“Is it Finally Time To Go Mirrorless?” A Q&A For All The Holdouts Out There
Last week on The Grid we did an open Q&A and there were a number of questions surrounding moving to mirrorless or sticking with a DSLR, so today I thought I’d do a quick Q&A to address some of these questions. Here we go.
Q. How will I know it’s time to switch to mirrorless?
A. I would say it’s when the big camera companies stop making lenses for DSLR cameras and only make Mirrorless lenses. Another sign would be, of course, when they stop making DSLRs altogether.
Q. How soon do you it will be before those things happen?
A. They’ve both already happened. The development of lenses for DSLR cameras from the big camera manufacturers has already stopped (they have all publically announced this), and so has releasing new DSLR bodies. For example, Sony’s last DSLR was introduced back in 2016, and it was discontinued last year. Canon announced back in 2020 that their 1DX Mark III DSLR (their big high-end pro body) would be the last version of their flagship camera that would be DSLR-based. All the big camera companies, and a number of 3rd party lens manufacturers, have essentially stopped developing for DSLRs, and are now focused on making lenses (and accessories) for mirrorless cameras. We all knew this day was coming – but even I’m surprised at how fast it arrived.
Q. Is there a lot of competition happening right now between camera companies that make mirrorless cameras?
A. Like crazy. Each one keeps pushing the limits of technology and trying to “one-up” their competition, so the releases of new bodies are coming fast and furious, with more features, better high ISO performances, and every bell and whistle they can think of. It’s an exciting time, and all this competition is great for us because it keeps prices competitive and each successive camera they release gets better and better. Right now Canon, Sony, and Nikon are making the best cameras they’ve ever made.
Q. What about the competition in the DSLR space? Is there still any?
A. Well…not really. Well, I’m sure the manufacturers would tell you there still is (each company wants you to buy their existing DSLRs and lenses), but since they’re not releasing new DSLR bodies or lenses, how much competition is there? Really, none. Their sole focus is on mirrorless bodies and lenses. They’ve all publically said so.
Q. If I switch to mirrorless do I have to buy all new lenses?
A. You do not – Canon and Nikon have adapters that allow you to use most, if not all, of your existing Canon and Nikon DSLR lenses with a mirrorless camera.
Q. How much sharpness do you lose when you use one of these adapters?
A. You don’t really use any sharpness at all, and that’s what’s so great about these adapters. You don’t lose any f/stops of light or levels of sharpness – it works like it did on your DSLR.
Q. I want to stick with my DSLR – I’m just not ready to switch to mirrorless. Should I post an angry comment here or on Facebook?
A. No. Neither. There is absolutely no reason to be angry or defensive. You can absolutely stick with your DSLR (I have a few myself), and they will work just like they always have. They are great cameras, and DSLRs will still be around for many years (you probably won’t see many, or even any new DSLR bodies or lenses introduced from here on out, but they won’t come and take yours away, so you’re all set).
Q. So, you admit still have DSLRs. Are you going to be selling them?
A. Yes. Absolutely. They become worth a little less each day, so I’ll be selling all of them this summer.
Q. What will I gain moving to Mirrorless?
A. Well, besides having access to a mountain of new lenses (and more as they come out), the sharpness of today’s mirrorless lenses is nothing short of astounding. You don’t have to spend a bundle to have legendary sharpness anymore. They are just so sharp that you don’t really have to be on the hunt for a really “sharp” lens – they’re all pretty darn sharp now (in fact, I don’t really hear any mirrorless shooters talking about lens sharpness issues at all). You’ll also get all the latest features on these new mirrorless bodies. Things like shooting long exposures are so much easier, and there are auto eye-focus features that track movement which means you’ll get way fewer out-of-focus shots. You’ve got things like completely silent shooting and frames per second that no DSLR can touch. Add in-body stabilization, lower noise, less weight, and smaller physical sizes (I could go on and on), but it’s a whole different world of cool stuff, especially if you’re upgrading from a camera that’s four or five years old. You’ll be astounded at how far things have come.
Q. What will I give up moving to Mirrorless?
A. The optical viewfinder. We’re used to it in our DSLRs, and it does take a little getting used to with an Electronic Viewfinder, but the ones coming out today are SO much better than the first ones on the first round of mirrorless bodies, that you can’t even compare them. Today, they’re pretty incredible.
Q. Will I have trouble getting used to an electronic viewfinder (EVF for short)?
A. I certainly thought I would, and that’s the main reason I held out on going to mirrorless for as long as I did, but when I got a loaner of the original Canon R-series mirrorless, after a couple of days, I wasn’t even that cognisant of the difference anymore. It was the #1 thing I was worried about and it seems I was probably more concerned than I should have been, but again, it’s because the first one I looked at years ago was pretty lame. Today EVFs are vastly better and offer lots of advantages over an optical viewfinder (most of which I wasn’t aware of before).
Q. What do you like about an electronic viewfinder?
A. I would get fooled a lot by optical viewfinders, because they show you what your lens is seeing, but not what your camera sensor will actually be capturing. So, for example, I’d be taking a shot that looks good to my eye; looks the same through my optical viewfinder, but then I take the shot and my sensor captures something completely different, and my subject is totally backlit and in shadows. An EVF shows you the scene as your camera’s sensor is going to capture it, which is a huge advantage and you can adjust for things like that on the fly. Plus, the amount of information you can choose to see in your viewfinder, which is very customizable, is pretty awesome. Another benefit is that you can review your images in your viewfinder, so seeing your images on the screen outside in bright light isn’t an issue anymore – you can just view them within the darkness of your viewfinder. Try it once, and you’ll fall in love with it. Also, instead of taking a shot and then seeing you’re clipping the highlights, you can see this warning in the viewfinder, so you can deal with it before you take the shot, and not after and having to retake the same shot again. You also can actually see your depth of field before you take the shot, instead of taking the shot and then seeing how it came out. You’re seeing things like you’ve never been able to before and that’s exciting (and saves a ton of time on wasted shots). If you need another advantage; EVFs work great showing you the scene in front of you in low light situations, and they are absolutely killer when doing long exposures (you can skip the first three steps altogether that you’d have to do with a DSLR when shooting long exposures).
Q. Do I need to switch to Mirrorless right now?
A. Nope. But I would certainly start getting used to the idea of going mirrorless, as it’s not just where the camera industry is headed, it’s where they already are now. That way, when it’s time for you to make the jump to mirrorless, it won’t freak you out. In the meantime consider this: sometime very soon the only DSLRs you’ll be able to buy will be on the used camera market.
Q. What if I never switch?
A. That’s OK, too. There are still some folks out there shooting with their film cameras and they never went digital (probably the same folks who are still using Lightroom 6). You can still order traditional film online, and send it off for processing. It all still works.
Q. Well, I don’t think I’ll ever own a mirrorless camera.
A. I hate to be the one to tell you, but you already own a mirrorless camera. It’s in your phone.
Hope you found that helpful, and remember – you don’t have to post a comment telling me you’re sticking with your DSLR. Lots of people will wait until the last possible minute to switch, just like people did with their film cameras. It’s OK. We all have our own timelines – today I just wanted to make sure you’re up-to-date on where the market is today, what’s going on with the big three manufacturers, to help you make the decision easier when it’s time to make the jump.
Here’s wishing you a better-than-average Monday. :)