As a DSLR owner, I once had a very poor opinion of Mirrorless cameras. Specifically, Mirrorless cameras were slow, power-hungry, and encumbered with ugly viewfinders.
Yet, even when Mirrorless cameras hit their stride, I was happy to stick with my DLSR. But having finally spent time shooting Mirrorless, I will never, ever buy another DLSR. Here’s why.
From Nikon D750 to Olympus M5ii
I loved my Nikon D750 and its lenses, but sometimes, it offered much more performance than I needed to carry. Unsatisfied with my iPhone’s Camera, I picked up an Olympus M5II for casual photography. Read Nikon D750 Review.
Yet, to my surprise, I began using my broadly inferior Olympus M5ii all of the time and not just for casual photography, either. And while we can argue about image quality, I was taking way more photos and having more fun doing so. Read Micro Four Thirds vs Full Frame.
Sadly, the Olympus M5ii’s contrast-detect autofocus system demands static or, at least, heavily sedated subjects. So, when I had to shoot some sports for my local school, I grabbed my Nikon D750 and headed out the door.
DSLRs Hate You
You really need to shoot mirrorless to appreciate just how bad the DSLR shooting experience is.
Moving from a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) electronic viewfinder back to a witless optical viewfinder was incredibly jarring and, inevitably, led to Chimping (where one must check the image on the rear screen after each shot). A process that costs more minutes than cigarettes
Now, as a moderately intelligent primate and long-term DLSR owner, I’ve done my fair share of Chimping, and at no point did it ever feel like something to be endured. But having gotten used to my Olympus M5ii, Chimping felt invasive, distracting, and annoying. But critically, Chimping no longer felt necessary.
I also became extremely aware of the D750’s size and how loud and unwelcome the once-satisfying clunk that accompanied every photo now seemed.
But, worst of all was the overly centralized position of the D750s 51 AF points, meaning the only way to continually focus on a moving subject was to place the subject center-frame on every composition. Not only are such compositions creatively dull, but it also leads to megapixel genocide when you crop your image later.
Within just a few hours, my beloved Nikon D750 had fallen from grace and landed on its face. Yet, the final nail in the coffin was about to come.
The Final Nail in the Coffin.
A kind friend and outstanding bird photographer lent me an Olympus M1 Mark II and a bag full of F2.8 Pro zooms. Unlike the Olympus M5ii, the Olympus M1ii could shoot fast and focus on moving subjects. Actually, it did everything that my Nikon D750 did, only better, despite being smaller and more feature rich.
Unfortunately, my friend was cruel enough to ask for his camera back, leaving me with my Slo-mo Olympus M5ii and the Dino 750.
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Should you ditch the DSLR
You might be surprised to read this, but I’m not recommending you ditch your DSLR for Mirrorless. On the contrary, it’s much easier and cheaper to avoid mirrorless entirely. This is because getting used to a Mirrorless camera will ruin your DSLR shooting experience forever.
But if you can successfully trap yourself in ignorance – you can continue to enjoy your DLR’s superior battery life and comparable image quality while still taking great-looking photos.
Yet, in some cases, some mirrorless cameras are capable of capturing images your DLSR cannot. For instance, my OM-1 can recognize birds and shoot, with pre-buffering, at 50 frames per second. As with a DSLR, there’s no viewfinder lag. And unlike any DSLR ever made, there’s no viewfinder blackout.
However, this is a niche use-case, and for family photos, pictures of your cat, and landscapes, your DSLR is more than good enough.
Nevertheless, the writing is on the wall for DLSRs, and we will soon arrive at a point where even the cheapest Mirrorless cameras outperform the best DSLRs ever made.
But until then, I will end this post with a curious and unhelpful recommendation. Either buy a mirrorless camera now or avoid them at all costs.