I began my journey in photography nearly 20 years ago as a thought experiment that…
Can you weigh in on all of the hoopla on mirrorless cameras from a creative standpoint? In other words, will converting to mirrorless help a photographer improve their skills and creativity?
While we regularly see small incremental improvements in camera technology all the time, every once in a while there are advances that change our perceptions of the tools and their uses. I believe mirrorless cameras at their current level are such a change.
Mirrorless cameras have been with us for quite a while, but were never a match for DSLRs in terms of image quality, resolution, focus speed, lens choices, and other qualities normally reserved for semi-pro and pro camera systems. All of that changed a few years ago when manufacturers, such as Panasonic and Olympus, started to introduce mirrorless cameras that addressed all of these issues. Higher resolutions, great lens optics, reduced noise, and amazing EVFs (electronic viewfinder.)
I bought one back then and have loved every minute of using it. Why? Because basically, I had the performance of my large DSLR system in a lighter, smaller package. Sure there were compromises, which is why I didn’t switch, but simply added it to my toolbox. But there’s no question I have captured images I would never have captured if not because it was so easy to bring the Olympus with me everywhere.
Today we have state of the art mirrorless systems from Sony, Nikon, and Canon featuring full frame sensors (up to 46MP!) with pro level lenses to match and adapters for legacy lenses. In my opinion, most of the advantages of a DSLR have disappeared for most photographers. Of course, there are exceptions, but they’re decreasing with each generation of mirrorless technology.
So back to the original question. Is the hoopla real? Yes.
Will it make you more creative? It depends.
If you enjoy carrying and using your DSLR on every outing, then it won’t. But that’s why I bought one – because I often left my DSLR behind when it was inconvenient, too cumbersome, or not worth the hassle (and then wished I had brought it along.)
If you subscribe to the maxim that the best camera is the one you have with you, then a mirrorless will make you more creative – you’re more likely to have it with you at every opportunity, not just expected opportunities.
And that’s what I love about my mirrorless system- I am always in a position to capture the unexpected image; when luck meets opportunity and I haven’t planned for it. And best of all I don’t have to worry about sacrificing quality.
You might call this convenience more than anything else, and perhaps you’re right. But you may also have physical constraints or limited time and space on a family trip overseas. Many of my students have switched for these very reasons and so far none have regretted the decision as far as I know. I often get feedback such as, “why didn’t I do this sooner, it so liberating!”
If a small but powerful mirrorless camera gets you out more often, there’s no denying your skills and vision will improve. Only you can decide what that opportunity is worth in maximizing your creative potential.