This here has been the workhorse of nearly all of my content for the past couple of years:
By nearly all accounts, this camera has been amazing. I’ve managed to produce some really great work that I’m really proud of (pssst, you can check out here link). I’ve filmed weddings, short documentaries, interviews, beautiful cinematic B roll and even vlogged on it. I’ve loved the footage at 4K in full-frame at up to 60 frames per second, with great colours and stellar low-light performance. Even the photos out of this thing have been great, along with the menus and touchscreen controls.
But today, as I’m writing this, I made the big switch. I bit the bullet, pulled the trigger and took the plunge head-first into the Sony world and bought the A7Siii. This camera has quickly become the favourite among most videographers, Youtubers and mostly anyone who makes videos professionally. And given it’s price tag, it’s mostly reserved for those who are serious about it.
I’ve been serious about making videos for a while now, but I’d already made the substantial investment in the Canon world with my R6, accessories, lenses and the like. I even had a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6k, which conveniently also uses Canon EF lenses.
But why make the switch? Changing camera brands isn’t an easy: it’s not just swapping to a new camera body, but all the lenses, the accessories, and getting used to a different menu system and different button layouts that I spent years getting used to. Here are my reasons, which built up slowly over time until the benefits of switching were just too hard to ignore.
This is the big one. People have known about the overheating issue with the Canon R5 and R6 when filming in 4K since before it even came out. But I found the claims to be mostly overblown. Still, filming for long periods of time did become an issue, in that I couldn’t record continuously for over 25 minutes, and even when shooting B roll I had to be aware of the timer. I eventually learned that the overheating timer was fake and controlled by an software timer rather than being governed by actual temperatures. And I discovered how to reset the fake timer for essentially unlimited 4K recording by changing the date and pulling the battery. But still. This felt like I was running a Windows 95 computer where I had to change the date and restart to keep using trial software. When I had to do this in the middle of a shoot, it just felt downright dumb.
I only see 2 possible reasons why this problem exists: 1. Poor engineering of the camera, where they didn’t allow heat to dissipate fast enough or 2. Canon is protecting their more expensive cinema lineup by imposing these fake limitations in their consumer cameras. Given that Sony doesn’t have this overheating problem, and that they also have their own cinema camera lineup, both of these reasons are dumb. Whoever made the decision at Canon to ship a camera with this issue, I hope they can see that the company is suffering big time for their short-sightedness.
Online reviewers have all raved on about how good the autofocus is on the Canon R6. But in my experience it hasn’t been all that. It’s struggled a lot, particularly in low-light situations. Which is really strange because low-light focusing has been one of the selling points of the camera. I’ve found that it quite often hunts around or doesn’t know what to focus on. When I used my friend’s A7S3, it had no problem with similar situations that my R6 struggled in. Strange. And very frustrating
I’ve got small hands. When Canon made the switch from DSLR to mirrorless technology, I think they didn’t realise how much smaller they could make the cameras. Either that, or they wanted to cater to their existing giant-hand demographic. Either way, the relatively big grip doesn’t suit me that much. With Sony, both the camera and lenses are smaller and lighter. This also means they’re easier to balance on a gimbal. My Zhiyun Weebill-S has always struggled to hold my Canon with any zoom lens. But with the Sony, even a 28-75 F2.8 lens with an ND filter on the front is no problem.
Sony’s mirrorless system has just been around for a lot longer than Canon’s. In that time, they’ve been able to amass a great lens selection for their E-mount system. There are prime lenses in 20,24,28,35,50,55,85mm and more from both Sony and third parties. True, they usually don’t have image stabilisation like RF lenses do, but the in-body stabilisation from the camera, coupled with the gyro data post-stabilising, will do for me. On top of that, the Sony lenses are generally cheaper than their Canon RF equivalents. All Sony E mount lenses can be used in all of their mirrorless cameras, from their smaller A6000 series, to the A7 series like this one, and even the bigger cinema cameras they sell. Canon’s RF mount is newer and currently only available on these full-frame mirrorless cameras, plus one cinema model.
In my limited time with this new Sony camera, I’ve already been delighted by how much I’m able to customise all of the buttons and dials. I can set different video presets onto the 1-2-3 mode dial, there’s the C1-C3 buttons that can be remapped, and the ability to remap almost any of the buttons. In comparison, I found the customisation settings on my R6 to be really lacking.
This is another massive bonus with the A7Siii. There just isn’t any option for this on the R6 at all. The A7Siii can simultaneously record a lower-resolution, proxy video at the same time as the full-res 4K one. For me, that means that I can send the low-res proxy video directly to my translator to start transcribing interviews when I’ve filmed them in another language. I used to have to import the footage to my computer, transcribe it, then upload it and send off. No longer.
Sony mirrorless cameras have been known for their great dynamic range for a while. On the flipside, I’ve been pretty disappointed with how low the range is on the R6, especially with highlights. I’ve found that as soon as the bright areas got a little bit too bright, they’d easily get blown out and unrecoverable. This has forced me to habitually under-expose a lot of my footage out of fear, making a lot of my shots look too dark and moody when they shouldn’t have been.
Canon has done a great job of sticking to their LP-E6 batteries for a long long time, all the way from their DSLR bodies until now. While I appreciate the sentiment and I love that it reduces waste, they haven’t done a good job at giving their mirrorless cameras good battery life. I can typically shoot for about 60-90 minutes of on-and-off B-roll before a battery runs out and I need to replace it. It’s probably more of a camera design issue, but either way it’s not so great having to change batteries so often when I’m on a shoot. Coupled with the fact that I had to keep pulling my battery on the Canon due to overheating, this adds up to a lot of time lost.
The Sony however, gets around double that. Meaning I can get through a day of shooting with only 2-3 batteries instead of 5-7. Less time changing batteries means less potential shots lost.
This has been a more minor issue, but the rolling shutter performance on the R6 is notoriously poor. Luckily I’m not doing many fast panning shots, so I don’t see the jell-o effect. But it’s nice to have the peace of mind knowing that the A7Siii has almost eliminated the rolling shutter completely.
It feels to me that Sony is really trying to cater to the mobile, content-creator market. And I love this. When I look at the new cameras that Canon is bringing out, it seems like they’re stuck trying to cater to their customers of the past, not the direction the market is going. For example, the new Canon R3 is an even more giant camera, to replace the 1Dx line-up. And the just-released R5c is essentially an R5 but with the overheating issue fixed. But the tradeoff is an even bigger camera because it has a built-in fan. And it STILL uses the same LP-E6 batteries, so it chews through them like candy.
On the Sony side, if we look at their flagship A1 camera, they’ve managed to cram in the 8K, high frame-rate 4k video and fantastic photography of Canon’s R5c, without the need for a fan or for terrible battery life. Sony are constantly innovating and bringing out tiny-yet-mighty cameras like the A7c that are really great for video content creators while Canon seem to be coming out with chunkier, heavier cameras for the market of yesterday.
Once the king of the DSLR photography world, Canon has seen its dominance chipped away over the past 5 years, mostly by Sony. The world has shifted to mirrorless, video-centric content production and Sony has been there to welcome this new crop of content creators with open arms.
Yes, the Sony A7Siii is a much more expensive option than the Canon R6, so of course you’d expect it to perform better. But if you look at the R6’s direct competitor, the Sony A7IV, all of my reasons above still apply.
If history has taught us anything, camera companies (*cough* Kodak) can quickly bite the dust if they they don’t adapt. I fear that Canon executives still believe that they’re a photography camera company, not a video one. If this holds true, then I fear their time is running out faster than they know.