Switching from Leica to Sony

It probably doesn’t come as that big of a surprise to you that I am writing about switching from Leica to Sony does it?

I have never had a dislike for Sony cameras and lenses. I just had some issues with a few specifications that I felt needed refinement. My first experience with Sony came when I pitted their a9 against a Canon 1DX Mark II. The end result was Sony landing crushing blow, upon crushing blow, onto Canon. 

Then I tested the a7R III. The Sony a7R III was the highest megapixel camera Sony produced at the time. The main issue I had with this camera was the viewfinder resolution. It made manually focusing the camera a pain in the ass and with all those megapixels if auto focus wasn’t spot on it was noticeable.

Then came the Sony a7 III. The game changer. 24 megapixels for $1999. Still, I hated the viewfinder resolution, but I was shocked by the performance of this full-frame camera that shot 10 frames per second.

Switching from Leica to Sony - The Why

I will NEVER criticize Sony about their desire to hear from photographers. I believe that they take feedback pretty seriously. Which is consequently why the new a7R IV is such an impressive camera and at the heart of why I am switching from Leica to Sony. I won’t get too far into the discussion for this camera right now, because I have a review of the a7R IV launching right here on the Pro Journal next week. I am not looking at the a7R IV like the majority of the reviews that I have read. So stay tuned!

Switching from Leica to Sony - The Leica

When I bought my Leica SL system, I got really lucky with a fire sale, which is why I did it. Also though, prior to owning this insanely expensive camera, I made a two-page pros and cons list between Leica and Sony. The Leica won by two pros. One, the Leica SL had the highest resolution viewfinder of any mirrorless camera. This was important because I was moving out of a DSLR and into mirrorless. Two, Leica’s bombproof construction. It was metal, metal, everywhere.

There were many features that had the Leica in a tie with Sony at the time, but Sony quickly showed EVERYONE up. Leica is a much smaller company. Leica often says that they create products that last longer, have more R&D attached to them, and are cutting edge. I still believe that this statement has a bunch of validity to it. However, larger manufacturers can just produce the NEWER & BETTER much faster. 

Case In Point

The new Leica SL2 released while I was on assignment in Baja, Mexico shooting with the Sony a7R IV. These two cameras run side by side in many specs. The SL2 is 47MP vs. the a7R IV’s 61MP. That spec is pretty close for government work. The SL2 shoots 10FPS just like the Sony, until you read the fine print. The Sony a7R IV will auto focus track at 10FPS for 68 RAW frames. Leica won’t even tell you what the frame rate is when auto focus tracking is initiated. This is just one example of a dozen.

Do I still believe in Leica?

The answer is yes. The SL system is magical. Almost, mythical if you will. It belongs in the hands of the royals. Which is why photographer Steve McCurry now gets to be a Leica Ambassador. I truly believe that a camera like the SL2 is the perfect camera for exactly what McCurry shoots. There is a lot more time to react and pose subjects.

I needed more for my athletes’ big air, high speed, redneck sledding, gun toting, antics than the SL2 could ever dream of delivering at this point. Yet, the Sony a7R IV does. Almost flawlessly. Again, wait for the review next week. 

The Switching from Leica to Sony Contingency

Switching from Leica to Sony became a true reality for me when I began missing creating compositions with a 16-35mm zoom lens. I was going to have to spend $5500 for the Leica Super-Vario-Elmar-SL 16-35mm f/3.5-4.5 ASPH. lens. My band-aid fix had me using a $600 adapter with a Canon 16-35mm lens. With this adapter attached the lens, it focused slow as shit and dropped my SL’s FPS rate to about 3FPS. I really wanted and needed a native 16-35mm. 

While the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM Lens wasn’t cheap at $2200, it was more than half the price of the Leica. In fact, an entire Sony kit which included their newest Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS Lens, was almost the same price as a Leica SL kit. The Leica kit only gives you a maximum focal length of only 280mm verses the 1200mm of the Sony. 1200mm vs 280mm natively??? I’ll take the 1200mm for $24K, Alex. 

The Red Tape

I also feel the need to state, that I am a full-time working photographer. My only income is solely generated by photography, and has been for the last 14 years. I don’t have an inheritance. No trust fund. Hell, barely a savings of any kind. I work really hard and what I lack in skill, is made up by just waking up every day and doing something photo related. Thus, every penny counts and how I spend those pennies truly matters. 

So… Switching from Leica to Sony

Switching from Leica to Sony just made financial sense, and upon testing, photographic sense. I shot the Sony a7R IV and accompanying lenses from 16-600mm for 14 Days straight in Baja, Mexico (trip report next week for that as well). I literally missed 2 shots out of 10,000, that’s how amazing Sony is right now. 

So… Switching from Leica to Sony is a no brainer.

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