I read the article by Martin Gillman about moving back from mirrorless to DSLRs which was published on DIYP a while back and had to respond.
To get some background on me, I am amateur photographer, in the original meaning of the word (lover of) and also in the sense, that I don’t shoot paid gigs anymore. I used to work as a concert, event photographer, shooting around 20 gigs a week. For seven years, I’ve been a staff photographer at Prague based tattoo and body mod studio Hell.cz again shooting gigs and shows, at current time I am working with few pantomime theater groups besides doing my own stuff that ranges from building pinholes to shooting and developing 4×5 slide film with a view camera. (see murhaaya.com for yourself)
I mentioned the gigs to give you some idea, that I’ve sort of been around the block and I am not blabbing about something I don’t know anything about. My main workhorse now is still a Canon 5D Mark II with a four prime lenses ranging from 24/1.4 to 85/1.8. No zooms, that’s how I roll. You roll however you like.
Now to the point: There are points in Mr. Gillman’s article that I can agree with, hell, I can agree with just about anything and everything. Are mirrorless cameras smaller? In general, yes. Are they more durable? In general, no. Are they whatever? The answer is always “In general…” because as with everything in life the answer is and should be “it depends”.
That is also the main bone that I have to pick with Mr. Gillman. Why would professional photographer, that should now something about gear and definitely ins and outs of his equipment think, that a certain mirrorless camera would be a good choice for shooting a toddler in the dark (and based one’s opinion on the camera on that)? It seems to me like claiming that Linhof Technika is terrible camera and I am coming back to the 5D because the focusing just takes too long and the shutter lag is nothing to brag about either.
Or being furious about lack of resolution on Tri-X pushed to 1600 compared to the PAN 25 and then in next paragraph criticizing PAN 25 for not having enough sensitivity to shoot church wedding in available light. It just does not make sense. Would you go to professional photo shoot with Olympus Stylus Epic II (or Mju II)? You maybe not, but some people swear by this little gem of Japanese engineering disregarding its quirks. It just depends what you want and how you want it, what are the conditions… it just depends. For some situations I am more than happy to leave the 5D setup at home and go with a compact mirrorless.
It’s about a year when I bought myself a mirrorless camera. Canon EOS M. Yes you read correctly. THAT EOS M. Is the autofocus slow, even after the firmware update? Yes. Does it bother me? Not in a bit. I wanted to buy a small yet capable camera for my trip to Japan. I was not going to lug the 5D around. No way. I settled on this cheap mishap by Canon because it’s compatible with all of my EF lenses (and Olympus OM lenses as well for that matter). It has an APS-C sensor and it has output compatible with my 5D so there’s a nice little B camera for shooting video.
It cannot in any way measure to the 5D’s output even when the Mark II has been out for quite a while but guess what? I don’t expect it to. I expect it to be a nice little shooter for touristic photos that can get me through a day of clicking away before being charged overnight at hostel or give me acceptable video output on ISO 800 and lower. I am now carrying this little camera with me every day and everywhere I go. Literally, it’s always with me. I bought new lenses for it, adapted some old ones made a pinhole from lens cap… It’s very light for handheld video shooting. Something 5D with 24/1.4 will never be, no matter how better its output is compare to the M.
I love it but I don’t shoot theater with it. It’s noisy in low light and slow on the focus and has a shutter lag like I would not shoot theater with film point&shoot thirty forty years back. That is however not a reason to bash such (or any) cameras for the glory of (D)SLRs. I could accept such bashing from a photography enthusiast deceived by the camera manufacturer marketing. Capabilities current cameras offer (mirrorless or dslrs) has to offer are in general undeniably the best that photographers ever had for their disposal. Range of cameras being offered today is probably the widest that ever has been. Disappointment with a camera is, in my view, a failure to find the right one for you or unreasonable expectations.
(For those of you interested in my quirky love to EOS M, you can check out my blog – www.its-grainy.tumblr.com where all photos are taken on 6400 ISO)