On my first visit to Taipei, I had my Canon 60D with a great Sigma lens, flash and laptop with me for Computex 2014 coverage. I planned to buy a Full Flame DSLR on my visit to Taipei (from famous camera street!), but I ended up with mirrorless cameras! Read on to see what happened that changed my decision completely.
As you know I`m an IT journalist and in order to take a good coverage of exhibitions like Computex, I have to bring a good set of equipments to do take photos and make them ready as soon as possible. Canon 60D with the lovely Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4 does its job in a good way, but after a day of walking through different booths and shooting, the camera and other equipments made me so tired! I just wanted to throw them away and get some rest. Another strange thing to was other journalist, that many of them had mirrorless cameras with them and they seemed to be satisfy with that.
So I gave it another thought. Should I really upgrade to a Canon full frame camera which is heavier than my current camera? I`m already so tired with this heavy thing and with my upgrade, I won`t be happy with the weight too. It is time to take a look at wha`s available in mirrorless cameras world and see what they have to offer in matter of quality and flexibility.
I checked some websites and photographers blogs, and I ended up with the idea of considering mirrorless cameras from Fujifilm and Sony. according to my budgets, I had few options and in the end, I went for Fujifilm X-M1 with default lens and a 27mm f2.8 lens. It was all I could get with my budget in that time and I`m still happy with my choice. Fujifilm X-M1 is not a high end camera, it does not even have a viewfinder (which is a really crucial part for a camera!). it was one of the Fujifilm newest mirrorless cameras that implemented new X-series sensors which is about to bring a high level of quality (and it really does!). Design is interesting, although it is not the best ergonomic camera in this category and it is mostly a beginner mirrorless camera.
Sony NEX-6 Mirrorless camera, Old Bazaar, Yazd, Iran
Why I like mirrorless cameras?
Well, it is light! Finally I can move around for long hours without getting tired of heavyweight on my shoulder or my backpack. Sensor size is big enough to get lots of details, and camera logic is so smart to even outperform my previous camera in several lighting situations. Several lenses are available, which means I have enough flexibility to do photography. Many (not all) manual settings are also available for me too.
Being small, can be a good advantage in some places. There are situations that you want to stay in low profile and don`t get attention of people around you. Specially in countries and places that people don`t know how they should react to photographers! Mirrorless cameras can be good choice in such places.
What are the main limitations with mirrorless cameras?
Except from those high end mirrorless cameras, midrange and entry level mirrorless cameras does not have the ergonomic level of DSLRs. These cameras are small and because of that, designers have limitations to put buttons and controls at your fingertips to do different settings in a short moment. Sometimes I have to go to Setting Menu to change something common, and I must admit a DSLR is much more convenient in case of ergonomics.
Second main issue with mirrorless cameras is battery life. In a DSLR, I mostly use optical viewfinder which consumes very little battery charge and back screen lights up only to show me a preview of what I shot. I can remember I could shoot almost 1000 photos with a full charged battery on Canon 60D. Now on Fujifilm X-M1, I don`t have a luxury of long battery life. In a long session of photo shooting during CES 2016, I consumed all battery life and I had to go on with my friends camera. Even High end mirrorless cameras cannot compete with DSLRs in terms of battery life. Although they have a viewfinder, but that viewfinder is electronic and battery capacity is way smaller than what is common for a DSLR. So if you are about to take a lot of photos with a mirrorless, consider to get an extra battery with you.
Remember I said staying low profile is an advantage of small size of such cameras? Well it can be a disadvantage too! There are still people around us that think a big camera means that the photographer is professional and small one means you are an amateur walking around and just taking photos for fun! This happened to me in a press conference with some officials of health organizations of Iran. Others had those big DSLRs and I was among them with my little mirrorless, and of course I had judgement of people present in the press conference and their look upon me too!
Sony NEX-6 Mirrorless Camera
Will I continue with mirrorless cameras?
Sure! These are amazing digital products that can meet my needs very well. I am completely satisfied with the picture quality of Fujifilm mirrorless cameras and for my next mirrorless, I would definitely choose one with a viewfinder. I hope I can get my hands on Sony full frames, which seems to be a great choice for those looking for top rated quality in this field.