Why I Shoot The Sony A7R4...AND The Canon 5DSR

So Many Questions | Sony A7R4 Vs Canon 5DSR

Ok, let's clear a few things up right away. As with all of my comments surrounding photography gear, these opinions are solely based on my personal experience. They are not meant to dissuade you from purchasing one camera brand or another or to keep you from thoroughly enjoying the equipment you use or plan to use. I don't do paid gear reviews or have any loyalties to any particular camera brand. I have a highly successful fine art print business and any gear I choose to purchase almost instantly pays for itself. After "making the switch" to Sony when they released the A7R4, I received endless questions from fellow photographers about how I liked it compared to the 5DSR I had used the previous 5 years. I promised to share my thoughts with you all at some point and it appears today is the day. I am NOT a technical geek so if you are looking for charts, graphs, DXO scores, or 300% magnification pixel crops you won't find any of that here. I also have no idea if aliens are real or if Tupac is still alive. I simply can't answer ALL of life's mysteries for you.

The Crown

Fine Art Limited Edition of 50 - The Maroon Bells are two peaks in the Elk Mountains, Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak, separated by about a third of a mile. The mountains are on the border between Pitkin County and Gunnison County, Colorado, United States, about 12 miles southwest of Aspen. Both peaks are fourteeners. Maroon Peak, at 14,163 feet (4317.0 m), is the 27th highest peak in Colorado. North Maroon Peak, at 14,019 feet (4273.0 m), is the 50th highest.

"The Crown" | Canon 5DSR, Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 II - 33mm / f16 / ISO100 / .5 Sec SS

The Best Of The Best

Now that we got that out of the way, let's jump right into some controversy! Similar to other polarizing topics like politics and climate change, the opinion of which camera brand is best is a fiercely fought battle waged daily on the interwebs. Does Canon have the best color science? Do Sony cameras drown in the rain? Do Fuji cameras only photograph cats? Is it even REAL photography unless I shoot RAW with a 50mm prime lens and no filter while wearing sustainably sourced clothes made from hemp and never...EVER use Photoshop? Inquiring minds want to know!

The truth is that just like the unsolved mysteries mentioned above, you can find very well laid out evidence on both sides of any of these topics and make yourself CRAZY spending hours watching YouTube videos from all your favorite social media icons, each sharing their well laid out thoughts and opinions. I won't be adding to your misery today by telling you what is best for YOU even though some of you want me to.

Confessions Of A Canon Shooter

I must confess, I loved my 5DSR. After using Canon cameras for the entirety of my career as a landscape photographer and the 5DSR specifically for five of those years, I always assumed that I would one day be elected into the Canon Hall of Fame. On that glorious day I would be presented with an "I suffer from low dynamic range" t-shirt and one of those hard plastic 24-105mm coffee mugs. Instead, I woke up one day and decided to make a change.


Fine Art Limited Edition of 100 - Naturally forming mudcracks start as wet, muddy sediment dries up and contracts. A strain is developed because the top layer shrinks while the material below stays the same size. When this strain becomes large enough, channel cracks form in the dried-up surface to relieve the strain. Individual cracks spread and join up, forming a polygonal, interconnected network. These cracks may later be filled with sediment and form casts over the base.

"DragonSkin" | Canon 5DSR, Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 II - 30mm / f/13 / ISO100 / 1/3 Second SS

Life With The A7R4

Fast forward eight months and I still receive 2-3 messages a week asking how I am enjoying the Sony a7R4 and if I am happy I made the switch from Canon. For those of you who are impatient and would like to stop reading now and take a nap, I'll say this...I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience so far with this incredible camera. Thank you and goodnight. For the rest of you, please keep reading.

The A7R4 produces extremely detailed high-resolution files with incredible dynamic range. This increase in dynamic range over the Canon was one of the most compelling reasons I purchased the Sony after my short, uncomfortable relationship with the Fuji GFX100 and I couldn't be happier with the light-gathering abilities of this 61mp sensor. The camera is small, light and the EVF (electronic viewfinder) is definitely a game-changer if you have never used a mirrorless camera before. Both focus peaking and auto magnify during manual focus are so nice to use. While some complain of the menu structure, I have personally never found any menu system to be a joy to navigate and the Sony menu wasn't any more of a challenge for me to pick up on.

Collision Course

"Collision Course" | Sony A7R4, Sony 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 - 400mm / f13 / ISO400 / 1/200th SS

Do YOU Need 61 Megapixels?

This is the million-dollar question. Well, ok it's the $3600 question but you know what I mean. Do YOU really NEED a 61mp camera? My guess is probably not. Do you want one? Of course you do! ;) In all seriousness though, all you need to do is be honest with yourself about how you use your equipment and what you do with your photographs after you have captured them to find your answer. For example, if you spend most of your time shooting in low light, you do not want this camera. Or the Canon 5DSR. Personally, due to the need for the cleanest image files possible, I do my best not to shoot either camera over ISO400, although you can easily clean up files that are captured with a higher ISO. If the final resting place for the majority of your images is Instagram, you do not need this camera. That would be a waste of perfectly good pixels.

High Megapixels For Big Prints

You don't need a 61mp camera to produce beautiful 36" prints. Or 45" ones. Or even 60" prints. Any quality DSLR with 30mp or more can do that. I have created hundreds of beautiful prints from files captured with a 23mp Canon 5D3 with the majority of them being 45" or larger. The 84" acrylic face mount shown at the top of this page was captured with the 5d3 and it is jaw-dropping. The truth is that your in-camera settings, technique in the field, and the way you treat the files in post will make or break your images long before the number of megapixels your camera holds will. That being said, if you consistently produce prints 45" and larger as I do, you will certainly be greatful for those other 40mp for a number of reasons. Is 61 not enough for you? In the right setting and while certainly not perfect, you can use the Pixel Shift Technology to create a super clean 187mp image like the one you see below. Luck was on my side this morning without even a breath of wind flowing through this small grove.

Flames In The Forest

Fine Art Limited Edition of 50 - Contrast is the difference in luminance or colour that makes an object (or its representation in an image or display) distinguishable. In visual perception of the real world, contrast is determined by the difference in the color and brightness of the object and other objects within the same field of view. The human visual system is more sensitive to contrast than absolute luminance; we can perceive the world similarly regardless of the huge changes in illumination over the day or from place to place. The maximum contrast of an image is the contrast ratio or dynamic range.

"Flames In The Forest" | Sony A7R4, Sony 24-70mm f/2.8 II | A Mind Blowing 187mp Pixelshift Image

So Why Keep The 5DSR?

As a professional photographer it is important to have a backup camera. We invest precious time, money, and energy to be in the right place at the right time so we can do what we do. Oftentimes we are in locations where purchasing a new camera in an emergency is not practical or even possible. Because of this, ever since my 5D3 I have kept a backup, but never the same body as my main camera. When I primarily shot the 5DSR, I had a 5D4 as a backup. Now, with the A7R4, the 5DSR is my backup. This Sony/Canon combo is both powerful and convenient. With the simple and dependable Sigma MC-11 adapter, I can use all of my Canon lenses on the A7R4 and they work great! In some cases, like the 24-70mm f/2.8 II and 70-200mm f/4IS II, the Canon versions of these particular lenses are better than the Sony versions anyway.

There are other things about the 5DSR that I appreciate over the A7R4. The first is the build and the weatherproofing. While the A7R4 is said to have improved weather sealing over previous models and I have no reason to doubt that, I would not feel very confident putting this camera in some of the situations I have found myself in with the 5DSR over the years.

I have photographed waterfalls in the pouring rain and fog for hours on end with constant water cascading off the camera and it kept on ticking. More than one unexpected wave to the chest has caught me off guard, giving my camera a saltwater bath in the process. I don't know what the Vegas odds would be on a Sony vs ocean wave matchup but I thinking they would be pretty steep. Back in 2011, while shooting Proxy Falls in Oregon, I slipped and fell on my ass, smashing my brand new 5D3 into a rock at full swing. It cracked the magnesium body, shearing my wide-angle lens completely in half in the process. After I was done crying over a pile of torn circuits, I went on to patch the crack with gaffers tape and used it that way for the next three years with no troubles.

What's In My Bag?

I have never been one of those guys who pull out their strobes and softboxes to photograph their gear perfectly positioned on the shelf, or stand a lens up on the table to capture some nice bokeh behind it to show off my latest acquisition. I only purchase equiptment I plan to get frequent use out of so compared to some, my photographic arsenal may be a bit light. I am less interested in the equipment people choose to use and more interested in the work they are producing but because people ask, here's what's in my bag......

Sony A7R4 (61MP 35mm Full Frame Mirrorless)

Sony 16-35mm f/2.8 GM

Sony 24-105mm f/4 G OSS

Sony Planar FE 50mm f/1.4 ZA

Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM

Canon 5DSR (51MP 35mm Full Frame DSLR)

Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 III

Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 II

Canon 70-200mm f/4IS II

Finally, for the past 12 years now I have relied on and used B+W Circular Polarizers. They are the best. For tripods and ball heads, nothing less than the legendary Really Right Stuff will do. While I know some of you were hoping for some kind of ah-ha moment, I apoligize that I wasn't able to help. Both cameras are incredible to work with. As photographers, we are all fortunate to live during a time where we have ths level of optics and technology to use to create art.

With this combo I can carry just the Sony with the 24-105 and the 100-400 if I want to travel light. If I need the second body I can bring the two Canon lenses to use with both. The Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 III is arguably the best wide angle in the world. The 24-70mm f/2.8 II is certainly better than the Sony 24-70 GM. Sometimes, if I won't be doing too much hiking I just bring all of it. The funny thing about so many phoographers is the endless quest to determine "the best". What I am trying to tell you is that it is okay to like more than one of the same thing. You don't even have to start an internet war over it. You can simply be happy.

I hope you have enjoyed this information and found it a more refreshing read than me simply rehashing a bunch of information listed out by the last ten youtube videos you watched.

Stay Safe out there!

The Wash

Fine Art Limited Edition of 50 - Water from the Wenatchee River and its tributaries has been diverted for irrigation since 1891, mainly for orchards. There are two small dams on the Wenatchee River, the Tumwater Canyon Dam, which sits just west of the community of Leavenworth, and the Dryden dam, a low-head dam situated just outside the town of Dryden. The Tumwater Canyon dam originally provided power to the original 2-mile (3.2 km)-long railroad tunnel used near Stevens Pass to get trains across the Cascade Mountains, it was later (starting in 1928) used to power the railroad's electrification from Wenatchee to Skykomish.

"The Wash" | Canon 5DSR, Canon 16-35mm f/4 - 16mm | f/16 / ISO100 / 8 seconds

Posted in Fine Art Photography and tagged Random Thoughts, .