Legendary Photojournalist David Burnett is Switching from Canon to Sony

david burnett castro.jpg
(Fidel Castro photo by David Burnett for Time Magazine in 1995. Copyright David Burnett)


David Burnett is not just any old photographer. He's literally one of the most famous and well-revered photojournalists that ever lived. He was a photographer for Time and Life winning awards like the Robert Capa Gold Medal, and NPPA Magazine Photographer of the Year. He's been everywhere from the Olympics to the Iranian revolution in 1978 which he recounted in this fantastic book 44 Days: Iran and the Remaking of the World, which includes so many great images that graced the pages of Life Magazine and informed the world of what a revolution was really like. On top of that, he's one of the founders of Contact Press Images and International and independent photojournalist agency. 

So, when he makes a video and posts it to Vimeo saying that he's switching from Canon DSLRs to Sony Mirrorless cameras, it's a big deal.


If you've been on the internet in the last year and are interested in digital cameras, odds are you've seen dozens of Mirrorless VS DSLR comparisons. You might've seen videos of photographers or enthusiasts switching to Fuji, Olympus, or Sony, but rarely, has there been a post or a video about someone making the change from DLSR to Mirrorless with the same pedigree as David Burnett. It's more than just a format change however, it's a total brand change as 40 years ago David traded all his Nikon gear in for Canon cameras and has primarily used Canon cameras for the last forty years, and now, he's switching to Sony. He explains in the video:

"I liked the fact that the Canon lenses were so good, the cameras operated when you wanted them to operate and it was really a great run. But now, after forty years, I'm making a change. I've been trying for the last few months or so the new Sony camera's the A9 in particular and the 6500 (which he loves)... and I've decided to swap all my Canon gear out and go with the Sony's. Its the new technology, the cameras have a lot of things going for them that never did before."

Why is this such a big deal? Sony has been making strides in the digital camera market in the last few years like no other camera manufacturer. This is mostly because Sony doesn't have a long history of making photography cameras. They've long been innovators in the world of digital video, starting with their launch of the Betamax format in 1975 up to creating the Cine Alta camera that George Lucas shot The Phantom Menace with, but they've never made a 35mm film camera or a regular DSLR. They've evolved from a Cyber-shot all in one camera your mom would take on vacation to leaders of the professional photography pack. Getting rid of the vaunted single reflex camera for a camera with no mirror at all, means change is a foot. 

"There's no mirror, the cameras are a little thinner, then the older camera cameras that needed to have space to swing a mirror up and down, so you can use all of your old legacy lenses"

Size is a thing that's going to hurt Canon and Sony. The Canon 1DX and Nikon D850 are incredible cameras, they're also Enormous compared to the Sony A9 and a7Riii. Here's a photo comparison of Sony Cameras vs Canon and Nikon for size.

Sony A9 vs Nikon d850.png
(Sony A9 vs Nikon D850 size comparision)

Sony a7riii vs canon 1dx2.png
 (Sony a7riii vs Canon 1DX mark 2 size comparison)

If you're running and gunning, which would you rather carry?

On top of the versatility of the new Sony cameras to accept with adapters all his favorite lenses, he loves the new Sony Glass as well the A9's burst rate:

"The Sony Glass is actually pretty amazing. I have this 55mm leis 1.8 lens that is just the sharpest, crispest 55mm lens I've ever shot with, and believe me I've been around a lot of 50mm lenses in my time... with the A9 you can shoot 20 frames per second. I do a lot of sports work, I'm heading out in February to cover the Winter Games in Korea and really looking forward to trying to see all those moments I was missing before."

That'll do it. People like David didn't make the jump from 35mm to DSLR until the DSLRs could do what 35mm could do, so, they wouldn't make the jump to a mirrorless until a mirrorless can do what DSLRs can... and it looks like that day is here and the big guys should be scared.

To see many of David's amazing and copyrighted photography check out his website