...and why you probably shouldn't listen to me.
I don't particularly like talking about gear publicly. Ever since I started taking photography seriously I have simply seen gear as tools. I have never considered myself to be a gear expert. As I have developed a workflow and a style of work I have known what I want from a camera and what features matter to me. My needs will be different from your needs, and your needs will be different from your next door neighbour's.
My first camera was a Canon. The Canon 500D to be more precise. I didn't buy it because of this feature or that feature. I can't even remember what features it had. I bought it because it was on sale at a local electronics shop and I liked gadgets. I used that camera about a dozen times. Then it sat on a shelf for months until I went to my first drift event. That day was the day I started taking photography seriously, but that's a story for another day.
After the 500D, I bought more Canon cameras. The 6D and then the 7D mark ii. They were great(ish). Both cameras had shortcomings, but I learned to work around them and get what I needed out of them to satisfy myself and my clients like 95% of the time. The observant amongst you will notice that none of the images on this post feature any of my Canon cameras. That's because I am in the process of making "the switch." Like so many people I have decided to adopt Sony cameras. In Particular the Sony A7R III.
Moving to the Sony A7R III was decision I laboured over for a couple of months. As a previously dedicated Canon user I had started to feel let down by their most recent offerings, and I had looked at them all. The 1DX II is too big, too heavy too unwieldy. I have used the original 1DX before and after a day of shooting I had actual wrist strain. As a predominant sport shooter I always have two bodies on Black Rapid Strap. One with a telephoto and one with something wider. Trying to switch and one hand a 1DX is a short road to repetitive strain injuries. I looked at the 5D Mark IV. Solid camera. Big, but not huge like the 1DX. Good battery life, solid sensor, good enough AF (but we will get to that). in 2014 this camera would have been the be all and end all. In 2018 it feels dated. I even looked further afield. If on the day that I got my Canon 500D I had picked up the comparable Nikon instead I would have be doing a blog post about my new Nikon d850 just now instead. But I'm not in a position to swap everything over all at once and adapting lenses between Canon and Nikon makes the d850 a non starter in my eyes. I even looked at the Fuji XT-2. I looked hard at that. In fact, I'd still have a Fuji XT-2. It's a beautiful camera, that has a user experience that to my mind sets the bar. If I was only using this camera for lifestyle work, but I can't trust the AF for the fast action of motorcycle racing, and although that's not what I bought this body for there still might be the occasion for it.
How did I end up at the A7R III then?
To start with Sony had overcome the main issues that had stopped me from seriously considering any of their previous generation bodies. Dual card slots, an actual battery as opposed to a lemon with two electrodes sticking out of it and the fact I can map a custom button to rate images during playback are all essential for my workflow. Then there are the progressive features that after only a couple of weeks I have come to love. The electronic viewfinder is the top of the heap for me. Using an EVF on a full frame sensor is a game changer. Where as before I would use shutter or aperture priority modes more often than I'd care to admit, I now trust what I'm seeing in a scene, I adjust my setting as I need and get more keepers than I ever have before. In body image stabilisation is so far little more than a neat trick, and I look forward to seeing if and how it impacts my work. Eye AF, and basically the whole AF system in general is great. Being able to compose basically anywhere in the frame opens up a whole host of creative options when shooting in a fast moving paddock type setting.
It's not all plain sailing though. The menu system is both enormous and feels like it has been written with the assistance of google translate. There a 35 separate menu pages with most pages having up to 6 menu items per page. I spent a good couple of hours menu surfing after my A7R III got delivered. Then there are the files. They are giant. Shooting in uncompressed RAW each image is about 85MB a piece. I know that is to be expected with forty-whatever megapixel sensor, but it's something you need to be aware of. I'm already keeping an eye on Amazon lightning deals for more external hard drives. I have reservations about weather sealing, robustness and there aren't really any weight savings over something like the Canon 5DIV. There's no flip out screen, and as someone who is flirting with the idea of video, this is a bit of a pain. The barrier to entry for Sony Pro support for a pro who can't afford to drop £10-£15K all at once is a real pain. These are all things I was kind of aware of going into Sony ownership, and none of them would or have stopped me.
One of my biggest reservations was adopting a mirrorless system, but those worries for me at least have been well and truly quashed. Picking up and using this camera reminds me of a time a little over ten years ago. Two months before the original iPhone was released I picked up the Nokia N95 on a two year contract. The second the iPhone dropped, I knew I was behind the curve. At the time there were a bunch of people that didn't trust touchscreen phones because until the iPhone they had been terrible. That way of thinking changed then and it's my belief that this camera in particular has the possibility to change that mindset for professional and keen enthusiast photographers. Even sitting here with the A7R III on the desk next to me, I still don't know that I could recommend it for you though. I'm pretty sure it's the right tool for me, but I don't know what you need. Try it though, it might surprise you.