Canon being beaten bloody by Sony, Zeiss, and Sigma

Those of us with big collections of Canon EOS lenses have had to watch enviously as cameras with Sony sensors outclassed all of the Canon bodies, regardless of price. The Nikon system, anchored by Sony sensors in camera bodies such as the D800, inspired the most envy. Sony’s own systems didn’t seem that awesome, however, due to the lack of lens choices. The latest DxOMark tests, however, show that the lens options for Sony mirrorless systems are not to be sneezed at. Some of the better lenses ever tested are the Zeiss 25/2 and Zeiss 21/2.8, both designed for the Sony A7 camera. If you want an awesome 50/1.4 it seems that the Sigma 50/1.4 “Art” lens is the best mixture of optical quality and price/weight and it is available in a Sony mount (but for their DSLR cameras rather than the mirrorless? This would then require an adapter).

Even Pentax is now crushing Canon in the DSLR image quality area with its K-1 body that includes the Sony 36 MP sensor lifted from the A7.

So… Canon doesn’t make bodies with competitive image quality and most of the great new lenses are coming from third-party makers such as Sigma and Zeiss. How does this happen to a market leader?


  1. jseliger

    February 28, 2016 @ 4:12 pm


    If you want an awesome 50/1.4 it seems that the Sigma 50/1.4 “Art” lens is the best mixture of optical quality and price/weight

    I wonder how many people are really shooting at 1.4 in FF. The DOF is so narrow that I can’t imagine 1.4 being useful most of the time.

  2. Steve Long

    February 28, 2016 @ 5:07 pm


    Silly, why do you think that just because a lens will open to 1.4 that it’s always used fully open. I use 1.4 when and only when the image I’m trying to create requires it.

  3. Sam

    February 28, 2016 @ 5:24 pm


    Do amateurs still buy SLR’S? Maybe Canon is abandoning a dying market.

  4. Paris

    February 28, 2016 @ 6:18 pm


    Hi Phil,

    Your article on Canon EOS system in inspired me to buy Canon 40d and Sigma 35mm 1.4. That was a very good decision, and I’ve enjoyed taking pictures and looking at them.

    I was a grad student then. I can now afford a full frame camera and am thinking of one of the a7’s. What would be the nice couple of primes to go with it?

  5. philg

    February 28, 2016 @ 6:33 pm


    Steve: Both you and jseliger are right! f/1.4 is seldom useful, which suggests that a 50/1.8 lens is a much better value and a friendlier companion given the weight difference. On the other hand, f/1.4 provides a brighter viewfinder and therefore is useful even when taking pictures at f/8.

    Paris: The a7r II is slower to autofocus than the A6000. So unless you do need the full-frame you might want to consider the recently released A6300 and just use APS-C. If you do want or need maximum image quality and you’re not trying to capture moving subjects… all of the prime lenses for the a7r should be great. Just choose the focal length that you want. There is no reason to sneer at Sony-brand lenses. They put up good numbers in DxOMark tests. TV stations buy plenty of Sony lenses. That said, I do think that the latest Zeiss lenses for the Sony systems are worth the extra $$.

  6. Jeff Zanooda

    February 28, 2016 @ 9:02 pm


    One important advantage of f/1.4 lens is that when the camera focuses at f/1.4 but actual picture is taken stopped down, autofocus errors become a lot less visible.

  7. mhf in va

    February 28, 2016 @ 11:02 pm


    Take a close look at Fujifilm. There are good options for bodies, and in my opinion, the glass fantastic. I shoot a lot of landscapes, and the RAW images offer great PP latitude. For people and things, the Jpegs and various film simulation choices continue to amaze me. The system incorporates more metal into the products than the competitors, and whether you care about such things or not, the fit and finish are better than most.

  8. philg

    February 29, 2016 @ 3:05 pm


    mhf: I would have agreed with you if not for a trip to Israel that I took with a friend. He is a great photographer with a Canon EOS system. The Fuji does seem great for landscapes and maybe studio portraits, but if subjects were moving around he seemed to have missed the decisive moment. There were some AF errors as well. For moving subjects, Fuji doesn’t seem to be as good a practical picture-taking tool as the Canon EOS system or the Sony mirrorless.

  9. Tony Northrup

    March 6, 2016 @ 4:14 pm


    To me, Sony launching the G-Master 24-70 and 70-200 f/2.8 lenses is the turning point for the E-Mount lineup. Up until these two lenses, they had *zero* high-quality native lenses. So, even though I loved the Sony bodies, I kept using DSLRs (because adapting lenses sucks).

    We spent most of a week with the 24-70 f/2.8 and 85mm f/1.4, and they were the solid, professional glass we were all waiting for.

    To me, the allure of the Sony system isn’t for the sensor’s image quality, but the sensor stabilization, electronic viewfinder, tilt screen, and 4k video.

  10. Tony Northrup

    March 6, 2016 @ 4:15 pm


    Sorry, I should have said they had zero high-quality native zooms… they had good primes, but I generally prefer zooms.

  11. Dan

    March 8, 2016 @ 1:30 pm


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