Replacing my Canon 70D with Sony A7Rii?

Last night I watched the final part of the autofocus test by Philip Bloom. I’ve been following Philip for years and I’ve learnt a ton from him. This video was no exception.

He tested out several cameras for their autofocus capability. While most professionals shoot in manual mode, we amateurs and hobbyists still rely on the autofocus most of the time, especially when recording ourselves. After 43 minutes of pure entertainment my conclusion, and I guess others’ as well, is that Sony cameras, particularly A6500 and A7Rii, will be sold like hot cakes after this video. They performed exceptionally in these tests. Philip went and and did a complete talking head test that was terribly missed in the industry.

In all those tests, the two cameras really stood out for their autofocus.

I myself was already sold on the A7Rii camera for months now. I was still a bit skeptical whether the A7Sii would be a better choice but Philip’s video has been a revelation for that matter. Also, it further confirmed that the silent Batis 25 lens should be my first lens for that camera if I want to record video with no lens noise. More on this later.

I’ve been watching lots of videos on YouTube, and still am, before I make the decision to fork out 4 grand for a new camera setup. I am in the market for a full frame camera coupled with only prime lenses at this point. I’ve been eyeing on the new Grand Master lenses, the 85 specifically, the 85 Batis, the 35 1.4 by Sony and the 90 macro lens also by Sony. I also had a look on Leicas and even more high-end cameras, since my budget is pretty flexible, but Sony’s seemed the most rational option at this point for an enthusiast such as me, who hasn’t got hold of a full frame camera ever in his life.

But then, when I was pretty sure I would end up placing my order on the video’s ending, something out of the blue happened in Philip’s video that questioned my decision. And that was a short test he did with the Canon 70D, a four year old crop sensor HD camera. The one I’m actually filming this on!

The camera performed similarly to the top Sony cameras from what I can tell. So, that got me thinking: why upgrade in the first place?

Right now I’m filming on this camera with one of the top of the line lenses in this setup: the Sigma 18-35 Art lens. People swear on this lens and many even use it on the newest 4K models, such as the 6500 with adapters! According to reports and reviews, it performs superbly.

So, another option for me might have been a new 6500 camera and keeping this lens on it. Yet, I’m not looking for another crop sensor camera. I want to jump onto the full frame train.

What I’ll be getting if I move from the Canon 70D to the A7Rii?

  1. First and foremost, 4K recording. Why? Well, let me ask you when was it the last time you watched a standard definition video or even in 720p quality? Exactly. That’s what will happen with 1080p eventually. And given I mostly film my family with these cameras, I want the videos to be watchable for years to come.
  2. Stabilization. This Sigma lens is not stabilized. I envy the smooth look of stabilized footage, that’s why I got a gimbal for my new GoPro. I will be able to shoot better handheld.
  3. Better low light performance. That is due to both the full frame sensor and faster lenses. This lens may be advertised as 1.8 aperture but it’s for a crop sensor. The Batis 2.0 for full frame cameras will be one stop faster despite the larger f number.
  4. Smaller size and less weight. The A7R is about 2 centimeters thinner and shorter. The Batis lens is 5 centimeters shorter than this Sigma lens but most importantly, half a kilo lighter! The length and the weight of the whole setup will be almost halved, while getting a much better image, both for video and photo.
  5. Silent focus. You hear that? That’s the Sigma focusing mechanism. Batis should be totally silent, much like the STM lenses by Canon.

What I’ll miss by moving from Canon to Sony:

  1. The fully articulated, flip out screen of Canon. But, since the Batis is wider than this lens, I don’t expect to struggle framing myself correctly. Yet, I still believe I’ll miss this screen. With its also a…
  2. Touch screen. Autofocus may be excellent in the Sony camera, but I’m used to touch to focus on the Canon after 3 years of using it. I expect this to be my main issue.
  3. Battery life. I’ll need to buy batteries for the Sony, as I’ve done for my Sony RX100 IV. Changing batteries while on a shoot is a frustrating thing but I think I can handle it.

So, Philip showed me that the A7Rii with the Batis lens will have the same autofocus performance with my Canon. Now I need to decide if I really need 4K and all the other benefits of the Sony camera. With both the A7S and A7R mark III rumored to be announced this year, perhaps I should sit on my hands. But it’s so hard, now that I know autofocus is on par with my Canon. What would you do?

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