The Number One Question On My Periscope
About three weeks ago I downloaded the Twitter Periscope app and began live video streaming broadcasting and since then have done 30 Periscope broadcasts with the biggest one drawing 1330 live viewers with almost 100 replays. The number one question I’m always asked and have discussed in every Periscope video broadcast is “Mirrorless or DSLR?” The same questions are often asked at all my photography workshops.
A year ago I would have answered it DSLR because all I knew back then was that a mirrorless camera looks and feels like a point and shoot, or what a pro would call a “cheap camera.” But since last year when a friend of mine, Steve Ball, let me borrow his Olympus OM-D, EM-1 with a few lenses and I wrote three blog articles, the first, on LensDiaries.com was Mirrorless Madness Professional Cameras—A New Paradigm Shift In Photography.
In that article I discuss how new mirrorless was to me and that the jury was still out, though I’d eventually follow up with my tested and tried thoughts. I also gave credit in that article to my first look (but not use of) at mirrorless when I was at my Maui photography workshop last April and Maui photographer Todd Mazomi used his Sony mirrorless system practically the entire workshop leaving his Canon 5D Mark II plus a Canon 5D Mark III in his gear cases complete with top lenses including the Canon 50mm and 85mm f/1.2 lenses. One advantage I learned that workshop from Todd was that his Sony will sync with flash at 1/1000th and later I’d learn my Olympus EM-1 can sync with it’s flash at 1/4000th which is a big plus when you’re trying to overpower the sun with flash outdoors using low aperture values.
In my second article on LensDiaries.com, Lighting & Cameras, Paradigm Shifts In Photography I discussed the mirrorless systems again and how the professional photography community was taking note and many professionals were switching from their DSLR systems. I further expanded in that article that one reason for the shift besides the mirrorless advantages DSLR’s don’t have was how it’s “…easy to expend $10,000 to $15,000 for a digital DSLR system, vs. less than $5,000 for a mirrorless system with a camera body (Olympus OM-D E-M1) and four lenses (Olympus 75mm f/1.8, 45mm f/1.8, 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro, 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro). It’s about smaller, lighter and less expensive….”
Where the jury finally came in was here on Americano Dream in my third article, Mirrorless Camera vs. DSLR, where I really delved into the technical aspects from the two mirrors found in DSLR’s to facial (eye) recognition tracking that is something I wish I had on my Canon 5D Mark II back in the five years I shot with NBA full-season credentials the San Antonio Spurs.
Throw in Periscope, and I’ve literally answered what seems like a 1,000 questions, many the same ones over and over with each broadcast as photographers login to the Periscope live video stream during these broadcasts at various entry points—so missed questions become the same question again and again. This is what drives this article, Top Ten Reasons Mirrorless Over DSLR so I can reference folks from Periscope onto this one page. So here are the top ten reasons mirrorless over DSLR is my choice:
Top Ten Reasons Mirrorless Over DSLR Number Ten:
No Mirrors! DSLR’s have two mirrors unlike film cameras, which have one mirror, and unlike mirrorless cameras, plus for that matter smart phones have no mirrors. Two mirrors in your camera add costs plus bulkier weight with all the mechanisms it takes to make them work. One mirror, like it’s father film camera is the one found in front of the sensor or image area, the other mirror is used for focusing, more on that further down.
Top Ten Reasons Mirrorless Over DSLR Number Nine:
You Look Like An Amateur! Right now, as mirrorless is just catching on like fire, if you go to a location like say the San Antonio River Walk or Arches National Park in Utah, you need at least a $2 million dollar on location insurance policy, plus a Park Ranger escort, etc., if you look like a professional photographer. The funny thing, with a mirrorless camera, I look like an amateur and no one bothers me! I love it! I’ll even see pro photographers walk by and snicker at “my little camera” because it comes closer to looking like a point-and-shoot than a DSLR. Let them laugh because I get the last laugh!
Top Ten Reasons Mirrorless Over DSLR Number Eight:
Weight and size! Besides the camera body being smaller and lighter due to the fact there are no mirrors and all the parts it takes to make them work, the lenses are also smaller and lighter. The Olympus EM-1 camera body weighs 497g (1.1lbs) vs. the Canon 5D Mark III which weighs 950g (2.1lbs) or a Nikon D810 which weighs 880g (1.94lbs)
Mirrorless camera lenses are no different when it comes to weight, the Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8 prime telephone lens (it effectively becomes a 150mm f/1.8 prime) weighs 305g (0.77lbs) vs. a Canon 135mm f/2 that weighs 750g (1.7lbs) or the Nikon 135mm f/2 lens that weighs 815g (1.79lbs). The 75mm Olympus lens costs under $800 whereas the Canon $1,000 and the Nikon close to $1,400! I might add, I can put the 75mm Olympus lens in my front jeans pocket just fine.
Top Ten Reasons Mirrorless Over DSLR Number Seven:
Lens Selection! The mirrorless micro four-thirds systems use a lens mount that allows you to use any four-thirds lens on the camera whether the camera is an Olympus or Panasonic. The lenses are interchangeable on both brands, plus for the four-thirds system other lens manufacturers include Carl Zeiss, Scheinder, Tamron, Sigma, Voigtländer, Rokinon and Leica just to name the more major manufacturers, there are other off brands too. While other manufacturers make lenses for DSLR’s too, nothing like the focal length combinations found for mirrorless. As an example, you can get an Olympus “body cap” 9mm fisheye lens for $88 or the Olympus body cap 15mm lens for $49! Both lenses are a fixed f/8 though you can find regular fisheye and wide-angle lens with variable f/stops for a slightly higher price.
Top Ten Reasons Mirrorless Over DSLR Number Six:
WYSIWYG! While some DSLR’s are offering “live view,” many don’t so that’s why we made this number six. Mirrorless cameras use an electronic, “live view” viewfinder (EVF) not an optical viewfinder (OVF) found on most DSLRs and this results in what you see, is what you get. In typical DSLR shooting, you don’t see what you get, you have to “chimp” and check the LCD preview screen to verify the image and the histogram.
In the case of my Olympus EM-1, what I’m seeing through the viewfinder, aperture, white-balance, etc., is what I’m capturing. My Olympus EM-1 also has a “live boost” for the viewfinder in low-light conditions, so he needs an f/1.2 lens, just boost your viewfinder electronically. The only thing you do not see is the actual shutter, or in the case when using flash, is the flash itself, however, as long as you keep your eye on the camera and release the shutter, you sill momentarily see your final result in the viewfinder itself, no need for chimping! You can read more about this in my previous article on Mirrorless Camera vs. DSLR.
Top Ten Reasons Mirrorless Over DSLR Number Five:
Face Recognition Focus Tracking! Man do I love this feature the EM-1 has, the ability to track the face, actually the eye of your subject while slightly depressing the shutter to grab your focus. You can also set in the preferences either the right eye, left eye, or as I have mine set, the eye closest to the lens. Basically the focusing grid is green and once it locks on to the subject’s eye you’ve selected in the preferences, it turns white from green letting you know it’s locked on.
What is great about this feature, as long as you’re locked on, your subject, or you, or both of you can move and it stays dead on focus on that one eye! I can attest that this facial recognition focus tracking is by far better than what I’ve ever experienced with any DSLR system while a subject is moving especially back in my NBA shooting years. Yes, most DSLR’s have focus tracking, but not with eye-locking facial recognition.
Top Ten Reasons Mirrorless Over DSLR Number Four:
Vibration! No mirrors in mirrorless cameras mean no camera vibrations caused by moving mirrors and their parts! This lack of camera vibration not only leads to a silent camera, but the ability to handhold your camera at even lower shutter speeds. Not to mention, if you go with a longer focal length lens in any camera, all vibrations are magnified and that’s why the old rule, “Set Your Shutter Speed to at Least Your Focal Length” applies more to DSLR’s than mirrorless cameras.
Oh, one caveat, the Olympus EM-1 has an “image stabilized” capture sensor so any lens that is attached to the camera is automatically image stabilized so no need to make “IS” or “VR” lenses for the Olympus camera, try that with a DSLR.
Top Ten Reasons Mirrorless Over DSLR Number Three:
Price! Mirrorless cameras on average, plus their lenses, weigh not only about a half to a third of their DSLR counterparts, but their prices are similar too, at least half if not a third of the price! A nice mid- to upper-level DSLR system with three lenses plus on camera flash will run from $10,000 to $15,000 whereas a comparable mirrorless system will only cost about $4,000 to $5,000—oh, and you save on the camera bag too, as you only need a smaller bag to carry the same photography power package.
A great example on a serious price difference is last year Olympus introduced their M.Zuiko ED 40-150mm f2.8 PRO weather proof lens which in DSLR terms becomes an 80-300mm f/2.8 lens and not only is it lighter than any pro 300 f/2.8 lens, it’s naturally image stabilized on the Olympus EM-1 because the camera body has a built-in image stabilized sensor.
Price on this lens averages from $1300 to $1400 whereas a Canon 300mm f/2.8 lens alone runs at least $6,000 and a Nikon 300 f/2.8 runs about $5,900. Forget the fact the Olympus version is over four times LESS in cost and about a third of the weight, but no DSLR manufacturer makes an 80mm to 300mm f/2.8—the closest is their traditional 70-200mm f/2.8 lens that demand close to $3,000!
Top Ten Reasons Mirrorless Over DSLR Number Two:
Dust! When a DSLR’s shutter is released, the mirror swooshes up creating a whirlwind affair in the camera sensor compartment that increases the possibility of dust dropping on the image sensor at the wrong time. Obviously there are no mirrors in a mirrorless system to create any swooshing dust activity in the camera sensor cavity area. If something rises, like the mirror in a DSLR or SLR for that matter, something has to come down—yes, it’s the mirror, but is it the mirror or the dust first?
Every time you open your camera to replace lenses you increase the possibility for dust to enter the sensor chamber, especially if you’ve been actively using your camera where the sensor is now heated and ion charged. Yes, this dust attraction can happen with mirrorless too, but my Olympus has an instant sensor cleaning mode each time I turn the camera on.
Top Ten Reasons Mirrorless Over DSLR Number One:
Focusing! As discussed in the top ten reason number ten above, DSLR’s have two mirrors, one is used for focusing and this is the main reason DSLR manufacturers will tell you the sharpest focus point is in the center of the frame. Well obviously mirrorless cameras have no focusing mirror, as in the case of the Olympus EM-1, your focusing is done on the sensor itself.
Without repeating all the technical information I provided in my previous Mirrorless vs. DSLR article, “…phase detection sensors on the newer camera models are on the sensor itself….” This focusing technology along with “contrast detection” are combined to form a hybrid focusing technique found on the Olympus EM-1 which allows every, and I mean every focusing point, not just the center, to be highly accurate equally across the image sensor.
So there you have it, my top ten reasons why mirroless cameras are kicking butt when it comes to DSLR’s. Panasonic, with a little help from Leica, plus Olympus were the first to really push for mirrorless technology, especially the four-thirds systems and not far behind Sony and Fuji jumped in on the bandwagon and now finally Nikon and Canon are jumping in.
There are rumors, and I stress rumors, that Nikon and Canon were slow adopters to the mirrorless movement in order to protect their DSLR’s, which is truly their bread and butter, and in time, we’ll see what impact that will have on those manufacturers. As I said last year in my first article on the mirrorless movement, there is a paradigm shift happening right now in photography with a lot of professionals, while others are hesitant, but those others probably don’t realize that their smart phones are mirrorless too!
There is so much more on mirrorless vs. DSLR’s including the argument of megapixels while still high on some mirrorless cameras but not as high as DSLRs, but in the end, you have to ask yourself, how many megapixels do you really need for publication and even large prints? Don’t believe me, well smart phones have less megapixels than the top of the line mirrorless cameras and look at what they’ve done to the photography world.
I’ve also seen this trend at my photography workshops in Las Vegas, Boston, Mississippi, Maui, Costa Rica, St. Maarten, Orlando and Chicago where photographers show up with mirrorless cameras, so I see the pattern. I saw a similar shift when people were showing up with digital cameras at my workshops over the past 15 years, it went from more film than digital to practically zero film and all digital. With that I close and as I always say, please don’t forget the men and women who proudly serve to protect our nation—God Bless them, their families and friends, Rolando.