Sony DSLR Review: How does Sony compare with Nikon and Canon?

Sony DSLR review

Today’s article is a review of Sony DSLR cameras.  Every time I mention differences between Canon and Nikon DSLRs, I get (often angry) emails from readers (almost assuredly Sony shooters), who want an explanation as to why I do not talk more about Sony DSLRs.  I don’t want to start an interstellar war over petty differences between camera manufacturers, but I do think that we photographers should be knowledgeable about the real differences between the camera systems so that we can make informed decisions about which brand will earn our hard earned money.

I want to mention up-front that I would LOVE to see Sony succeed in the DSLR market–if for nothing else than to put some fire under the seat of Nikon and Canon.  In my mind, competition is always a good thing.  I’m rooting hard for Sony, but as you’ll see below, there are some serious drawbacks to buying into the Sony system right now.

Benefits of Sony DSLR Cameras (Pros)

Pro #1: Autofocus for video

Many Sony DSLRs use what is called a “pellicle mirror” to show the image in the viewfinder.  In contrast to a traditional DSLR mirror that is opaque, the pellicle mirror allows most of the light to go to the sensor while using some of the light to produce the electronic viewfinder image.  This technology is new to popular DSLRs, but it has been used in cameras for years.

There are many advantages to using this technology in Sony DSLRs, and one of them is full-time autofocus for video.  It also means that the viewfinder doesn’t go dark when a picture is taken.  Unfortunately, it also means that some of the light that could be sent to the sensor is soaked up in the mirror.  You know what that means… worse low light performance.  Sony claims to overcome this limitation with advanced noise reduction, but it always makes me think how good the camera could be if it used all of the light.  Low light performance is the number one most important feature that I look for in a DSLR.

Customizable auto ISO

Pro#2: Customizable Auto ISO

I have been asking for this feature for years and I’m so glad to see that Sony has put this feature in the Sony a77 DSLR.  I love shooting in aperture priority mode whenever I can, but I have to keep watching my shutter speed so that it doesn’t dip too low for shooting in the evening when the light is fading fast.  Imagine if I could set my aperture and shutter speed, and then know that the ISO will automatically increase to allow for proper exposure up to a certain level where I know that the camera won’t produce too much noise.  Very useful for wildlife and sports photographers.

Pro #3: High frame rates

When you see the specs of Sony DSLRs, nothing will impress you more than the frame rates.  It is truly remarkable.  For example, the Sony a77 can capture 12 frames per second of 24 megapixel images.  While I certainly want to use that every day, it would be INCREDIBLE for shooting sports, wildlife, or kids.  I better stop writing about 12 frames per second before I can’t hold myself back from  It’s begging me to buy one just for the times when I neeeeeed that kind of speed.

Pro #4: Price

While the recent releases from Sony have not been overly price conscious, it has generally produced DSLRs that are slightly more affordable than their Canon and Nikon competitors.

Pro #5: GPS

Someone needs to send the message to Canon and Nikon that many or most of us would gladly pay $50 more to get GPS built into our DSLRs.  Sony has apparently understood that message and has been better about including it in their cameras than Canon and Nikon.

Pro #6: In-camera image stabilization

Whereas Canon and Nikon have placed the image stabilization/vibration reduction feature inside each lens, Sony puts the image stabilization mechanism in the camera itself.  While I have not seen any head-to-head comparisons of the two approaches to say which performs better, most people say that this is an advantage for Sony.  Having the mechanism in the camera means you do not have to pay to have the technology put in each and every lens, which is a nice feature.

Drawbacks to Sony DSLR Cameras (Cons)

You know the Marlboro man, now you meet the Sony Alpha DSLR man

Con #1: Proprietary… incredibly proprietary

One of the things about Sony that really bothers me is their reluctance to embrace open standards.  Canon and Nikon own so much of the market share that they can produce proprietary file formats and lens mounts and still know that there will be plenty of products available for their customers.  On the other hand, Sony is tremendously proprietary even though they are the small fish in the DSLR pond.

For many years, Sony created its own memory cards (Memory Stick brand) that were the only memory cards that would work in their cameras.  That means if you had a point-and-shoot from another company and switched to Sony, you’d have to buy a bunch of new Memory Sticks that were then useless when you switched brands.  Also, their Memory Sticks were usually more expensive.

Sony has continued their proprietary regime with file formats.  Their cameras shoot their own proprietary file format (like Canon and Nikon).  Unfortunately, they are smaller than Canon and Nikon, so when you get a new Sony DSLR, you may find yourself unable to edit the RAW files with popular digital image editing programs until the companies update the software, which can take quite a bit longer than the updates for Canon and Nikon.

That’s not it!  Sony has recently released the NEX line of cameras.  The 4/3 lens mount was an open standard followed by Panasonic and Olympus.  Did they follow the open standard so that we could use the lenses from one manufacturer on the camera of another?   No.  This divided the market and made things tougher for photographers.  They had an opportunity to follow the standard and chose not to.  Unfortunately, Nikon has chosen to follow their lead with a proprietary lens mount on the V1 and J1.

But there’s more!  At least Canon and Nikon have stuck with the same hotshoe mount for flashes.  Sony…. chose a different route.  Ugh!  That means the third party flashes like the YN-560 won’t work with the Sony unless you buy the special YN-560 Sony version.  That’s all fine and dandy, but it means that Sony users also don’t have access to the multiplicity of cheaper flash triggers and other flash goodies that their Nikon and Canon buddies can use.  If you’re interested in flash photography, this is a HUGE drawback in my opinion.

In short, Canon and Nikon are into the proprietary thing, but Sony is proprietary to the extreme.  This problem is compounded by the fact that they are a smaller market and so third party manufacturers are less apt to design for them.  This may not seem like a big deal until you’re ready to get into flash photography, and then you’ll hate yourself for buying into Sony’s walled garden.

Con #2: Dramatically reduced lens options

I know I’ll draw comments on this one because Sony shooters love their Zeiss and Zuiko lenses.  I’m NOT saying that Sony has no good glass available, but it would be absolutely impossible to argue that there is as much good glass available for Sony DSLRs as there is for Canon and Nikon cameras.  It’s simply not true.

Sony has worked quickly to make more lenses available, but it is still way behind the 8 ball.  Also, many of the “Sony” lenses are simply re-branded lenses from other manufacturers such as Tamron.

The lens selection is a major drawback to moving to the Sony system.

Con #3: Fewer resources available for learning

I have taught dozens of in-person photography workshops and have taught photography through this website to hundreds of thousands of people.  One thing I hear CONSTANTLY from people who purchase Sony DSLRs as their first camera is that they are frustrated that few learning resources are available to them.  Photography bloggers simply cannot write articles that only apply to the 5% of the audience who use Sony DSLRs.  It doesn’t make sense.

While there are some learning resources available, it is much easier to find content on using Canon and Nikon cameras.

Camera manufacturers are always bickering about who is better. Canon and Nikon against Sony... cage match!

Con #4: Fewer available accessories

As I mentioned previously in the section on how proprietary Sony is, it is difficult to buy accessories for Sony cameras.  If you want a battery grip for your Nikon D7000 or Canon 60D, it is simple to find one for $50 made by a third-party manufacturer on  If you shoot Sony, it is much more difficult.  In fact, even Sony doesn’t produce battery grips for all of its cameras.  Battery grips are only one example, but it can be a major headache.  If you want to get into flash photography, I would strongly suggest staying away from Sony.

Con #5: Electronic Viewfinders

This is a personal preference, but I just can’t stand electronic viewfinders.  I do not like that they never seem to show the highlights accurately, which is a big deal for landscape photographers especially.  The new AMOLED electronic viewfinders are a significant improvement, but they still don’t compare to the traditional prism and mirror schemes in DSLRs from Canon, Nikon, or any other manufacturer.

Con #6:  Unavailability of full-frame cameras

For photographers who wish to go full frame, you will find a dramatically reduced set of options.  Sony is coming out with another full frame camera in 2012 if all of the rumors are true, but the options are slim now.

So which should I buy?  Canon vs. Nikon vs. Sony?

Again, I am glad to see Sony innovating and producing great features on their cameras.  I sincerely hope that they continue to grow and eventually provide legitimate competition for Canon and Nikon.  Unfortunately, I cannot recommend Sony as a first DSLR to my readers.  There are simply too many drawbacks and I don’t see them overcoming the advantages in most situations.

If you like these photography tips from Improve Photography, you’ll also like our Facebook Fan Page.  It’s the PERFECT place to ask photography questions and get quick answers.


  1. Don Bishop

    Very interesting article as there was several of these Sony shortcomings that I was not aware of. I did notice that quite often you mentioned that Nikon and Cannon had the same shortcoming.

    I guess my purchasing a Sony A100 and then last year getting a A550 was not surprising since I had been a Minolta shooter since the 60’s. I know that I had to purchase new lens, new flashes and a score of other things, but that’s what we do, buy new toys.

    I’m not a pro, even though “The New York Institute of Photography” tried to tell me I was, but I do love photography and I do love my Sony cameras and also my old Minolta’s and the old Rokkor lens too.

  2. Tristan

    Greetings Jim

    As you know, I greatly appreciate your site and the tips you give are fantastic. I do want to make some corrective statements to this article since some of the things mentioned here have also been mentioned on other sites and are not completely true.

    Let me just clarify from the beginning that I have owner over 30 cameras in the last 11 years from almost all of the big SLR brands. A few years ago it was a Sony that broke the record of lasting more than a year in my bag. A little while after that I was contracted in by Sony South Africa to spend a year helping them grow Alpha in South Africa. I am no longer in the employ though they are one of our clients in the photographic industry.

    In the beginning of your article you highlight some of what is a good number of benefits to the Sony system, some of those – like translucent mirror technology – are the very reason that the camera is able to achieve the great AF in Video and high frame rates. It is also the one way they have been able to differentiate themselves from their competitors. The one trade off has been the EVF which I was not a fan of on the A33/A55 when first launched. The new OLED version is almost twice the resolution and offers a contrast range that what you see through the viewfinder is an exact representation of what your image will look like accurately displaying the dynamic range of the camera for the scene. This coupled with the fact that you never need to take your eye away from the viewfinder to see your menus or image playback etc is a major plus to me and sold me on the new A77, A65 and NEX-7 before any other feature was put to the test. I accept however that this is a matter of opinion, I do think though that this generation of EVF when experienced in actual shooting conditions could swing more people than ever before, it swung me away from purchasing a conventional DSLR I was testing at the same time I got the A77 for extended review.

    Lets address issues in order. Sony are proprietary in some aspects, some by is of their own choice and others not. Lets first look at Memory Stick. In the first days of Memory Stick the king card of the day was Compact Flash, Mirco Drive, Smart Media and Stiffy Disks as found in Sony’s Mavica range. To support the increase resolution of newer cameras Sony began looking at other media types. SD card were not yet a standard featuring in compact cameras. Olympus and Fuji were big advocates for Smart Media cards and everyone else was Compact Flash eve in compact cameras. All these formats had very limited space and if memory serves me correctly at the time Memory Stick was announced it broke all storage capacity records commercially available at the time bar Mircro Drive which was not Solid State and very fragile. I stand to be corrected (this all happened a long time ago) but I do believe that Sony were first to market with 128MB and 256MB cards. SD only became a viable option a little later on and would much later come to kill off Smart Media cards. Even in more recent times Memory Stick has frequently offer more speed at for the price than SD cards did. Then about two or so years ago as they saw the speed standard for SD begin to pass Memory Stick and at equal or better prices they launched cameras that supported both SD and MS. There was a time not more than 5 years ago though where if you wanted and HD video camera a Sony Handycam with a Memory Stick at the minimum required speed was more affordable than a competing SD card camera requiring a minimum of a class 6 SD card would be due to SD cards at that speed still being more expensive than MS.

    Your comments relating to Four Thirds are a little unfair as well I think though I dont have all the facts before me. Four Thirds was a standard developed my Olympus, Kodak and joined by Sigma is memory serves me correctly. Despite Sigma being part of the group, their own DSLR camera never adopted that standard. Later on Panasonic joined the group and helped move things to Micro Four Thirds. This new smaller mount has yet to see a lens made for it by Sigma which I find interesting. The standard to the best of my understanding is not completely open though if that has changed I do not think that it has been the case since it launched. The trouble with this format is it is optimised for the smaller sensor that is half the size of full frame. Sony tried to do two things with NEX, make the camera smaller (more compact camera like) while offering DSLR image quality from the APS-C sensor size. In order to accommodate the bigger sensor yet make the camera mirrorless and more compact a new lens mount needed to be developed. So entered the E-mount which after roughly 6 months on the market – at Photokina 2010 in September last year – was announced as being made open to the market. Their statement was along the lines of “we wish to announced that we will be making the E-mount specifications available to other manufactures”. I would like to think that any other company looking to make a mirrorless APS-C sized sensor camera will take them up on this offer, perhaps Fuji with the changeable lens version of the X100 would do well to do so though I fear any company want to lock people into their own lenses and not risk loosing them to a competitor.

    The comment about the hot-shoe is a little harsh. Remember that Sony bought over Minolta and the decision to keep the mount would most likely have been made to keep the existing customer base they were buying to, a percentage of which would already have digital minolta flashes that would work okay on the Alpha A100. Does this pose a problem for the Sony Strobist, yes a little though I am seeing more and more compatible items coming out for the fitting. Also the Sony system has had wireless TTL flash across the entire range from day one, in fact Minolta was if I recall correctly the pioneers of this technology already in the days of film.

    Sony lens range is not as diverse as their peers, I accept that. The Zeiss lenses are great though (Zuiko is Olympus’ range of lenses) and for many a big plus for the system. A little in their defence, Sony also don’t duplicate their lenses like say Canon who have a 75-300mm, 75-300mm USM, 75-300mm USM IS, 70-30mm DO and 70-300mm L. That said they need to get the 500mm f/4 sample they have been showing off for 3 or so years out now, plus there are some gaps to fill. The fact that their entry level lenses are made by Tamron is not a unique thing and in fact almost all of Pentax’s current lenses are Tokina lenses. The Zeiss and Sony G-lenses are exceptionally good lenses and in many respects Sony have an advantage of being able to design these lenses for the digital era rather than sitting with lots of legacy glass designs from film days.

    There are fewer resources though it is beginning to change. We run a recently launched podcast called Alpha Tutorials specifically to answer some of the questions we get, the response has been good all things considered. I do take note of your point though. Also remember that the other guys have been at this game for a heck of a lot longer than Sony and have more seasoned users prepared to share.

    Accessories, sure the guys with the lions share will enjoy the same support from third party accessories – though honestly I dont think Nikon and Canon enjoy it as much as we as users do, they would rather sell their own gear – but I am seeing more and more Sony stuff from third parties. In terms of battery packs it is mainly Canon that does them across their range. Nikon D3000 / 3100 / 5100 do not have battery grips from Nikon.

    I have already addressed the EVF issue.

    Full Frame, Sony have had two bodies already, the A900 and A850. The A850 in fact was the first full frame to break the USD $2000,00 price point. Sadly the adoption of Full Frame from Sony’s existing client base has not been as big as they might have liked and so as I understand it, the units that are in the market of these models will be the last till they launch their Translucent Mirror version most likely – we hope – at Photokina 2012.

    Do I recommend a Sony to people more so than Nikon or Canon, it depends on their needs. I do feel that the Sony at the same price point as a Nikon or Canon offers a fair bit more for you money right now due to their innovation. For the bulk of enthusiasts that will mostly own a entry to mid level camera with a standard zoom, a telephoto zoom and a fixed 50mm f/1.8 Sony will offer just as much if not a bit better value. For the more serious guy the A77 is a great answer to something like the Canon EOS 7D, Nikon D300s or Pentax K-5 and if they dont want full frame right now or a 500mm f/4 this 6 year old system should be just fine for another year or two when those concerns are met without the brand hurrying into something that might disappoint. Okay, that is my 2 cents worth, hope people take it in the right way.

    1. Rachael Moody

      Hi Tristan, based on your experience with a wide variety of cameras… what would you suggest for us?

      My husband and I are amature enthusiast photographers… just took a black and white film photography class in college together and now we want to buy our first “real” camera (not the cheap things sold at walmart) We don’t have a big budget but we do have big dreams. We need something that will shoot children and pets who never hold still, insects and up close plant life, and of course landscape and wide dessert scenes. Is there a magical camera that satisfies this long list of needs? Someone told us about this one Sony that was priced at $800 or $1000 if we wanted a macro lense to go with it (which we were interested in) I’m sorry, I dont remember what it was called! Anyway now we are looking at this Canon Eos Rebel T3… not because it will be BETTER but the price is half… only $399

      Are we going to regret going for the cheaper one because saving a few extra hundred up for the Sony will change our lives forever… or do you think that the Canon Eos Rebel T3 is a good compromise and a good place to start for beginners who know what they are doing but don’t know much about camera brands?

      Thanks for reading! Anyone who has experience in this and KNOWS what they are talking about… please feel free to respond! Hope you read this ASAP because our deadline for choosing is closing fast 😉 Thanks again.

    2. Patrick Doell

      Tristan, I’m in the market for a camera to use for shooting my kids playing youth sports (mostly soccer). I had been advised toward some Cannon, and Nikon models by someone who takes a lot of photos at our games and was considering the Sony cameras because I thought they may be a little easier to master as a beginner but have have been spooked a little from comments that I have read on retail sites that their cameras tend to overheat if you run them in burst/hi-speed mode for a while. I wondered what your experience was and if you had used one of their cameras for that kind of photography, and if they had a model that you would recommend for youth sports photography by Sony or someone else.

  3. David Gibby

    I was interested in reading your thoughts about Sony A77 and Nex cameras because I am making a choice for a new sytem to replace my old Canon gear. I felt you did a good job promoting Canon and Nikon, but you lacked facts and research concerning Sony. The fact is their are many compelling reasons to purchase a Sony Alpha 77, or Nex camera right now. They do have FF Options also. As a professional Canon shooter I have been glad to see Sony move forward with their new technology. After reading other more factual reviews, and viewing the new photos showing up on the web it is clear they have got it. They offer a bright viewfinder where you can see all your pertinent settings and a picture as it will shoot, High burst speeds, Fast focus and subject tracting, Recipicating monitor, great customization of settings to buttons, GPS, weather sealing, Fast, sharp weather sealed 2.8 kit lens, weather sealed verticle grip, AF Video, In body stabalization, Settings for lowlight shooting with great detail and very low noise, etc, etc, etc. As for lenses they have CZ Glass, Sony, Minolta, Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, etc, If you shoot MF you have adapters for Nikon, Canon, and about every other desirable classic out there. I only hope Canon and Nikon start inovating with camera bodies and lenses that will keep enthusiast and budget minded professionals from abandoning their ranks. Oh I forgot to mention they also have adapters to allow you to use third party flashes. They also now use SD, as well as their priority cards. Just thought I would mention.

  4. Author

    @Tristan – Thank you for your comments. I was thinking you’d show up here…. :-) I’m going to go through your comments with more detail and include a couple of the corrections in an updated version of the article and make a few re-responses to your points as soon as I have a free moment. Thank you again for the insight.

  5. Mad About Sony

    Well said Tristan and spot on!

    I have tried Nikon & Canon Full Frame Cameras and they are nice, but not good as the Sony a900 – Brilliant Camera!

    I will never sell or swap my Sony a900 or Carl Zeiss & Sony Lenses as they are superb!

  6. Selina

    I love how user-friendly my Sony (A500)is. For a new DSLR user I have found it so simple to learn on and grasp how to properly use its functions. I can comfortably shoot in Manual and I can’t say the same for many friends and their Nikons. I also love that I can use our older Minolta AF lenses on it. I picked up a 50mm f/1.7 at a thrift shop sale for $5. Yes, $5. Because it is an “old film lens” they are much easier to find great deals on. For someone who is learning you really can’t beat that.

  7. Robert Graham

    Interesting article Jim, as a Sony user I thought I’d add my thoughts on the matter.

    I have been shooting Sony for a few years since I upgraded from film, and the reason I chose them was as you pointed out, their camera was a little bit cheaper at the time and I was strapped for cash. I couldn’t really tell any difference in quality so saving a bit was an advantage. Back then as I didn’t have any digital lenses or equipment, (my film equipment was all for Pentax,) I had a clean slate as far as what I could or couldn’t use.

    I have since found that through using an adapter that allows the use of my old Pentax glass and the available Sony lenses, I’m not stuck for lens options. One thing I really agree with you on is the flash hotshoe. I have a Jessops flash that fits the Sony hotshoe, but this is one area where I do feel quite restricted. Also whilst there are third party battery grips available, the options are again slimmer than the Canon and Nikon counterparts.

    I have recently bought into Sony’s NEX system as well, simply because I liked the camera and it made sense having cameras by the same company so that switching between them didn’t mean using a new menu layout etc…

    Once again great article, keep up the good work!

  8. Tristan

    @Jim thanks for not being too upset at my response. As I said, I have seen a few articles on various sites making similar statements and find that people often don’t know the history behind what happened and also expect a company that has barely been at DSLR for a decade to match the competition in what would be comparitively an over night time frame. I am not blind to the brands faults and having worked there some of those issues are more internal which again comes from their limited experience in this market. All this said though,this year has proven to me to be patient with them.I though they were being very stupid to discontinue the A700 three years ago and not offer a suitable replacement. I still think it has cost them more support than they should have let it,but the A77 has been worth the wait and is actually the first serious camera in the range to have Sony DNA and not a rebadged Minolta machine which is to some degree what the A700 and even the full frame A900 / 850 is.

    @Delinquent isn’t that Minolta 50mm f/1.7 great? I have one as well. Still trying to find the old Minolta 70-200 mm f4 which if my history is right, was heavily influenced by the guys at Leica when Minolta worked with them to produce some of the more electronic cameras the the R4 SLR and the little CL rangefinder

  9. Brando

    Im sorry Jim, but based on your review, it seems
    like you only comparing specs by specs of the camera. You should have do a really good research next time before writing an article like this because people who actually know the Alpha system will see you as a biased reviewer. You dont want that. This is coming from a Nikon D5100 and Sony a850 (full frame) owner

  10. ocha

    Appreciate the article and its intention to provider greater understanding of Sonys place in the DSLR market but there are some very simple factual mistakes.

    Zeiss and Zuiko: Zuiko lens are apart of the Olympus brand.

    Proprietary goods: Yes Sony has a history for proprietary goods, however in recent years we have seen a vast change back. Sony DSLRs support both SD and Sony format cards. Their Flash mount was inherited by Minolta which has a history as long as any big name Japanese camera brand. It would have been unwise to upset loyal Minolta customers by adopting Canon and Nikons mounts.

    Lens mounts for NEX cameras: Its silly to make comparisons to micro four thirds as sensor sizes are completely different. NEX cameras follow their Sony DSLR Alpha sensor technology of APSC size. This family has become even tighter now that you can use phase detect autofocus with the LA-EA2 adapter on NEX Cameras enabling all Sony Alpha lenses to work.

  11. Dan

    Some interesting information – my local store is always touting Sony cameras but I’m not sure I would give up my beloved Canon. For that matter, I’m not sure Nikon fanboys would give up their Nikons either!

  12. Shakyone

    Tristan Hall is spot on.

    I spent the last 30 minutes writing almost the same exact arguments as Tristan. Then I scanned up to check my details correctly lined up, and there is Tristan. Nice work. He is spot on across the board.

    Regarding the EVF, I would argue that after a week of constant use with the A77, somewhat like Tristan was saying, you would start liking all the information it provides while shooting. When you switch back to your camera, you will long for such features in your Optical Viewfinder Camera. It has its faults, but its advantages are also significant. It helps you make better decisions when you see what info it provides, and use it to your advantage. The best and only good argument against EVF is is action photo performance. It frustrates me too. Hopefully they can figure this out with the impending releases of updated full-frame solutions. The A900 does just fine in the meantime.

    Con #6 – No FullFrame? Really? The A900 and A850 have the most amazing viewfinders you will ever lay eyes upon. Shame on Nikon and Canon for not stepping up their game! The A900 and A850 are still on sale until December 2011. They are full-frame cameras, with competitive features and capabilities versus Canon and Nikon. Read the Dpreview of the A900 some time. Okay, so it hasn’t been updated in 4 years, but that will be resolved soon, as you acknowledged.

    This author is not conveying an accurate message. I think I could have written this article better, as I do not have any loyalty to Sony, it has worked for me because they provide a lot of value/dollar, and images work out well.

  13. rodrive29


    I like the fact that you recognize that owning a Sony Alpha has it’s own benefits.

    However I would suggest to check con’s and give a try using the whole system before writting this kind of articles. Yeah MS is Sony propietory but since day 1 of the Sony Alpha, the A100 camera has included bot MS and CompactFlash slots, now a days it’s been replaced by SD and MS slots on the newer models. It has also some benefits as it can write both cards almost simultaneously so you can back up on the second card (on certain cameras), the same applies to the NEX dual memory configuration is included (well with only one slot for both).

    With the flash surelly is propietory (back from Minoltas day’s), however Nikon and Canon are partly so. If you try to use one in another mount you loose automatic modes, and you will get only manual flash. This can be done equally on the alpha range by using a hotshoe adaptor.

    If you are into any mount shurely you need a specialized flash wich means buying the branded one (or a 3rd party designed for the brand). Given also that Sony has one of the best flash units: HVL-56AM I don’t see this as an issue, and you can always buy a Sigma or Metzo with the alpha mount.

    Flash mount has it own benefits, attaching and detaching the unit is easier, with no need to screw it. It’s been reported that a fall of the flash can broke the standard shoe, while the alpha one is sturdier and resists many falls.

    Also all Sony flash system have wireless mode. This means that by using the onboard flash, you can trigger the flash unit wireless with no extra setup. It’s not only a slave option, but a complete TTL protocol with no extra commander.

    Lastly NEX cameras loose all micro 4/3 compatibility but are aimed to retain compatibility with the alpha range wich is not of an issue. When Canon debuts it’s first CSC/ILC camera shurely will follow as Sony/Nikon because the 3 brands have a lot of lenses. Micro four thirds camera manufacturers are smaller and have few lenses, so uniting them seems logical.

    Shurely Sony isn’t the best all round system, however it’s a complete systems that have benefits of it’s own when comparing to the big two.

  14. Shakyone


    One other detail, Sony does make a hotshoe adapter for compatibility with Pocketwizard and other standard 3rd party flashes like the YN-560 flash. It is the “FA-HS1AM Hot Shoe Adapter,” ( No it isn’t perfect because it adds cost, but it doesn’t mean Sony is incompatible with standards for the professional. Like Tristan said, it was inherited from Minolta, and they stuck with, but also provided a solution to the problem. They seem to have a good feel for the needs of a Pro photographer, and they are just about there. In the mean time, as an avid, informed, consumer, I’m happy to benefit from their effort to unseat Nikon and Canon, I think they have put a very good step forward, and have adapted in many of the ways they need to, in order to meet the needs of the Pro Market.

  15. Rob

    After shooting with an electronic viewfinder, it quickly shifts from being a con to being a pro. I’ve only owned a Sony a77 for two days, but already I’m noticing that an optical viewfinder feels so primitive and out-dated after using a Sony. An optical viewfinder now feels downright limiting. I think one needs to really shoot with an electronic viewfinder to understand. It’ll change the way you use your camera. It’ll change it for the better.

  16. Shakyone

    I accidentally broke my Konica-Minolta 5D. As a short term solution, I bought the A33, while waiting for the impending A99. My next step is Full-frame.

    I am really amazed at what I got for $500. The EVF really impressed me. There are better viewfinders out there, like the A900, which I was very tempted to get. After a couple weeks with the A33, I have tabled all concerns about an EVF on a full-frame camera. It has merit.

    I know the A77 is even better than the A33. I’m hoping the A99 is an even bigger winner! Sony is onto something big here, and eventually the competition will see the threat.

    I agree with Dpreview about the one major flaw, continuous shot tracking, but I have a little faith Sony will finally pull it off with their Full-frame. In real life use, the live data present in the Sony EVF more than compensates for the lack of OVF.

  17. Roni

    I would add to the pros the in-body image stabilization, which doesn’t exist in both Canon and Nikon

  18. Jonathan Geach

    I am a Canon DSLR user, but I also have a NEX-5. I am considering changing to Sony when the new FF model arrives. Better value, better glass – The Canon L does not compare to Zeiss.
    I think you will see more and more enthusiasts taking the same approach in the future.

  19. André

    As anyone can see after reading this article, the drawbacks of owning a Sony DSLR are waaaaaaaaaaaay more relevant than its “advantages”. The hegemonic position of Nikon (ok, Canon too…) results from a serious and historical commitment (more in Nikon than Canon) with their consumers. For example, yet today I’m able to use my old and wonderful Nikkor 55mm f1/1.2 produced in 1976, even on my D300 body. Try to do this with any programmed-obsolescence-oriented Sony product…

  20. rodrive29

    André, Sony indeed can use al Minolta AF lenses so commitment is still mantained with over 25 years of Minolta glass. With special adapters MC/MD lenses can still be mounted.

    And even with the new Sony NEXs almost any lens from any brand can be mounted through adapters (due to the shortest flange) and peaking mode makes it easier to focus them manually.

  21. Lloyd

    Nice article! Pretty good outline except that it might have been good to mention that Sony also has traditional DSLRs on offer with optical viewfinders. I’m getting my a580 today- OVF and all. It can shoot at 7fps too, a bit behind its EVF siblings but still faster than Nikon and Canon could offer me for the price I paid.

  22. Sahaja

    @André – With an adapter you can use your 1976 Nikkor 55mm f/1.2 – and indeed any other manual focus Nikkor – on a Sony NEX. And, with the “focus peaking” and focus zoom in the EVF, it will be much easier to focus on the NEX than on any modern Nikon DSLR.

  23. D.Ortego

    Great article and good points made. As a Canon and Leica shooter I worried about moving to Sony and I still do given the fact that you can’t seem to buy any product because of high demand for their current product line. Heck, even their yester-year A900 is pulling in a higher sales dollar than the Nikon and Canon equality relics.

    Carl Zeiss is already working on a new line of ZA primes, most notably the 50mm. Good, bad or otherwise I believe the EVF is here to stay and though I still prefer the prism arrangement of the A900, it too has run its course. Who knows, maybe it they get their new full-frame right, you may ‘think differently’ in the coming months.

  24. Ove Erik

    NIKON and CANON are great cameras, but SONY has built in stabilizer, that makes the difference for me, 50mm f1.4 in darkness is amazing and even better with stabilizer which NIKON/CANON do not have.

    So I let my beautifull NIKON equipment stay home (which also are doubble the weight) and pick my Sonys for most of my photography.

    1. paullubbock

      Nice but do you really need IS on a 50mm F1.4? I can get great super sharp shots with a 22MM F2.0 hand held with nothing but the low light of dusk. You would have to be drunk to need it on a F1.4

  25. rs21

    Initially never interested in Sony SLR but after trying it at local shop & reading great reviews about Sony’s new tech I am impressed.

    I think Tristan’s comment is in depth and close to truth. Thanks to Tristan.

    1. vikram thakur

      i have sony hx 9v.i have purchased it after a lot of reviews.amazing performence and picture quality is is years a head from nikkon and cannon in knows how to innovate

  26. hate NIKON and CANON

    Hey Andre,…. I have smashed my Nikon D70 and thrown it to the trash bin…!! Nikon has only exagerating Marketing campaign for their bad products and I had never touched any Nikon cameras ever since. Really proud of my Sony A77.

  27. Afzal

    I think after reading this article. I think sony have better pros then cons. Its too surprising that you try to prove Sony is bad…but.. that’s not true. Sony just not given some hard time to Canon or Nikon. Slowly its SLT range force other brands to come up with better cameras than that. Thumbs Up Sony.

  28. Janhette

    hmmm.. your opinion about Sony DSLT is very uninformed. =)

    Right on, Tristan!

  29. Ramon E. Salazar

    I encountered all the problems you mention here with Sony.
    Raw compatibility, problem with selection of accesories.
    Sony lenses are too too expensive, flash system, etc. etc.
    Last month I decided to start moving slowly back to Canon,
    it is a relief to be able to find everything so easily.

    I would only advice Sony for people that are sure they will
    not get serious with photography and will not invest in expensive
    lenses and or flashes.

  30. Anthony

    Good review.

    I notice most of your points are external things and not the performance of the actual cameras.

    Firstly, my triggers for my alpha cost £15. Same as Nikon and canon.

    My yn-560 ii cost £50. Cheaper than the canon and Nikon

    Lenses is the biggest issue. If you want to buy new you have less choice and more expensive. HOWEVER, if you wish to go second hand then you will find the same lenses as Nikon and canon for MUCH cheaper.

    On eBay the bidding history for a Sony mount less is much less than canon and Nikon purely because there is less people out there with the kit to bid.

    I picked up a sigma 10-20mm dc ex wide angle for £180!!!! That’s £150 cheaper than canon and Nikon users would pay for the same second hand lens.

    If you want to follow the sheep go for a canon and Nikon. Sony is something different. Superb image sensors, fast as hell shutter speeds.

    I recommend.

  31. Sanjoy

    Great way to explain ! Totally unbiased approach man. I love you for your honesty and the way you had explained has made lot of sense to me.

  32. Sanjoy

    Please also let me know what works Nikon vs Canon. Anything with inbuilt GPS as it reduces the task to put on google maps.

  33. Ajay

    Hi Guys,

    I would like to buy either Sony A77 or Nikon D800 ?

    Could anyone recommend which one should I go for?

    I need it for best pictures in all conditions like day and night and all types of weather.

    Please suggest. I appreciate your comments.


  34. Osu

    This is wrong indeed. Not recommend? Are you serious? Sony Cameras are cheaper and usually have much better specs to the comparable Nikon or Canon DSLR. Plus the stabilization is already in the CAMERA so you don’t spend a lot of money on Lenses that need stabilization like Canon’s , that is why they have more lenses, they need stabilized and non stabilized. Also not a lot of lenses? Have you not heard of Minolta Lenses that are compatible with Sony DSLRs? Also, now all DSLR from Sony use SD cards. They don’t need to bombard with a lot of different cameras in full sensor, other makers just make a lot of them with barely any differences.

  35. AMHara

    Sony got accidentally a great herritage due to the death of Minolta. After the demise of Minolta I bought first time a camera to enter in arena again and after reading all the cameras’ specs. and their abilities found the Sony to be the real thing to start investing. I had gear of Minolta since 1985 Maxumm 7000 days then 8000i. Now all my gear is shifted to Sony (which I was thinking to sell on ebay for no value) but bought an entry level A58 to start with and real check which has proved to be the good camera and very easy to understand. Canon and Nikon users who are pros never allow everybody to enter taking good pictures. I know most of them sit on Adobe Photoshop after taking pictures and hide their exif from the audience when submit on Flickr. Check this for yourself. In Sony take a good photo by checking in EVF and voila you got a nice pic without to go for extra time on PS.

  36. paullubbock

    Good article. I don’t think anyone should ever switch their camera ecosystem whether it be Nikon, Canon or Sony based on current sensor technology reviews. Sensors will change with time, the newer usually the better assuming it is truly a next generation sensor and not just an update. Camera sensor technology will leapfrog one manufacturer to the next from time to time. Jumping ship every time it changes for greener pastures is foolish. Stick with your brand especially if you have good investment on good or high quality glass and it is a more open and affordable system. The glass is what is important. The glass is like a good CD-case. The program on the CD inside the case will become obsolete and worthless over time even if you paid a lot of money at one point. The case you can always use again and again.

  37. Brian

    Great Article! I began photography shooting with a Sony A230 about 4 years ago. Over those years I have bought a couple of lenses, external flashes and even studio lighting with radio triggers. Currently looking to upgrade my camera, I am personally tired of sony and looking to jump ship. Here are the reasons why, if you look at sony over the last 5 years, you will see that they cant make up there minds about why lens mount they want, first you have the A mount and now there is the E mount and it looks like sony is moving away from the A mount. All those sony photographers who bought A mount lenses through the years are not out of luck unless you want to spend another 100 dollars to have an accessory to convert to an E mount lens. Another issue is the hot shoe, lets not stick with the same hot shoe. Sony had its own version of hot shoe and now switches to what they call a standard hot shoe. Well its not quite a standard hot shoe because you can not just put on and 3rd party accessory on your camera. I think sony is pushing the market but they need to figure out what they are doing before changing everything on the camera every 3-5 years. That is why I think I am moving to Canon.

  38. Shiva

    Detailed article. I began photography with Sony Point – Shoot and quickly moved to Sony A580. I used it really well & frankly happy on how well it performs. Lately I have been thinking of upgrading the kit and think Sony is not really a good option for anyone who want to keep on upgrading/improving. I have tough time finding any their support staff, service centers, alternate accessories.
    Sony is really a good option for one time buy use lifetime but not for enthusiasts or amateurs.

  39. keith

    Almost 9 years (and 25 mostly Minolta lenses) later, I’m seriously considering leaving Sony, so much that I’m in the process of selling all my lenses. I just don’t like SLT as it relates to fast action shooting (as well as noise even at low ISOs). Some have said that they have gotten used to the “slide show” effect, but I would much rather have an OVF for this type of shooting. Panning while shooting with my A700 yields more keepers than the A77 (even at 12 fps). EVF can’t touch OVF for this type of shooting. Many of Sony’s “features” I consider them as gimmicks and didn’t use them. Useful for some, but still gimmicky. For example, focus peaking. Even on my A77 I never used it because I can look in the VF to see if focus is peaked with my naked eyes. Object Tracking – pretty much a useless gimmick. If Sony comes through by the end of summer this year with a greatly improved version of the A77, then I can reconsider and possibly re-buy into Sony. Otherwise, it’s hello Nikon.

  40. Dennis Horton

    I am a Sony user (A65v). I sold my Canon t3i after I realized that it did not have autofocus while shooting video. I have never looked back.
    This camera creates stunning images in most conditions. I love the autofocus, especially shooting video. The camera has some incredible ability and features, including the built-in Panorama mode. I have won local photo contests with this camera.
    The biggest thing that I absolutely HATE about Sony is their attitude and lack of customer service. When shopping for accessories for this camera, I was warned about third party offerings. They, apparently, don’t work well. So, when it comes to shopping for accessories I turned to a couple of camera stores here in Denver. They want to sell you the camera, but don’t want to stock the needed accessories to go with it. Sony has closed the Sony store in Denver (and most other locations) so spur of the moment accessory purchases are out of the question. Sony’s online store is hit or miss for availability. By far, ebay has been my most reliable supplier (even from China or Hong Kong). The worst part about this is: SONY DOESN’T CARE!
    In my opinion, Sony is leading the way in innovation, but is in far last place when it comes to dealing with customers. Sony, get your head out of your ass.

  41. mayukh mukherjee

    hello sir,
    i currently own a sony alpha entry level dslt..its my 1st interchangeable lens camera…i bought inorder to learn photograhy..before going to the store i had nikon d3300 in mind..but after seeing the technology sony has put in,i considered it would help me learn as i am new to this completely..i did a lot of study on photography and as i surf through websites i doubt on my product seeing all pros suggesting the top two..did i do wrong to choose sony over the visible cam giants ie nikon and canon?i am completely satisfied with my product but will it hinder my lessons?should i sell nd buy nikon or canon?

Leave a Comment