Canon or Sony: Which One Is Better for Shooting a Party?

We shot the same party with both Sony and Canon in an informal test. Guess which did better?

When I used to shoot weddings and events, I reached for Canon. But as I changed as a photographer, Sony started to suit more and more of my own personal needs. Today, there isn’t a single camera system that’s bad or that can’t accomplish a lot. They’re all good. And they can all do a whole lot of various things very well. To each their own for sure. But a while back, we had the opportunity to play with both the Sony and Canon systems for a party. The results? Well, they’re both good. And they both have pluses and minuses over each other.

Gear Used

Autofocus

Knowing that the Canon 50mm f1.2 would let a lot more light in than an f2.8 lens, we stopped down lenses to f2.8 and shot side by side. As far as Face Detection went, Canon was not only faster in low light, but also more consistently accurate. This personally surprised me and I never thought I’d say that. But, Sony has been known to slow down quite a bit in low light and Canon’s latest firmware updates have been really killer. What’s crazy is that Canon has Face Detection AF and tracking automatically built-in, but you have to more or less enable it with Sony. Otherwise, just shoot in AF-A. I took both cameras off of face detection and then just set them to a single point. Here’s where they started to perform a bit more similarly. However, the Sony a7r IV still missed the targets more often than Canon did. One could blame this on Sigma and Sony not working together perfectly, but Sigma has been known to do great things on Sony cameras.

Build Quality

Something that I’m often concerned about is whether or not my cameras will continue to work if someone spills a drink. Luckily, no one did. But we’ve thoroughly soaked both of these cameras in rainstorms and they continue to function, so we’re not at all worried about the build quality.

TTL Flash Performance

TTL Flash performance has always been a weird thing overall. But it has been even more so with Canon and Sony. Sony arguably rejects their flash performance and department despite firmware updates to improve the system, which is essentially a modification of old Minolta TTL flash protocols. They’ve got a wireless radio flash, but I don’t know anyone who uses them that likes them. Canon, on the other hand, has a flash system that’s been very popular for years. However, they’ve always done this weird thing where the power seems very underwhelming. So, you need to overexpose by a full stop. This has been my experience for over 10 years now. Few companies have been able to compensate for it: mainly Phottix and Profoto have pretty flawless TTL performance with Canon cameras. With that said, I needed to overexpose the Nissin flash on the Canon body, but the Godox flash on the Sony body worked perfectly fine. Nissin is pretty darned robust and they’ve greatly improved over the years. Godox has been consistently good too while also being very affordable. In my time using Godox though, I’ve run into long term problems with the build quality or even the radio performance. In this case, though, we were using them on top of the camera, and both performed just fine. I still had to do exposure fixes to both in post-production, for what it’s worth.

Conclusions

This was, by all means, an informal comparison. We think that Canon is able to acquire focus faster in low light. They’re both built well. And they both have TTL systems that are very capable with the right combination. I’m fortunate enough to own both systems mostly for the work that I do for the site. But if I had to choose one, I’d be hard-pressed. Sony is lighter and smaller. Canon has lenses unlike any other on the market.