5 questions to ask before switching camera brands cover

5 Questions to Ask Before Switching Camera Brands

In Gear by Bryan Striegler3 Comments

I like buying new things, and I think most people would agree with me that there’s just something fun about getting the newest thing out there. Apple has been using this strategy for years, and that’s why people will line up to wait for every new phone.

There have been some big changes in the photo world lately, and some of the newest cameras are looking amazing, so much I’ve even thought about switching camera brands and systems. I’ve been a Nikon guy for about 10 years now, but I use Sony for all of my video work. With the Sony A7iii coming out soon, I’ve really started to consider switching completely to Sony.

5 Questions to ask Before Switching Camera Brands

5 questions to ask before switching camera brands

Switching camera brands is a huge decision, so I have to make sure it’s the right move and not just me lusting after new gear. I think a lot of photographers are in the same situation, so here are 5 Questions to ask Before Switching Camera Brands.

How much will it cost?

Changing camera brands means you’re going to be buying new gear, and if you’re not careful, the switch can cost you thousands of dollars. There’s a ton of things to consider like the cost of the new bodies, lenses, and flashes.

It’s extremely important to look at all the numbers before you just jump in and start buying gear. You might find yourself out of money and not have everything you need. Start off by making a list of all the new equipment you will need to buy and the cost of each item. When looking at the price, don’t forget to include any tax or shipping. That might be an additional $1000 for all of it depending on how much you’re buying.

Now that you have your list. Is there anything you already own that you can continue to use? If you can manage to use some of your old gear, you can avoid having to buy new items.

Do you have to buy new lenses or could you buy an adapter? Today there are adapters for basically every system. Many of these adapters now let you use all the features of your lenses like transmitting information to the body and autofocus. These adapters cost around $400 a piece, so if you plan on using two bodies, that’s $800 in adapters. If you have a ton of expensive glass, this could be worth it, but if you only own a few lenses, you’d be better off buying native lenses and selling your old ones.

There are much cheaper options for adapters as well. Most of these adapters only connect the lens to the camera and don’t do much else. That means you’ll have to do manually focus and adjust the aperture by hand as well. If you can handle all of that, you’ll save around $300 per adapter.

I don’t have any experience using these high end adapters, but I’ve heard mixed reviews. Some people love them and others can’t get them to work. I tried using a Canon to Sony adapter that had the electric connection, and it gave me a bunch of issues. The autofocus didn’t ever lock on, and I had issues where the camera froze. I’ve had much better luck with the cheaper ones and just doing all the manual work.

Do you use flash a lot? You might be able to keep most of your flashes as well! Today there are a ton of transmitters and receivers out there, and they work with most flashes. If you’re doing off camera flash, you should be able to buy a set of cheap transmitters for your new body that work with your old flashes.

The Cactus V6 II looks promising. This system is said to be able to work with different brands of flashes and you even keep your TTL. I have an older version of the system, and I’ve been able to mix different flashes and use them at the same time.

The only real issue I’ve seen is with on-camera flash. I haven’t found any flashes that work from one camera body to the next. Still, this isn’t that big of a deal. There are plenty of amazing flashes out there that cost under $200. My new go to flash and what I’ll buy if I switch is the Flashpoint Zoom Lion. I could get a Sony version for $150 and then still use my other ones off camera at the same time.

I know talking about spending all of this money is a bit depressing, but there is some good news: you get to sell your old gear. If you’re smart and you’ve taken care of your gear, you should be able to sell your old gear and make up a large chunk of the cost.

When selling your gear, there are plenty of places you can go. First, you might check locally. Do you know a bunch of photographers or do you have a camera store near you? Next, you can find plenty of places online. I’ve had good luck selling gear on Facebook groups and Ebay. You do run the risk of running into a scammer, so make sure you are documenting everything and only accepting money through something like PayPal.

cost of switching camera brands

Again, I would look into all of the prices and numbers before doing anything. See how much everything is going to cost and how much you can make from selling gear before you start buying or selling. Take a look at the final number. If it’s going to cost you $500-$1000 to switch camera brands, that’s not that big of a deal, but if it’s going to be $5000 or more, you might want to reconsider.

Will it make a large improvement in your photography?

What do you not like about your current camera system? Is there something about it that really frustrates you or is keeping you from creating the photos you want? This is really why you should switch. It should stem from a complaint or problem that you have with your current system. If that’s the case, then yes, you might want to switch.

So, what are some of the common complaints people have that make them want to switch? Well, there could be a lot of them, and I guess it depends on which system, which camera model you’re using, and what type of photography you do. For many, it comes down to autofocus, image quality, ISO capabilities, and possibly ergonomics.

Autofocus is one of the main reasons I started seriously looking at Sony. I get really annoyed with the autofocus points in my Nikon D750. They only cover the middle section of the screen, so I find myself having to focus and recompose. I also love the new Eye AF Sony has. It looks like it will make focusing much faster and more accurate.

I’m also really care about image quality and ISO abilities. I want my images to look great, and I often shoot in dark situations. I haven’t had a chance to really check this out with Sony yet. That will be something I really have to look into.

Will switching camera brands make that big of a difference? Will you instantly be able to take better photos? Will it fix all of your problems? This is something you really have to consider. Sometimes we get annoyed with something but we could easily live with it. Is it worth switching to get rid of that small problem?

The other thing you have to consider is that every camera system has some kind of issue. You might get rid of your focusing problem but now you have crappy battery life. Maybe you can now take 10 fps but the lens options are extremely limited and cost a fortune! Maybe their customer service is horrible. Make sure to look at the bad as well as the good.

Will it be Difficult to Learn a New System?

Do you enjoy figuring out something new or does it scare you? When it comes to cameras I like trying them out and going through all the menus and settings. It’s fun to see what all it can do, but it does take some time to get use to and learn a new system.

If you’re planning on changing your camera brand, you really need to plan some adjustment time. If you’re a wedding photographer like me, you need to either plan to do it in the off season, or maybe use the new camera here and there on shoots. You really, really don’t want to just jump into a paying gig without being fully prepared.

The first thing you will have to do is figure out how to set it up to your satisfaction. Can it do back button focus? How do you change things the like the White Balance and Image Quality? Each camera system does things a little differently, so you need to learn how to make these changes.

The button layouts are all different. After months of using the same camera, I’ve trained myself to be able to find certain buttons quickly and often without looking. You’ll need to practice and practice and practice and retrain yourself to be able to do find them easily.

Nikon button layout Sony button layout

I’ve also found that each camera system has its own quirks or personality you might say. Some tend to have green skin tones and others might have flare issues. My D750 has this weird issue where the photo looks great in the camera and the exposure is set correctly, but when I take it into my computer it’s a stop underexposed. I still have no idea why it does this, but I’ve learned that I need to overexpose in camera to deal with it.

Most of this really isn’t that big of a deal. With time and practice you’ll get it all figured out. If it all sounds annoying or too much of a pain, you might want to reconsider switching.

Could I just do a Hybrid System?

Recently I have heard of several wedding photographers using a hybrid system. This means that they are using two camera brands at the same time. From what I’ve seen, many of them are using Nikon or Canon as their main camera and then using something like a Fuji XT-2 as well.

So why would someone want to use a hybrid system? Think back to what we were saying about the positives and negatives of each system. If you used a hybrid system, you could possibly avoid the negatives of a system. You’d use one system in some situations, and you’d use the other system in different situations.

I could see this playing out in a wedding. Your main camera might have better battery life, higher resolution, and more options like off camera flash. You might use this camera for the majority of the day and especially for portraits. Your other camera might be smaller and faster. You might use this camera for candids or moving around.

If you were to go this route, there are a few things you should do. First, don’t buy a ton of things for your second system. You might get one or two lenses, but that’s really it. Buying all the lenses and flashes would be expensive, and at that point, you might as well switch. Second, learn when to use the second system. How can it fit into your current workflow and make things better? If you’re using it for the same thing as your main camera, you’re better off just picking one system and sticking to it.

Will my current brand catch up soon?

Technology is always changing and new equipment is always being released. It’s so annoying when you buy something new, and then two months later, something better is released. Before you make the jump and switch camera brands, you need to think whether your current brand will catch up anytime soon.

Today the camera market is really competitive. Each brand wants to keep the customers they have and steal more from the competition. This makes the companies adjust and produce what the customers want to keep them happy. I remember when the Nikon D3 came out. It was earth shattering. We now had a full frame camera and the ability to use high ISO. Today, entry level cameras can crank out ISO 6 billion without a problem. The same thing happened with adding video capabilities to DSLRs and then 4k recording. At first only one or two cameras could do it, but then all the newer cameras adjusted and got that feature.

There’s a good possibility your current camera brand will be releasing new equipment in the future that might solve your problems. It would be extremely annoying if you did all the work to switch brands and then your old brand brought out something new. It might be a good idea to do some research and see what’s on the horizon. Is your brand talking about making something new? Does it sound like it will be here soon? You might want to wait then.

Conclusion

I’m currently still on the fence with switching completely to Sony. I just tried out a Sony lens on my Sony A7s ii, and I was really disappointed. The lens would hunt back and forth to get focus, and it was extremely slow. Now, some of this might have to do with the fact that the lens was cheap or that the A7s ii is mainly for video. I really don’t know. I’m going to follow my own advice though and look into things more carefully before just jumping and buying a bunch of new gear. If you’re thinking about switching camera brands, I suggest you do the same. If you’ve already gone through this whole process, I’d love to hear your thoughts and what you decided. Feel free to comment below.


About the Author

Bryan Striegler

Bryan Striegler started photography way back in 10th grade and has loved it ever since. For the past 8 years, he has been blessed to photograph weddings for hundreds of amazing couples. He loves learning new things and educating other photographers. See his work at Striegler Photography

Comments

  1. Hi Bryan, I switch camera brands almost as often as I change my socks; just kidding. I’ve used most of the major brands, including Olympus and Panasonic; Fuji about 14 years ago. I was in between DSLRs last year and saw a deal on a comlete kit, including Flash and same brand grip; it was a Nikon D7100 and 3 lenses on Ebay. I bid and got it, less than 5000 clicks on the camera, everything like new. However, my experience with Nikon taught me that the VR system is inferior to other brands I’ve used, in fact, I got better results with it turned off and hand holding. After much research, I sold the Nikon kit, for a nice profit, and bought a Canon 77D, new, for $800 Canadian. I don’t need a more robust body like the 80D and saved enough to buy the amazing APS-C dedicated Canon 10-18mm ultra wide angle, and it’s a gem. It has IS, and STM for video, it has silent focusing and IS is also silent. There is no comparable lens available anywhere for the price. I bought a mint 20 year old 300mm f4L IS telephoto which outperforms the Nikon equivalent according to my experience. I also purchased a new Canon 100mm f2.8L IS Macro, and it’s my favorite lens of all time. I bought a Canon 70-300mm IS II, and it has the quickest AF I’ve ever used, amazing, even in hockey rinks with dim lighting. (The 300MM f4L is too long for indoor sports.) I also have a couple more lenses, both STM for video, but plan on selling them and getting a fast lens for indoor photography, such as the grandkids, possibly in the 24-30mm range. I am a hobbyist/enthusiast photographer, retired, and I should mainly wildlife in the Canadian Rockies, which are a 40 minute drive from home. I know what I need, and I’ve tried everything but Sony, and this is what I’ve come up with. Why not Sony? Cost, lack of suitable lenses for a reasonable cost, and anything you put between your camera and lens affects the performance and image quality, so getting a Sony and using adapters for other brands’ lenses is not a sensible option, imo. The dual pixel AF system in the newer Canon cameras is outstanding, and the video capabilities are as good as any without getting into thousands of dollars. The Canon APS-C lenses are terrific; quick AF, quiet, and the IS actually works great, unlike some brands I’ve used. (Imo, Olympus’s 5-axis in-body system is the best) The 77D also has a fully articulating monitor, which is great for video, and especially close to the ground macro. Focus transition from one subject to another during video recording is as good as any you’ll see on TV, smooth as silk. I doubt I could get any better with any brand for the price for what I do. I bought over the last several months so I could learn the camera over the long winter we’re having here in Calgary, AB. Your list of things to think about are pretty much what I do, and I have lots of experience switching brands. I watch youtube reviews, read customer reviews on B and H’s website, and once I’ve purchased a new camera, I go on Amazon and find a book on that camera because I find the manuals tedious. As you say, it takes awhile to get comfortable with new kit, but that’s half the fun along with researching it. Note: I spent 21/2 years using MFT, and finally left because they still didn’t have a decent wildlife lens. Since then Olympus released the 300mm f4, which is so expensive, it’s a joke, and it isn’t small or lightweight. Panasonic released the 10-400mm, which from what friends who’ve bought it have said, it’s a nice lens, and won’t break the bank. However, if you want any MFT Pro lenses, be prepared to pay more than for other brands, and they are not small or lightweight. Also look at where their camera prices are going. Most reviewers complain that Canon is falling behind in technology with their cameras, but still have the best lenses. I take it all with a grain of salt; Canon has more of what I need than any other brand. Do your research based upon what you want or need, not what someone else likes.

  2. I should mention that the Canon 77D has 5-axis IS built into the camera FOR VIDEO RECORDING ONLY, and works like a charm.

    Cheers
    Dennis

  3. I think this will fall into two groups – amateurs and professionals. A pro has to count dollars – and that depends on a lot of things that amateurs can ignore, for whatever reason.

    In my own case, I want to get a Sigma Quattro – not to take better wedding photos or whatever – but simply for the experience of using a Foveon sensor. A pro can scarcely behave like that.

    And as for the other gear I have, it has all been acquired to shoot my kind of photos – which is a rather eclectic list of subject matter, and the standards I require for each type of photo are my person choice, not a market controlled one.

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