The Mirrorless Migration

By James Gikonyo

The world seems to be shifting to mirrorless so why are even DSLR manufacturers like Canon and Nikon producing more mirrorless options. We have seen Nikon launch the Nikon Z50, Nikon Z5, Nikon Z6 and Nikon Z7 so as to keep with the market which Sony has been dominating. We have also seen Canon create the Canon M50, Canon EOS R, Canon EOS RP, Canon R5 and Canon R6 among others as well. However, what exactly is the difference? Let’s have a look.

Shot by Canon 700 D and Sigma 70-200mm lens at f/5 1/200 Shutter Speed 200mm focal length
Shot by Canon EOS R and 35 mm f/1.4 mm 1/400 Shutter Speed ISO 200 F/1.4

Mirror

While a DSLR has a mirror system, the mirrorless does not. Light in these cameras goes directly into the image sensor and they will have an electronic viewfinder or LCD to show the preview of the image. This basically means that they are relatively smaller since the mirror system takes a lot of space in a DSLR. One of the biggest advantages of this camera system is that both the bodies and the lenses are lighter hence better for shooting something like street photography, wildlife photography and those events that have crowds hence you need to be invisible as a photographer. It also makes mirrorless cameras much better for people who do travel photography.

AF System

DSLRs use what we call “phase detection” autofocus system which is engineered in the body. However, mirrorless use sensor-based focus which analyses the maximum contrast between pixels. When the contrast is highest, the subject is in focus. However, this method can be a bit slower especially for moving subjects. The good thing is that professional mirrorless cameras are installed with hybrid autofocus systems that make the speed as fast as DSLRs. Mirrorless systems also seem to have faster continuous shooting since there is no mirror to lag the frames per second.

Quality

The image quality of mirrorless cameras is as good as DSLR and some experts argue that it might even be better. The thing is, you see exactly what you are getting on the EVF and the accuracy is magnificent. The sensors also seem to cover a significantly larger area of the frame and they are more focus points to play with. The Sony A9 and Canon EOS R are good examples of cameras which have boosted the reputation of image quality in the mirrorless world. The mirrorless gives beautiful and accurate colors and depending on the lenses used, the background bokeh is as milky as you would want it in the case of

Shot by Canon EOS R with 200 mm prime lens. Aperture f/1.8 Shutter Speed 1/125 ISO 200
Shot by Canon EOS R with 200 mm fixed lens. Aperture f/2.8 Shutter Speed 1/200 ISO 200

Low Light Performance

While low light performance is more about the size of the sensor; and mirrorless are known to have smaller sensors, camera manufacturer have been advancing technology over the years. Mirrorless cameras have been improving their performance in dimmer light and you don’t have to necessarily break bank to buy a full frame DSLR if low light is a big area of your work. The Sony A6400 and Panasonic GH4 are good examples of cameras that performs really well in low light.

Lens Options

While many people argue that mirrorless cameras have less lens options, we have seen a lot of options being provided by the camera manufacturers. From lens adaptors that help use lenses you already own; companies like Sony and Panasonic have been creating new lenses of all types from prime, wide, zoom and even fisheye lenses so you have as many options. Some cameras like the Canon EOS RP actually come with an adaptor to use Canon native lenses which is a plus for Canon users who are looking to upgrade. There is no going back when it comes to technology.

Shot by Canon EOS R with 35mm RF lens. Shutter Speed 1/100 ISO 200 Aperture f/2.8

In conclusion, there is no going back. As much as many photographers will argue they love the hard feel of DSLRs, mirrorless cameras are really topping up. Their features are competing side by side and when you compare their prices against full frame options, you can see that mirrorless are a very wise choice. They will ultimately give you more for less. However, it is also important to do a bit of research and find out what is the best option for you. What type of photography do you do? How long do you shoot? How many lenses do you need? Are you prone to areas with lots of humidity? Some of these and more questions are what will help give you the best guidance. Happy Shooting!

Shot by Canon EOS R with 200mm fixed lens. Shutter Speed 1/100 ISO 200 f/2.8
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