Contemplating a camera brand switch - Part 2 of 5

February 25, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

Usually, in a series like this, each episode rules out a contender leaving two finalists for the final episode. The decision is then revealed at the very end. Since this episode is about Sony, many may think that I have therefore eliminated Sony, to move on to examining other contenders in future episodes. This is not the case in this series. Sony is still very much active in this race and I suspect that Sony may still be a top contender in the last episode. I will be eliminating some of the contenders when I deal with them, but not today. Sony is still viable for me, I just have some objections to deal with.

          Since I know the Sony system well, and since I have all the Sony lenses that in need, and since it is expensive to switch brands, why don't I just buy another Sony camera better suited to bird photography? Well, that is just the problem. For some reason, I am not smart enough to understand, Sony is the ONLY mainstream camera brand, that I am aware of, that does not offer any camera that can shoot at more than 12 frames per second for under $4,500.00! And that $4,500.00 camera is a previous generation, but still on the market A9 II which has been replaced by the A9 III. Current generation Sony cameras capable of shoot at more than 12 frames per second amount to two offerings, the A9 III at $6,000.00 or the A1 at $6,500.00. When asked to spend that much money (and my money is scarce) it makes a person look around at other offerings. As much as I love my Sony gear, paying $6,000.00 or more for a camera makes me gasp for air. It makes other brands look much more appealing.

          I called Sony's customer service line to talk about this and was advised to look at the used market. But why would I buy a used Sony camera at the price of a competitor's new camera? The Sony A1 used is still $500 to $1,200 more expensive than competing cameras, depending on which one we are looking at. The A9 III is not even shipping yet, so it's used market does not exist now. The A9 II is not an option for me because I will not buy any camera with only 24 MP. Now I know, many will say that I am crazy and that many pro photographers prefer 24 MP. I am not getting into that debate here other than to make just three observations.

  1. Please see a previous blog where I wrote about framing. To summarize, when shooting erratic flying birds with long lenses the photographer is forced to shoot a bit loosely framed so as not to clip the bird. One then crops for framing and placement purposes later. That means that although one starts off with 24 MP, the final image after cropping is no longer 24 MP. I can live with a file of 24 MP if that is the final output size, but in bird photography that rarely happens. Cropping is going to happen even if reach is not a problem due to shooting a bit loosely.

  2. A 600mm lens is often just a bit too short for bird photography. So cropping is going to happen unless you only shoot at controlled setups. After cropping a 24 MP file one is not left with much.

  3. When 4K TV's came out, most people said that we don't need to shoot in 4K video because there are no 4K displays out yet. Well, how long did that last? Yes, 4K displays took a while to be released but then the floodgates opened and now who does not have a 4K TV? The same thing is happening with 8K displays. For a still images to fill an 8K display one needs a 33 MP image. For me, who only buys a new camera body rarely, I need this purchase to last. It just does not make any sense to me to buy a camera that cannot fill an 8K display. So the minimum resolution I will accept in a camera is 45 MP. That is 33 MP to fill an 8K display and a bit of room for framing and cropping. Yes, I know that AI software can enlarge images, but I am not starting from behind. One needs to start out in front so that the camera can last a good long time. I am in effect buy the camera now, but for the next ten years. Will we see 12K displays by then?

That then only leaves me with the Sony A1 in the Sony camp. It is a fantastic camera and I would absolutely love to have one. My problem is not related to the camera but the price of it. The Canon R5 can be had for under $3,000 right now (with the current trade in bonus) or refurbished from Canon. The Nikon Z8 sells for $3,800.00 and there is a discount if one bundles it with the 24-120 on top of that. Yes, many will say that the Sony is a better camera but it is not as much better as the premium price suggests. I could be perfectly happy with either the R5 or the Z8.

          I have done the math. I can literally sell my gear (at MPB.COM), add the difference that a used A1 will cost me and replace all of my gear from other brands and come out even. That means that I have a brand new kit compared to a used Sony kit, without spending a cent more. That also gives me a new warranty. The price of the Sony is a pill too hard to swallow given the competition out there. Since the total price of switching versus the price of a used A1 (taking the sale of my other gear into account in both cases) is going to be even, and since the Sony A1 is magnificent I am leaving a used A1 in the running. But a new one has been ruled out. Furthermore, I can't just look at the camera here. Some of my Sony lenses are aging. Switching brands would replace them too, without costing me extra.

          But what if Sony releases a new camera that does shoot at more than 12 frames per second and has a 45 MP sensor or more for a reasonable price? While I cannot predict the future that does not seem likely. The Sony A7R V is fairly new and is probably not going to be replaced soon. I have a major trip planned and need to have my new camera in hand by June. The Sony A7 IV is also fairly new and I can't see it being replaced before June. In the APS-C sensor world, the A6700 is also too new for replacement.

          My journey to find what I need continues. Let's see what happens to the used prices of the Sony A1 in the next month. I will talk about the other brands in the next few weeks. Come follow my journey to a final decision.


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