When love breaks down: Why I sold my mirrorless camera

Jan 19, 2015

Martin Gillman

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

When love breaks down: Why I sold my mirrorless camera

Jan 19, 2015

Martin Gillman

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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Many of you will recall that I wrote a blog some months ago entitled ‘5 reasons why your DSLR is obsolete in today’s world’ and that, to say the least got a lot of people talking. It also drew much comment. We saw the hard line DSLR users spitting feathers, others crying ‘clickbait’! Clickbait? Isn’t it all just that? Well, all I can say is … darn, you clicked it though didn’t you? In fact, almost half a million of you did. Shouting clickbait on the internet is like running out into the street and shouting ‘don’t breathe air cuz they want you to’ it’s obvious and slightly moronic. This is just discussion, that’s all, its not important.

Anyways, the piece really was sincere and the reactions were expected. But we listened to your voices and today in the good name of balance, I write my own response … to myself. If you will excuse me I shall feel free to contradict.

So, why are all these CSC users so smug? Seriously they don’t shut up, heaven knows if they even have time for Making photographs when they seem to spend most of their time online forming clubs and chatting about how much they love the manufacturers and their trendy products. They openly seem to congratulate the ‘brand’ for their personal enthusiasm and successes if any. How can this be so? Surely it’s all nonsense? Surely it’s just a ploy to attract the brand attention and nail down some kind of preferential treatment or Ambassadorship? It’s smugness extreme and leaves me a little suspicious you know. Oh, the lion stirs.

So balance as promised, lets look at this from the die hard DSLR fans perspective, lets take a little shine off that squeaky clean mirror less polish.

A mirror less is better because …

1) I have re discovered my Photography because of this camera


Have you really? Let me assure you it was always there and I might suggest that in fact all that has actually happened is that you have been sucked in by the marketing machine. Product design and marketing considers these things, it’s all quite deliberate, clever but all the same deliberate.

Why on earth would a cute camera design cause anyone to be a better photographer? What made you a better photographer was you going out more to practice. Inspired? Perhaps by a new toy but that’s all it was, a refreshment of sorts, you had something new to do so you got your butt out there and tried new things. Rest easy, you are suffering from a mild dose of GAS. I would guess you have been inspired before by a new bit of kit, and you will be again.

2) It’s all so much smaller, its evolution.


Is it? Last time I looked they are already getting bigger, the bodies and now the lenses. Some not longer much smaller than their DSLR cousins. Haven’t you noticed? In fact I took my ungripped DSLR this week with a 3rd party 35-70mm lens attached and my CSC with kit 18-55mm kit a lens attached. Both fit in one hand, there is a little weight difference sure but not as much to cause me to hurt. Some of those lenses I’ve seen coming along are chunky and when attached to smaller bodies we need to ensure things are balanced, lets hope they are huh?

Lastly, CSC’s are accessory heaven, all those ‘bolt ons’ like my sons transformer toys. So lets finish it off

with the OEM grip, or the Arca grip? Or both! The thump rest, the side plate and plush leather case.

Now its as big as a 5D3! What were you saying about size again?

3) The quality is incredible, I’m working full pro with it…


Image quality, sure that’s universally accepted, well in most cases though a few have gone back to DSLR as there have been issues with resolution of detail for some genres. But here let’s look at quality in another way, or perhaps call it durability. I personally have used a repair shop 3 times in the last year for my CSC’s. Before that I never used a repair service of any manufacturer.

I bought and used Pro build bodies and lenses and dropped them, banged them and abused. I recall my old D700 being dropped from neck height onto concrete, it had a few bits hanging off but still shot. I wonder if your CSC would cope with that? Equally I dropped a prime lens from my CSC kit recently, I dropped it 12 inches onto carpet, a mint £500 lens and now its dead. I keep hearing from Pros that memory card reliability is key, yet many are at present changing their entire systems to what could be argued as an untested system when it comes to durability. Both risks are equal guys, you feel OK with that?

4) It outperforms my old DSLR system


Well, I will call this out, in truth it does not. Because to make that statement one needs some serious comparative testing, not just your day to day experience of use. I was using my CSC for a low light toddler portrait shoot recently, I gave up. The AF was simply useless in that situation. There was so much hunting I half expected to be trampled on my a bunch of men and women in red on horseback .. just after the fox.

It really was not suitable and trust me, I wanted it to be, so much but it just couldn’t cope.

5) I find it as reliable as my DSLR


This was the deal breaker for me, I was almost there, I had almost made the full transition to a full mirror less system and ready to dump my DSLRs. Why didn’t I? well there firstly I always felt that I was turning the camera off then on again to get it to wake up. Of course I could have turned the sleep option off but that would only have made the next reason worse. Which was battery life. ITS SHOCKING! (forgive the pun)

People out there are carrying up to 12 or more spare batteries on a gig, seriously that should not happen. What was that you said about weight saving again? Now maybe this one is just me. But, I am not used, nor do I wish to get used to always checking the battery before I pick up my camera. Years of DSLR use made me confident that whenever I picked up the DSLR I knew I had at least 100 shots in the tank and even if my battery indicator was on the last quarter I should have another 100 clicks on top of that. No sweat, I can at least get on with things. I carried one spare battery in my DSLR bag, its all I ever needed. Today, I’ve lost count of the amount of times I grabbed my CSC ran over to that once in a lifetime fall of light over the enchanting landscape. I raised the viewfinder to my eye … and I got a big red battery icon flash at me and then … nothing. Opportunity missed. My crime? I didn’t check the battery level before I slung the camera bag in the truck or did so when I was rushing all excited to my vantage point. Of course I didn’t do that because I’ve never had to do that before, because with DSLRs I always got the shot.

And that was the tipping point for me, with DSLR I always get my shot. CSC’s are and will catch up and this blog was in honour of all those who just aren’t ready to bury the DSLR or MF system, just, yet.

About The Author

Martin Gillman Is a professional photographer based in the UK and the editor of Lightism, you can find more of his work on his site herebuy his prints here and follow him on facebook here. This article was originally published here and shared with permission.

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28 responses to “When love breaks down: Why I sold my mirrorless camera”

  1. Frank Nazario Avatar
    Frank Nazario

    thank you for your honesty… now as a DSLR owner, go get inspired iin the true reason why you love photography … grab your dslr body with your favorite lens(es) and go out and take photos with the same passion you did with the “previous system”

  2. Andy (Hide Your Arms) Avatar
    Andy (Hide Your Arms)

    Certainly got a surprise when I saw the Langdales crop up in #2!

  3. vincent-b Avatar

    Just a quick word on clickbait: no, it does not have to be. 15 years ago, as a journalist, you’d have stick to what a headline should carry: an idea. A complete idea, that you’re going to develop in the article. I hope in a few years from now we will be back at that.

    For example, the use of “X reasons..” or “Why…” doesn’t carry an idea, it’s more like a suspense, and if users don’t click, they get frustrated. So we play on their frustration, and this is bad. Instead, you articles titles could read “Your DSLR is obsolete in today’s world because… (add here the summary of the 5 reasons)” and “I’m not in love anymore with my mirrorless camera because… (then the same kind of summary).”

    Your articles are perfectly fine, more than that, they’re good quality articles. Your headlines, at least the two I’ve talk about, are clickbait and it’s sad and boring. I feel like I’m reading very very bad press, where I’m on my FAVORITE website.

    1. Gillman Avatar

      A long time has passed Vincent, and I returned to read the comments. You are indeed right about the titles. Now I no longer write for the said titles I can share a secret. They chose the titles. My original titles were different, less blunt. I guess they know how to turn an opinion into clickbait. ;) Thanks and I hope you are still around. Martin http://www.thevividland.com

  4. fookoffdisqus Avatar

    Utter tosh.

    The tool you use, and the camera no matter the make/model, is just that, a tool, has zero reflection on one’s ability as a photographer. So if you choose to go mirror less, medium format or tintype it won’t make you better or worse. If you don’t have an eye for a picture the tool you use won’t improve that. If you use a Dslr it doesn’t make you better then the other guy using his mirror less.

    The only people that give a f*ck are other like minded pixel peeking geeks that get off on what gear other’s are using.

    And that leads me to photographers that list the tools they use on their websites. Hmm nice list for a thief. You don’t see Ferrari list all the spanners, wrenches and milling machines they use to build a car, the quality of the product speaks for itself. The same goes for a photographer, what they use is of no importance. It’s the final results that speaks.

  5. vvgz Avatar

    Does paints and brushes makes one good painter?

  6. Josh Avatar

    I would have to disagree with this article…

    There are way to work around the problems you noted above: shoulder sling so you don’t drop your camera, af assist light to help with auto focus or infrared af assist on a flash, the battery isn’t bad on a fuji x-t1 with the battery grip. Don’t buy accessories (except for battery grips) because you don’t need them. Stick with prime lenses if you want to stay real light. Btw mirror less with pro zoom lenses are still much lighter than pro dslr with zoom lenses and to me every gram counts.

    Having used a fuji system at a 14 hr wedding having taken 1000 photos and all I used was 4 batteries. Yes that might be more than a dslr, however with evf to assist in capturing the moment to come, I can certainly see a great future for mirrorless… Not that I’m trying to convince you to stay with mirrorless… Use what makes you happy. For now mirrorless makes me grin.

    1. Sean Avatar

      My D700 with grip can take 1000 shots on one battery charge. Only time I’ve had battery issues was when shooting out in the freezing cold. Cold kills them faster.

    2. Rbnlegend Avatar

      My canond 1dmk4 routinely shoots 3000 shots on a single battery at MMA events, with 50% of battery life remaining. The only time I’ve shot the battery dry was a double header event when I was new to shooting events. 40 fights in one day, some 8000 shots, it was totally excessive, I had to empty all my memory cards to a laptop and use my spare battery. If mirrorless works for you that’s great, but a battery life of 250 shots is a weakness, in my book.

  7. Ralph Hightower Avatar
    Ralph Hightower

    Heck, a 6V battery powered my SLR (Canon A-1) through over sixty rolls of film and I didn’t even recharge it.

    Concerning costs then and now, in 2013 I bought a used Canon F-1N with the AE Finder FN, AE Motor Drive FN, and two focusing screens for $400. Looking at a 1982 Calumet catalog: an F-1N with AE Finder FN was $548; the AE Motor Drive FN was $390. In 1982, Over the years, the F-1N has held its value well.

    The disadvantages of using film: 1) There’s no instant gratification; one can’t chimp their photos; 2) One has to manually focus.

    I turned off the review feature of my Canon 5D Mk III because I don’t use it. I’ll review images later in camera, but haven’t done it immediately after the photo.

    1. Erik R.s.P Avatar
      Erik R.s.P

      They are some film cameras wit AF.

  8. Kevin Blackburn Avatar
    Kevin Blackburn

    I see both sides of the this vicious coin its like film vs digital Large forma VS 35mm in a way all over again. I agree with allot of both sides I personally can only make judgement based on my work and experience.

    1 . No matter what either way mirror-less of DSLR they are just tools
    2. I love my Mirror-less camera’s they are fun and I get goo quality from them but they are not the same as my DSLR or Medium format gear.
    3 They have not made me better but they have made me carry a camera ALLOT MORE
    4 they are tools some right for some jobs ( be it personal or client work) some not right for those jobs.
    5 like any camera system they have quarks and you work with them or they will certainly work against you
    6 they are just tools use the right one for the job there is no one tool for every job.
    7 I am sure there is more to be said but I am tired and to be honest there is already to much rambling on the subject JMO

    SO thanks for sharing I am open to all input and I am off to take a break

  9. Kevin Blackburn Avatar
    Kevin Blackburn

    OH good post BTW both of them :-)

  10. Paul Menard Avatar
    Paul Menard

    Think its a matter of right tool for the job, I do love my sigma dp Merrills but they aren’t for everyone….

  11. mikespivey Avatar

    I used to have a friend who loved to argue so much that if you agreed with him, he would change his position. You, like my friend, are very entertaining. I agree with this rant a little more than the first.

  12. Mug Man Avatar
    Mug Man

    I was looking at the Olympus website and I think they only now make 1 DSLR. The rest were mirrorless and or micro.

  13. Kevin Avatar

    So in 12 months or so, when the future of mirrorless comes out, will you be writing about why dslr is dead again? By default this article is stupid, because as you mentioned, you are contradicting yourself. Are mirrorless cameras perfect? Hell no, they have some stuff to figure out, like getting that PDAF on board. But DSLR’s arent perfect either, unless you have a lot of money. Now, onward.

    1. This point is 100% correct. Good job.

    2. It all depends what kind of photographer you are. I am a nature photographer. I like to shoot a lot of wildlife. I don’t care much for camera accesories. Mirrorless keeps it simple. My EM5 with panny 100-300mm, olympus 12mm, and 25mm, wight less than the 300mm f/4 canon. Not to mention the 7D it was attached to. I do a lot of backpacking and that camera with a few more lenses, flash, etc… made me hate backpacking. Now, my camera kit barley weighs me down, so yes, It’s a crap ton lihhter and compact than my old DSLR kit.

    3. I’m outside getting dirty, wet, and falling over 95% of the time I’m out taking pictures with my mirrorless system. I have been hit by big waves, dropped lenses and my camera body several times. It’s a-ok. At the same time yes, DSLR’s are very rugged. I have a buddy who still uses a 50D which has seen more abuse than I can imagine and it doesn’t skip a beat.

    4. Agreed

    5. I have 3 batteries for my em% and usually go through 1-2 at most hiking all day long (and I take a lot of photos when I’m out hiking) so, what are you talking about?

    Again, there is no perfect camera unless you have a crap load of cash. Different cameras suit different peoples needs. I like micro 43 cameras because they are small, take great photos. I have an exhibit right now which 80% of my photos were taken with my em5 and have 20×30 canvas wraps, 16×24 metal prints taken with the em5 and they are sharp, detailed, and lovely. I like going backpacking without having my camera gear be the heaviest part of my bag, and being able to take quiet (shutter) shots of animals in the wild. Micro 43 and mirrorless are not for everybody, but to me, they are a fantastic evolution to photography, although they still have some catching up to do.

  14. UP Avatar

    Yes, that`s the biggest problem of the MLC – shots per battery and it is usually <=300.

    So for my EOS M I made a dummy battery and external battery pack (detailed info on my friends page http://www.fotoreinis.lv/raksti-3/ under DIY only in Latvian)

  15. Gabe's Gang Avatar
    Gabe’s Gang

    I am a full-time photojournalist and made the switch to mirrorless a while back. At first, it was wonderful, exciting and the results were ok. However, I encountered the same issues, and then some, as Martin, and ultimately moved back to DLSRs. They (mirrorless) are great machines, capable of a lot, but just not enough for the vast majority of professional photographers. Perhaps they will get there one day, but that day is not today.

  16. LeSigh Avatar

    Looking forward to the inevitable next article “why I switched to (nikon/sony/cannon)”,

    How does the adage about the carpenter and his tools go again?

  17. mike Avatar

    Bitching about being called clickbait is also clickbait.

  18. GaryGarth Avatar

    You find what works for you. Mirrorless isn’t for everyone as DSLRs aren’t for everyone.

  19. Greg Avatar

    “Isn’t it all just clickbait”? Well, no, that’s why we have a word for it, so we can distinguish it from things that aren’t clickbait. If you’re having trouble understanding the difference, I’ll explain it to you. Yes, I clicked on the link when I saw it. Not because I expected a deep level of knowledge, but because I knew I’d be in awe at the level of sheer stupidity Iwas about to observe. Not something I like to do a lot. So, you got a half-million clicks, congratulations. It actually is a good business model, and has worked for a lot of people. But not something I want to observe on a regular basis. So I guess this is TTFN for diyphotography. Good luck.

  20. Federico Bottos Avatar
    Federico Bottos

    Only a thing… I have given much thought to the sony A7R to compose my landscapes … but I can say one thing? If I could, I would take home a damn Linhof, complete with a back one phase. And why? Because I could waste time, to lose myself in the composition, in detail, of what you love to do: take pictures.

  21. chris Avatar

    I think I made a comment on your first story asking about battery life since no one ever seems to mention it when reviewing mirrorless cameras. Now at least you and other commenters have confirmed my suspicion that battery life is not so good when you have to power the lcd screen all the time like any phone or tablet.

  22. grh Avatar

    Please get yourself an editor to mitigate all of the (many, many) grammatical errors. This was absolutely painful to read.

    1. rick Avatar

      dunt read them thar commentz ifen it butthers uz in a word po! as them thar brits would say
      ifn you remembered them there system here duz have grammer checks. I just didnt catch them.Hey I went to colledge what is your lame fruitless excuse

  23. Rick Avatar

    I was using a “DSLR” it was Nikon. No longer would I use or recommend junk.Even now Nikon is recalling more cameras because of quality . Mine has old spots on sensor it will cost 600.00 to get that fixed. There are more and more articales coming out about crappy quality.At least Canon still has good cameras. Instead of paying to have junk fixed I bought the a6000. You comments show that you are not a photographer just a blogger wanna be armchair photographer. You can have the most overly expensive camera with all the bells and whistles and take crappy photos! That is a proven fact.In the days of film I have seen 110 cameras out do the major cameras….Why it was the “PHOTOGRAPHER” not the camera.It makes no difference if it be DSLR Or the mirror less cameras. Clients do NOT give a damn about your camera they only care about the QUALITY of the photo they are PAYING for.