Are you Jumping on the Mirrorless Camera Bandwagon? – Digital Photography School

Are you Jumping on the Mirrorless Camera Bandwagon?







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A Post By: Darlene Hildebrandt

Olympus-OM-D-EM-5-Review.jpgWith the increase in popularity of the smaller, more portable Mirrorless Four Thirds cameras I’m curious to see where you stand on this discussion. Personally I’m ready to jump on and get myself an Olympus OM-D EM-5, only thing holding me back as of now is justifying the cost of having a second camera.

I’m in the “I’m not ditching my full sized dslr just yet” camp as I still use it for teaching and doing portraits. However the more travelling and photography tours I do, the more appealing the Olympus becomes. One of the guys on my Cuba tour had one and it took great images, and video as well! I was really impressed.

We could have this debate all day but some of the pros and cons generally tossed about include:

PROS of Mirrorless cameras:

  • Sony A7R Reviewsmall and lightweight (that’s a given)
  • you can pack more lenses in a small bag for travel
  • less intimidating to people you photograph, especially when doing street photography
  • ability to accept and use adaptors to fit just about any lens, including those from your dslr
  • the sensors in many of them rival dslr APS-C sensors, and in the case of the Sony A7R they might even have the edge

CONS of Mirrorless cameras:

  • they aren’t really any less expensive than the full sized DSLRs, in fact, in some cases they are more expensive. You pay for compactness
  • they can be slower to focus, so shooting moving subjects is more challenging
  • the electronic viewfinder – this is a bane of many DSLR owners who are used to seeing through an optical one
  • because of the point above, they can be battery hogs

So – you tell me, where do you sit on this issue?

Are your feet firmly planted one side of the fence or the other? Or are you still on the fence, as yet undecided like our little friends here?

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Darlene Hildebrandt is the Managing Editor of dPS. She is also a photographer and educator who teaches aspiring amateurs and hobbyists how to improve their photography skills through photography classes, and photography travel tours. Darlene has a FREE ebook 10 Challenges To Improve Your Photography and a new online self-pace course, use the code “dps10off” to save $10.

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  • Tito

    Mirrorless is not slower to focus. If anything it is faster and more accurate for still objects.


  • Paul

    Just switched from Nikon D600 and several 2.8 and 1.4/1.8 lenses to Olympus OMD E-M10 :)


  • Baxngolf

    Interesting topic to discuss. First of all I find the choice of the term “bandwagon” mildly offensive. Several years ago I purchased an Olympus PEN camera as a second to my Canon dslr. I found the photographic experience somewhat freeing in that I didn’t have to lug around a ton of gear, especially when traveling. Before too long I sold all my Canon gear and invested in an Olympus OMD. It takes wonderful photos and can do most anything my Canon did. It actually focuses faster than many of the Nikon and Canon dslr’ shave played with recently. As far sensors, it should be noted the Sony A7 and A7r are actually full frame sensors joining the Leica cameras as mirrorless, full frame cameras.
    This is certainly a drawn out way to say “yes” I have jumped on the bandwagon. I see the mirrorless alternative as nothing but positive. It may be worthwhile to post the question have any people ditched their compact point and shoot to jump on the “smart phone as a camera” bandwagon.


  • Kristian

    “With the increase in popularity of the smaller, more portable Mirrorless Four Thirds cameras” – I’m not sure if this is correct as mirrorless sales is falling at a faster pace than DSLRs.

    I have owned the first generation Olympus EP1 and EP2 and was underwhelmed by the IQ and attachable EVF. The problem I have with the latest generations of 4/3 is still the price compared to the IQ. It is really hard to appreciate the IQ/size/price ratio when comparing to the IQ from FF or even the best APS-C DSLRs.


  • http://davidscottmoyer.wordpress.com david moyer

    My first DSLR was an Olympus. I love the brand, and went to the mirrorless starting with the EP-1 and never looked back. I currently use an OMD-EM5.


  • blaah

    Why is there this impression that mirrorless cameras should be cheaper than their SLR equivalents? Even at the same price – and most of them seem to be at very close price points if you compare the right models – then I would go with mirrorless anyday because the cameras are smaller.

    You can argue that autofocus is slower on mirrorless cameras. That would have been true. But the new generation of mirrorless cameras: Olympus EM1, Fuji XT1, Sony a6000 have truly remarkable autofocus even compared to their mirrored peers. What more, they can continuously autofocus with a moving subject as well.

    I believe mirrorless is definitely the future. Nikon and Canon would have to definitely take this sector more seriously


  • blaah

    agree… the term bandwagon has connotations of mindless sheep doing things just because others do. In many cases, those who have chosen a mirrorless camera have thought everything through before making their decision. Sounds somewhat condescending from the bunch who own big bulky SLRs and think they are superior in every single way.


  • Al Joevid Mirasol

    No, i cannot part with the “original” viewfinder.


  • ChadSellers

    I’ve been in the mirrorless camp since I got a Panasonic G1 in 2008. Now I use a Panasonic GX7 and an assortment of lenses (mostly primes). Fantastic camera, and easily competitive with any APS-C DSLR I’ve seen. There are of course pros/cons to all cameras, but I much prefer the size and advanced features of it to DSLRs. When I am forced to use someone’s DSLR, it feels like someone took an old film camera and tried to hack digital features onto it.


  • catlett

    Making gross generalization like saying they aren’t less expensive and they can be slower to focus, etc. etc. is irresponsible. There are certainly examples of the bodies being both more and less expensive than comparable DSLRs, not to mention that the lenses are generally less expensive. Same holds true on focus … sure they CAN be and they CAN also be faster depending on what is being compared. There are times that I want my DSLR and there are times I want my mirrorless. The decision isn’t and doesn’t need to be absolute. I depends on the circumstances.


  • http://alex.leonard.ie/ Alex Leonard

    I’ve sold my Canon DSLR and moved to Sony’s MILC range. Utterly delighted with the move. Much handier for travelling and street photography. Image quality as good or better. I’m not sure I’d call it a bandwagon, more the next logical step.


  • Alan

    I’ve purchased 2 OMD EM1′s to complement my D600 and D610. As a wedding photographer, I love using the M4/3′s during the day. They’re light and responsive. But in a dark wedding reception room, you better haul out the DSLR for timely focusing!


  • HB

    I’m sold. I own a Fuji X-E1 that has APS-C size sensor so I’m not loosing anything in image quality. Technically I haven’t replaced my dSLR but the Fuji is now my primary camera and I use the dSLR as a “second body”. It only comes out when I need telephoto zoom with autofocus since I haven’t bought an equivalent lens on the mirrorless body yet.


  • Jim.j.h

    I got a Sony NEX-6 last year and really like the camera and have gotten some shots I’ve been very pleased with. I really like that it is small and nothing to take with me whenever I go out.

    The big downside for me….winter. Even with a light set of gloves it is hard to make adjustments accurately and easy to make adjustments when they are not wanted. With the full sized DSLR, it is much easier in comparison.

    So my DSLR is my main camera in the winter, and the Sony gets more use in the summer.


  • http://alex.leonard.ie/ Alex Leonard

    I haven’t experienced the NEX 6 in winter time yet. Living in Cambodia has some advantages :)


  • http://www.seldomscenephotography.com/ Seldom Scene Photography

    True. Maybe not quite “there” on moving subjects (i.e., for sports shooters), though. Plus, lacking the reflex flip, mirrorless cameras are dramatically quieter — this can be a big advantage in some places (say, weddings).


  • http://www.herviewphotography.com/ Darlene Hildebrandt

    Irresponsible is a bit strong wouldn’t you say? I did say this:

    they aren’t really any less expensive than the full sized DSLRs, in fact, in some cases they are more expensive. You pay for compactness

    they CAN be slower to focus, so shooting moving subjects is more challenging

    I would say both of those are true. I think if you compare apples to apples, someone using a full frame DSLR going to the new Sony full frame – price about the same, maybe slightly less. Last time I looked the Sony A7 and the Canon 6D were the same price. As for lenses being less – partly true unless you get into Zeiss or Leica glass for them. So again, both statements true.

    As for slower to focus, I’ve played with a few and know people that have bought mirrorless from an SLR. If you have a fast SLR and shoot sports, many of the mirrorless models will be too slow. So again I stand by that statement that they CAN be slower to focus. Sure if you’re using a Rebel xTi from 6 years ago with a kit lens maybe not – but again compare apples to apples.


  • http://www.herviewphotography.com/ Darlene Hildebrandt

    I haven’t personally tried those models but can they stack up against a Canon 1DX with a 2.8 lens for speed? Can they fire 12-14 FPS?


  • http://www.herviewphotography.com/ Darlene Hildebrandt

    yes that last one is also a valid question, as for the term it was not meant in an offensive way, just “are you following the trend” that’s it. Try not to read too much into it.


  • http://www.herviewphotography.com/ Darlene Hildebrandt

    see my other comment above re: the bandwagon. I just meant are you following the trend. Let’s keep it light shall we?


  • http://www.herviewphotography.com/ Darlene Hildebrandt

    yes it’s the moving objects that give some of the troubles, but I’m sure that will improve with each generation too


  • http://gonzalobroto.blogspot.com/ Gonzalo Broto

    I have been using micro 4/3 cameras and lenses exclusively since more than a year ago and there is not much I dislike about the system. It’s still far superior to my skills, so I’m working on improving myself as a photographer better!


  • Spinningwheels

    I don’t understand the so-called ‘mirrorless’ vs DSLR argument. Mirrorless cameras have been around forever. I am assuming that cameras like the Olympus above have been pigeonholed into a separate mirrorless category, separate to that of digital rangefinders (which are mirrorless), or compact cameras (which are mirrorless).

    I use a DSLR because it fits in my hand better than a smaller camera.

    Ergonomics are critically important for me…and a DSLR has the best ergonomics of any camera I’ve ever used. The rubber grip allows me to safely and comfortably grip the camera without making my fingers ache! And my important fingers are free to access the dials and buttons. I’ve used many cameras, but nothing beats the DSLR for both convenience and comfort.

    Then there is the optical viewfinder on a DLSR, so that the only electricity the camera uses is to actually take the picture (unless I choose to use other battery-sapping functions)

    The battery consumption on an electronic viewfinder is a dealbreaker. Short battery life is something that manufacturers have failed to significantly improve on over the years.

    For me, I prefer the DSLR/smartphone combo. I no longer use a compact camera on a daily basis, because I just use a smartphone, which is great for informal instant photography.


  • mspringfield

    I picked up a Canon EOS M last year right before Christmas when B&H had them on special. I was able to get the camera body, 18-55 IS, 22 F2, EOS M to EF adapter and 90EX flash for $550 including tax and shipping. There were other mirrorless cameras that had better spec but I am already well vested into Canon’s system so the M was the logical choice for me. I must say that so far I am pretty impressed although it will never be mistaken for my 1D MkII or my 1D MkII in speed or image quality but IQ is easily as good any anything I have seen from the 7D, 60D or any for the Rebels. It is small, light, easy to carry, and can use any of the Canon lenses already in my bag. It is a great little camera as long as you don’t expect too much out of it. Low light AF is slow but with plenty of light and contrast it is more that what the average user would need. While it will never take the place of my 1 Series for pro work, it will be a great camera for travel and general family photography when I don’t want to haul around a 50lb backpack full of pro gear.


  • DavidR

    I went the other way, purchased a NEX 5N and after a year decided I wanted a DSLR, went for a NIKON D3200 as wanted to learn with a ‘normal’ viewfinder and accessories e.g. for flash were much cheaper… Loved the 5N, learnt much more with the NIKON, don’t find the weight difference significant. The weakness is not so much the camera, whatever type, at the moment but my skill level!


  • Khürt Williams

    As soon as I have saved the money to do so I plan on dumping my NIkon for a Fuji X-T1.


  • http://www.laugh-quotes.com/ Rhonda Albom

    I recently purchased the OM-D Em-5 and love the picture quality. I am thrilled with the compact size, lighter weight and even the quick focusing. My only issue would be the ISO’s lowest setting is 200.


  • RobvE

    I bought an EM5 last year and enjoy it very much. I use it most of the time for my casual photography. I actually enjoy the electronic viewfinder as you can see the applied exposure compensation before taking the shot. On holiday I bring my DSLR for backup. It has better battery life and I love the shallower DOF occasionally.
    If I had to start from scratch, mirrorless would be all that I need.


  • RobvE

    FYI Rhonda, you can now update the firmware to 2.0 and get an extra LOW ISO setting, if that is an important feature for you. I like the smaller focus area that came in that update!


  • Randall

    i recently purchased the Samsung NX300 20.3mp smart camera after researching the most of the popular makes of mirrorless makes on offer……they are all impressive. i love the features, ability and speed of the NX300, as well as it’s handling of low-light situations…..it compliments my dslr as i love street photography. i have done a few photo shoots and i am happy with the resuts (see attached)…..the lenses are very reasonably priced and their pancake range are very sharp…..i will not replace my dslr


  • TygerRRT

    Does Canon have a mirrorless?


  • Randall

    another one from the Samsung NX300, using a 30mm pancake lens


  • catlett

    They CAN be less expensive and they CAN focus faster ala the new Sonys so basically you wrote an article about nothing. They CAN be black, They CAN have light leaks. They CAN have large sensors. They CAN have smaller sensors. Heck they even CAN be used as a hammer. What’s exactly is the point of any of that? We both know it is just click bait. Congrats. You got a couple more.


  • mspringfield

    Yes. The EOS M. They have also announced the EOS M2 that has better AF (the M’s real weak point.) I have not seen a release date other than some time in 2014.


  • Jared Lawson

    In my opinion there isn’t a discussion that Mirrorless should replace your DSLR, I own both and many other professional photographers I know own both – they serve different purposes. When I am traveling and not shooting for a project and I want something lightweight but with quality – I turn to my mirrorless. The Sony A7R is an absolute amazing camera – definitely worth a look California Photographer


  • mspringfield

    The “mirrorless” cameras referred to here differ from compact camera because they have interchangeable lenses. They differ from rangefinders in that many if not most “mirrorless” cameras do not have any kind of optical view finder. They the same or similar AF system as their DSLR brothers and many (Canon, Nikon, Sony, and others) have adapters that will let you attach 35mm lenses that you already own to them. They have much more in common with a DSLR than a rangefinder or a compact camera, thus the natural comparison.


  • smcilree

    I have too much invested in lenses for my DLSR to switch. From what I have read the lens adapters do not all lenses to function as they would on the original camera. My current cameras are as small as I would want, so I can see no advantage to the mirrorless offerings.


  • Randall

    agreed ….well clarified


  • Steve Brokaw

    I have historically been in the DSLR camp because I primarily work in a studio. However, I still do street photography, and casual snapshots. For this I recently purchased a Fuji X-20. This along with my iPhone have been very handy. I’ve found I use my X-20 more often than my DSLR or everything but the studio so I’m considering upgrading to a more robust ILC or a micro 4/3. My biggest holdback is the desire NOT to feel the need to buy into 2 systems.


  • Mike Wooten

    A little hyperbole, huh? GENERALLY speaking, these things hold true. You sound like one of those people who get their panties all in a kerfuffle when somebody says, “men are just bigger and stronger than women.” Well, yes; we all know there are certain women that are stronger than certain men, but GENERALLY……


  • Mike Wooten

    Panties in a kerfuffle?


  • catlett

    I take it that is your go to phrase? Maybe read a book or something and try to come up with a new catch phrase. In reality the SYSTEM cost of mirrorless is far less expensive with similar lenses to DSLR. It isn’t even close when you add all of the system costs.

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