A couple of years ago, I bit the bullet and moved to a mirrrorless camera and ditched my DSLR. Was this a decision I’d live to regret?
For those who don’t know, a mirrorless camera is simply what it says in the name. It’s mirrorless. On the DSLR camera systems, there is mirror mechanism built inside the camera. This can add a lot of weight to the camera, and as a travel photographer, it was a pain having to lug around a heavy camera all of the time! The new mirrorless compact systems are built without the mirror, making them a lot lighter. But the really great feature about them, is they still have the big sensors, meaning the quality of pictures is still up there with the DSLR cameras. And they have the interchangeable lenses, like a DSLR. The more I read up about them, the more I knew I had to trade in my DSLR and get one for myself.
My old DSLR camera was a Nikon D7100. I’d been using Nikon for years for my university work. Mainly because at the time it was one of the two main brands that professional photographers used, Nikon or Canon. At the time I started university, Sony and the other brands weren’t known for being able to match the quality. The cameras were cheap, and they were miles behind the likes of Nikon and Canon. I picked Nikon mainly because my Father did a lot of photography, and he always used Nikon. He already had a bunch of lenses I could borrow, and I obviously knew it was a brand I could rely on. Photography isn’t a cheap hobbie by any means, so it’s nice to know you aren’t wasting your money.
Towards the end of my degree, that’s when mirrorless cameras really started taking off. The quality was up there with the likes of Nikon and Canon. Especially the Sony Alpha series. I knew a few people from university who were trading in their camera gear and swapping to the new mirrorless system. They couldn’t speak more highly about it. It even made past students, that at the time were working as professional photographers in London, trade in their Nikon and Canon gear. I thought at the time it must be good!
After nipping into a few camera shops and asking to play with some, I instantly fell in love. They were easy to use, and I could see in store, the quality and colours were so much better than my Nikon. I traded in my heavy DSLR without a second thought, and bought a Sony A7. At the time, this had just been released, along with the Sony A7r, which had also got everyone talking. The major downside to the Sony A7r was the price. At the time it was around £500 more than the Sony A7. Yes it had more megapixels, but the Nikon D7100 that I had been using, had the same megapixels as the Sony A7. So I wasn’t really missing out. Plus I had read of people complaining about the file sizes of the Sony A7r. As with any camera with huge megapixels, the file sizes are always going to be a lot bigger. For many photographers, this wouldn’t make a difference. But as a travel photographer that is constantly snapping away, file size with the A7r could have been an issue.
Instantly I noticed a change in the quality of my photography. The colours were more vivid, the details were more noticeable. I loved everything about it. Especially the lighter weight! My only real downside when I first moved to the Sony E mount, is the amount of lenses available. At the time, with it still being a fairly new concept, there wasn’t many lenses at all. I managed to get by with my kit lens, 28-70mm. And I tried an adapter so I could use some of my old Nikon lenses, but the quality was lost within the adapter. It was highly annoying!
A couple of years down the line, and more lenses are now available, along with new mirrorless compact systems. The mirrorless system is more popular than ever, and I think Nikon and Canon have got to pull something pretty impressive out of the bag to keep up with the likes of Sony. How the tables have turned! I’ve had friends that have seen the quality of my images, and traded in their gear for a Sony. That’s how impressive these little cameras are!
So do I have any regrets about moving to mirrorless? None, whatsoever. I couldn’t speak more highly of my Sony A7. Everyday I’m still amazed by the quality of my images. When I go back to look at my old Nikon photos, it’s really annoying that the colours aren’t more vivd and the details aren’t more defined. My Father isn’t as sold on the idea. He still loves his Nikon, and he’s set in his ways. He soon managed to pick fault with my Sony. His main moan was how small the dials are. Which to a man, they probably are. To a girl with skinny fingers and small hands, it’s a blessing. He also complained about how light the camera was, pointing out that on a windy day, doing long exposures on a tripod, that’s when a DSLR would be better. It’s true, and I’ve experienced the frustration from seeing the blur on a long exposure image on a windy night. But a few weights on the tripod, and I’ve soon managed to get away with it.
Long exposure taken in Singapore with my Sony A7
It’s also worth pointing out, while we’re talking about the negatives, that Sony claim the A7 isn’t weather sealed. You might think this is a terrible investment for a travel photographer, that has to battle all kinds of weather. Honestly, I’ve stood there in the pouring rain, and it hasn’t caused me any issues. I’ve dried the camera properly before putting it away, which you should do anyway, even if your camera is weather sealed! Even with my Nikon, that was weather sealed, I was never going to leave it for hours in the freezing cold or in the pouring rain. I don’t think any camera, weather sealed or not, would take that kind of battering. So I’ve never really found this to be as big of an issue, as I thought it might have been when I first bought it.
Honestly, if you’re sick of your bulky, heavy DSLR, it’s definitely worth considering the mirrorless range. The range is just getting bigger, and I’m sure by the end of the year, Sony will release even more lenses. If you’re wanting to take your travel photography to the next level, and move on from your phone, or little compact system camera, then mirrorless is definitely the way to go. It took my travel photography to the next level, and I was already a photographer.
My kit is a Sony A7, with the kit lens 28-70mm. I also have a 50mm lens, after borrowing a friends and falling in love with the quality, I bought one myself. And I also have a Samyang 12mm, mainly for long exposure night shots. I did have the basic zoom lens, 55-210mm. But I sold this on, after finding out I didn’t really have a need for it, and the quality was nowhere near the other lenses. If I had tried the Sony A7 with that lens for the first time, I don’t think I would own a Sony A7 today, the quality was terrible in comparison, and really let Sony down.
Any questions, feel free to ask.