I love my DSLR camera; it’s a fantastic tool that truly helps me to shoot the kind of photography I love. The many different settings give me full control of how I want to capture something. It is an absolute dream to have such a versatile and effective tool around.
But what if the camera itself is also the biggest obstacle in your way to the aesthetic loveliness you had in mind? For instance, most street photographers have probably noticed people acting differently around their big shiny piece of photographic equipment, often combined with a nice foot long lens. The scene sometimes changes because your presence is hardly subtle. People will either strike a little pose, or (most of the time) turn their heads. Some might ignore you, but most of the time it doesn’t help being someone with the obvious power to eternalize the moment. It’s also kind of a cumbersome awkward fumbling to get the camera out of the bag sometimes, and than the sheer time it takes to get your camera ready to shoot is enough to decide not to take the picture at all.
Technology has reached a point in which mirrors aren’t really very necessary to take a good photo, so proper camera’s can now grow smaller and smaller, but I was yet to find a true alternative, a camera with the great versatility of a DSLR, but the size of a large compact camera. Do they even exist? Well, maybe they do. Both Olympus and Fujifilm have released camera’s that seem to do everything you’d want them to do, but at half the size of a DSLR. (there are several more camera’s like this, but these seem to be the best)
Both of these camera’s have a great classic look, the Olympus mimics the old Olympus OM SLR’s, and the Fujifilm has borrowed its good looks from the old range finder type cameras.
So, can these new types of mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses truly replace your DSLR? It depends, for a lot of people a DSLR is simply the only tool that does what they want it to do. Most owners of a full frame DSLR will probably not consider buying anything with an APS-C sensor. But for all the non-full frame people out there, it may actually be something to consider right?
The specs have now come to a point in which they really do stack up against a DSLR camera (APS-C), so if you’re looking for high shutterspeed and high ISO settings without the the snowstorm like noise dancing around your photo, and also loads of little settings to tweak, these little guys will actually do the job. They’re even faster than the average DSLR because you don’t have the physical limitations of a mirror flappering about. There’s also the lack of an optical viewfinder that scares a lot of potential DSLR deserters. But for some people this may actually prove to be an upgrade. The high densitiy of pixels within the digital viewfinder actually makes it look almost like the real thing. And this new ‘live view’ viewfinder gives you the possibility to see what the picture is going to look like, right when your shooting, no need to shoot, then view, adjust settings and shoot again. Just adjust the settings when you’re looking through the rangefinder (or on the LCD screen of course).
But there are also a few downsides, a DSLR is big and clunky for good reason, it gives the photographer a proper solid grip. It gives you something to hold on to when you turn the zoom ring or adjust settings. The advanced autofocus systems in a DSLR are also faster than the digital version inside a mirrorless camera. And your average DSLR is much more durable than their small size counterparts. Also, these cameras are way overpriced in my opinion. The Fujifilm X-pro 1 for instance sets you back a little under 1700usd. That’s more than a full frame Eos 5D II.
But in the end it’s all about needs. Do you want to take your camera hiking, or travelling (durability), or do you often work inside a studio (proper grip, and size doesn’t matter) than there is absolutely no need to sell your DSLR and buy a mirrorless camera. Because the reliability, durability and sturdiness of a DSLR are probably the most important things to you. But if you want to be more discrete and low profile when taking your shots, for instance in street/city photography the smaller mirrorless cameras may very well be your holy grail. There isn’t much of a conclusion yet, because this new technology has only just started to earn it’s place in history. No big time professionals have abandoned their DSLR’s yet, and quite simply, DSLR’s are still every pro’s first choice. But if development keeps on going as strong as it does now, I’m sure we’ll see the first mirrorless cameras moving up the ranks of proper professional tools.