Canon 5D mark iv vs Sony A7r II for Event Photography - Advice?

Budgieboots

New member
Hello,

I am looking for some real-world advice and experience.

I am considering purchasing either a Canon 5D mark iv or Sony A7rII for purely the purpose of taking posed and candid stills at corporate events or weddings where I have to move around quickly.
I am not interested in recording video with them, as I have other Sony video cameras that work well enough for me.

I am upgrading from a Canon T3i (ha!) - and am looking for something with competent auto-focus in low to dim light that will help me capture hand shakes, faces and hugs very quickly, and be reliably in focus without me having to go manual and fiddle with it consistently.

I would love to be able to aim in the general direction of a person's face and be able to count on the auto-focus to do it's job.

My Canon T3i workflow involves a lot of work doing noise reduction and sharpening in camera raw -- and focusing with it almost always has to be done manually because the AF is quite slow.

I understand the Sony A7rII is much smaller than the Canon 5D mark iv, and image quality wise, it sounds like their roughly the same, with the Sony being slightly cleaner at higher ISO's-- but how does the auto focus hold up between the two? Which is more intuitive and easier to shoot with? I want to just use a stills camera that I won't feel frustrated with and that I can rely on.

Thanks!
 
i know the A7rII has somewhat better AF than my A7sII which lacks phase detection but ill throw in on your question.

i have the 1DxmkII, 5DmkIII, 1DmkIV among others. so i have a very good take on Canon's AF.

i have the A7SII with 70-200mm 4.0 / 55mm 1.8 / 16-35mm 4.0 & 24-70mm 4.0.

when i bought the A7sII i had considered that i might actually like it more than my Canon's. i was almost worried...lol! that didn't last long and i was a bit relieved since i have so much invested in canon.

in a casual and not to demanding situation the A7sII is pretty good. id call it fun to shoot with. the minute the pace picks up it falls flat and becomes extremely frustrating. it takes much longer to acquire focus lock and for a camera that so good in low light I've found it absolutely unpredictable and unreliable in fluid situations like a live band it medium low light but still enough light where you would think it would grab focus. I'm not talking about a light show where it looks like a concert.

with that said i understand that the AF on the A7rII is supposed to be superior so I'm sure you will adjust for the A7rII.

another thing that really bugs me it how long it takes to wake up from sleep mode. seriously slow and annoying.

being able to quickly re-assign AF points and setting new AF locations is not good. on any canon its tactically fast. on the sony its not. for me this disqualifies the Sony for any real shooting compared to my Canon's or even my Nikon D bodies.

i personally still like the look of a canon file over a sony. absolutely the color is much better on the Canon for me. to each his own here of course.

there are so many jobs i wouldn't bother taking the A7sII on if i really want / need to get the shots. still in more casual situations i still like the camera because its so good in low light and is very lightweight even with the battery grip attached. i like a big body when I'm getting down to business but there are times that lesser weight is pretty cool especially with all of the very lightweight sony lenses i have. i tend to grab the A7sII when i want flexible video/photo mix. many times a family scenario where my camera bag can hold all my lenses and still be small and lightweight.

i suspect the 5DmkIV would appeal to me very much. if i hadn't already bought my 1DXmkII 3 months earlier i probably would have bought the 5D instead I'm thinking.

the main reason i bought the A7sII was for its very good video, especially low light...and that its also a good photo camera too as an "extra".

from what I'm looking at the 5DmkIV noise levels looks as good as my 1DXmkII which doesn't seem like it should be considering its got a lot more pixels.

I've compared the A7rII to my 1DXmkII & the 5DmkIV. i think any are very good in low light and especially compared to your T3i. all will blow that camera away with ease.

you should definitely test them out because they are very very different beasts!!!

david

p.s. the IBIS on the Sony is nice and helpful. its not the best IBIS out there but it earns its keep. if your shooting video and you turn if off the camera is "horrible"! jello city! so, IBIS IMO is very necessary for Sony if at minimum to tame it since the camera is so small and lightweight. holding a heavier camera always floats a bit more and has less jitters. still id love to see IBIS in future Canon's but not holding my breath. also if your shooting video...? the touchscreen FD / AF will beat out AF in video on the Sony. i suspect the next version of the A7 s/r bodies will have a touch screen AF and be better.
 
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the only reason to go with the canon would be existing canon glass....the A7RII has 1,5 stops better DR, obviously a more detailed (pixel count) file, and according to dxo marks also better color and noise....IBIS is pretty amazing, i prefer it over any lens based system....the new Sony GM 24-70 and 85mm are the best lenses out there (compared to canon or Nikon or others in the same focal length)...AF on the Sony with Sony lenses is just as good as canons....with other lenses (via adapters) this is obviously all over the place....but hey, you can actually use pretty much every lens ever made on the Sony...
Sony is actually cheaper, i don't have any issues with slow power up and haven't had any with overheating either....i have 2 a7rII bodies and all in all it is the best camera out there ever, for now....just like the original 5D was at the time....far from perfect and hopelessly outdated when we look back in 2022 but for now...
i would not be surprised to see a new A7rII (maybe A7rIII but hopefully a A9r) in the next 3 or 4 months....this will be a killer camera, everything the canon isn't....no holding back from Sony.....
plenty of reviews, tests of either camera available...if it wasn't for the existing customers (locked in with glass) i don't think anyone would look at this....
 
There is a reason why the vast majority of professional stilll photographers (which includes, wedding, sports, and wildlife) swear by DSLR and won't move over to mirrorless. It's not stubbornness but rather wanting to use the right tool to make the job easier and ultimately come away with better images. Here are just a few reasons:
  • The size of a DSLR is actually a benefit. It balances the weight of bigger lenses and make the camera easier to handhold, especially for people with larger hands.
  • Low light and action photography on a mirrorless camera is not fun. The video preview of the image ends up being grainy, slow shutter (lag) and not fun to work with.
  • An optical viewfinder is much more comfortable to use and compose images with.
  • Sony lenses can be good but nowhere near the variety you will get with Canon. Adapting non native EF lenses on a Sony often leads to poor autofocus results. Canon has some wonderful lenses and there are tons of 3rd party lenses that work great or better than Canon.
  • There is a lack of TTL flash support for anything but Canon and Nikon. This is becoming increasingly important as strobe manufacturers are beginning to flood the market with TTL and HSS capable products
  • Battery life is much better on DSLRs
  • Autofocus is improving in both technologies...mirrorless cameras are starting to have phase detection but the fact that DSLRs are still improving still means mirrorless needs to play catchup. The 5D IV has an incredible autofocus system.
  • Mirrorless is lacking super telephoto and super wide lens options.
  • DSLRsl look more professional to your clients and command more attention from your subjects. Sounds silly and superficial, however, when trying to connect with your subject it makes a big difference.


On paper Sony mirrorless looks great but in reality, having a little more color depth or low light performance is really insignificant to most still photographers and the work they do. These are specs that are more paramount to video folks that can't leverage powerful auxiliary lighting as easily.

The OP mentioned how autofocus is important and being able to aim in a general direction in low light. I will say that it's important to understand what modes of autofocus to use on your DSLR in various situations. For fast moving action in low light, you typically want to enable all your focus points and set the camera to AI servo. In situation where you have a second to pose your subject to take a photo, you usually want to have a single focus point enabled and set your focus to one shot.
 
Yes, if this was video, or you were talking studio photography or landscapes, then there would be a big discussion. For event photography, the Canon should be as good as it gets.
 
The flash system and lenses are where you will make your decision. Do not let anybody tell you to shoot events like this without a flash or at least some of the event. I do not know anything about Sony's flash system. Some DPReview research on Sony's headway would be a good place to start.
 
i have the 1DxmkII, 1DC, 5DmkII, so i have a very large collection of EF mount lens, the AF on mirror or liveview is as good as any thing you can buy ( panasonic's face detection do better in some situation) . IS on canon is the best 5axis VR is not good enough yet.

i have the A7SII with 28-135 mm 4.0 / 24mm / loxia 20mm. Camera with excellent High ISO performance, difficult to master with a very long learning curve.

Event or run-and -gun. video or photo 1DX2 is the best, and 5D4 is comparable. 16-35LIII, 24-70LII, 70-200LISIII, plus one or 2 of the prime, you can take on any event or wedding
 
Outside of specs, the Canon ergonomics are far superior to Sony's. Hitting the right buttons without looking becomes very intuitive on Canon cameras. Sony makes you dive deep into submenus to do things you really ought to be able to do with a dedicated button. Don't like the Canon button layout? No problem! you can assign most of them to your liking.
Shooting with Canon becomes second nature and you work very quickly and can adapt quickly so you don't miss the shot.
Sony does make some incredible products, but even those often suffer from this same problem of poor ergonomics.
 
To be fair, you can also get used to the Sony layout just by configuring it to your taste and using it for some time. I had a T2i a few years ago, but after four years with Sony I now have a very hard time using a Canon, whereas using my Sonys is as smooth as it gets. Then again, hand me over your Sony camera and I will have a very hard time using it; and it will take me an hour to configure the buttons and fn menu to my taste.
 
I also used a 5D2 quite a bit, but it wasn't mine. Same with the original BMC and the pocket.

I went from T2i to NEX-5N, then a7S, and now RX100 IV (as I wait for either 4k 60 fps or slog3 with all the DR slog3 should have on the next gen of a7 cameras). On all of those, day-to-day use became second nature after a month or so. By now, whenever I get the 5D2 again, everything feels odd.
 
There is a reason why the vast majority of professional stilll photographers (which includes, wedding, sports, and wildlife) swear by DSLR and won't move over to mirrorless. It's not stubbornness but rather wanting to use the right tool to make the job easier and ultimately come away with better images. Here are just a few reasons:
  • The size of a DSLR is actually a benefit. It balances the weight of bigger lenses and make the camera easier to handhold, especially for people with larger hands.
  • Low light and action photography on a mirrorless camera is not fun. The video preview of the image ends up being grainy, slow shutter (lag) and not fun to work with.
  • An optical viewfinder is much more comfortable to use and compose images with.
  • Sony lenses can be good but nowhere near the variety you will get with Canon. Adapting non native EF lenses on a Sony often leads to poor autofocus results. Canon has some wonderful lenses and there are tons of 3rd party lenses that work great or better than Canon.
  • There is a lack of TTL flash support for anything but Canon and Nikon. This is becoming increasingly important as strobe manufacturers are beginning to flood the market with TTL and HSS capable products
  • Battery life is much better on DSLRs
  • Autofocus is improving in both technologies...mirrorless cameras are starting to have phase detection but the fact that DSLRs are still improving still means mirrorless needs to play catchup. The 5D IV has an incredible autofocus system.
  • Mirrorless is lacking super telephoto and super wide lens options.
  • DSLRsl look more professional to your clients and command more attention from your subjects. Sounds silly and superficial, however, when trying to connect with your subject it makes a big difference.


On paper Sony mirrorless looks great but in reality, having a little more color depth or low light performance is really insignificant to most still photographers and the work they do. These are specs that are more paramount to video folks that can't leverage powerful auxiliary lighting as easily.

The OP mentioned how autofocus is important and being able to aim in a general direction in low light. I will say that it's important to understand what modes of autofocus to use on your DSLR in various situations. For fast moving action in low light, you typically want to enable all your focus points and set the camera to AI servo. In situation where you have a second to pose your subject to take a photo, you usually want to have a single focus point enabled and set your focus to one shot.


^Truth

For me, there is nothing like an optical view-finder for composing images. I am old enough to have owned many cams that were totally manual, no auto anything. Having to manually focus in certain situations is no big deal to me. And although there is enough alternative glass to go around with the right adapter, as a range of products, it's pretty hard to beat the Canon L series.

Grant
 
And then I take an EVF as a clear improvement over an OVF, not for composing but for exposing: I like to see my image as it will be recorded, and with histograms or viewfinders at hand. And the package becomes much smaller when the camera has a viewfinder and you don't have to attach a loupe to the back (which also makes the OVF useless).

This is a personal preference issue, clearly.
 
Samuel,

Do you feel that way about stills as well as video? Have you ever tried to shoot photographs of a moving object with a EVF. Video is one thing, but capturing a single moment in time is something entirely different...at least for me.

Grant

And then I take an EVF as a clear improvement over an OVF, not for composing but for exposing: I like to see my image as it will be recorded, and with histograms or viewfinders at hand. And the package becomes much smaller when the camera has a viewfinder and you don't have to attach a loupe to the back (which also makes the OVF useless).

This is a personal preference issue, clearly.
 
I hardly ever take stills, so I'm talking mainly video. I still hate it when I have to take stills with the 5D2 because it's not showing me how the image will look like. I don't shoot sports or wildlife, in any case.
 
I hardly ever take stills, so I'm talking mainly video. I still hate it when I have to take stills with the 5D2 because it's not showing me how the image will look like. I don't shoot sports or wildlife, in any case.

What? Take a picture and look at the result. That is what your image looks like. And if you're working with stones, how would a EVF help anyway?

Optical viewfinder for me please. I've had the 5dMK4 for about a month now and it's easily the best 5d they've made from a stills shooters perspective. As for video. Sure, I would pick a video centric camera before the 5dMK4. But the files from the MK4 are lovely. And honestly, I don't mind the codec. I'd rather work with it than the super compressed codecs found in other Dslr's.
 
I think Samuel is speaking of the WYSIWTG EVF for taking stills and seeing the actual exposure before taking the shot.
 
I think Samuel is speaking of the WYSIWTG EVF for taking stills and seeing the actual exposure before taking the shot.

I know what he his talking about. Like I said, doesn't work with strobes. And I know of no professional shooters who don't work with strobes. Plus, every camera has a live view mode. Wanna set WYSIWYG, go to live view, set exposure, then shoot away. EVF's have gotten better. But Optical lets you concentrate on the fraction of a second you are trying to capture. We all have opinions, right?

For video, yes, an EVF is better.
 
No worries from me. I think strobes are part of the professional toolkit but many people prefer available light photography. Many people act is if they are scared of using flashes or strobes or even like they are "so uncool"...
 
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