There was a heated discussion caused by the entrance of cameras without a mirror into the market, also as known as “mirrorless” or “CSC”. This debate was fueled perhaps not so much by the absence of the mentioned mirror, as by the replacement of the essential optical viewfinder with the new and improved electronic viewfinder. It can’t be denied that this debate wouldn’t have been that controversial, if it were not for the traditional brands still holding tight to the mirror and the optical viewfinder, while the emergent, or minority brands, have embraced the electronic viewfinder and the “mirrorless” concept as a new standard with no way back.
Let’s stop this endless and pointless discussion and address the main question – why do I, a professional who on average produces 200.000 photographs and 10 videos, and travels to 12 countries each year, sides with mirrorless cameras?
1. Because of the reduction of the mechanical elements
For someone like me who releases around 200.000 photos per year, going without such a basic mechanical element as a mirror clearly decreases the chances of camera failure during the work. Also, and this is very important, while removing the mirror hit on each shot, we reduce the chance that the picture will end up shaky, something that happens regularly while shooting at slow speeds, and in my case it’s almost always.
However, with the new Sony A7s I can go further, easily deactivating the mechanical shutter through the menu, entering an absolutely electronic mode and avoiding any mechanical movement, and extending thereby the life of my cameras.
2. Because I think the electronic viewfinder is an advantage
My work is divided into photography and video almost by 50%, so the optical viewfinder is a great deterrent for me. Let me explain why.
If you used your DSLR camera even once for video recording, you’ve experienced the problem of not being able to look through the optical viewfinder (the one you admire so much), as when activating the live view, the mirror flips up, completely nullifying the mentioned viewfinder. If you are shooting interior it may not be a big deal. However, if you are shooting outside with a lot of light, you’ve seen that it’s impossible to frame well, more difficult to focus accurately on the small screen of your DSLR, which has almost become a mirror for the light. The solution is to buy an electronic viewfinder like Zacuto, which costs $1000 and is almost as big as your DSLR.
This doesn’t happen with mirrorless cameras, as the electronic viewfinder provides us with the right vision in any situation, including exteriors with a lot of light. Additionally, I have no need to check the photo after taking it – the picture will be as I saw it in my viewfinder. I’m done with missing a crucial moment, as I’m envisioning the photo previously. If you saw it, you captured it, simple as that.
3. Because I can use almost any lens on the market
There is no doubt that in a lot of cases the best results and performance are obtained with the lens from the same camera manufacturer, whatever it may be. But, who wants to be limited by the catalog of a brand when you can choose from an endless list?
While when using a DSLR we are limited to original lenses, and those produced by third brands for a particular brand, with mirrorless cameras the only limit is your budget. With an adapter ring, you can use almost any lenses on the market, from brand new Leica M or Carl Zeiss to even film PL, going through old Contax, Yashica, Voigtlander, etc. Moreover, with the Metabones adapter we can use popular Canon and Nikon lenses, keeping stabilization, focus and other automatic systems. You don’t need to change lenses if you change the camera body anymore.
4. Because they are smaller and lighter
As I said before, on an average year I visit 12 countries. That includes crossing thousands of kilometres, and a lot of them on foot, climbing mountains and carrying a heavy backpack. The camera and lenses being smaller and lighter not only makes my work much easier, but also allows me to carry more equipment when it is necessary. If usually 2 cameras and 3 lenses fit in my backpack, now I can take 3 cameras and 5 lenses. It increases my productivity, and the profitability of my work as well. Remember I said I am a professional? I put an emphasis on it because it seems that in order to appear more professional, you need to carry a huge and heavy equipment with you – so, I’m the clear example that this argument is not only weak, but now also obsolete.
5. Because it is the system of the future
I truly think that cameras without a mirror are the future. We can see more and more brands manufacturing the lenses and accessories are producing entire lines of these cameras, some of really high quality and very professional. The camera manufacturers had been trying to get rid of the mechanical elements of the cameras for a long time, and now thanks to the high quality of electronic viewfinders and advances in the sensors, there is no reason to keep using the old prism and the folding mirror. So, I’m not just sure that any brand which produces mirrorless cameras will not go back to DSLRs, but also I think that most brands will sooner or later embrace the mirrorless concept as a standard one.
And the last argument.
Because of all the reasons I list in this article, I would like to think that this discussion won’t go on for a long time. For sure, in order to stop hearing about it, we need to wait until general brands introduce their lines of mirrorless cameras.
Meanwhile, a lot of professionals like me will continue to produce high-quality material with these cameras, which offers us everything we need and more to achieve results as good or even better than what we had with our old DSLRs.
About the Author
Enrique Pacheco is a filmmaker and photographer from Madrid, Spain, specializing in travel videos and timelapse. You can find more of his work on his website, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube channel, and Vimeo. This article was also published here and shared with permission.