As I shift to Mirrorless, why do I keep my DSLR?
A reader recently left a comment which asked why I still keep my Canon 7D if I’m so happy with my move to mirrorless.
There is one thing in your reasoning that sounds odd to me, if not contradictory. You think this is the time for most photographers to switch to a mirrorless, but, at the same time, admit that you keep your 7D for some special occasions. Where is the simplicity, if you actually need 2 systems to take care of all the situations?
Before I talk about my case, I should start with the broader market. There are valid reasons for using a DSLR and if you like yours and it serves you well, then by all means continue to use it. However, if you are itching for a smaller camera that takes equally good pictures, mirrorless may be the way to go — it’s worked for me and a bunch of my friends. But don’t misconstrue this statement to mean everyone should switch to mirrorless. DSLRs are old tech, in one sense, but old does not mean bad.
Despite the trend towards mirrorless cameras, DSLRs are not going to disappear. They will continue to be used in certain applications for the foreseeable future. Even Rangefinder cameras (like the Leica M series), which are long past their heyday, are still being sold. So when I say that DSLRs are an ancronism and mirrorless is the future, realize that this trend will take many years and some people will never switch.
Cameras, like life, are a series of trade offs — there are no perfect cameras. If you are an Associated Press photographer and shooting the Olympics, I would not recommend using a mirrorless camera. Pro-level DSLRs are really geared for that kind of shooting. That said, it doesn’t mean that mirrorless cameras can’t shoot sports, it’s just not the ideal camera. Heck, a photo journalist did a bang up job taking photos at the Olympics using his iPhone. Likewise, if you want to do street photography, need a travel camera or want a small everyday camera, DSLRs are not the best choice. It doesn’t mean, of course, DSLRs can’t serve that function, it’s just their size and weight tends to get in the way.
But what If I want to shoot it all, you say, street photography, travel photography, sports, kids and weddings? Well I’m sorry to say that you will need to compromise. You will have to weigh the relative uses of each function and decide for yourself what the main purpose of the camera will be. Yes, it is hard sometimes, especially if you want just one camera to do it all. My friend, Mike, is contemplating selling his Canon 5D and the Fujifilm X100 to get one camera, possibly a FujiFilm X-Pro 1. There will be tradeoffs. He will need to compromise and give up some flexibility to do this. But Mike is an experienced photographer so he is savvy enough to make an intelligent decision.
For me, I decided to take the opposite tack. I don’t struggle to find the perfect camera for all situations since I decided to use multiple, different cameras. Yes, most of what I shoot is now done with my Olympus Pens — they are perfect for the type of photography that I enjoy and post on mostlyfotos. But, I don’t expect my Olympus Pens to handle 100% of my photographic needs. I use my Canon 7D and even point and shoots to supplement my Olympus. And truth be told, while the photography comes first, I am also a camera enthusiast — I enjoy shooting with different types of cameras. That is probably one of the main reasons I keep my 7D around as well as my older Olympus E-PL1s and my Sony NEX-5.
But this multi-camera approach has its downsides too. It is also a compromised solution. I need to learn multiple different interfaces. It costs more money. It takes up more space and adds more clutter. Having that one perfect camera would certainly makes things simpler but it’s something that doesn’t exist for me just yet. Perhaps in the future, as technologies improve and I increasingly specialize on a particular type of photography, I can begin to shed cameras. I may however, struggle to overcome my love of using many different cameras. At least for now, you the reader will benefit from me playing with different models and contrasting their strengths and weaknesses on this blog.