister posted picture of 3 Rosetta Spoonbills on her dock last week. Wife had her a6000 and I had both a Nikon D610 with 70-300 and a Sony a7RII I got a week ago, but left the Nikon adapter at home so only had the 24-70 and 16-35 native glass. Just finished processing the RAW files and the Sony seem consistently sharper…and wife’s straight jpg she posted on FB look amazing. I had noticed that sharpness issue before when considered the a7II, which effectively has the same sensor as the D610. Took it on an RE shoot and the exteriors (no interiors due to lighting) just seed to pop. So much so that I set an ad-hoc test with the D610/Nikon 16-35f4 and A7II/Zeiss 16-35f4 on parallel tripods shooting across pool, lake and opposite shore. Straight RAW to avoid incamera processing and direct export to jpg from Lightroom was astounding with the Sony showing significantly more detail and not as pronounced CA at each f-stop. Was ready to make the switch then but camera suddenly became defective, repair vs return was an easy decision and repair would take past the return period and Sony had just announced the a7RII.

    A lot of what JP Danko said was true, but also exaggerated to the negative where others exaggerate to the positive singing the praises. Small batteries, yes, but you don’t need to carry 10. Weigh/Size – yes the two 16-35 lens weigh about the same and attached to the camera bodies is Sony 2lb 10oz, Nikon 3lb 8oz, the biggest issue is build and bulk as the Sony doesn’t stretch my Domke case to the limits like Nikon does, and a lot is due to the Zeiss lens being metal, slightly shorter and expanding to a 72 filter, where the Nikon is weight saving poly build, but fatter throughout and expanding to a 77 filter. Two yeas ago I carried my Nikon around Europe when visiting my daughter. Last October, I borrowed a friend’s A7 for daughter’s wedding in the Canary Islands with side trips to Barcelona and Madrid. That experience is what got me thinking about Sony.

    The other big issue is video, and he got that right. For RE work, video is becoming more of a standard than an option. I’m sure some will hold out to ‘photos only’ but eventually… Sony definitely excels over Nikon. When I tried to rig a Ronin-m with Camranger to iPhone mounted on top bar, the USB line out was interfering (hitting cage). Nearfield wifi is nice as it eliminated the usb and the app is full screen on the Sony where the camranger app shrinks the view as it builds controls around the edges. Yes, Sony does maintain proprietary control for things like flash, triggers and Camranger stated to me that would love to create a Sony version, but can’t as Sony won’t release to developers. Personally, I think that is a poor decision on Sony’s part as that would spur development of the total system.

    Flash is a whole different issue, and thankfully in RE work manual flash rules. While I had PW TT1, TT5 and AC3 mated to SB900/910 and 600 I rarely used them TTL. Switched to Yonguno 560IV and TX560 controller, Nikon shoe (no Sony available) and works fine – but no HSS. For that you do need TTL, even if run in manual mode. Nissin noted earlier is too limiting and the definition of being held captive as they failed to release a receiver accepting other flash units, including other Nissin units! It will only work with the 700a flash. The other is Phottix Odin (Mitros+ flash) which was released earlier and perpetually out of stock and the Sony version is no longer listed on Phottix’s webpage. I will just keep using the YOnguno’s until the dust settles as I really don’t need HSS.

  • If budget constraint is not an issue, and if you’re willing to tackle the technical intricacies, there is an excellent tilt-shift solution available for use with the Sony A7x series cameras. This is a German-made adapter system that works with the best Canon and Nikon UWA lenses. The capabilities of this system exceed anything else short of a medium-format technical camera.

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/HCamde/122001131245665

  • Reminds me of the saying…..Opinions are like….
    Never mind 😉

    There will always be a C vs N argument, with others thrown into the mix. Just like the Dem/Rep, or Ford/Chevy debates.

    Having shot many of the bodies, both C and N, full frame and not. I can say without question in my mind, I don’t miss either.
    my D800e is a distant memory.
    My Sony’s do everything I need them to do, regardless of shooting a real estate property or a headshot. or fun with the family.

    A7ll fabulous, the A6000 just freakin’ awesome.
    My A7Rll arrives soon. Looking forward to it.
    The lens choices are fine. The 16-35 used everyday, and does what I ask of it. The itty bitty 10-18 on my A6000…outstanding.
    Tilt shift is an issue, but there are great adapter/ problem solvers.

    Features galore. EVF..Wow….tilt LCD..why not!! Face detection….Eye focus :0…Even SMILE focus. Have used them all..successfully.
    IBIS..makes all my non stabilized lenses work better. A6000 -11 frames a second.while focus tracking..works wonderfully..
    Zeiss…55 1.8 near perfect. 85-1.8…bokeh galore,…now the new 90 macro…My 70-200 2.8 (used with an adapter) ..produces images , certainly as good , as my N or C version did.
    WIFI…easy and fast. Sony apps..cool.
    Batteries….takes maybe 8 -10 seconds to swap out.keep an extra in my pocket.

    I’m not a rock star photog..just a working stiff, making a living producing images,
    I find, I have never had more fun, doing my job, than now, using my Sony’s.
    But again..it’s like the old saying…..opinions…
    ken

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