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Associated Press dumps Canon in favor of Sony

Create: 07/27/2020 - 14:25
The AP is ending its relationship with Canon.

The Associated Press is moving away from Canon and will outfit its photographers with Sony both mirrorless and video cameras. Will Sony be up to the task?

The Associated Press is ending its long relationship with Canon and instead will supply all of its photographers and videographers with Sony cameras.

This is important news, because it is Sony's first big win in the area of professional photography - a market long coveted by camera makers and one that has been served primarily by either Canon or Nikon.

For those who are active in photography, most of the development, excitement and innovation since the mid-2000s has been in mirrorless cameras.

While Nikon and Canon have released mirrorless bodies, both are clearly behind the other major players - Sony, Fujifilm and Olympus and Panasonic.

In its deal with the AP annoucned July 23, 2020, Sony will provide two models: the A9 II and the A7R IV, as well as the 4KXDCAM video cameras. The A9 and A7R are full-frame mirrorless cameras with the A9 having numerous features that pros demand, such as dual memory slots, two onboard batteries, a durable body and weather sealing. The A7R IV is known for being able to deliver outstanding video, in addition to high-quality full-frame images. The A9 also has an electronic shutter, which will allow photographers to shoot nearly silently when stealth or subtlety is required. This might include shooting inside of a church or in situations in which a photogpaher should not reveal his presence.

There are several issues that could become a problem for Sony and the AP:

  • Is the variety of lenses that Sony offers sufficient to meet the demands of the pro? For those who shoot sports, the photographer needs high-quality telephoto zooms that will allow a photographer to shoot from hundreds of feet away. These need to be fast - both in terms of aperture and focusing speed. Canon has been bilding its lineup of lenses for decades. Sony's first full-frame mirrorless cameras, the A7, was released in 2013. At the moment, Sony has 57 lenses. There also are lenses from other lens makers, such as Sigma Photo and Carl Zeiss AG, which has partnered with Sony on its consumer digital cameras since the late 1990s.
  • Will the equipment be durable enough to meet the rigors of daily use? A pro photographer takes more photos in a week than some amateurs photographers take in a year. There is an incredible amount of wear and tear on bodies, lens motors, electronics, switches and ports. Will the Sony cameras be able to stand up to that type of use.AP photographers shoot around the globe - from everyday life to deserts, jungles, hurricanes, blizzards. searing heat and bone-chilling cold. Above all, the camera must always work. The AP photographer cannot be without a camera.
  • How will Sony serve the AP photographer? Canon and Nikon have divisions and people who cater exclusively to the needs of the professional. Sony will need to have this same structure in place.It will need to provide service and support to the AP 24 hours a day, 365 days a year without exception. It must have an adequate supply of parts, including batteries, loaner/replacement bodies, doors, port covers, eye cups, lenses and more.

To be sure, the image quality will not be a problem. The biggest challenge for Sony is still ahead in being able to provide service to the large far-flung cadre of Associated Press photographers. 

About the Author

Mike Elek is a longtime journalist and was one of the original editors for The Wall Street Journal Online. He also has worked as a reporter and editor in Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Vineland, N.J.; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; New York City; and Hong Kong. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran. He shoots with film and digital cameras.