Almost a year ago I decided that I would sell off my Canon DSLR’s, lenses and gear and switch to Sony’s mirroless system. It was an uneasy feeling, letting go of cameras that had served me well for years, but this seems to be a decision that many photographers have been making over the last while as more and more people opt for smaller mirrorless cameras and lens systems as opposed to bigger and heavier DSLR’s – For me, this started from a realization of what I wanted photography to be. I was tired of hauling around a heavy bag of DSLRs and lenses. I was ready to downsize.
After trying many camera systems (Canon EOS M, Nikon 1, Olympus PEN) I decided on the class leading Sony A6000. Although the camera was already a couple years old, it destroyed the completition in its price category. Switching to mirrorless has not been without comprises, but there are a few benefits that have completely changed my photography: here are the top 4!
Having been used to holding big clunky cameras, the A6000 was a breathe of fresh air- It’s so small! With the kit 16-50mm, this camera easily fits in a jacket picked and is a ‘go anywhere’ size. Not just the camera, but the Sony E-mount lenses are much physically smaller than your typical lenses.
3. Rebuilding my kit
When I first started getting in to photography, I learned a lot the hard way. I made some good decisions and some bad ones that have helped me figure out which gear suits my needs and creative ideas. My First DSLR was the Canon 60D and when I bought it, I opted for the gorgouesly sharp EF 50mm f/1.8 II, rather than the mediocre 18-55mm kit lens (good decision). The decision to go prime was never one I regretted, but it took some getting use to. Craving some more flexibility, I eventually picked up a use EF-S 17-85mm f/3.5-5.6 (bad decision). Throughout my years of upgrading equipment and eventually landing at the Canon 5D Mk II and 24-105 f/4L, I learned a lot about what I wanted in my camera bag, and what I didn’t.
Opting for a smaller and cheaper mirrorless camera allowed me to have some flexible funds to build a lens kit that more accurately allowed me to express my creativity and get the right gear for me.
An exciting benefit to the mirrorless world is the relatively short flange distance on the camera bodies– this allows a photographer to take advantage of wide varieties of off-brand or antique lenses by adapting them with very cheap adaptors. Two lenses I love to shoot with on my Sony A6000 are the Canon FD 50mm f.18 and a very old Vivitar 50mm f/1.7. These lenses can be found very cheaply online and are in many cases, optically excellent. If you can forgo the world of autofocus (read: focus peaking), you can really expand your lens collection cheaply by hunting online and even at garage sales.
1. Completely mobile workflow
I have long-believed that the future is mobile and with the innovations in camera technology and mobile hardware, creating a mobile photography is not only possible, but almost essential. In a world of Instagram and Twitter, photography has transformed and the medium we communicate art accross has been forever changed. Having the ability to wirelessly transfer full-resolution photos from my camera to my iPad, edit, and share instantly is amazing. I have been able to utilize an iPad with Pixelamator and iCloud Photo Library to replace work that I used to have to sit down at my Mac to accomplish. It is true that this benefit is not limited to mirrorless cameras, and that most modern DSLRs also have wireless photo transfer; but I’ll point you back to number 1: Size. I can now comfortable carry a camera, a couple of lenses and iPad around with me anywhere– and for me, this what it means to be mobile.