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From DSLR to mirrorless… and back again

Nikon-1-V3-mirrorless-camera
The rumor mill slows down after every Nikon announcement (D810). I have scheduled several guest posts in the next few weeks. Things will get interesting again in mid-August when Nikon will start making their Photokina announcements. Today's guest post "From DSLR to mirrorless... and back again" is written by Roger Irwin:

When I decided to try out a mirrorless camera I broke my two golden rules of selecting a camera. That was a big mistake, and as a result I'm now going back to a DSLR for a while, but oddly the reasons have little to do with mirrorless technology per se.

In fact after two months with a mirrorless camera I'm more than ever convinced that mirrorless is the future, the big issue for me is when that future begins.

But let's get back to the present, and my two golden rules.

Now I don't buy cameras all that often, but as an enthusiastic hobbyist with years of activity in clubs and forums I'm often asked for advice, especially from people thinking of taking the plunge into system cameras for the first time.

When faced with the all two often scenario of potential purchasers pixel pooping sample photos and comparing fractions of an EV on DXOmark my general approach is to try and pull things back to basic issues. I suggest they consider most of all two fundamental issues:

  1.  What lenses will you be using? Never consider the purchase of a camera body first and the lenses as an afterthought. Think about what you intend to do with the camera and decide on camera + lens combinations.
  2.  Once you have potential camera and lens combinations, try them out before you buy. How comfortable are they? How easy and practical would it be to do the things you plan to do.

Ok, that's the advice I give, just a pity I didn't follow it myself!

A few months ago my kit bag got stolen along with my DSLR and the 3 lenses I use the most. Fortunately I was insured, and so hey, great, I had a nice blank cheque to change my kit.

But I was immediately plunged into a crisis... does it make sense to invest in new DSLR kit when it's about to be made obsolete by mirrorless systems? It's a question that tormented me for several days before I decided on a compromise.

I decided to 'try out' mirrorless, but instead of wading in and buying the whole she bang I decided to start off with a second hand NEX-6 and a Nikon adapter (not all my lenses were in that kitbag). I also got a cheap wide angle prime so I could try the autofocus and experience the wide angle advantage of non-reflex cameras!

Now I can say a lot of positive things about the mirrorless system; It's great to have the histogram in the viewfinder and get so much instant feedback without chimping. Being able to review photos in the viewfinder is a great boon in bright light. It's easy to get sharp focus, and focus peaking is superb for evaluating DOF. Shooting from live view is fast. The camera is small and light. Wide angle lens have so little distortion. These are all common characteristics of mirrorless cameras, and I love them.

So, onto the problems. Now if I'd followed my own rule number two I would have at least tried using the camera before buying it, and I would have found some issues. Small is nice, but too small isn't, you need to be able to get your hands round the camera! I found that the NEX 6 worked OK with the small prime, but with anything bigger on the front things quickly became uncomfortable and difficult to use.

Another thing I would have discovered is just how different the NEX 6 controls are to a typical DSLR, and how badly thought out they are. Some things were just awkward, like having to click to activate EV comp and then click a button again after changing it. Other things were impossible.

When shooting landscapes I would typically have the camera on a tripod and will shoot in manual, changing the shutter speed for multiple exposures. Pretty normal, but on a NEX-6 if you have the camera in manual you change the shutter speed by rotating the rear dial (there is no way to change this). Unfortunately this rear dial also serves as a 4 way function cursor. It's not easy to rotate the dial, but if you press more than lightly then you invoke another function, such as EV comp, and immediately start changing it by turning the dial. You end up trying to 'stroke' the dial round by the edges.

This is perhaps the worst example of how the NEX interface is simply not designed for the enthusiast shooter, there are other examples. In mitigation you can download apps that will be pump your photos direct to Facebook; this speaks volumes about the intended audience for the camera.

Of course all this underlines the importance of rule number 2, but it doesn't say anything bad about mirrorless itself. In fact it just left me thinking 'this is great apart from the controls....when are Nikon going to bring out a mirrorless!'.

Seriously, despite the awful controls I was so impressed with the mirrorless advantages that I considered putting up with them for a while until a decent mirrorless with Nikon controls inevitably appeared.

But when weighing up the option of keeping the camera for a while I ran into another problem.

Ah yes, rule number 1! What lens would I use with the camera?

Now if this had been a DSLR, the first lens in my list would have been a constant f2.8 standard zoom. A very popular type of lens. Nikon, Canon and Pentax have professional grade options for APS-C. Sigma, Tokina and Tamron all offer more economical versions. Tamron in fact have two flavors, with and without OS. And oh, yes, SONY also make one, but for their DSLR's, not for the NEX.

And it's here you really run into a wall. Mirrorless cameras make wide angle lenses more efficient, but you can't really take much advantage of that if the type of lens you want is not on the market!

The best we can manage on the NEX is a constant f/4, at twice the price of the third party lenses. There are adapters for Sony DSLR lenses. You can have the one that doesn't do autofocus (not exactly what you want for event shooting), or you can get the big expensive autofocus one which essentially inserts a translucent mirror between lens and camera. An add on mirror for your mirrorless.

No, whatever way I looked at it, I just could not build the system I wanted with the NEX system, I should have realized this at the outset following my own Rule number 1.

But of course I 'm relating problems to a specific system, in some cases a specific camera. What about other mirrorless systems, how would they have faired  if I had applied my 2 golden rules?

Micro Four Thirds has a wealthy set of lenses, except that you are giving away 1 more stop in terms of DOF, and the f2.8 lenses all tend to be pretty pricey, so you're really back at square one in DOF terms. But if you don't exploit DOF then they have a wealth of lenses. I have tried an OM-5 with a superzoom and it is quite comfortable, but I still found I was pressing with my fingers, rather than being able to 'hang' the camera on my hand, and I know that leads to fatigue.

The OM-5 controls seemed quite logical to me as well, I only used it briefly but we got on fine  ! But I DO like using DOF for isolation, so for me it's a non starter.

I've also tried a Fuji X2. This has very traditional controls, love it. But I tried it with a pancake lens and I noticed that the camera has a limited grip, this would almost certainly be tricky to use with larger lenses. There is of course an SLR like model now, so perhaps that would be better with larger lenses....assuming you had them!

Because yes, also Fuji have limited options when it comes to lenses. More options than Sony, but not as good as MFT. Unlike Sony, however, there is no upgrade path to FF, as the Fuji mount will not support it.

At the end of the day I began to realize that mirrorless is still very much in it's infancy, and that the most developed system (Micro Four Thirds) was one that got underway years ago.

I was left pining for a mirrorless Nikon DSLR and if anybody from Nikon is reading this, this is what it should be like (IMHO):

  1.  Not too small, minimum should be like a D5300 with a slimmer body, don't cut down the controls!
  2.  Keep the same controls and menu systems you have on your DSLR's.
  3.  Sell it with an adapter that allows Nikon F lenses to be used without compromises (you do of course have phase detectors on the sensor).

But of course being realistic I know that even if such a camera is launched at Photokina, it's going to be a couple of years at least before we have an established system at regular prices, and perhaps even longer.

So in the meantime I'll just watch from the bleachers, with an ordinary vanilla DSLR!

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  • http://inthemistphoto.com/ InTheMist

    I had a similar love affair with the x100s. Slow. Slow to start, slow to focus, slow to do anything. SLOW!

    I was taking some images for work and I turned to a colleague and said, “I hate this f***ing camera”. I’ve literally not started it since that day. I was trying to do some tricky things that I know that I could get with my DSLR.

    Beautiful colours though.

    That, and having a battery-sucking EVF running all the time puts me off on one of the major advantages of mirrorless. So you turn it off, and wait for it to boot when you see a shot.

    Not (yet) for me either.

    • istreetshooter

      My Sony A6000 starts up more slowly than my V1. It seems to start more slowly the more I’ve been using it. But at least the controls and menu are better designed than the V1 and V2. It is closer to a DSLR than the V1, V2 or the NEX models as stated in the story.

      Outside of the start-up and battery, do you like the X100s?

      • http://inthemistphoto.com/ InTheMist

        Yes, other than my rant above, I like it. I like the size, rangefinder style and wonderful images.

        I don’t think it’s fast enough for proper street shooting though.

        The one thing that makes me not permanently write off mirrorless altogether is that street photographer Thomas Leuthard swears by his OM-D, and his images are wonderful. Know him?

        • istreetshooter

          The name is vaguely familiar. I owned some Oly mirrorless models and they weren’t close to the Om-D, so I abandoned Oly for the 1 (and now A6000).

          • http://inthemistphoto.com/ InTheMist

            Check him out. I read he just stepped down to an E-M10.

            https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomasleuthard/

            On his change (step down) to an E-M10:

            http://thomas.leuthard.photography/blog/downgrading/

            • HF

              Very nice pics.

            • Mardock

              There is absolutely nothing wrong with micro four thirds unless you are either: a) frequently shooting in extremely low light [especially if there is action], or b) frequently making enormous enlargements.

              Thomas Leuthard’s work is good, but there are better shooters using m4/3, i.e. Damian McGillicuddy (http://www.damianmcgillicuddy.com/), Neil Buchan Grant (http://buchangrant.4ormat.com/model), and Lindsay Dobson (http://lindsaydobsonphotography.com/pets/) come to mind.

              And then there’s this guy >> https://www.flickr.com/photos/etude_photography/with/14249241128/

              Particularly once the gear has passed a certain quality point, it’s the photographer, not the camera.

            • Douglas Green

              There are some primes that you can use for Micro 4/3 to isolate DOF. Certainly the 75mm f1.8 can do it. You can also easily adapt older manual focus primes like nifty fifties and fast 85s to do this. I use a 50mm f1.4 Rokkor-X lens, and an 85mm f1.4 Rokinon when I need to isolate DOF.

            • Steve

              Agree with you, but add that the continuous af still isn’t up to dSLR standards, yet.

            • Tron
            • Me

              Not really a test that strains the AF: he’s tracking the motorist against the sky. Try shooting low contrast images in gloomy auditoria.

            • Mardock

              That’s also tough even for a D4s or 1Dx, btw.

            • Tron
            • introvert

              Very ‘Meh!’ So many repetitive shots. Oh look person standing by a moving train…. and again, and again, and again..
              Oh now look, a man sitting in a cafe, lets get a reflective shot of him, and that one in that cafe, and that cafe, and this cafe…..oh yeah I’m shooting street it has to be made into B&W…….

              SIGH….. so boring.

            • http://inthemistphoto.com/ InTheMist

              I can’t agree. Ever read a book by classic street photographers? They may land on a certain style, but their works are timeless.

            • guestp

              never mind the troll… personally, I don’t like or do street, but Mr Leuthard’s pics are good, no doubt. Quite a few of them have real impact, really take in the viewer – especially the ones that show people against their surroundings – really, really great compositions!

            • Vico

              Hey if you crack down to the basic everything your life will be boring. If you met a girl you say: How, it’s all the same, I have to talk, she talks back I move forward she interested, I stand back, she more interested, then.. All thinks seams basic if you break down to logic steeps man.

        • HF

          There are many many good photographers out using mirror less cameras, be it Fuji, OMD or Sony.
          One I like is http://sebimagery.com/ and many sites have lots of good links (like http://www.tomen.de/blog/). Nevertheless, the Fuji XT1 is fast enough and image quality is very good (excellent lenses by the way). So I use it along our D610 and soon the D810, too. By the way, I like your site. Made me purchase the Sigma 35mm Art instead of the new Nikon 35mm.

          • http://inthemistphoto.com/ InTheMist

            Thanks HF! I hope you like the 35/1.4.

            If only for the colours, I’m still curious about Fuji. I think I’ll give it another generation or two before testing the waters again.

            • HF

              The Sigma is great, heavy, but great, my wife doesn’t give it to me again, though! I still have an OMD Em1 and will sell it before buying the D810. It was my first mirror less. It is a great camera but noise became an issue more often than I hoped for. Additionally I like shallow DOF (I know m43 is not perfect for that), so I eagerly awaited the Pana 42.5/1.2. After the price was released I decided that the lenses I want for m43 are too expensive for what I get. The 85/1.8g has shallower DOF, is lighter and excellent, as is the Fuji 56/1.2, both less expensive. Even the new Oly 25/1.8 at 500 Euros is a little on the expensive side. So Fuji gives me something in between FF and m43 with a very nice lens range. Neglecting the flash problem it is a very nice travel companion (another one I liked was the a6000). But as Thom Hogan complained, would Nikon have a great DX lens range, I would have added a D7100 instead. This makes Nikon loose customers in the APSC camp over to mirror less.

            • Neopulse

              Hopefully the successor of the X-Pro1 will incorporate and even faster AF system. I’m using the X-E2 with the 32mm f/1.8 and 12mm f/2.8 and I’m enjoying it’s lightweight and colors greatly. Waiting anxiously for a “mini-Otus” to be made though (55mm f/1.4 Touit) for it.

        • KawikaNui

          Thanks for the tip on TL.
          Here’s a great street photographer, using Oly MFT:
          Ming Thien, http://blog.mingthein.com/
          Really shows what these cameras can do. (I do hybrid photography, and Panny video is much better quality and easier to use…but I freely admit that Oly has better mft still cameras.)

      • Douglas Green

        IMHO, the controls on the V2 are actually pretty good, and quite logical for a former Nikon DSLR user. The V1’s controls, however, are a disaster.

    • Eric Duminil

      Are you really talking about the X100s?
      The X100 was really slow at first (before firmware updates), especially with a slow SD card.
      But the X100s has always been fast enough for me, even for sport (longboarding) and weddings.

      • http://inthemistphoto.com/ InTheMist

        Yep, little red S.

    • Jorgre

      Much Better now I’m sure. I have the X-E1, and X-T1 and they are amazing. Same performance as a dSLR? Nope. Not yet. But pretty darn amazing and fast for what i shoot

      • JG

        And unbelievably low noise level all the way up to ISO 6400. I wish my D5200 had low noise like these Fujis.

        • Jon Ingram

          noise is low in fuji, but fuji iso’s are falsely stated about 1/2 to 3/4 stop higher than nikon. ie fuji at 6400 is better compared to Nikon at 4000-4800.

  • RakSiam

    There are a host of f1.8 (and even f1.4) m43 prime lenses in the system as well. And they are not crazy expensive either. I assume by OM-5 you mean the OM-D E-M5. The E-M1 is head and shoulders better in terms of handling and ergonomics, but it’s not a cheap body. I still use my D600 for things like sports. But for travel I am m43 system all the way.

    Of course Nikon deos make a mirrorless line with the N1 system. But IMHO the lenses just too cheap-feeling and not plentiful in terms of available options.

    • ShaoLynx

      You do know that you have to apply the crop factor for the equivalence in terms of DOF, right?

      • RakSiam

        sure, but you can still achieve plenty shallow depth of field even with that math

  • Royl

    I believe the closest thing to a perfect mirrorless camera is the Nikon Df. Of course, it isn’t mirrorless, but it has most of the things I would want in one. It is relatively small, has a fantastic full frame sensor, and I think the controls are almost perfect. And the big one, it can take just about any F lens ever made.

    • Ric

      This can’t be true. EVERYBODY says it’s a piece of crap camera with weird controls that make no sense! :-)
      HEHE, I hope to have one very soon.

    • Reality Check

      The only problem is that it is ugly, the controls aren’t well thought out, it’s AF and performance are purposely feature crippled by Nikon, and as such it is overpriced by a $1000 for what it brings to the table compared to alternative cameras. Still I’m glad there are at least some fools willing to part with their money for the Df… gives the company a few more years to get their mirrorless act together.

      • Ric

        See Royl. I told you.

        • Royl

          Yes you did. And you were right again.

    • Jorge

      Obviously you haven’t tried the Fuji X-T1. It’s what the dF could have been

      • ultragravy

        I have to agree, in fact I sold my Df, D600 and all my Nikon glass and hopped aboard the Fuji express and I have been quite pleased with my choice. The one (small) regret I have is that I will miss my 14-24 for astrophotography, nothing quite scratches that itch in fuji world….

    • Aldo

      actually the closest thing to a perfect mirrorless camera is a tank… I know you can’t take pictures with it, but it doesn’t have a mirror but you can blow stuff up with it. It is also very durable so it will outlast the d400 release date.

      • Qwerty

        Worst joke ever….

        • Aldo

          “the closest thing to a perfect mirrorless camera is the nikon Df” <— that's the worst joke ever imho.

          • As

            I prefer my mirrorless blow dryer cause it also blows just like this joke.

            I forgot, we all have mirrorless tanks. There are a couple in my driveway….yep, my mirrorless tanks in my driveway.

          • Qwerty

            Actually it should first be a camera. Mirrorless or not, that is a start.

  • http://scottwyden.com/ Scott Wyden Kivowitz

    I also tried a mirrorless, the A7R, but it was only due to bad firmware upgrade methods of Sony that I had to get rid of it. http:/lscottwyden.com/nikon-sony-a7/ – I’m looking forward to Nikon eventually doing a full frame mirrorless.

  • Andrew Livelsberger

    Article is essentially worthless. Author doesn’t know the names of the cameras they are talking about and have no clue what is possible with the systems amounts to spreading disinformation. Then again, we are talking about an article on a rumors site….so take that for what it is worth.

    Then again, we also have a person that appears to want one camera to be a “Leatherman” tool. One camera is not best for everything. You have to pick the right tool for the job. At times, that means working with more than one camera or system.

    • Harv.

      Hi Andrew,
      I understand that you may not like the article, fair enough, but saying “Then again, we are talking about an article on a rumors site….so take that for what it is worth.” is a bit much.
      Just because an article is posted on a rumour site doesn’t make it inherently bad.

      • Andrew Livelsberger

        Doesn’t make it good either… and I stick behind my statement. It is a junk article that was written by someone who did not do the proper research. Unassisted and circumstantial points… much like items found on… wait for it… Rumor sites!

        • Harv.

          I didn’t say it was good or bad, I was pointing out the inference you made that it must be bad because it’s on a rumour site…I don’t think that’s true.
          You’ll find good and bad articles on various sites.

          • Andrew Livelsberger

            You inferred wrongly. Rumor sites are based on heresay. I find them interesting as what if and thought provoking, but not trust worthy. In that vain, the article holds true. It is essentially a throw away. If you want something like this to be taken more seriously and sites like this in general, it makes more sense to have a better quality of story.

        • ShaoLynx

          Hey Andrew, come here much?
          I’m guessing you don’t.

          • Andrew Livelsberger

            I come here a bit, generally don’t engage in the comments section. Sitars you guessed wrong.

            • ShaoLynx

              That sure puts your comment into perspective.
              Interesting.

            • JG

              Say again why you come here?

            • Andrew Livelsberger

              I didn’t say in the first place, so I can’t say it again. A similar question has already been asked and answered. Feel free to research that if you like.

        • http://nikonrumors.com/ Nikon Rumors

          Thanks for your feedback Andrew. I am trying to select interesting guest posts and obviously not every reader will like every article posted on that blog. As long we keep it civilized, I do not mind discussing what you guys like to see more of. Regarding the rumors website comment – I am not sure why you are visiting websites that you don’t like. Also, I cannot be responsible for other rumors websites and to be honest, I do not like to be put in the same category, because I do believe that [NR] is different and unique, or at least I am trying to make it different and more interesting.

          • Andrew Livelsberger

            Never said I don’t like them. You assumed that, which is not what I meant. As I stated above, rumor sites are based on rumors, possible leaks and heresay. By the very nature of the information you peddle, there has to be a healthy level of skepticism.

            This article does very little to help bolster the site and actually diminishes it by being incorrect and not well researched by the author.

            • OttoVonChriek

              What is incorrect?

            • Andrew Livelsberger

              For starters, information about depth of field in m43 for one. This same argument was made about APS-C years ago. While we can argue the physics of it, truth is if you understand the equipment you are using, you can get the images you want. It boils down to knowing how.

              I also have very little patience for someone who supposedly knows better than to buy into a system without trying first doing so and then writing on about it. It’s just common sense to do your due diligence and pick the right tool for the job, not what floats your boat at the time. That is unless you have more dollars than sense. It is your money to spend, in the end.

            • Mardock

              “Never said I don’t like them. You assumed that, which is not what I meant.”

              If you don’t want people to misunderstand you and make erroneous assumptions, then stop couching everything in pejorative language.

              Figure it out and learn to take responsibility for your own attacks.

            • Andrew Livelsberger

              It Is not my fault that people read into things with their own biases.

              It Is my opinion, I’m entitled to it, and others are it entitled to agree or not agree. Same as we are allowed to agree or disagree on the article and points made in it.

              From there, we are free to debate if we so choose.

            • Mardock

              And anyone is free to troll if they so choose, too.

              But that wasn’t my point. As I said, take personal responsibility and figure it out.

            • Andrew Livelsberger

              I stand behind everything I’ve said. Never said otherwise. Only you are assuming that.

            • Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ

              Andrew, you’re acting very much like a troll, thats why everyone is assuming things.
              Also, this is the internet, alot of people make hair trigger morality judgements, expect nothing less.

            • Andrew Livelsberger

              I never intended to come off trollish. Just have a strong opinion of the subject, and perhaps the language I used was a bit much for some.

            • Mardock

              Well, you’re half way to figuring it out, I’ll give you that.

              “A bit much for MOST people” would be a fully accurate statement.

            • Andrew Livelsberger

              My wife tells me the same thing.

            • Mardock

              You should listen to her more. ;)

            • Andrew Livelsberger

              I know… but if you can’t already tell, I can be stubborn as a mule sometimes. ;)

            • Mardock

              Well, I’ve been guilty of being stubborn myself on forums, but I typically reserve it for obvious trolls or people just behaving like complete and utter idiots. Present company excepted. :)

              For everyone else I find a good rule of thumb is to write the way you would speak to someone who was standing right in front of you. Common sense courtesy and all that. Sadly, it’s disappearing from our world.

            • Andrew Livelsberger

              I probably shouldn’t admit it, but what I wrote here is actually tame compared to me in person. I tend to lay it all out there. I can’t tell you how many times my wife gives me the “look” after I’m curt with people. That is my term. Hers is generally “mean” or “intimidating”, which I don’t intend to be.

              What can I say, I’m a work in progress. :)

            • JG

              Great. Next time you want to post some reply in the comments section here, on any article, count to ten then just don’t post. Count that as more progress.

            • twoomy

              It is your fault that you can’t just stop and go away.

            • megadon357

              “It Is not my fault that people read into things with their own biases.”

              Ha! Pot!

            • Andrew Livelsberger

              Kettle! It’s about time you showed up. Mom’s been worried sick. She was afraid you were hanging out with the cast iron brothers again!! ;)

            • twoomy

              Oh, just bloody bugger off, already! Shut your pie hole and move on if you don’t like it here.

            • Andrew Livelsberger

              When people resort to personal attacks, or means they have no valid arguments. Does this apply to you? I certainly hope not. I like how I am told to keep it civil, but everyone else is clear to attack? Very nice.

            • Better

              Spell “hearsay” correctly, please.

            • Andrew Livelsberger

              You got it grammar/spelling police!

          • Stephen431

            You know, the last generation Fuji & Sony cameras you used had big changes made for the current gen models. Especially menus from the NEX-6 to the a6000. Also, I assume that cheap wide-angle prime for the NEX was the 16mm. That’s their oldest 1st gen e-mount pancake prime lens & possibly the worst lens in the entire lineup. It’s not even compatible with the new autofocus.

      • amaas

        However it’s an accurate description of an article that pretty much comes down to:

        Author did not do homework, expressed surprise that consumer camera lacks pro controls and that mirrorless lenses are slower because slower lenses are smaller and mirrorless systems prioritize size over zoom lens speed.

        As a note to the original author: Pretty much all your UI complaints about the NEX-6 apply in some form to the Nikon D5x00 and D3x00 series. Consumer bodies have consumer UI. Also APS-C Mirrorless lenses are f4 because of size reasons. f2.8 APS-C Mirrorless zooms are too large & too heavy to work well with most APS-C mirrorless bodies (Fuji’s couple larger bodies are an exception, and m43 allows f2.8 zooms to be small enough to handle well on the larger m43 bodies).

    • Aldo

      I shall also take your opinion on a rumor site for what it’s worth…2 cents.

      • Andrew Livelsberger

        Absolutely valid position of you choose to take that stance.

    • Royl

      First, it appears to me that the author purposely avoided using camera brand names where possible, and I find that just good taste.
      Second, this doesn’t appear to be someone in search of a “job”, but more in it for the pleasure. For that pursuit cameras are not “tools”. So a single camera might be expected to do anything a person wants to do with varying degrees of acceptable performance.
      The article is well written, IMO, and it was a nice distraction for me. I still recommend the author try a Df because he seems to me the kind of person who would truly enjoy it.

      • Andrew Livelsberger

        To the first point, that makes no sense whatsoever – your point of “avoid using camera name brands”. That helps no one and can be chalked up to another reason I think the article is not worth the read.

        To the second point, just because I am not a carpenter or licensed contractor doesn’t mean that a hammer is not a tool. To think any different is why most people end up going through various camera systems. They buy with emotion and what appears to be “cool” or “hip” or what some blogger recommended. In reality, you should pick the camera or tool that allows you to get the images you want with the most efficiency and ease within your budget.

        You need to do the proper research and investigation otherwise you put yourself in a vicious cycle.

        I can surely drive home finishing nails with a sledge hammer, but that is not the most efficient way to do the job.

        I also own a Nikon Df, but I’m not going to go out there and try to shoot NFL football with it. Not the right tool for me.

        • Royl

          “In reality, you should pick the camera or tool that allows you to get the images you want with the most efficiency and ease within your budget.”

          I think you might be conflicted. You are arguing against yourself. And please don’t call cameras tools. That’s for people who never worked for a living the hard way but want to sound like a guy-guy. A hammer is a tool. Ever hear the phrase, “dumber than a sack of hammers”? That pretty much works for most tools, but a sack of smart $3000 DSLRs doesn’t quite fit the bill.

          • Andrew Livelsberger

            No, my argument is sound. In reality, you are just losing the debate and are trying to figure out a way to sugar coat an insult. I can see through that. The analogy is just fine. Your retort, on the other hand, does not. It’s weak and flimsy, sorry to break it to you.

            • Royl

              Yes, it is true, Andrew. You are a tool. No sugar.

            • Andrew Livelsberger

              Again…no valid argument/debate point so you resort to name calling. So high school of you. Thanks for showing everyone your true colors.

  • Zad

    Wouldn’t you lose even more DOF (for subject isolation) with the Nikon 1 series sensor as compared to the m43? Coming from a Nikon DSLR and 1 series user, I have found the m43, specifically the EM-1 to be a rather good compromise so far combined with the range of m43 lenses. But hey, depends on your individual needs I guess.

  • JXVo

    Nice Write-up Roger! Thanks.

    I love my D800 but it is a bit of a millstone for some of my hiking, climbing and MTB adventures so I also looked long and hard at mirrorless, specifically for attributes of smaller size and lower weight while retaining good image quality.

    The Nikon 1V series would suit in terms of features and can use all my nikkors via the FT1 in addition to 1 series lenses. However, the V1 tanked in my country and the newer models never followed. Even if I buy online, I can’t get it repaired here.

    So on to the Fuji X series: I’d go for X-E2 or XT-1, the 14mm prime, 18-55 zoom and a longer fast prime. But this all costs as much as a D800.

    For half the price I can get as good or better performance from a D5300 with a DX kit lens supplemented by my fullframe glass when necessary .

    • Nexus

      So true, while mirrorless MAY or NOT be the direction photography takes in the future ( can anyone remember the way 3D TV swept the marketplace? ) for the foreseeable future, any of the lower end DSLRs will still outperform what the camera makers ( who are grasping for ANY sustainable market share ) are able to get out of mirrorless systems!

      • Mardock

        Nonsense. The Olympus OM-D E-M1 and Fuji X-T1 outperform most of the low-end crop sensor DSLRs.

        Like it or not, mirrorless is the future, if for no other reason than the technology will allow for the reduction manufacturing costs over time … something both Canon and Nikon will be looking closely at now as their profit margins continue to erode.

        • Patrick O’Connor

          Mirrorless is the future because it reflects the direction of society. In the past, people looked at quality first and convenience if there was room for it. Nowadays (I guess that’s a word; there’s no squiggly red line under it) convenience is the first consideration and then quality, if there’s room for it.
          Now, before you crucify me; over time, technology has been able to fit more quality into these “convenience” packages and the mirrorless cameras are definitely catching up to dSLRs. I can’t imagine I’ll ever get one but I’m not worried that dSLRs will be replaced entirely by mirrorless cameras. Heck, even film is becoming increasingly popular vs. going extinct. It was a close run thing, though, for a bit.

          • Mardock

            “In the past, people looked at quality first and convenience if there was room for it.”

            People put convenience ahead of quality 40 years ago, too. Witness 110 and 126 Instamatics and point & shoot 35s. They still handily outsold DSLRs back in the day.

            Mirrorless is the future because it reflects the direction of technology.

            Steve Jobs made Apple what it is today by creating products people didn’t even know they wanted … until they saw it. Society didn’t demand computers … or Facebook. Those arrived on the scene and everyone adopted them (for better, or, in the case of the latter, worse).

            • Patrick O’Connor

              I’m going to have to disagree with you regarding cameras 40 years ago. The price and complexity of SLRs made them attractive to a completely different market from Instamatics, etc. If I were talking about current point and shoot cameras or phone cameras, I’d say you were right but they’re as different from a dSLR or advanced mirrorless as your examples are from SLRs.
              Furthermore, my theoretical ‘people in the past’ was a generalization based on cultural norms. Obviously, there were exceptions to the norms then as well as now. Additionally, quality usually comes at a price premium that not everyone can afford. Again, that doesn’t really apply to the average dSLR vs advanced mirrorless.

            • Mardock

              Sorry, I see no difference.

            • Patrick O’Connor

              Most people who use an iPhone or P&S aren’t likely to move to a dSLR or mirrorless. In fact, the market share of phone cameras is cutting into all other camera sales. Two different markets. The eventual difference between dSLRs and mirrorless cameras will be size/weight, but not quality. When mirrorless cameras first came out, some were willing to live with the slightly lower IQ in exchange for the convenience. There was no similar situation 40 years ago. At least, not in my neck of the woods.
              A better example of my original statement would be music. People bought albums for the superior quality over the radio. These days, people happily live with the relatively poor quality of MP3s, rather than buy CDs, due to their convenience.

            • Mardock

              Again, I see no difference. Few who used P&S 35mm cameras or Instamatics or Polaroids back in the 1970s moved to SLRs, because those cameras were considered more serious and less convenient. I know, I was there.

              The inclusion of mirrorless cameras in this discussion is, I believe, a bit of a red herring. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s just group DSLRs and higher-end mirrorless cameras into the “serious cameras” category for a moment. The latter doesn’t reflect the future because it’s more convenient (smartphones do that). Mirrorless reflects the future because it’s newer technology and will eliminate certain manufacturing costs for camera makers.

              For example, Canon didn’t introduce the AE-1 in 1976 to satisfy an amateur hunger for more convenient SLRs, it built it because the move to integrated circuits for exposure control meant more accuracy and less reliance on mechanical parts, thereby saving manufacturing costs. This added a measure of convenience for photographers, but it was a byproduct of the latter, not an outgrowth of the former.

            • Patrick O’Connor

              I’m not considering all people who take photos, only serious photographers. Most photographers don’t really care about manufacturing costs, but rather what product will suit their needs. Grouping dSLRs and high-end mirrorless cameras, which was my intent all along, I believe those individuals who choose the mirrorless camera are doing so for convenience sake. If the IQ, feature set, and lens selection were the same, the distinguishing factor would be convenience, not cost. At least not yet. Those individuals who’ve moved to mirrorless up until now, and for a little longer still, are sacrificing one, two, or all three of those qualities for the sake of convenience.
              My point is: in the past fewer people would have been willing to make that compromise. Frankly, I don’t think 40 years is far enough back to make my point. In fact, the process I describe has been gradual over a much longer period.
              I will allow, however, that the preference toward quality over convenience was limited to those individuals I knew. Certainly not everyone today has a preference of convenience over, well, everything but it seems fairly ubiquitous.

            • Mardock

              There are but two truly tangible convenience benefits to mirrorless: size and weight. And both of those are becoming increasingly significant to professionals as well, I’ve noticed.

              But mirrorless offers other benefits, too. An EVF can provide real time information in a way that an optical viewfinder cannot. Olympus’ 5-axis IBIS provides the most sophisticated stabilization system of any manufacturer, and does so with primes; another big benefit over DSLRs.

              I could go on. My point is that the technology emerged, and people embraced it, some for convenience, some for image-making advantages.

              Thus, I don’t believe it’s empirically accurate to declare convenience as the sole motivation.

            • Patrick O’Connor

              Well, of course everyone has to measure the value of features against their own needs and some people really like an EVF and other features. For me, the EVF is the one feature that I could never live with and sole reason I wouldn’t have a mirrorless camera. Some of the other features might be nice but I don’t miss them. It seems like size and weight are the two advantages that most, but not all, photographers can agree on.
              Anyway, it’s been nice discussing this with you and you’re a very persuasive debater but the subject isn’t all that important to the article and I’m unlikely to change my mind. Adieu.

        • Nexus

          Let me tell ya something my friend, IF Nikon or Canon wished to compete in this ‘high-end mirror-less’ market place, they would crush ALL others in that space… They DON’T because of the way Japanese corporate culture actually tries to support each other.

          • Mardock

            Let me tell ya something my friend, IF Nikon or Canon wished to compete in this ‘high-end mirror-less’ market place, they would crush ALL others in that space… They DON’T because of the way Japanese corporate culture actually tries to support each other.

            No, they DON’T because they’re not about to cannibalize their own [still profitable] DSLR sales to introduce a new category of camera that is demonstrably losing money for all the other manufacturers.

            And that’s part of the conundrum. Mirrorless IS the future, and Canon and Nikon know it. But they won’t introduce a proper mirrorless system until they can demonstrate that mirrorless sales from other manufacturers are beginning to erode into their DSLR profits.

            I agree, however, that when they DO finally take it seriously [if they do], the other manufacturers had better watch out.

  • Eric Duminil

    Well, you really picked the wrong manufacturer if you want a wide variety of good fast affordable well-balanced lenses.

  • JohnH

    Yes, he picked the wrong camera to try to go mirrorless with and I think he had some poor expectations.

  • Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, your biggest mistake was in going with Sony. They are a distant, distant third among mirrorless options, owing mostly to a flawed lens mount that ensures poor results even with copious amounts of software correction.

  • MonkeySpanner

    Yep – I agree with many posters here – you picked the wrong system to try out mirrorless (especially coming from a very good DSLR – by the way, I don’t think you mention which DSLR you were coming from – the one the got stollen). Sony has amazing sensor technology – and they are innovating at a rapid pace. BUT – they are not good at making bodies useful like Canon and Nikon do. They need more time to realize that being usable is at least as important as packing all the tech you can into as small of a body as it will fit.
    But I highly agree – I wish Nikon would make an aps-c mirrorless body similar in specs to the V3 – but about the size of the D3300 (but more external controls). That would be killer.

  • guest

    I’d like to see Nikon come out with a full-frame mirrorless camera with the D810 body, including all the same functionality, buttons, batteries, and accessories. The camera would take all the same lenses with full functionality, and would be a great second camera for use where the focus accuracy of on-sensor PDAF and lack of vibration and mirror noise would be a benefit. I’d prefer 36 or more Mega-pickles with the dynamic range of the D800 or better, and it wouldn’t hurt to add 4k video.

    • Me

      Except that the registration distance between the lens and the sensor would be different. Moreover, since the point would be to shrink the body, well….

      • http://nanchatte.wordpress.com Graxxor Anandro Vidhelssen

        No. He’s saying just eliminate the mirror and use an EVF and make live view work as well as optical. None of this requires “registration distance” changes or making the body smaller.

  • http://www.povazanphotography.com/ Jozef Povazan

    My 2 cents to this, I am a Nikon D3s shooter but mirror-less Fuji x series is already in my bag for weddings and so far it is a very nice combo. I have only use it for wide-angle shots but it is impressive how it handles the scenery. AF is not as fast as FX body but when you get used to it you are not missing too many moments with it IMO. It is for sure the future, specially when you compare the size, weight, how quiet it is versus DSLR… and the $$$ Fuji X T1 $1300 vs Nikon D4s $7000 canadians :) Will I give up FX in the next year or two? NO! But in 3 years who knows :)

  • X-Proof

    Same story here. After frist trying the Fuji X100, I purchased the X-Pro1 when it was released two years ago. Boy, what a terrible hyping is going on in this mirror less market, just because these are exactly what they are: toys for boys. These cameras should better have been called ‘the FW series’, I had to live with so much quirks, a poor AF, shutter lag, not perfect RAW conversions, non existing pro-flash solutions… WellIt was a major relief going back to the D800. The X-Pro1 only serves now as a travel camera, that’s its primary vocation in my eyes.

  • Sonikon

    Call Me crazy. But why doesn’t Nikon launch a mirrorless APS-C with a new flat mount call it FN or whatever you want. Make an F-mount focal reducer with full electronic control for AF-G lenses and a bulkier adapter with a screw motor for the AF-D lenses.

    That simple set up would allow easy migration and give folks an option for a full frame DOF + 1 extra stop of light. That can’t be that bad can it? Especially if its made in house which would mean excellent optics and reliable AF.

    Nikon needs to make a major move in mirrorless soon before Sony fully fills out their FE lens lineup.

    • Daniel Holzer

      Sony will never fill out its lens lineup, by the time it could conceivably have done so, it will already have moved onto a new mount system.

  • David

    If Nikon is listening, make a global-shutter mirrorless “DSLR-like” body that takes DX lenses. It may not be the D400 everyone’s pining for, but it would keep the faithful like me, who has about $4k of Nikon glass to consider.

  • Mardock

    Quick correction: Neither Nikon nor Canon make f/2.8 zooms for their APS cameras; you have to use their full-frame lenses for that, which is fine, but they’re not mated and the focal length is multiplied by 1.5x. It’s one of the constant criticisms they receive—that their plethora of crop sensor cameras are largely only supported by junky super zooms.

    Regarding micro four thirds, please remember that DOF is not strictly a function of maximum aperture.

    Subject to camera distance, combined with background to subject distance, actually have a greater impact on DOF control than maximum aperture with lenses that are f/2.8 and faster, regardless of the sensor size.

    fyi: The Olympus Zuiko 75mm f/1.8 (150mm equv.) f/1.8 provides fantastic out of focus backgrounds.

    It also benefits from being the fastest prime lens on the market of that (equiv.) focal length … and from being coupled with 5-axis IBIS (something you can’t get with prime lenses from other manufacturers).

    It’s also one of the sharpest lenses on the planet right now.

    And now there is the Panasonic/Leica 42.5mm (85mm equiv.) f/1.2, which is a terrific lens and provides plenty of shallow DOF. Not to mention the trio of f/.095 m4/3 lenses from Voigtlander.

    Agreed, though, that the premium and pro m4/3 lenses aren’t inexpensive (though they do tend to be less than the equivalent full frame lenses from Canikon).

    btw: You’d probably find that the OM-D E-M1 with grip attached would feel very comfortable to hold.

    • nwcs

      The Nikon 17-55 DX f2.8 zoom would beg to differ with you.

      • Mardock

        Yes, but nothing in the true telephoto range, which is, I believe, what the poster was lamenting.

        And I think the Nikon 17-55 DX f2.8 may be the only remaining f/2.8 DX lens left in Nikon’s lineup right now.

        • http://www.gradyphoto.com/ Pete Grady

          I use the 17-55mm f/2.8 along with a 50mm f/1.8, 85mm f/1.8, 180mm f/2.8 and a Sigma 10-20mm for architectural. This was a very reasonably priced set of glass that I’ve made a nice living with for the past 4 years. I’d love to have other gear just to have it, but I don’t really NEED it.

    • HF

      The 75 and 42.5 are great lenses, but equivalent lenses (DOF, AOV,total light) less expensive. It is true, subject distance and distance to background are important. But often you don’t have the freedom to place your subject accordingly and then FF gives you much better separation or makes it possible to blur backgrounds (I once was at a wedding and had to deal with awful curtains).

      • Mardock

        The reverse of this can be true, too. Sometimes you need as much depth of field as possible.

        On a full frame camera that means stopping down, often at least two steps, which means pushing the ISO up to compensate for the smaller aperture required to ensure a sharp zone of focus. In this situation m4/3 holds a distinct advantage.

        As to OOF backgrounds, I rarely shoot the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 lens wide open, because the plane of focus is too sliver-thin to ensure both eyes are sharp, unless the subject is in dead planarity with the axis of the front element. Very often I stop that lens down to f/2 to ensure facial focus.

        The Leica 42.5 f/1.2 is actually more useful, because at that focal length — and with DOF equiv. to f/2.4 — one still has lovely OOF regions in the background, but with enough DOF to cover a subject’s face. Plus, all the light gathering capability of f/1.2 (because you don’t HAVE to stop down) … a distinct advantage.

        The full frame DOF advantage is greatly exaggerated, IMO.

        As to having freedom to place subjects, yes, occasionally one can run into that problem. But I haven’t found it to be too often. I can usually find a vantage point to create separation, or shoot against something with a relatively neutral background.

        Beyond that, provided the background isn’t too busy, it’s a simple matter to use layers in Photoshop to naturally blur the background.

        • HF

          This is discussed at DPREVIEW. They have a really nice article regarding equivalence. Pushing ISO is no problem for FF and gives you (same sensor generation) equivalent noise levels for equivalent AOV, DOF, total light. I shoot it pretty much wide open all the time, if I can’t get close, as this ensures enough DOF. If being close on can stop down of course. But you can’t have the size and weight advantage m43 offers. Having a live histogram in the FF is s.th. I would like to have in a DSLR, too. Optically, the Pana-Leica and Oly lenses are certainly superb. I like the 60mmm macro for close-up work. This will be the lens I miss most.

  • nwcs

    I think it’s a fairly obvious situation. No one camera, nor camera system, fits all needs. And one’s personal experiences cannot be extrapolated to all users.

    One thing I don’t get is this fascination with 35mm frame sizes. Other than wanting it for its own sake, how many can actually demonstrate that they have an actual photographic necessity for it? If they can’t, it’s vanity. I don’t have a problem with it but at least be honest about it.

    An issue I have with this article is that it doesn’t appear the writer researched how to use the cameras well. Or if he did, it wasn’t well communicated. Olympus cameras have a reputation of having a complex menu system. The Fuji X-E2 (not X2, there is no such camera) requires a more rangefinder type gripping hold and a thumbs up grip really helps with the handling. I used my X-E2 with the Nikon 400 f5.6 AIS lens. There aren’t any handling issues with it. That was just an assumption the writer made without actually attempting it.

    On the whole… Yes, there are people who go to mirrorless for one reason or another and get disappointed and go to DSLRs. Those people would have been better served renting until they get make a decision. Some people go and never come back to DSLRs.

    Fact of the matter is, if you can’t get a good picture from a mirrorless camera (except for certain kinds of action shots) most likely you couldn’t get it from a DSLR, either.

  • nkuser

    I second the motion. Instead of the Nikon 1 V3, build one with a reasonably high pixel, ultra low noise APS-C sensor AND the F-mount. Or the “FN” mount suggested by Sonikon. I like fast continuous focusing and deep deep burst depth (100 shots). Don’t really need 60fps. 10-15 is good. You’ll find a lot of bird, wildlife photographers buying it. Not to mention those who are truly serious about sports.

  • Jorge

    Shuda got a Fuji. You’ll never go back

  • Mardock
    • Lamar Lamb

      Just read that article. Every time a new camera comes out that sparks my interest I’ve been able to make a better argument for keeping my D300 than spending the cash to go with something new. In most cases it is “disqualifying” arguments that keep my finger away from the checkout button. Not saying I wouldn’t like a new camera / system but each time I get in the mood for a new camera there are enough disqualifying arguments with respect to the price and not enough compelling enhancements to my current kit to push me into spending my money. I guess I am still in my “Good Enough” zone.

  • Carlos

    Best in town?
    Nikon D700
    Fuji X100S
    Leica M6
    Nikon F3/FM2
    Mirrorless? Whatever, don’t care. That’s not what it’s about, it’s the lenses as said above.
    – Summilux 35/50
    – Nikkor, latest FX AF-S G
    – Zeiss ZF.2
    Worst?
    Sigma Foveon
    Leica M8, M9, M240?tbc! Either top or flop! Awaiting Leica Service feedback.
    Sony, all.

  • ronin

    I don’t really care about mirror vs mirrorless, just want a good tool.

    Got rid of the APS DSLRs, kept the full frame cameras. Got a nice Olympus E-M1, and later a Panasonic GX7, with several lenses, all of which I still have. Great cameras. Also got a V1 cheap and some lenses. Also a great camera. I figured, the mirrorless will be the nice walking around compromise.

    After over 2 years, I don’t think they were that great a compromise. I now think the APS DSLR in fact is the better compromise, offering for me at least more true to life viewing without lag. Not to mention better battery life, better resolution, better dynamic range blah blah blah. But most of all, better value proposition. I think the APS DSLRs are superior in every way, not the least of which is price, except, of course, weight and lens sizes.

    Which I think are overblown. I’m carrying a camera, I’m carrying a camera. A pound or two here or there makes little difference when the other benefits are there.

    I won’t be selling my micro 4/3 stuff, and at least in the short term I won’t be buying APS DSLRs. The money is already spent, and I don’t feel like selling at a big loss just to buy stuff all over again. The micro 4/3 stuff is good enough for me for now.

    But knowing what I know now, if doing it over again I’d stick with APS DSLR, and then also go for any number of the pocketable compacts that hover around $200 as my carry-around camera (P330, S100, LF-1, even Fuji XF-1). The price/performance of this combo is a sweet spot for my needs.

    • ronin

      Sorry, meant to say I got an EM-5, the EM-1 was just too big, bulky, heavy for the m4/3 format to me.

  • Spy Black

    Seems to me what the author is really unhappy with is the Nex-6. There are a multitude of mirrorless designs out there. Coming from a DSLR the author should have considered something with similar controls. That would have made him more comfortable with the overall handling of the camera. You can’t judge the entire mirrorless movement with one camera.

  • steven8217

    Check out the difference between DSLR and Micro 4/3 on the bokeh as I just love the shallow DoF on the larger sensor so I am also waiting for the APS-C mirrorless from Nikon, in the meantime, I love my CoolPix A and the big and bulky D800. (My V1 with the 6.7-13mm wild angle is very handy for group event shot)
    Bokeh comparison between Full Frame and Micro 4/3 here:
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/steven_ng/14734882893/
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/steven_ng/14692036726/in/photostream/

    • Spy Black

      “I am also waiting for the APS-C mirrorless from Nikon…”

      You’re going to have a long wait.

      • steven8217

        You are right, as the author pointed it out, not just a camera body but with a lens system so it will be a LONG wait and the Coolpix A I have is very pocket friendly with a mere 1.6 inches in depth.

    • OttoVonChriek

      Well I would say that in this image I like the one with less DOF better (althougth of course it is best to be able to choose).

      • steven8217

        The Full frame has better flexibility for your subject and the mirrorless is small and easy to use with a different list of advantage. I agree that it is just your personal shooting style to present what you have in your mind. When I need a little more background, I can stop down to F4 on my D800, but again, it is a big and bulky camera with a big 24mm F1.4 lens :-)

        • Mardock

          Truthfully, in this shot I actually prefer the m4/3 shot, because in this photo the image benefits from having some atmospheric context in the background, I think.

          Otherwise, I would have strived to blow the background even further out of focus and solely concentrated on the phone. The shallow DoF image doesn’t really achieve either; it’s sort of middling.

          Too many photographers believe that a shallow, out of focus background somehow makes a photograph “better” or more professional. It doesn’t. Like any other technique it’s context-sensitive.

          I also find that the color is much more accurate in the m4/3 image, if I’m honest.

          Just IMO.

  • Michiel953

    I was/am probably too stoned out of my mind to grasp the entirety of this post. Uhh, “EVF”? No thanks.

  • MUAH

    Mirrorless have crappy battery life too. There’s probably no mirrorless that would manage to shoot over 500 pics on one battery on normal photography situation. Where as you get easily more shots than specced with DSLR, you actually get less than specced with mirrorless, since the constantly active sensor, processing, af, and display(s) consume way too much energy, when you are just composing (traditional DSLRs are on minimal energy consumption then, unless you are focusing).

    • PhotoAl

      I usually get over 500 shots on one battery with my Nikon V2 (it’s rated for 310 or something). I turn off the EVF and LCD, the only time the EVF turns on is when my eye is up against it. I have a spare battery, but I’ve never actually had to change it in the middle of a shoot. That being said, I realize that DSLR’s still have a much better battery life, but carrying one extra battery isn’t that big of a deal for me.

  • David

    I was considering going full-frame so I rented a D600 and a 24-70 2.8 zoom to shoot a friend’s wedding with. Too big and heavy for the improvement it gave me over my old D7000. Other than a waterproof Olympus TG-1, I don’t bother with other cameras these days. If I could do it again, I’d still go APS and Nikon, though I’m tired of waiting for the D400 or whatever it’s going to be called.

  • Me

    You will offend the Mirrorless Moonies. Just like the D700 Ding Dongs, the Mirrorless Moonies have all the answers.

    Mirrorless is the answer no matter what the question. Mirrorless is the future. Mirrorless is the present. Mirrorless is always right.

    Report to the re-education camp!

    • Mardock

      The SLR is beyond being a mature platform; it has nowhere left to evolve TO.

      Not saying it doesn’t work well enough, but it’s taken camera evolution as far as it’s going to go, and mirror boxes are complex mechanical apparatus that add to manufacturing costs … at a time when manufacturers are going to be forced to start CUTTING costs.

      So yes, mirrorless IS the future.

      • Patrick O’Connor

        After every advancement in every possible system has been achieved, people will have to become better photographers. Nooooooo….

      • 24×36

        NO, it is not. (D)SLRs have something mirrorless can never achieve – a real time, lag free, flicker free, OPTICAL view of what is being photographed – THROUGH the taking lens, that has resolution and dynamic range limited only by your vision and the scene luminance, and uses essentially NONE of the camera’s battery power. This is what makes the (D)SLR camera the best tool ever designed for photography. This is why mirrorless is NOT the “future.” For something to be “replaced,” you need to come up with a BETTER alternative, and mirrorless will never be that.

        As for the “inability” of (D)SLRs to continue to evolve, that’s BS. They can add hybrid viewfinders, they can increase viewfinder magnification (which would render much of the “focus peaking” gadgetry unnecessary, if you recall what SLR viewfinders looked like in manual focus days), they can improve upon autofocus (be it AF sensor size/placement/sensitivity, speed, addition of on-sensor AF with semi-translucent mirrors, better algorithms, etc. etc. Just because it ALREADY works beautifully, that doesn’t mean improvements can’t be made.

        If there are roadblocks to camera improvements, they are obstacles for mirrorless, not for (D)SLRs. Improvements in EVF resolution and dynamic range mean more processing power needed, more calculations to produce the EVF image (and that assumes you can cram as many pixels into the EVF as the sensor has, to provide similar resolution, a difficult proposition in and of itself), which in turn suck down the battery life even faster. Reduction in lag means more calculations in a given time frame, which in turn suck down the battery life faster. Higher EVF resolution and/or better dynamic range means more likelihood of flicker and/or lag. Reduction in flicker and/or lag holds back increases in resolution. Every avenue that needs improvement conflicts with others that also need improvement, because they are competing for the same computing power, on-chip, off-chip imaging processor, or both. One advance holds back others, because mirrorless depends entirely on processing power to do something the (D)SLR does better, and effortlessly, with the elegant simplicity of a mirror.

        You go ahead and keep WAITING for a better tool, I’ll just keep USING a better tool NOW.

        • http://www.gradyphoto.com/ Pete Grady

          A good rangefinder will solve most of what you’re talking about. Been
          around since 1938.

          • 24×36

            Nope – you don’t look through the taking lens with a rangefinder.

            • http://www.gradyphoto.com/ Pete Grady

              You need to actually TRY a good rangefinder that shows 115% of the field of view. It has its advantages. But, of course, you’ve made up your mind without having tried it…kinda like my 4 year old grandson who says he doesn’t like swordfish.

            • 24×36

              The first camera I ever used was a rangefinder. I would never go back to one, ever, because I prefer the advantages of seeing through the taking lens.

            • http://www.gradyphoto.com/ Pete Grady

              Then that’s a personal decision, which is fine. But in your original comment you were emphatic to the extent that (D)SLR was the ONLY way to go and anyone not using one was wrong. That doesn’t make sense any more than saying anyone driving anything other than a four wheel drive car is wrong. It’s all a matter of preference and the type of use one wants/needs to put the machine to. I like blondes. You might prefer brunettes. They’re both good.

        • Mardock

          There are so many things wrong with what you just said, I’m not even sure where to begin.

          So I’ll let you continue to live joyfully [I think?] in your bubble of the past.

          Oh, one thing before I go, though: You DO look THROUGH the lens with a mirrorless camera. ;)

          • 24×36

            Actually, you do not look through the taking lens with a mirrorless camera. You look at a low resolution, low dynamic range electronic representation of what you WOULD HAVE seen (a moment ago) through the taking lens.

      • some.guy from.texas

        If you have charged batteries…else you have the paperweight of the future.

        • Mardock

          DSLRs are battery dependent, too. In fact many SLRs have been battery dependent since 1976.

          So what’s your point?

          • some.guy from.texas

            Name a single battery-independent mirror-less camera.

            That’s my point.

  • jorge r

    Thank you admin. for this post. Now that the rumor mill slowed down, I think NR should do a poll: would you consider buying a Nikon FF mirrorless camera for about $3k that is compatiible with all Nikon F lenses ever made? Yes or no. Nikon might pay attention if the results are overwhelmingly in favor.

    • http://www.gradyphoto.com/ Pete Grady

      As noted in the article, using existing lenses designed for SLRs would negate a lot of the benefit of a mirrorless camera.

      • jorge r

        Thank you for pointing that out Peter. I meant to say using an adapter, like Sony did with their A mount lenses on the A7 mirrorless cameras.

        • http://www.gradyphoto.com/ Pete Grady

          I know, Jorge, that IS the point. The extra distance from the front of the lens mount to the sensor (or film in the “old” days) that needs to be there to accommodate the mirror, makes it difficult for lens designers to optimize their designs in terms of distortion and various aberrations. That’s why Leica was so successful with wide angle lenses on their rangefinder cameras (and still are), and the same goes for mirrorless (which is similar to rangefinder except the viewfinder is electronic in most cases. The lenses can be made to be quite close to the sensor and thus potentially have superior optical correction. The adapters that allow lenses originally designed for SLRs have to include a thick segment that puts the lens at the correct distance from the sensor. The Sony A mount was created in the mid 1980s for SLRs and the lenses sporting that mount are subject to being at the longer distance.

          • 24×36

            There doesn’t seem to be any great struggle for lens designers to produce highly corrected optics for SLR cameras, and mounts placing the lens closer to the sensor tends to mean more severe angles for light rays hitting the sensor as you move away from the center of the image, which causes other issues and challenges.

            • http://www.gradyphoto.com/ Pete Grady

              The distance set up by the mirror box is limiting, particularly for wide angle. You are correct that lenses, especially today with the availability of low dispersion and high RI glass, for DSLRs are excellent. And yes, distortion can be controlled through software. And, sensors don’t behave like silver halide grains suspended in gelatin. But it is easier to design better corrected lenses when the flange to film (sensor) distance is short rather than long. I managed a corporate darkroom for a lens manufacturer and shared offices with the optical group. I listened to their discussions about how to solve these very issues. Curved sensors are an emerging possibility and it will be interesting to see what that does in terms of creating new degrees of freedom for designers.

  • David G.

    The writer never mentions what type of photography he does, whether he’s a pro or just a hobbyist, or what he looks for in a camera system… Am I supposed to guess, or should I already know who he is ?

    • http://molnarcs.500px.com Csaba

      Yeah, a link to a portfolio or flickr would have lent a bit more credibility to this post.

      • David G.

        Just stating “I am a pro wildlife photographer” in this case would have been very helpful. He is obviously very demanding towards his gear; needs quality telephoto lenses, etc… It’s a lot easier to understand why a mirrorless system isn’t right for him.

  • Bingo

    Remember myself using yashica mat, back then it was all about
    photography, now you crying about milion features that doesn’t
    necessary ad up to make great shot

    • http://www.gradyphoto.com/ Pete Grady

      Yes, my first camera was a Yashica Mat 124 G. It made beautiful images! It was a bit fragile, but it worked. It had a light meter, f-stops, shutter speeds and a focusing knob! All you needed and nothing more! Imogen Cunningham used a Rollieflex that was similar and made history with it.

  • introvert

    wow you went back because you tried ONE camera.
    K thanks, good bye!

  • HotDuckZ

    Curved sensor please. Smaller body need smaller lens.

  • Alpha Whiskey Photography
  • groucher

    You should have thought about what you wanted the camera for and stayed with Nikon. The Nikon 1s are unbeatable for action photography thanks to the 60fps burst, super fast autofocus and the brilliant 30-110mm lens giving 70-300mm equiv. in a lightweight package.

    D800 for landscape, V1 for action – the perfect combination.

    • Daniel Holzer

      I have the V1 and enjoy it very much. Unfortunately, the V1/V2/V3 series all have serious flaws as “prosumer” cameras while they’re priced equivalent to the D7XXX series.

      My biggest peeve is that they can’t even standardize the battery. The V1 had a good DSLR battery, but worse-than-consumer controls. Nikon has improved controls with the V2/V3, but have used an incompatible battery. If they had gone back to the EL-15 battery for the V3 (and consequently used a built-in grip to house the battery and a full SD card slot) I’d have ordered a V3 immediately, even with the optional EVF.

      I do wish that the V1/V2/V3 series could be used in combination with DSLRs, but Nikon seems to be making it as hard as possible to do so.

  • j v

    Perhaps a strange question… I’ve never handled a mirrorless, but what is the difference in usage between a mirrorless camera, and a DSLR in live view mode?
    The difference I can see are the size, and the possiblity to use the EVF to review photos… am I missing something?

    • Roger Irwin

      You can get more accurate focus (zooming in without resorting to live view). You get DOF preview without a dimming display. On systems with focus peaking you get superb feedback about the DOF as well. You also get better feedback about exposure, for example when trying to get low key or high key effects, and you can see straight away when the metering is being thrown off and you need to spot meter or apply EV comp.

      You do not need to take your eye off the viewfinder to change menu based options, There are a lot of possibilities for changing what your view through the viewfinder looks like.

      • j v

        Thanks!
        OK, those arguments make sense… the aspects never bothered me on DSLR, but the things you mention may indeed be benefits… :-)

  • http://molnarcs.500px.com Csaba

    Good lesson for everyone here, thanks for sharing. Classic mistake.

    I’ve been going through the same decision making process for my backup/secondary system. I have the d800 for studio work and/or more “serious” commercial photography (interiours/architecture), but I’m doing more and more portraiture with on-location lighting, and for those I don’t need 36 megapixels. For location scouting, I’d like something smaller and more portable than what Nikon has to offer, same goes for portraiture for individuals.

    First thing I looked at was lens availability, and the SONY NEX system just doesn’t cut it. This is an important lesson – look at what focal lenghts you need and see what optics are available for it. Buying a body first then trying to find lenses is a huge mistake. So for my portraiture work, I needed a 85mm equivalent (I use this focal length for about 50% of my work). For the rest (and I love doing landscapes too) I use wide or ultra-wide angle, and longer focal lengths for a small fraction of my work (about 10%).

    NEX is out of question – inconsistent pricing and quality for their lenses, m43 can be overpriced for the quality they offer – so enter Fuji. UWA – 14mm F/2.8 or 10-24mm F/4. The latter UWA zoom is probably the best UWA lens ever produced. 85mm? Check (56mm F/1.2). Reach? XF 55-200. Fuji got the lenses, what it lacks is a competent flash system. But that’s where NIkon has been sleeping on their laurels for some time now. And now there are alternatives like GODOX flashes that run on lithium-ion batteries, have good radio triggers with remote power management and is brand agnostic. And I can buy a pair of v860s for the price of a single sb-910. And from my brief handling of the XE-1 and X-T1 cameras, handling seems to be superb as well.

    Nikon is pushing many of us towards other brands – QC issues, support issues, the complete refusal to listen to their customers (no APS-C lens choice) etc. I’m not switching my d800, it will stay in the studio for the next few years for sure with select FX lenses, but for everything else (travel, scouting, smaller jobs) they simply don’t have what I need. But again, the point here (and the point of the article) is that you should start with considering the focal lengths you gonna need and the optics available for the system (and price, of course), and then handling (ergonomics).

  • Roger Irwin

    As the original author, I’d like to say thanks for all the comments.

    Just to reply to some common points, I am a hobbyist photographer, and also an amateur writer, which is probably why I didn’t make some things clear.

    I could summarise my experience thus:

    1) I decided to try mirrorless but made a dumb decision on which camera to buy, and ended up with a model that was not at all suited to me.

    2) As I did nontheless appreciate the adavanteages of mirrorless, I tried to look at alternatives, being more critical in my selection procedure.

    3) Looking more carefully I found that the market is still in it’s infancy, and allthough there are some excellent products on offer, the market only covers a limited set of options which did not match what I was wanting. I also found that lens prices seemed to be rather high.

    4) I concluded that mirrorless is the future, that the products on offer are bound to increase, but I would be better off waiting until it does actually offer what I’m looking for before ‘switching’.

    For those who expressed an interest in equipment details, the bag that was stolen contained a D5100, an AF-S 17-40 f3.5/4.5 and a Tamron 70-300 and an AF-s 35mm f1.8. I used the prime to get more DOF, I found the f4 of the standard zoom simply was not enough, but I usually used the prime at f2.8. That 1 stop seems to make a lot of difference! I have replaced this with a D5200 and a Tamron 17-50 f2.8 (the non stablized model), I’m hoping that this zoom will suffice in place of the prime and standard zoom. I have not yet got a replacement for the lightweight telephoto, but I do have a heavy metal 70-210 AF nikkor from my F801 system. This will not AF on the D5200 as it’s screw focus, that’s not a problem for landscape but for event shooting I use it with a D80, and I must say that I’m growing to like the idea of two cameras with standard and telephoto zooms in these circumstances. Maybe I should have used a mirrorless and a DSLR? Maybe.

    Now if any of this sounds irrational then it may well be. But I’m a hobbyist, I’m here to enjoy myself, not to be efficient :D

    • JG

      D5200 and Tamron 17-50 non-VC. I shoot with that combination. Good choice.

  • neonspark

    If nikon released a A7s/A7/A7r with their sensor and with a new mount and lenses to go with….boy talk about making a killing.

    • 24×36

      Why would they “make a killing,” when nobody else manufacturing mainly mirrorless cameras is?!

  • MRomine

    Lots of full time pros are having very good success with mirror less cameras in many genre’s of photography. http://www.bestmirrorlesscamerareviews.com/2014/05/20/10-amazing-photographers-who-use-the-olympus-om-d-e-m1-on-the-job/

  • Dlakavi Zamorac

    I also went NEX and returned to DSLR few years later. It is not that NEX is bad, but simply isn’t weel thought out camera and the system is lacking lenses… wrote into details on my blog:
    http://camerahoarders.com/why-i-sold-mirrorless-and-went-back-to-dslr/

    • OttoVonChriek

      A few years ago there were many who predicted that only Nikon, Canon and Sony would be left in the serious camera market, and I would have been inclined to agree with them, perhaps making exceptions for high end products such as Leaf, Leica, Hasselblad etc.

      But now I’m not at all so convinced. It’s seems that Sony have demonstrated that it’s just not enough to be a big and great electronics company to make a great camera system.

      I think the criteria is that photography has to be the core business.

      Fuji and Olympus have shown that much smaller companies can produce a far appealing and useful camera system, even if the camera sensors and electronics have a lowwer specification.

      And Olympus have also flourished where their mighty electronics partner, Panasonic, has failed.

      And now that Pentax has been incorporated into Ricoh, another company with photography in it’s veins, I feel far more confident about that companies future.

  • pyktures

    then explore dof with 1.8g primes and then use m43 for the rest? I found dual wielding a FX+50/1.8g and a m43+75/1.8 quite effective.

  • yinle

    I’m a postgraduate student who has issue on even supporting my study life, so I don’t have good financial ability. Therefore, I could only afford single system. I currently own a77 with three lenses.

    However, if I could afford, I would like to add one NEX-7 system as my backup camera.

  • Guest

    That 75 on m4/3 had best have better isolation compared with an 85 as it’s a 150 equivalent.

  • LeBigHand

    Not too small, that equals a D300 and not a D5300 in my book..

  • Jeff Allen

    I have the opposite view. Having invested in MFT at an early stage as well as being in Canon since the original EOS 650 they both have their strenghs & weaknesses. The MFT camera & lenses really define portability and Ive been amazed at how much you can blow-up images and retain quality from the OM-D E-M5 and the OM-D E-M1 is supposed to be even better.
    My full-frame Canon 6d shows up the weaknesses of some of Canon L lenses like the 24-105mm with lateral & chromatic abberations, however lenses like the 100mm L macro truly show off full-frame as indeed does my oldest EF lens the 28mm f2.8 from 1985.
    The in-body 5 axis image stabilzation that Olympus offer in practise works better than Canon in-lens design so as a general purpose tool its better. As a landscape tool full-frame far outstrips MFT as long as the lens is up to it and I suspect this will be the limiting factor of the Nikon D810 not the camera.

  • ldallara

    The OM-5 controls seemed quite logical to me as well, I only used it briefly but we got on fine ! But I DO like using DOF for isolation, so for me it’s a non starter.

    Ah, WTF missed the boat man, you get the lens right for the 4/3 systems.

    and the OM-5 is old and has be replace. You try at least try a E-M1 or E-M10 before you start wring an article, I think you would have never gone back.

    I have a D800 and the holy trinity of lenses and never go back. Do you want to buy some FX glass cheap.

    • some.guy from.texas

      EM-5?

      • ldallara

        Olympus E-M10

      • ldallara

        Yes EM-5

  • ZoetMB

    You don’t tell us which Nikon body you were originally using but in any case, you went with the Sony NEX6, which is a $700 body, which is at the very low end of the enthusiast scale. That’s an unfair comparison unless you were using a Nikon a D3300 or D5300 or something of that ilk. And since you keep mentioning f2.8 lenses and those are quite expensive, I’m going to assume you were using a much higher-end Nikon body.

    So assuming that you were using a D7100 or better, I think your expectations were not realistic. Unless you believe that Nikon’s pricing is far more of a ripoff than is generally assumed and far in excess of Sony’s pricing, you’re comparing bodies where one is half the price of the other or even less if you were using a higher-end Nikon body.

    I think a much fairer comparison would have been to one of the bodies in the Sony A7 line, which even though have obvious faults and the lens line is not filled out yet, seems to me is far more the equivalent of an enthusiast DSLR.

    • Roger Irwin

      I do believed I added this information in a later post. Previously I had been using a D5100. I went back to using a D5200 which I purchased together with a Tamron 17-50 f2.8 lens for €750.

      So what would you suggest to achieve similar sensor and lens performance with mirrorless?

      • ZoetMB

        Don’t know at that price. You did seem to get a good deal. €750 = USD$ 1007. The D5200 goes here now for $597 and the Tamron goes for $500 if you got it without vibration compensation and $650 if you did for a total of either $1097 (€817) or $1147 (€854). Of course if you paid 20% VAT on top of that €750, then that reduces the difference.

        • Roger Irwin

          Wow, this could be a first, European prices (including 22% VAT) less than US prices!

          (D5200 body only prices start at €450 now, and the non VC lens at €300. )

          http://www.amazon.it/Nikon-D5200-Fotocamera-Digitale-Megapixel/dp/B00A2MSZUI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1406530868&sr=8-2&keywords=D5200

        • Roger Irwin

          “Don’t know at that price.”

          What about at any price? What Mirrorless camera and lens combination offers the same level of DOF control and the same Dynamic range from the sensor?

          There is no technical reason why a mirrorless camera sensor cannot match the performance of a DSLR, and theoretically mirrorless lenses have an advantage over reflex lenses. And yet the actual market is very limited, it is still very much emerging.

  • Besamess

    Went from Nikon D700 and D7000 combo to Micro4/3 with the EM-1 and GH3 for movie. I still regret the depth of field of the D700, but the difference with the D7000 is not very big… The movie is far better and my old neck and back really appreciate the small glasses and body of m43. .. Still for sports photography and dark venue, I would stick with a FF Nikon body ! But I don’t do a lot of those things now, and the profession is not what it was.. so m43 result even in high iso are ok for my needs and client.

    In big agency I can understand the needs of FF body, but I can’t explain the extra cost/weight to me…

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