Mirrorless or DSLR? That is the question. With a myriad of mirrorless options available many photographers are beginning to wonder if it’s time to make a change. Loweprofessional Kt Miller recently decided to take the mirrorless plunge and shared her experience with us. Enjoy!
I’ve been pondering the idea for years. The field of photography I specialize in— ski photography— has unique requirements and demands on equipment; it must be durable, it must be able to repel moisture, it needs to be fairly mobile and easy to put in a backpack, and it needs to be able to freeze very fast action while producing sharp images.
Beyond general ski photography, my niche is even more specific. I specialize in human-powered backcountry ski photography, and in many ways I am just as much a skier as I am a photographer. So, for me, weight is a BIG deal. We will often ski 10+ miles and up to or even beyond 6,000 vertical feet (human powered) day after day. As you can imagine every pound counts.
So, I’ve been wanting to go mirrorless to save weight, but was waiting for reviews on cameras that showed an improvement in auto-focus tracking and overall speed. There are now a few options available (the Olympus OM-D-E-M1ii being the breaking point for me) that supposedly have very fast auto focus tracking and extremely high shutter speeds. So I went for it. I’ve been shooting my new Olympus now for about two weeks.
My new mirrorless rig is about half the weight of my DSLR (significant!). The quality is quite high, and it’s FUN to shoot. It has a bit of an old 35mm feel to it. It just feels nice. I’m far from being able to give it a fair comparison to my DSLR as far as quality. My initial impressions are that it isn’t quite on par, but it’s good enough. The files are a bit smaller, it’s very sharp, it’s auto tracking focus is quite good, the speed is more than sufficient (I’ve been fondly calling rapid fire mode, the machine gun mode), and I’ve had to work on color more in post. But with some more fine-tuning, it very well might meet the mark. Last night I was equating it to a horse. There’s no denying I’m riding a smaller steed, but the capabilities of the animal are yet to be tested and proven— and sometimes it’s the small and agile guy that rises to the front of the pack.
I do, however, believe that smaller and lighter is the future (with ski equipment too). And I can tell you that I don’t think my DSLR will be making the cut for many more ski outings. The weight savings is just too significant.
I was told by a mentor once that, “The best photographer is the one who goes to the craziest places.” The camera is just a tool. The best pictures are the ones you take. And as I may carry my new camera to places where the old one wouldn’t make the cut (too heavy, too bulky to have out front while skiing a steep couloir), perhaps this new rig will be a better tool.