In Defense of the DSLR

Started Sep 23, 2013 | Discussions thread
paulkienitz
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Re: What do results say?
In reply to MarkJH, Sep 24, 2013

MarkJH wrote:

You don't pay much attention to the fashion press, do you?

Mirrorless photography is *everywhere* in the ad copy and editorials.

That's why I asked about results. Since I'm starting to see mirrorless photography in places that, two or three years ago had been the exclusive domain of FX DSLRs (or medium format), I can't help but be skeptical of the OP's "defense," which doesn't talk about results in any way.

Okay, on a fashion shoot, where you have to be conspicuous anyway due to lighting gear, are you seriously claiming that the mirrorless produces better results?

Or are you seriously claiming that DSLRs actually produce poorer pictures than today's mirrorlesses? Oy. Under what scenario would that ever happen?

Here's one example: under any scenario in which a big camera is conspicuous, either literally or symbolically. Environmental portraiture would be one case. It's not that DSLRs aren't technically capable; it's that they're big and noticed. So that wonderful dusky street shot you're trying to nail on the 5th avenue sidewalk with Karlie Kloss for Bottega Venetta? I'd rather get out there and grab it with an OM-D / 75 f/1.8 than a 1Dx / 70-200, for obvious reasons about which combination will attract distractions.

Here's another: I'm a serious climber headed up Everest. What kind of gear am I taking? (a) D4 or (b) OM-D? It's not that the D4 isn't capable. It's that I'll so freakin' tired at the top I won't want to lift it. Or carry it down. Which means it will produce poorer pictures.

No, it means you will produce poorer pictures. If weight is a real concern, you take a damn compact. Taking a larger camera, whether it's mirrorless or not, is a tradeoff to pay some weight in order to get the superior image quality of a larger format size. Making the camera light enough for you doesn't make it a better camera -- the larger format will always produce a better picture, and the man who's willing to haul it will probably come back looking like the better photographer. People have hauled clunky film cameras up Everest -- even cinema cameras. They did it for the same reason they did the climb in the first place: because for them, the agony of hauling it up is worth it.

All your other examples are either in this same category, or they're about the need to be inconspicuous... circumstances where a pocket compact will work even better than a Pen, but certainly can't claim to create better quality images. Everything you say a mirrorless can do better than a DSLR is something that a pocket compact can do even better still. There are plenty of reasons to use small cameras, but they're all about balancing convenience against image quality. None of them are about the compact actually being better at taking pictures. And none of them magically favor mirrorless interchangeable lens systems over either compacts or DSLRs. Mirrorless systems are just a nice middle option in a range of compromises. Sometimes those compromises are worth making and the tradeoffs are favorable. But none of those make the small camera superior to the big one in any absolute way.

And even if you were absolutely correct, and something like a Pen really is the best possible all-around camera... that still doesn't justify any tiniest part of your ad-hominem rants against people who still value DSLRs.

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