Changing to mirrorless?

Started 8 months ago | Discussions thread
OP MarcBton Regular Member • Posts: 257
Re: Changing to mirrorless?

larsbc wrote:

MarcBton wrote:

I'm trying to find out if it is beneficial yet to change over to a lighter and smaller but very capable camera system without giving up too much on image quality and ease of use.

My main interest is capturing my travel exploits, both holiday and work trips where I usually try to reserve a few days to combine this with a landscape session. I like to go out for a pre-sunrise hike, find a spot and take some images. Additional to this I take family snaps and go for weekend hikes both planned for photography or add hoc.

I completed my switch to micro four thirds (m43) from Nikon APS-C a few years ago. For me there was a huge increase in convenience/ease-of-use. With the Nikon system, despite owning some nice Nikon 2.8 zooms, I also kept a set of enthusiast-grade lenses just for traveling, and even bought the entry D60 bodies in an attempt to reduce my gear size/weight. I also carried a P&S for video recording. With m43, I now travel with my best lenses (2.8 zooms) and non-entry level bodies. The m43 bodies I've had or have, while smaller than my Nikons, are still very ergonomic. Another thing I like, because I need to use reading glasses, is that I can make menu adjustments and review photos while looking through the electronic finder. Basically, I've found the m43 bodies to be much more ergonomically superior and quick-to-operate than the small APC-S DSLR bodies, because the latter are geared towards beginners and are not meant to compete against the maker's mid-range bodies.

Of course, there are downsides to m43:

  • You can't achieve the same degree of shallow depth of field at a given equivalent focal length as your 5D. To even come close, you'd have to buy an f/1.2 or f/0.95 prime which would be much bigger than the same f/2.8 or f/1.8 135 format lens.
  • Less dynamic range.
  • High ISO performance is around 2-stops worse than 135 format sensors.
  • 20MP is the maximum resolution of m43 bodies, so far. (Ignoring the hi-res mode which stitches together a higher res photo from multiple shots.)
  • Short battery life compared to a DSLR, with the larger m43 bodies lasting for around a day on one battery. But you have to turn the camera off when not actively shooting.

The upsides are:

  • Much smaller and lighter (as long as you avoid the super fast glass, f/1.2 and faster).
  • Both Panasonic and Olympus have great in-body stabilization, as well as dual IS where the in-lens and in-body stabilization systems will also work together (depends on the lens/body combo). 5-6 stops of stabilization with the latest cameras.
  • Shooting video is seamless. You can frame with your viewfinder or rear screen.
  • Completely silent shooting with electronic shutters, or super quiet shooting with mechanical shutter.
  • You get double the depth of field for a given aperture which can be a good thing or a bad thing. But for a lot of situations, it's a good thing.
  • Electronic finder gives you real-time exposure preview which makes nailing the exposure in tricky situations so much easier.
  • No issues with focus calibration because the focus detection is done on-sensor, instead of through a different optical path as on a DSLR.

If you are going to examine the images at 100% and compare m43 to 135 format, you will definitely be disappointed. There's a reason why 135 format is still popular. On the other hand, if you look at photos taken by pros shooting with m43, I think you might be convinced that the system can make images that are more than just good enough.

I know that if I switched to a 135 format system, I'd get more dynamic range and a higher ISO ceiling. But for my photography, m43 is good enough. I don't mind a bit of noise when I'm shooting street photography at night (I cap my ISO at 3200). I don't mind working with 16MP (although I'll probably buy a 20MP body soon). The fact is that I'm happy with my photos which end up in my travel videos and photo books, and on my wall. That shouldn't be a surprise, though, since pro photographers also use the same system.

I'll tell you what I really, really love, though: I can fit my two bodies, and the equivalent of a 24-70/2.8, 70-200/2.8, a superwide zoom, and an f/1.7 wide prime, along with chargers, batteries, my laptop, action camera, power converter, jacket, wallet, water bottle, tripod etc into a backpack under the seat in front of me on a plane. I absolutely never have to worry about any of my expensive stuff having to be gate-checked. And I can carry all my photo gear all day. Before leaving the hotel in the morning, I never have to stop and think: "will I really use this lens today?" In comparison, when I had my Nikon system, I NEVER brought my 17-55/2.8 or 70-200/2.8 VR traveling.

Food for thought, thanks for the comprehensive reply.


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First camera 1979, first slr 1982, first dslr 2008

 MarcBton's gear list:MarcBton's gear list
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Canon EF 16-35mm F4L IS USM Fujifilm FinePix X100 Olympus Tough TG-4 Canon EOS 5D +11 more
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