Let me clarify a few things before you read further:
- Nowadays there is no difference in image quality between a DSLR and mirrorless that any mortal could ever detect – END OF STORY!
- There are more articles comparing the technical specs between specific brands of DSLRs and mirrorless systems than I care for (check out Google) – this isn’t one of them – so, I’ll keep technical details to a minimum – but will write a lot about my feelings and my experience, to make up for it.
- These eccentric reasons apply to me and my personality – there’s a 50% chance they may also apply to you.
This article is about my personal experience with both systems – the pros, the cons and the grey areas.
I had happily used a Nikon DSLR (with a crop sensor) for almost 8 years and have accumulated a good amount of quality glass during those years (including full-frame lenses). Over the years, an initially little wish had grown to become a raging teenager in puberty ready to take over my emotions – my wish to own a full frame DSLR had finally overtaken me.
I found all types of reasons why I absolutely deserved one and so I started exploring – making mental notes after reading through tons of stuff. Nikon? Canon? The latest model or a prior one? With kit-lens or just the body? Every now and again my sanity would reach audible levels: Do you need one at all? But the temptation was louder than any rational thought could have ever been. Considering my collection of glasses, I decided I needed a Nikon – the D750, to be precise.
And then something happened – something that not even my inner raging teenage-wish was prepared for … I bought a Sony A7II mirrorless full frame camera. How? Why? But didn’t you just say you wanted a … D750 …? And what about all your Nikkor glasses?
It’s hard to write about something which included 5% rationalism and 95% gut-feeling, but I’ll try my best.
So here are my top 7 eccentric reasons why I moved from DSLR to Mirrorless.
1) The Stealth Factor
Without a doubt, DSLRs are absolute heavy-weights – literally(!) – with little or no added benefit to image quality.
What I wanted is a camera with small footprint (i.e. a high “Stealth Factor”) so that I could walk around town (or airport, zoo, museum, etc.) without being noticed or questioned about my intentions or expelled. Same goes for family trips – the DSLR with lenses would require a bag bigger than the one holding water bottles and snacks for two kids and two grownups –> no fun, believe me!
Some people probably enjoy showing off their uber-sized gear, others believe that they need DSLRs to be considered professionals, and some have worked with SLRs since decades and don’t want to shake their world too much by admitting a mirrorless system could have perfectly matching image quality.
As for me, I’m a bit of an introvert. I don’t want people pointing fingers at me when I run after my kids with a DSLR (trying to catch them physically or to catch a moment on film). Sure, having a smaller sized camera would have helped me years ago – but I’m also a perfectionist (more than I’m an introvert). And until recently, image quality just wasn’t comparable yet.
2) The Eagle-Eye Factor
A couple of years ago, I was wearing glasses for shortsightedness. You get used to a lot of things, including having glasses when taking pictures peeking through a tiny viewfinder (I was never able to get my viewfinder’s setting to work which would have allowed me to shoot without glasses).
In the meantime, I have had a laser correction and have never regretted the decision ever since! Best thing since sliced bread!!!
Anyway, all of that is actually a non-issue with the Sony A7II – thanks to focus peaking. The above video and pictures show in a quick fashion what focus peaking means – all the areas that are in focus are highlighted in red/yellow/white (you can select the color of your choice).
The combination of focus peaking and my laser correction allows me to take pictures with the – what I call – “Eagle-Eye Factor”. No more out of focus elements that should have been in focus! No more guessing whether the subject is tack-sharp merely by looking at the tiny LCD screen on the back – YEAYYY! – life is great!
3) The MacGyver Factor
MacGyver is an American action-adventure television series, which revolved around MacGyver, whose main asset is his practical application of scientific knowledge and inventive use of common items – along with his ever-present Swiss Army knife. The clever solutions MacGyver implemented to seemingly unsolvable problems – often in life-or-death situations requiring him to improvise complex devices in a matter of minutes – were a major attraction of the show, which was praised for generating interest in the applied sciences, particularly engineering, and for providing entertaining story-lines. All of MacGyver’s exploits on the show were ostensibly vetted to ensure a basis on scientific principles (even though, the creators acknowledged, in real life one would have to be extraordinarily lucky for most of MacGyver’s ideas to succeed).
If you are an enthusiast or pro photographer you probably have a nice collection of rather expensive glasses made for the DSLR you’re using. Until now, this was a big hurdle to not only switch between DSLRs but even more so to switch to a mirrorless.
Enter the MacGyver factor – the Sony A7II lets you use almost any new and vintage glasses you may have accrued over decades by using an abundant of adapters (e.g. Novoflex – I don’t have any affiliation with them, just happen to use their adapter very happily). In the above picture you can see my Nikkor lens nicely fitted on my Sony A7II using the Novoflex adapter.
4) The Gym Factor
There is almost half a pound difference between the Nikon D750 and the Sony A7II bodies!!
Doesn’t sound like much of a difference, but take into account the bigger footprint for the DSLR and the additional weight with the lenses (original Sony lenses are also much lighter than their respective DSLR counterparts).
During a long day of shooting on the streets you will certainly appreciate every ounce less you have to carry around.
So when you buy a mirrorless, you won’t be able to cancel your gym membership and your better part will keep nagging you to put down that camera and do something about your physical appearance – but hey – you’ll look pretty damn sexy with a mirrorless ;-).
5) All the reasons not to buy it
BUT … it’s not all pumpkin pie and fun when considering whether you should buy a mirrorless:
- You get lower battery life with the mirrorless
- You’ll still have to pay a premium for a mirrorless full-frame
- Original Sony mirrorless lenses also cost quite a bit more than equivalent DSLR lenses
- The viewfinder is an electronic one
And I’m sure others will have many more reasons not to buy one.
As for me – considering my life-style, my expectations and my reasons for owning a pro-camera – the mirrorless was an easy decision (particularly because my local distributor had a great deal on it 🙂 ).
What other reasons for or against can you think of – let me know in the comments!