Canon Mark iii vs Sony a7s – Shooting the Perseids and Milky Way

I set out this year shooting more with my Sony a7s due to backpacking more and needing something that was lighter, smaller and was mirrorless to shoot without spooking any wildlife. I had my apprehensions with the a7s from a couple other times I took it out to shoot the Milky Way or wildlife after the sun had set, and the imagery just didn’t do it for me. I have been using a Canon product (over the past 4 years Canon’s 5D mark iii) for 10 years and was used to the assortment of lenses I have collected in that time. I like the larger 25 Mp sensor over the 12 Mp of the Sony as well.
With the Sony, I have been using Metabones’ adapter to strap a telephoto on the Sony and get those wildlife shots that the “click” of the Canon’s mirror would send everything running off. Or in the instance of a bear, it would give them a clue I was there – instead of me stomping my feet on the ground to not surprise a bear and have it kick my ass. Any landscape shots I took when out with the Sony over the past two years didn’t have the pixels to get me print worthy shots beyond 24″ X 16″, so I tended not to use the Sony for anything but wildlife. Then I started stitching the images together with my day time shots and I was starting to get the results with the 55mm strapped to the front of it. My first trip to the Sierras was a bust because I wasn’t prepared for the mosquito onslaught, so I tucked tail and headed back to Vegas by way of Death Valley and got this shot.
Once I saw the detail in the terrain it opened up the camera to a whole new light for me. With a little modifications to the stitches in RAW to take out the vignette I got it down. Since June I haven’t thought about using the Canon – like I have always done – to take any night shots. But I took both of them out to shoot the Perseids this past week and here is the gear breakdown:

  • Sony a7s had just the 55mm, 8 second shutter, f/1.8, and ISO 8000
  • Canon 5D Mark iii had the 16-35mm, 6-10 seconds, f/2.8, and ISO 5000
  • The Sony crushed the Canon. There was noise and plenty of pixels being blended by the Canon that weren’t there. The thing that drove me nutz the most was the red that bled out of Elephant Rock into the night sky. It was a total lack of definition between the ground and the sky with the Canon with plenty of noise to boot.

    Now here’s the kicker – I have been told since day one with the Sony that I should be shooting Milky Way shots with the Sony. Finally I did listen and figured out how to dial the Sony in to get these clean, large shots. You can see the whole images of the two shots here.