Should I switch to mirrorless?
It’s a question we’ve been hearing a lot lately here at Webbcam, so I wanted to take a moment and address some of the most common questions and misconceptions people have about moving from a traditional DSLR camera to a mirrorless system. I, personally, was hesitant to switch from my trusty Nikon DSLRs and lenses but made the jump to Sony late last year and haven’t looked back.
The murmurs swirling about the “rise of mirrorless photography” reached a crescendo at the end of 2018, with Nikon and Canon finally releasing their own responses to Sony’s rapidly growing full-frame mirrorless offerings. Long dismissed by many as a technology that would never rival traditional DSLRs, it is now apparent that mirrorless is not only here to stay but is poised to dominate the market in years to come.
So why should you consider switching? The biggest reason for many people is, simply put, weight! Before I sold off my Nikon gear, I weighed my typical wedding loadout – with the bag, it came to 22 pounds! After finalizing my Sony kit, I did the same thing – while not comprised of the same exact setup, a two-body wedding kit (with smaller bag) came in just over 14 pounds. I find that this not only takes less of a toll on me after a long day of shooting, but it also makes me want to actually carry my mirrorless gear out to shoot personal and family photos with as well – something I would normally never do with my heavier Nikon DSLRs.
The main hesitation many of our customers have about switching to mirrorless is the viewfinder. The lousy, low resolution electronic viewfinders of yesteryear have given EVF’s a bad reputation that has lingered to this day; thankfully, EVF technology has evolved considerably in the past few years and they are no longer a hindrance but actually offer many benefits over a reflex-mirror optical viewfinder. I personally find that using an EVF versus the traditional DSLR viewfinder results in much less eye strain at the end of a long day, especially when shooting in low-light situations. In addition, the EVF can amplify the light levels in the viewfinder in low light situations, making following action and composition much less difficult.
You might be wondering why, as a former Nikon DSLR user, I wouldn’t stay with Nikon and go with the z6 or z7. Don’t get me wrong, Nikon’s Z-series cameras are fantastic and have a lot of strong points in their favor to persuade existing users to stick with the system. For users wanting to retain their existing F-mount lenses, the FTZ mount adapter works extremely well and gives full compatibility with no loss of performance. The FTZ adapter also makes it easy to ease into the switch; for photographers that shoot with two cameras, you can retain one of your DSLRs and try out the z6 as your second body while still being able to utilize most of the same lenses.
The z6 has excellent ergonomics, and being slightly taller than the A7 III it has a more comfortable grip that has room for your pinky finger without needing an extension like the Sony. It also has the best EVF of the three cameras featured, with a resolution of 3.68 million pixels. Canon’s EVF is roughly the same resolution but we have found Nikon’s to be a little bit less laggy and more enjoyable to use. Overall, Nikon has done a great job of retaining a familiar layout and feature set which will make the transition for existing Nikon users very painless.
- Great backwards compatibility with Nikon F mount lenses
- Superb build quality
- Adds some great features for video shooters, including a future firmware update that will allow 4k RAW shooting
- Single card slot with a hard-to-find card format (XQD)
- Currently has the smallest selection of native lenses
- Poor battery life
Sony A7 III
Shown here with the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 Di III for Sony E Mount: $879.95
The main things that attracted me to the Sony system were the wide selection of native lenses, ever-increasing third party support, and just the overall feel, speed and reliability. While a single card slot wasn’t a dealbreaker for me, I do love the added peace of mind that having dual slots provides. Folks looking to switch from Canon have a few good options for adapters if they want to retain their Canon glass; the Metabones and Sigma MC-11 adapters do a pretty good job of retaining most of the lens functionality, although there is a small sacrifice in autofocus speed versus using a native Sony E mount lens. Sadly, there is not a decent Nikon F mount adapter that we have found as of yet; users who have Nikon glass they cannot part with would be advised to stick with the Z system instead.
You may have noticed this is the only camera featured here with a non-OEM lens; that’s because we’ve found the combination of the Sony A7III and the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 to be an incredible combination in terms of performance, balance, and price point. Tamron has been building some great lenses the last few years, and the 28-75mm is no exception. It gives excellent sharpness and wonderful out of focus area rendering in a package that just feels “right” on the Sony body. It’s also almost half the weight of Sony’s 24-70mm f2.8 G Master lens, and close to a third of the price.
- Great lens ecosystem
- Great price-to-performance
- Superb autofocus speed and burst shooting capability
- Smaller grip leads to slightly worse ergos than Canon or Nikon
- No true factory service in USA – subcontracted, can be slow/expensive
- Flash hot shoe seems small/flimsy; OEM flashes are not the best, but many aftermarket options are available
Canon EOS R
Canon’s first offering in a full-frame mirrorless camera (recently joined by the new, smaller EOS RP) shares a lot of professional features with its DSLR cousin the EOS 5D Mark IV. Both feature ~30 megapixel sensors and dual-pixel autofocus. The R is quite a bit slimmer and lighter and also adds a horizontal flip-out swivel screen, which is a great feature for video shooters. Just like Nikon, Canon offers its own lens adapter which allows the use of EF mount lenses on the R system bodies so if you have certain specialty EF-mount lenses that you can’t live without, the R is probably the simplest choice although the Canon to Sony adapters are a passable solution as well.
Dollar for dollar, we find the EOS R to be a better option for people trying to decide between that and the EOS 5D Mark IV. The EOS R is currently $700 cheaper including the 24-105mm lens (factoring instant rebates) and boasts a newer Digic 8 image processor, native ISO 40,000 performance (vs 32,000 on the 5D), and a whopping 5,655 phase detection autofocus points.
- Shutter closes to protect sensor when not in use
- Excellent ergonomics
- Rapidly expanding selection of lenses, new cameras on horizon
- Single card slot
- Higher price point than Nikon/Sony for a kit
- No in-body stabilization
Making the transition to mirrorless can be intimidating, but here at Webbcam we’re committed to giving you the guidance and information you need to make a smooth transition. At the time of this writing, Nikon and Sony both have aggressive incentives for people looking to trade in cameras towards one of the mirrorless products featured in this article; in addition to your trade allowance, both manufacturers offer $200 instant savings on top when trading in any working digital camera. These programs both run until the end of March, so if you’re interested in making the leap stop by or call today!