I can’t remember who said it, but I’ve often heard “Gear doesn’t matter.” To some extent, I feel that is true. However, I also believe how Photography YouTuber Dave McKeegan put it. “Better camera equipment does not make you a better photographer. But it does allow good photographers to get potentially better photos”. And if it can make your job easier or more efficient, I’m all for it. So follow along for my thoughts on switching from a DSLR to a Mirrorless System.
Which brings me to the fence I am on about switching to mirrorless from my current DSLR cameras. Moving forward, I am going to assume you already know the difference between the two. And this article isn’t meant to trash DSLR cameras nor camera brands, just brief thoughts on how I think a mirrorless system might be beneficial to me and my work.
What are you shooting?
Although food, furniture, and real estate photos are still in my portfolio. Lately, it seems I have been shooting more portraits, editorials, concerts and other events. Yes, lots of people photos… And those people have eyes. So let’s start with the topic of eye autofocus and facial detection. Basically, when enabled with continuous autofocus, a mirrorless camera finds the eye of your subject and tracks it throughout the scene. Sony has been at the forefront of this feature and brands like Canon and Nikon have even introduced it into their new mirrorless cameras. I have seen it in action and have been quite impressed. I could see this helping with speed and accuracy when I shoot models walking at fashion shows, fast-paced artist “meet and greet” shots and keeping up with kids who don’t always stay in front of your selected focus point.
Hand in hand with that feature is the fact that most of the focus points of mirrorless cameras cover almost the entire viewfinder. In DSLR cameras, the focus points are clustered mostly in the center. When in a dark concert hall or shooting a portrait with a large aperture and shallow depth of field, focusing on the nearest point and recomposing can potentially mean an out of focus shot. Often I find myself having to leave a large amount of wasted headroom above a subject just to keep that last focus point on their eye. However, with mirrorless, you can compose your scene and let the camera’s eye AF grab your subject’s eye, without having to recompose. Or you have the option to move the focus point almost anywhere on the viewfinder and take your shot.
Nailed it, nope!
Speaking of shooting with large apertures and shallow depth of field, have you ever had an image that appeared properly focused when taking the shot, only to find later that the photo wasn’t sharp due to the camera/lens having a front or back focused?
With a DSLR, light enters the lens, hits a mirror, a prism and is reflected in the viewfinder as well as an autofocus sensor. All of this has to work in perfect harmony in order to achieve accurate focus. But if any portion is slightly out of adjustment, your focus will be off and more than likely noticeable. However, most high-end DSLRs have settings in the camera that the photographer can use to make micro-adjustments. It’s just not the quickest task to do and is really another step I would rather not have to deal with. Many photographers even elect to send their camera bodies with their lenses to the manufacturers to make these adjustments on an annual basis. In the case of mirrorless, the light hits the sensor directly and the focus reading is taken. No micro-adjustments (as described above) ever need to be made.
The Electronic Viewfinder (EVF)
The next advantage of moving to mirrorless cameras is the Electronic Viewfinder (EVF). Maybe the simplest way to put it is to imagine a tiny computer screen or display inside the viewfinder. However, what you see is actually real-time. A big plus for using and EVF is when you make changes to your camera’s aperture, shutter speed or ISO, you see the change take effect immediately in the viewfinder. This is valuable in that you can see what your picture is going to look like before you even take it. No need to “chimp” on the back LCD afterward. It can also brighten your view in low light situations. Yes, there are some instances when you will need to disable the exposure simulation on the EVF. Like when shooting with strobes in a studio, but the overall pros seem to outweigh the cons.
Closely tied to a mirrorless camera with an EVF is weight. Because of fewer parts like a prism or mirror, the camera tends to be lighter. Granted some of the RF and GM lenses being made are quite large. There are some lens options that still keep the body/lens combination light compared to their DSLR equivalents. This is enticing to me when shooting long events or even someone who shoots weddings.
For those photographers who do shoot weddings or maybe those who have shot a famous cellist or pianist in a silent concert hall (wink wink), would appreciate what is called silent shooting. True silent shooting is offered on mirrorless cameras. IT is a feature where you can take pictures without the sound of a traditional mechanical shutter. This would be a great way to make sure you remain discreet and don’t disturb the audience or disrupt a performance. As long as you keep an eye on your lighting conditions (some cheaper LED lights may cause issues), silent shooting could be a great asset.
In conclusion, you can see I am very interested in switching to mirrorless. I know I may have missed a few points or not mentioned every pro or con. I am talking about the main things that matter to me. As a photographer, I am always trying to grow… Learn new things, new techniques… And that includes new technology. Like I stated at the beginning of something like moving to a mirrorless system that can benefit my work, make my job easier or more efficient, I am all for it. Now on to the next step.
Thanks for taking the time to entertain my thoughts please let me know what you think below. Also, feel free to check out my work over at my site. For you gear heads you may also want to check out choosing a bag here.