Is mirrorless for me?

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Cameras' started by Scribble and Shoot, Mar 16, 2016.

  1. Scribble and Shoot

    Scribble and Shoot TPF Noob!

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    Hi all:

    Sorry in advance if this is a little long. I know there are a ton of "mirrorless vs. DSLR" threads out there, and I've seen plenty of similar threads on other forums too, but I've also seen that the advice varies widely based on the photographer, so I'm hoping if I tell the experts here enough about what I do, it might help me get more targeted direction.

    As brief as possible: I'm a hobbyist shooter looking for a proper (read: quasi-professional at least) digital camera that can shoot passable video as well. I'm buying it for myself to improve my skills, but I plan to use it for work, too.

    I'm not entirely a newbie when it comes to photography, though I am largely self-taught. I worked for years as a newspaper reporter where I was expected to shoot my own stuff to go with my stories. The advice I got from the pros at the time was useful but less technical and more "have fun with it."

    This was a couple years before digital really blew onto the scene. I bought a Canon Rebel XS, which came with a kit lens that was (I think) 35-70mm. I bought an extra 75-200mm lens to give me a modest zoom when i needed it. I covered news, not sports, so a three-foot monster zoom lens was not necessary at the time. The camera also had a hot shoe, so I bought a cheap-as-chips external flash that occasionally came in handy too. I taught myself the basics of framing your subject, telling the story with the photo, etc.

    Eventually, growing digital trends made my kit obsolete, so I sold it and bought a Canon PowerShot A530, more as a "vacation" camera than anything. It's fine for portraits and simple stuff, but I rarely used it for work as it was so slow to shoot I couldn't count on things sitting still long enough for it. By the time I was at my last newspaper job (about three and a half years ago now) I was working for a company that had a "pool" camera we could sign out and use. I don't know the model number, but it was a nice, modern Nikon DSLR that I enjoyed using. I got pretty comfortable with some of the features (multi-point focus, aperture/shutter priority vs. full auto, etc.) and had I a little more time, I might have been able to figure out how to do some fancy depth-of-field stuff, and I regret not learning how to do that.

    Now, I'm sick of that pocket cam with the old-school glass viewfinder, and I'm looking to get something better. While I know quality isn't cheap, I'm trying to keep it under US $800 if I can. I don't need a high-end professional camera, but something akin to my old Canon Rebel XS might be nice, you know, better than the pocket cams, but not a $1,500 kit that I'd be too afraid of breaking.

    I now work for a nonprofit that has me traveling a lot (national and international), so anything I can do to reduce weight/bulk helps. I won't be taking a lot of "action" stuff, though I expect to shoot people moving and talking, along with people moving equipment and stuff like that. I also want to experiment with depth of field and related advanced(?) concepts so I can take better than "not bad" stuff. I don't anticipate needing a lot of lenses other than maybe a modest zoom (like above) and MAYBE a simple wide-angle at some point. That's it.

    I knew nothing about mirrorless cameras as I began my Googling, and I'm now on a steep learning curve. I've learned a lot, but I'm still torn on what to buy. For DSLRs, I like the Nikon D3300. It seems full-featured and inexpensive to boot. Fancy, but not overwhelming. That said, I'm also leaning toward the Fuji XT10. More expensive, but it seems to have the same (better?) features in a much smaller and lighter package. I understand mirrorless shoots better video, which could be key as I expect to be doing more of that in my work travels, too (seated interviews, and some documentary-style footage as well). I have a Sony HandyCam (work provided), but if my personal camera can do it just as well, that's one less gadget to tote around. I'm also told the XT10's viewfinder lag is pretty good compared to other mirrorless cameras, so it shouldn't be too hard to track moving objects.

    Sorry if this went long, but I want to make clear what I'm looking for before asking for advice. What do you guys think? Is mirrorless worth the higher price tag? Is there a better novice-friendly DSLR choice than the D3300? Any help would be much appreciated!

    Thanks for reading.


     
  2. robbins.photo

    robbins.photo Yup, It's The Zoo Guy Supporting Member

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    Mirroless in a nutshell: Upside: Lighter, smaller, easier to carry. Downside: smaller sensor so not as good in low light, AF is not as good for action shots, lens selection will be limited and usually more expensive, same with many accessories such as external flash

    So if the downsides are not a big deal to you, then yes, mirrorless might be a good choice for you. If not, DSLR. Honestly if you want my recommendation, I'd go DSLR. If your new to photography it will allow you to keep your options open. I'd tend to recommend mirrorless more for folks that already have a good handle on what they need for equipment - the reason being that your not just buying a camera so much as investing in a system.

    Just my 2 cents worth of course, YMMV
     
  3. petrochemist

    petrochemist TPF junkie!

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    I have APS-C DSLRs & Micro 4/3 mirrorless systems.
    For challenging situations (airshows/motorsports/birding or rain!) I feel my DSLRs are generally a little better than my mirrorless bodies. They are however considerably heavier so the mirrorless get used more. despite the DSLRs perceived advantage in use the mirrorless also seem to cope well, and it's only with mirrorless that I've ever managed to catch dragonflies in flight! (Hours trying in vain with a DSLR, first try with the G1, I got several good shots in one lunch hour.) My newest mirrorless is newer than my newest DSLR so for low light there's little difference, despite the smaller sensor.

    If you want to play with adapting old lenses then mirrorless is definitely worth 'the extra price'. The mirrorless bodies are capable of using my DSLR lenses via adapters that can add options like tilt/extension/focal length reduction... though the adaption means I loose AF etc.

    My mirrorless cameras were all brought used for £250 or less, so my main DSLR £450 (used) was significantly more expensive. In general I think mirrorless are roughly comparable with DSLRs on price : function, though it will no doubt vary across other brands.

    I've not seen a recent camera that's not quite capable of taking great shots on an everyday basis. However I find some MUCH easier to use than others. At our weekly Photography workshop I've had to help out with many different cameras - personally I hate the budget Canon models an setting seems to need menu diving. Also some cameras feel awkward in my hands. This has led me to realize ergonomics are very important in getting a camera that's right for you. Of course the differences in specs. can make significant differences in more difficult shots - Better systems come into their own for big enlargements, fast action, low light...

    For video the mirrorless systems are definitely better, but I hardly ever shoot video. I got my first mirrorless specifically to play with tilting lenses (G1 & tilt adapter was ~1/10 the cost of a tilt lens for my DSLR). I didn't expect to like the EVF much. However having tried it, I've been converted hence the subsequent body upgrade.

    If possible it's best to try a camera body out before you buy it. How it fits in your hand & how you get on with the controls is not something you can judge over the net.
     
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  4. sashbar

    sashbar Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Have fun with it is actually a good advice:).
    I still have Nikon 5100 that is similar to 3300 and recently tried 3300 in my office - it is a nice little camera, nothing wrong with it, and I also enjoyed using D5100, but FUJI X line is definitely more fun and better cameras in my view. I have XT1 so I guess XT10 is not that dissimilar apart from the lack of ISO dial and smaller viewfinder.
    FUJI X has better lenses, the kit 18-55 is not expensive and excellent, you may also add an amazing 35 mm 1.4 for your shallow depth of field experiments, it is truly is an astonishing lense with great color rendition. It has several top quality wide primes, 10-24 that I have is another very, very good lense, but we are well over your budget limit by now..
    I had been shooting with Nikon APSC for some time and ultimately found their APSC lenses good, competent but not really exiting. I could have switched to Nikon full frame lenses/cameras, but both options were out of question due to the size and weight, I wanted to keep it compact, as I mostly shot street.
    So the FUJI line with its compact but not too small bodies and lenses was a good upgrade. The image quality is great, FUJI JPEG colours are unmatched and with a good converter/editor like Capture One Pro it is a very, very good system.
    There are some differences between mirror less and DSLRs and you need to be aware of it, I think you have done your research already.
    All in all, FUJI will be a bit more expensive, but in my view it is worth every penny.
    I you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask.

    Regarding the FUJI X AF, it is still lagging behind prosumer and pro DSLRs, but it is at least as good as 2-3 years old beginners DSLR models. It may be not as fast as you would likein some low light situations, but on a positive side the focus points are spread evenly around the sensor, it focuses right on it, it has no focus mirror, so no back/forward issues unlike DSLRs. With fast wide open lenses a good mirrorless camera focuses dead on, unlike a DSLR which may miss sometimes. But yes a mirrorless AF may hunt or hesitate in some difficult light situations and it does not track well. If you do not shoot action, it is not a problem though.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2016
  5. petrochemist

    petrochemist TPF junkie!

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    Mirrorless does not mean smaller sensor. The Sony A7 is a full frame mirrorless, there are several APS-C mirrorless models. When it first came out the A7 seemed to thrash every DSLR on low light performance. I think several have since caught up.

    With native lenses µ4/3 is fairly comparable to CaNikon on price, the range is perfectly adequate & if you add in adaptable lenses mirrorless FAR exceeds any DSLR.
    My 3rd party TTL flash for µ4/3 was about £30, so price there certainly wasn't excessive either. :)
     
  6. Scribble and Shoot

    Scribble and Shoot TPF Noob!

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    Thanks a ton for all the replies!

    @robbins.photo: Yeah, a little worried about low light AF with the mirrorless. Not sure if it will ever be an issue, but I'm not sure I like that potential limitation. You hit on the main reason I posted in the first place: I know a DSLR is the "safer" choice for a lot of stuff, not to mention cheaper, but mirrorless cameras are smaller and lighter, which does help, and having a good video option is tempting, too, but I fear I'm going to shell out a lot of money for something that isn't worth it. Decisions, decisions...

    @petrochemist: Yeah, I won't be playing with lenses right away, and when I do, I can't imagine buying more than one or two. Do you think the Nikon would be harder to travel with? I'd love to hold one first before I bought it, but since there are no decent camera shops near where I live, I'm forced to buy "blind" on the Internet. <sarcasm> Yay for e-commerce! </sarcasm>

    @sashbar: Yeah, the only other difference I know between the T1 and the T10 is the T10 is less weatherproof. Definitely a cheaper alternative. How bad is the AF on the Fuji? What would I have trouble shooting with it?
     
  7. robbins.photo

    robbins.photo Yup, It's The Zoo Guy Supporting Member

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    When I got my first DSLR the decision wasn't nearly as difficult, mirrorless systems were still pretty new. They've made a lot of advances in the technology in a fairly short time, and they make some impressive mirrorless cameras now. I guess the thing that has kept me from getting into mirrorless the most at this point is the longevity.

    I'm pretty confident that 5 years from now they will still be making stuff compatible with my current DSLR. I can't really say that about most mirrorless systems. Sony has made some impressive cameras - but in all honesty at least to me it seems like they can't decide on a direction. Five years from now will they still support the a-mount? E-mount? Or replace them both with something new?

    I know folks who have mirrorless, and love them. But I guess my thought process is, especially for those just getting into photography, go with something that will give you the most options over the long haul - unless you really feel like you absolutely need something smaller and lighter. A basic DSLR with a short range zoom lens really is not huge or a major burden to carry by any means. On those occasions when I do switch out the 70-200 mm F/2.8 for something smaller like the 17-50mm, believe me, I barely notice I'm carrying the thing at all.
     
  8. Scribble and Shoot

    Scribble and Shoot TPF Noob!

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    Still on the fence. The Nikon D3300 has the same APS-C sensor as the X-T10 does, and I have yet to see a full-frame DSLR in my price range, so the sensor will be identical no matter which way I go. Good points about longevity. I get that buying a Nikon will give me a range of lenses to choose from, both now and years from now. That said, I don't imagine building a collection of lenses, so I may still chance the mirrorless. If I get one or two good ones now, it may be years before I even think about an upgrade. Robbins, you're right. It IS tough!
     
  9. robbins.photo

    robbins.photo Yup, It's The Zoo Guy Supporting Member

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    You can also consider that from the reverse angle, if you buy a couple of lenses now and 5 years from now want to upgrade the camera body, will they still be making camera bodies that work with your lenses? Or at that stage will you be stuck with an abandoned format? Don't get me wrong, I don't think mirrorless is a horrible thing or a bad choice overall, I just tend to look at from the perspective that mirrorless is still pretty new. Since I still have several betamax machines collecting dust in the basement, I tend to shy away from that sort of thing till a better track record gets established. Again, just my 2 cents worth, YMMV.
     
  10. IronMaskDuval

    IronMaskDuval Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    My only complaint is that most mirrorless cameras do not have dual memory card slots. This causes me to pull my card very often to mitigate the damage caused by a failure, which I have yet to experience.

    If you are looking into the Fuji system, just keep in mine that prior to the X Pro 2, all of the cameras were basically the same thing. The X-T10 is not going to produce any less or any more of a better picture than the X-E2, X-T1, X-Pro1, and perhaps the X-E1. The X-E1 is the only one that produces a noticeable EVF lag, which goes away when the shutter is held down half way. The X-T1 provides the largest evf out of the X line, which is extremely useful in harsh lighting conditions. I love all of the X line cameras. As a note, Fuji really focuses on the photographer who takes his time. Video is only a second thought.

    If you want to go a bit cheaper, you can go with a micro 4/3 system. Anything after the EM5 Mark I will have a high refresh evf, so lag will not be so noticeable. The EM-10 is a good, cheaper option that can produce the same image quality as its bigger brothers, the EM-1 and EM5 Mark I and II. The obvious pitfall, which may not even be one, is that it takes a bit more effort in a faster lens to produce shallow dof compared to its larger sensor competitors. If you are concerned about videos, the Lumix systems are really good at both stills and videos.

    The final option is full frame with the Sony A7 series, which can be had for $700 used. This is a downright, amazing camera with what I consider to be the best evf and best focus peaking to assist in manual focusing. The downfall to both the A7 series is that you have to have good glass to produce the best images. The menu is weird, but you get used to it. It's also ugly compared to the X-T1 and EM-5. The dynamic range on this thing is also phenomenal. You can under or overexpose and still be able to correct in post without issue... as if nothing ever went wrong. I personally think the video is great. Some people will complain that the base model A7 doesn't produce the best video, but it produces quite acceptable video.

    In any event, a mirrorless system is great. What you see in the evf is what you get, and missing shots because of incorrect exposure is a thing of the past. Native lenses are few, but the same really applies to dslr cameras when we're talking professional grade lenses. The lens benefit of ALL mirrorless systems is that they all shoot legacy lenses, and they shoot them well. Equipped with focus peaking, manual focusing can at times be nearly as fast as auto focusing when you become well verse with your equipment. The Sony wins in focus peaking, hands down. The ability to purchase and use a fast and sharp 50 for $30 is not founded in dslrs. The weight is really negligible compared to dslr, but the size isn't. You can slap a pancake on any of these cameras have a powerhouse street camera. Can a mirrorless replace a dslr? Yes. Can a dslr replace a mirrorless? Yes. It's all about what you're comfortable with. Don't let anyone tell you one or the other is not good enough anymore for modern photographers. I love them both, but I will never use a dslr for my main camera again.

    All of this is my two cents, but I own every brand of the top mirrorless cameras along with their entry level cameras and their flagships.
     
  11. sashbar

    sashbar Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    @sashbar: Yeah, the only other difference I know between the T1 and the T10 is the T10 is less weatherproof. Definitely a cheaper alternative. How bad is the AF on the Fuji? What would I have trouble shooting with it?[/QUOTE]

    It is not bad at all, it is on par with Nikon 3xxx and 5xxx DSLRs if you use mostly the central point with Nikon, but since it works differently, it behaves differently in various situations and technique. Sometimes Nikon will work better and sometimes FUJI will be preferable. It is difficult to explain in a post. If you do not shoot fast action, like basketball in a questionable light environment, then you will have no problems. In decent light it is as fast as you like.

    There will be guys who will say here that FUJI X10 AF is inferior to NIKON DSLR. But if you ask them which exactly Nikon model do they mean, it will always be an advanced prosumer or a pro body with good lenses that they shoot with. That is 2-3 time more expensive that FUJI X10 with a kit lense.

    If you are choosing between baby Nikon and FUJI X, bear in mind that baby Nikon is aimed squarely at beginners, whereas FUJI X is an advanced camera. It is simply a better camera even if it is a different camera in many ways. By the end of the day it will give you a better image quality.


    There is a certain line or a threshold between simply very good and exiting. FUJI X crosses this line in my view, Nikon 3xxx and 5xxx do not. But it is very personal, and you may feel otherwise.

    Anyway, lots of pros and ex pros shoot with these FUJI these days, having ditched their ful frames, and they are more than happy. For some reason I am yet to see one professional photog with D3300.

    As for longevity of the FUJI line vs Nikon, Nikon is always a safe bet, but FUJI X is a profitable line for FUJI, they invested a lot into the lenses, I have 7 or 8 of their lenses and do not worry at all about future camera upgrades. FUJI is not Sony in that respect where you do need to worry.

    Nikon will have two clear advantages. First it's battery lasts twice as long, with FUJI I carry a couple of spare ones. And secondly Nikon baby line is cheaper.
     
  12. jsaras

    jsaras TPF Noob!

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    I shot this album with an Olympus EPL6 and the two kit lenses: olympus kit lenses-12: jsaras: Galleries: Digital Photography Review. The total cost was $399 and it covers 28-300mm equiv focal range. It's a great place to start and the selection of micro four thirds lenses is very extensive as both Panasonic, Olympus, Sigma, Voightlander and Rokinon support the mount.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     

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