Some professionals are switching to mirrorless digital cameras - what do you think?Watch
I have come across professionals who used to swear by the big name SLRs having used them in their work but have switched over to Sony mirrorless cameras and recommending them. How about the serious amateurs? Have you tried them? What is your experience? I am thinking of buying a Sony.
The choice between a traditional DSLR and mirrorless isn't clear cut, however, and whether the differences between the system are advantages or disadvantages is very much a subjective thing;
*The most apparent difference initially will be size. Even the largest full frame mirrorless cameras are only starting to approach the size of a mid-sized DSLR, most mirrorless cameras are smaller than the majority of DSLRs and some are outright tiny. The obvious advantages here are portability and weight, they'll take up less room in a bag, etc. However the size of a DSLR brings its own advantages too. Handling on a DSLR with a substantially bigger grip is preferable to a lot of people, the larger body means more space for physical controls and buttons that either have to be cramped together or omitted on smaller cameras, better balancing with heavier lenses etc.
*Another key difference is the viewfinder. Obviously without a mirror, mirrorless cameras do not have the traditional optical viewfinders that DSLRs are characterised by, meaning they either have to use electronic viewfinders or no viewfinder at all. Electronic viewfinders have some big perks in that what you see through the EVF is what you'd get if you took a shot at the current exposure, and you'll see the changes you make to exposure in real time. They can also have features like displaying lots of different information and zooming in for closely checking focus. However EVF quality varies and doesn't tend to be amazing in quality on cameras priced around the cost of basic DSLRs, they can be small or low res, or have delays and low refresh rates. A DSLR'S optical viewfinder has one key advantage in that you're always seeing exactly what's happening as quickly as light as able to pass through the camera, which is never going to slow down.
*The big DSLR brands are still undisputed kings when it comes to lens selection. Canon and Nikon both have hundred of lenses available, Pentax DSLRs also have a lens count pushing into triple digits. This means tons of options to choose from depending on the focal range, aperture, features and price that you're after. Brands that use their own mounts like Sony and Fuji barely leave the dozens in most cases, and even micro four thirds with the power of multiple brands behind it don't approach the numbers of the far more established DSLR market. However if you do your research, find that the system you like has lenses that do the jobs you want within budget, then the other hundred out there may be irrelevant to you. Micro four thirds are also able to get adapters to use lots of vintage lenses and even current gen DSLR ones, at the expense of autofocus speed or sometime losing AF altogether. You also lose a lot of the size advantage of a mirrorless camera when you strap a DSLR sized lens to the front.
Those are probably the three main differences between DSLRs as a whole and mirrorless as a whole. I say as a whole because the mirrorless market is flourishing and diversifying so quickly that it's difficult to paint them all with the sa,e brush anymore when it comes to making these sorts of general comparisons. Look into the available options in your price range (don't forget to factor in lenses!), see how they compare to DSLRs and each other in terms of the features you care most about, try them out in camera stores to see which you enjoy using the most, and make your decision from there. Buying into a system can be a serious investment so it's worth taking some time over!
For me personally, DSLRs still win out. I love the chunky grip, the copious amounts of physical controls, the LCD top plate, to me most mirrorless cameras I've tried don't feel as nice or comfortable in the hand as a big camera that I can wrap my fist around. Plus I personally feel if I'm going to be using a camera too large to throw in a pocket I'm not really going to mind how big the camera is as it's going in a bag anyway. I also still much prefer a proper OVF over an EVF, I was trying out a relatively expensive Olympus camera in a shop last week and the viewfinder couldn't keep up with the burst rate of its continuous shooting mode, and in all mirrorless cameras I've used the slight delay and "artificial" look of an EVF have never been as pleasant to use as simply looking straight through the lens. But that's just me
And don't even get me started on ergonomics ...
I'll be damned before I use an EVF - when I look through the viewfinder, I want to see the seen as it is, not as my camera's sensor and processor see it.
And don't even get me started on ergonomics ...
I have the same opinion but I am now recognising the advantages of seeing it as it will be, not just as the processor see it, but the final picture. That allows better fine tuning of exposure, no?