…go with out.
Lately I’ve been reading a lot of how photography has become really expensive. Sony released the A1 at $10,000 AUD, Canon are due to release the R3 at the same amount. As for lenses well the latest fast primes are priced in the stratosphere. But here’s the news – photography is very expensive if you treat it as technological proliferation. If you insist on having the latest and greatest you are going to have to pay. But do you really need the latest and greatest? Do you honestly need 30 fps shutter speed? 8K video? 4K 10 bit 4:2:2 video at 120fps? Fifteen stop dynamic range? Only you can say what you need, but I’m guessing that like 90% of photography enthusiasts you don’t. I know I don’t. Let’s face it the greatest photos of the Twentieth Century were taken with basic equipment. The vast majority on cameras that didn’t have autofocus or built in metering.
Maybe you’re a bit like me. You’ve been doing the photography thing for quite a while. You were a happy SLR user in the days of film and when the digital revolution took place you patiently waited for the affordable DSLRs to arrive on the market and you made the switch. You bought into a system, acquired some nice lenses and upgraded the camera body as needed. But now something has come along that threatens that. That something is the advent of the mirrorless camera. These new wonder cameras are technological marvels with their WYSIWYG viewfinders and their information overlays, the incredible image stabilisation systems, the convergence with video, and the list of features goes on and on. The fly in the ointment is that to achieve this the manufacturers abandoned their lens mounts and developed new ones that could take advantage of the lack of the mirror box. This is where the expense comes in because to make the switch you have to spend big on not only a new camera body but also on new lenses. When I went digital I went Canon and over the years I ended up with a modest kit based around an EOS 6d, a 24-70 f4, a 70-200 f2.8, a 100mm f2.8 macro, a 50mm f1.8, and a Sigma 150-600mm. To get the equivalent kit based around an R6 body would cost me a few dollars under $20,000. That is a phenomenal amount of money. My wallet puckers up just thinking about it. So I looked at the more wallet friendly option of the R6, a Canon EOS-R Mount Adapter to adapt my EF lenses to the new RF mount, and a Canon RF 50mm f1.8 STM as my old 50mm f1.8 wouldn’t cope with CAF needed for video. The damage would be just under $5000 which while more wallet friendly was still more than I really wanted to spend. The other problem is that the Canon EOS-R Mount Adapter is currently back ordered here in Australia at the time of writing with no word on when stock would become available. Bugger!
Time to reappraise the problem. As regular readers will know I went mirrorless about ten years ago with the Micro Four Thirds system and this is what does the bulk of my work. But I wanted a larger sensor and higher resolution for certain situations. A bit like when I was running Canon 35mm SLRs in conjunction with a Pentax 645n II. So m43 gives enough quality for about 80% of my needs. I wanted auto focus, 5-6 fps frame rate, in body image stabilisation, 4K video , and of course full frame. So the Canon R and RP were immediately excluded. Then it occurred to me that if I was going to have to adapt my Canon glass to use on an R series camera why not consider adapting them to another make such as Sony. Now again regular readers will be aware that I acquired a Sony A7r with which to use my old collection of manual focus Olympus OM mount and Voigtländer M mount lenses. So perhaps going Sony was the solution. From what I read the Sony A7r was not a suitable candidate for this because of its contrast based auto focus so it was going to have to be 2nd generation cameras or later. New prices were still out of my league, but secondhand looked promising. I also found that the secondhand prices on the Metabones Canon EF to Sony E-mount T Smart Adapter (Mark V) and the Sigma MC-11 EF-Mount Lenses to Sony E mount were less than half the price of new. To keep within my $2000 AUD budget I decided to go for a Sony A7r II as I wouldn’t need to buy extra batteries as I already had loads for my A7r. So it was just a case of searching and eventually I came up trumps and found an A7r II with less than 50 shutter actuations, a Sigma and a Metabones adapter that kept me within my budget.
So did this end up a workable solution? Well I’m not going to review the A7r II as that has been done to death on the internet. But, suffice to say it gave everything I was looking for in a full frame mirrorless camera. The next two parts will look at how well the adapters worked with my lenses and the A7r II.