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Well, I figured it was time for a follow up on the latest with my switch to Sony. Last December I wrote a post called “My First 60 Days with the Sony A7R ii”, and I thought it’d be cool to follow it up with my thoughts after 6 months. I wanted to see if the things I talked about in that post, fit in with my feelings now (after 6 months). So here goes:

First, Did I Really Switch From Nikon?

I covered this last time, but for anyone who didn’t read that post – Yes. I now shoot with my Sony 100%. I haven’t touched my Nikon in 6 months other than using it as a video camera for my training videos, where I needed to hold or show my Sony camera. That said, I just got the new Sony a6300 (more on that later). But it freakin’ rocks. As a video camera, it shoots 4K video, and has all the video bells and whistles I need, so now I have a Sony to shoot my videos with as well.

And yes, ALL of my still photography – landscape, travel, portrait and general purpose photography has been with my Sony gear since last fall.

Side Note: I’ll be selling my Nikon bodies and lenses if anyone is interested, just leave me a comment or hit me up on the Contact Form at the bottom of the About page.

As another side note, I know a lot of people thought I shot Canon because, when I worked at Kelby, Canon was an advertiser. But that was loaner gear for me to try out, as well as use to balance some of my classes so they weren’t all Nikon heavy. But I didn’t actually own any Canon gear and I sent all of that gear back a while ago.

Camera and Lenses

I haven’t added much to my system since then. I have the Sony Alpha α7R II, the 16-35mm, 24-70mm f/4, and the 70-200 f/4. I did get a good deal on the 55 f/1.8 so I added that one to the mix as well.

So far, that’s been all I need. A bunch of people have asked if I would invest in the new Sony G Master series lenses. They look awesome, but honestly I’m just not sure yet. Part of the appeal of the Sony system to me is the size and weight. Those lenses are quite a bit larger than what I have now, so I’m not sure if I’ll pull the trigger. I honestly don’t have a problem with the quality I’m getting from any of the other lenses, so it’s hard to even consider right now. But we’ll see.

Let’s Talk Features… Again

Alright, let’s get down to features. I’ll go over my “likes” from last time and give you and update on those. Then I’ll go over my “dislikes” and give you an update. Finally, I’ll mention anything new that I like or dislike since last time.

What I Like

Just like last time I want to give a quick disclaimer. First, I know that features come and go. What I mean is that, say XYZ brand has a new feature today. Then, before you know it, ABC brand comes out, and has those features and some better ones. If you followed that line of thinking, you’d switch brands every 12 months. So while I like the features I’m about to talk about, my liking for the overall Sony brand, and where they’re going, means more.

Anyway, here’s my favorites. Most of them are a comparison to what I was shooting (the D810). So I’m not necessarily saying that other cameras don’t have the features. I’m just letting you know what my favorites are in my current system.

I’ll also give a quick rating of it’s importance to me after 60 days (rating scale from 1 thru 10), and how important I think it is today after using it for a while.

Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) – This was at the top of my list last time, and it continues to be at the top today. I love it! I love seeing exactly what my photo is going to look like digitally. I’ve always thought the viewfinder in a DSLR was a total lie. Your photo looks nothing like it does when you look through them. But with the EVF, you’re seeing exactly what your photo is gonna look like, and as you make adjustments, you see the results.

Also, this next part is huge for me. Reviewing photos with the EVF is amazing. As an outdoor photographer, the LCD screen is always tough to really see what your photos look like because of glare. But, when you bring your eye up to the EVF and look through, all that glare is gone, and you see exactly what the photo looks like. I love it!

Plus, I don’t do a lot of portrait shoots, but when I do I can keep my eye on the EVF and see the photos I’m shooting rather than chimping on the back of the camera.

Level of Importance After 60 Days – 8

Level of Importance Today – 10

Extended Focus Points – This is another one that was top of my list back then, and still is today. Sony let’s you position your focus points closer to the edges of the frame. For me, that means I can set up my shot the way I want, without having to focus and recompose. With some of my other cameras, I couldn’t get the focus point out toward the edge as much as I wanted. So that meant I had to focus on something, then reposition my camera for the composition I wanted.

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Level of Importance After 60 Days – 8

Level of Importance Today – 8

Face Detection – Again, I don’t do a lot of portrait work, but I do some and Face Detection has been great for me. I also do some video work with the Sony, and face detection helps keep me from interrupting my wife to come focus the camera. Instead I just let the camera do the work (Sorry honey, you’re out of a job) 😉

Level of Importance After 60 Days – 5

Level of Importance Today – 6

Manual Focus Magnification – I still do a lot of work where I manually focus the camera on what I want. Sony has a magnification feature. Essentially when you’re in manual focus mode, and you move the focus ring, the screen zooms in on what you’re focussed on so you can really finesse it to get critical sharpness. I love the feature when I use it, but I’ve found I don’t manually focus as much as I thought I did.

Level of Importance After 60 Days – 8

Level of Importance Today – 5

Tilt Screen – My camera is usually low to the ground. Even turning live view on with other cameras was a pain because you still had to get down low to see it well. The tilt screen on my Sony has been a lifesaver. Now I just tilt it up and position the camera, instead of getting my head down really low and looking through the viewfinder. This was something I wasn’t totally used to using in the beginning, so I don’t think I thought as much of it. But it’s something I’ve really grown to appreciate over time.

Level of Importance After 60 Days – 5

Level of Importance Today – 7

The Apps – This is huge, but has also changed a little for me since my first article. First off, I wrote that I liked the Smart Trigger and Sharing apps. What I’ve found is that I don’t use the Smart Trigger app as much anymore. Instead, I picked up this cheap wireless remote that I really like and use that more often. I’ve found I just don’t want to have my phone out all the time while shooting, and this little remote is much smaller.

Next, the sharing app. That I definitely use. It let’s me share the photo from my camera, directly to my phone right away. So I don’t even need to wait to get back to my laptop, to post a photo online. Do I use it all the time? Meh. More like sometimes. But definitely a nice to have when you want to show off to your friends who don’t have it 🙂

But here’s the game changer for me personally. Two apps: 1) Sky HDR and, 2) Smooth Reflection. I won’t say too much because I’ve done separate posts on both the Sky HDR app (click here to see the article) and the Smooth Reflection app (click here for the article). But they’re awesome. And they output raw files. So anyone who wants to talk about getting it right in camera, these apps are it. The eliminate the need for filters, and you’re actually getting the shot right in camera, with no extra gear.

Level of Importance After 60 Days – 6

Level of Importance Today – 11! 😉

Dislikes?

Everything can’t be perfect right? There are a few things I’d love to see improved.

Battery Life – I wrote about this one in my first article. And if you do 10 seconds worth of google research, you’ll find some one dissing the Sony for it’s battery life since the LCD screen is almost always on. While I would love battery life to be longer (I could shoot a whole weekend with my D810 and never change a batter), it’s actually not as bad as I thought.

I was in Iceland last month and was really worried about it. So much so, that I bought 6 extra batteries for a total of 8 (Amazon has a 2-pack with a charger for only $26!). Well, we were shooting almost all day. And in cold temperatures, which tends to drain batteries faster. While the battery life wasn’t amazing, I found that I usually only went through one battery about three quarters through the day. Then I’d swap it out with another one and I was good to go for the rest of the day, and in to the night. So if I only had two batteries, I actually would have been fine if I could charge them every night. Again, it’s not phenomenal, but it’s not as bad as I thought.

Level of Dislike After 60 Days – 8

Level of Dislike Today – 5

The Size – I had mentioned that I’ve read a lot of people criticizing the size of the camera and that it’s too small for their hands. At the time, I hadn’t noticed much of an issue and it felt fine for me. But maybe it’s the fact that I’ve had it out shooting in some cold temps (where I have gloves on, or my hands are cold), but I have felt the buttons and dials are a little harder to control. It’s not a show-stopper, and it’s really just something you have to get used to. Once you figure out where the key touch-points are, and how sensitive everything is, you get used to it. But it is something I’ve noticed more than I thought during the last 6 months. And, where I felt I could still control things with a decent sized glove on with my DSLR, I found I had to take my glove off more often to really get control of the buttons.

Level of Dislike After 60 Days – 4

Level of Dislike Today – 6

Cold Weather Performance – This is something I’d love to see improved. I’ve heard people say the Sony’s aren’t as weather-sealed as some DSLR’s are. Personally, I’ve had mine out in rain, snow, and everything in between and it’s been fine. But… when I was in Colorado last month I went out for an early morning shoot for sunrise. It was about 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and my LCD just shut off. Under normal circumstance that wouldn’t be a problem with a DSLR because most important readouts (like ISO, Aperture, etc…) are on a small digital readout at the top of the camera. But with the Sony, everything is on that LCD screen which meant in order for me to change anything I had to get down low and look through the viewfinder (since that shows all the same readouts as the LCD does).

Level of Dislike After 60 Days – 2

Level of Dislike Today – 5

That’s about it for the dislikes though. I do wish it had an internal bulb timer. And I was shooting next to a Fuji shooter who had  a countdown timer on their camera for longer exposures, so you knew exactly how much time was left. But that’s not a huge deal. And last time in my post, I mentioned the lens system was a little confusing. But I’ve found that I’m not a lens junkie. I have my 3 lenses that I use, and I actually pride myself on not using more lenses and keeping my system as minimal and light as I can. So I don’t really have to worry about all of the different lens abbreviations and stuff out there. And when I do, as I mentioned last time, I have my buddy and Sony Artisan Brian Smith, on speed dial 🙂

Wrapping Up

I’m really happy to say that after 6 months, I’m even more satisfied with my switch to Sony. So much so that I’m actually selling off most of my Nikon gear (just keeping enough to do video with so I don’t have to buy another video camera). But if you’re considering going mirrorless, hopefully this gives you some practical insight from some one who’s been there.

Also, I’m going to wrap this up the same as I did last time. I’m not writing this to get anyone to go out and buy a Sony. I’m simply telling a story that a number of people have asked me to tell. I firmly believe that if you put any camera in my hands, I’m going to be able to take as good a photo as I would with any other camera.

Here’s a quick analogy for you. Will a Toyota 4Runner get me from point A to point B, and have all the bells and whistles in it that I need? Yep, just fine. So why do I prefer to drive my Jeep, which is about the same price? Because it works for me. I can do what I want with both vehicles – just like I can take the photo I want with any camera. Both vehicles have similar features right – just like various cameras do. But the layout, look, feel, and overall experience can be different for different people.

My point… don’t go out and buy this camera (or any camera) because you think it’ll make you a better photographer. It absolutely, positively will not. But your camera should make your experiences while taking photos (which is also VERY important), as good as possible. For me, the Sony has been doing that, and I’m really happy with my switch.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a good one!

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