The bigger, the better, right? Well, not always. Photographer Robin Wong shares his take on why there is quite a bit of merit in smaller cameras and lenses. In fact, if you look at Robin’s Youtube channel, it is almost dedicated to small cameras.
And while Robin shoots a little bit of street photography, where small cameras shine, the bulk of his portfolio is Events, Stage, Wedding, and Food photography. So I got curious.
If you just want the TL;DR, then let me share it here: For some (many?) Smaller cameras offer benefits that outdo the shortcomings of their smaller sensors. If you want the full breakdown, read on.
Robin breaks it down to four main reasons, but again, these are Robin’s opinions, and they work for Robin’s workflow. the prime case if for MFT type of cameras, but I assume the same foes for APS-C sensors as well. If you agree (or also if you strongly disagree), hit us in the comments below.
Ease of Movement
If you have ever trolled a full set of a DSLR and a lens kit, you know the toll those take. Stage photography is a great example. While many photographers opt for a full-frame mirrorless body with a super tele lens (sometimes with a grip), Robin favors the ease of movement a small camera provides. For example, when shooting a stage performance, a camera like the EM5 (link) allows moving (running even) from one end of the hall to another, going into the crowd, or climbing to higher spots to capture different angles.
Another advantage of using smaller gear is the size of the bag. Robin’s messenger bag can hold two camera bodies, four to five lenses, and a flash. As a Sony shooter myself, I can testify that that amount of gear would probably require a trolly.
Once again, as a Sony shooter, I can only turn green. Robin notes how easy it is to swap lenses, and I can see that with a lens that literally fits in the palm of your hand. Switching long lenses on a full-frame body often requires a second surface to work with and, quite possibly, both hands or an accessory. Smaller lenses in a messager bag make this problem go away.
Your back will thank you
If you are in this for the long haul (see what I did there?), carrying 15-20 kilos daily will have an accumulating effect on your back and neck. Even the camera/lens combo alone can put a strain on you. There is a reason that they put massage booths in photography shows. An Olympus E-M5 with a 45mm,f/1.8 lens (90mm equivalent) weighs about 520 grams. A Canon R5 (738 g) with an 85mm f/2.0 (500 g) is about 1.2 kilos of kit. That’s about two and a half times the weight. And the difference only grows as you get longer lenses.
I would love to hear your thoughts. With today’s performance, is there a reason not to go with smaller sensors? Or is the sacrifice in quality too big?