Have you heard everyone lately talking about mirrorless cameras…me too! After about the 15th person in regular conversation started asking about mirrorless cameras, I figured I’d give you my thought about them. And also why I may not choose to go full mirrorless just yet.
I am a true believer in the DSLR camera. The current favorite DSLR I have is my Nikon D850. This camera is as close to perfect as they come, and so as the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke…” I always am looking to upgrade my gear when needed, but there is no real reason to buy the newest and most expensive until you feel that your own gear is just not up to the challenge. I have been teaching with digital cameras for the last 10 years. For many of those years my students have been using the same old DSLR’s and they continue to create amazing quality images. So why then, is it necessary to get a mirrorless camera? Short answer: it’s not. Long answer: only if you want to.
Why it isn’t necessary to buy a mirrorless camera
The only reason to really make this change is because you want to. Personally, I am not an innovator or early adopter. Have you heard of the 5 types of adopters? They are as follows: 1. Innovators, 2. Early adopters, 3. early majority 4. late majority, and 5. laggards. I am definitely an early majority. Meaning I wait until the bugs are all done and the technology (be it a phone, computer, camera, etc.) has become a little more mainstream. I’m not exactly a late adopter, but early majority is my sweet spot. Once I’m sure there are others who have tried and enjoyed the product, especially as it relates to my life or my field of practice, then I will give up my hard earned money for the item…in this case a camera. Plus, the DSLR can still stand up to so much abuse (ask me about the 8 original DSLR cameras I still have from 9 years ago (!!!!!!!) in a high school classroom where 80 newbie photographers each year misuse them).
A big drawback of a mirrorless cameras for me is that I prefer looking through the DSLR viewfinder (which is a true mirror reflection) and not the EVF (electronic viewfinder) of a mirrorless camera. It is tricky for me to look at a digital screen instead of the “real” world and during a shoot my eyes tend to get a bit tired, especially if it is a long wedding day. I’ve also seen some pro photographers shoot through the back of the camera monitor (much like an iPhone) and it drives me crazy! One, it doesn’t look very professional, and two you are not getting a good read on your exposure since we all know how much the bright sun can change what you are seeing then we can assume your exposure will not be correct. But there are, of course, reasons when it might make sense.
When to buy a mirrorless camera
Did your camera recently die on you? Maybe it’s starting to go or is just really getting a little too old and you think it’s time to upgrade. If you are considering the upgrade then it might be time to research the newest mirrorless model. Both Canon and Nikon have amazing consumer and pro mirrorless bodies that are just beginning to outperform their DSLR counterparts in sales. The big companies are producing beautiful pro bodies that can stand up to the rigor and needs of the professional shooter. I think if you are ready to be an early adopter, and are willing to try it out as a second camera body and test to make sure you can get the same results that you have been used to with your DSLR, then there is an argument for giving mirrorless a shot.
Another time when I think mirrorless might be the way to go is if you are just starting out. If you are looking to invest in a system then you might not want to go full DSLR and lenses when you’ll just have to switch a few years down the line. They are not making huge advances with DSLR cameras anymore. Thats not to say they aren’t still making them or that they aren’t great, but they are not making them better. The big companies have invested in the new technology of the mirrorless camera, and also are adding to the lens systems of both cameras. Although you can use your older lenses, there is better connectivity between the mirrorless lens system and the mirrorless camera.
In conclusion I think there are arguments for both sides still, and I like to take my time with a decision. But there will come a point when the stayed true DSLR die-hards are the last holdouts. I mean, people are now arguing that skinny jeans are over and flares are in and it took me sooooooo long to make that crossover years ago (I held on a long time to those flares). So I think soon—much like the skinny vs flare jean debate—it will truly just be preference. Take your pick!