I Jumped! Making the Switch from DSLR to Mirrorless, Nikon to Sony

November 02, 2017  •  1 Comment

AMT2016-sony-a6300-review-0423-2AMT2016-sony-a6300-review-0423-2Photographer: Anthony Thurston Well everyone I have finally made the switch I am officially a full time mirrorless shooter!  As you may know I have been shooting DSLR's in some form or fashion for many years.  I went from entry level camera's to professional grade camera's and lenses.  I used to shoot film camera's when I was younger completely manual operation from exposure to focusing.  So I have evolved from film shooting black and white developing in the bathroom to color slides to point and shoot digital to entry level DSLR's, Professional DSLR's and now to mirrorless camera's.  There was a learning curve at each step and I would like to think that my photography skills improved with each level.  So your probably wondering why switch if I have been shooting professional grade camera's?  I have many reasons.  But first let me say that the professional cameras are great!  I'm not putting them down in any way or fashion.  I learned a lot using them and am thankful that I went through the process of getting them and using them. But why switch? Let me go through how I got hooked on mirrorless cameras.

About 5 or 6 years ago my photography got me out of the house to start exploring different areas of our state.  I started _MSP9570_MSP9570 hiking all of the trails I could find at State and National Parks and wanted to do more.  Me and my son decided that we wanted to start back packing.  This entails hiking into the woods with everything you need to camp overnight Tent , Sleeping bag food ect... Well we soon found out that the packs were heavy and then carry a Full frame Camera and a couple of professional lens the weight really added up.  Camera and a couple of f2.8 lenses could weigh up to 20 lbs. Thats like 3 1 gallon jugs of Milk that you carry around with you on top of all your camping supplies.  That made the pack very heavy and it was heavy enough with just the camping stuff.  There were many pack configurations that were tried to relieve the weight of camera and lenses but nothing seemed to work.  I was working on getting lighter camping equipment but the weight of the camera was just too much.  I had to come up with a solution that would still give me good quality photo's so I started looking into micro 4/3 cameras and I set up a checklist of things that I wanted out of a little camera.  Some of them were that it had to be able to shoot in manual, it needed to be able to shoot in RAW, it needed to be able to change lenses. I actually had it down to two camera's an Olympus and Sony.  They both had great reviews but I finally picked the Sony because of the sensor size.  It had a larger ASP-C sized sensor and the Olympus had a micro 4/3's a smaller sensor.  So weight was the first thing that brought me to the Mirrorless camera's but after a big learning curve there were many other things that brought me to become a mirrorless camera user. Here are some of them.

11-sony-a630011-sony-a6300 -Sensor Quality- Sony makes a lot of sensors for many camera company's beside Sony, there is Nikon, Iphone and maybe more but those are two big ones.  The sensors are great and the quality of the photographs I was taking were just as good as my professional camera as far as I could tell.

-Customizable buttons- The Sony camera's are very Customizable the camera comes with custom buttons and all of the buttons can be customized to you and your style of photography.  For instance I love back button focus so my camera is set up for it.

-Size-Not only is it lightweight but it is small also.  A small footprint camera takes up less room in a pack or bag and you can carry more with you and still be lighter than a full size DSLR.  I think this makes you a more nimble /mobile photographer.  I think that this makes you a better photographer especially at the end of the day when the photographers have been lugging around a big camera you are still rested enough to keep looking for good shots not looking for some where to sit down. 20171102_untitled shoot_000120171102_untitled shoot_0001

-Price-Overall the price of mirrorless cameras can be cheaper especially in the ASP-C sensor sized camera. Now like everything you can spend as much as you want for mirrorless but like everything else you don't have to.  You can also adapt vintage lenses from the film days to your camera with a cheap adapter.  I use some of my Pentax and Nikon lenses on this small body and it brings me back to the days of film when everything was manual. And the size is about the same also.

-What you see is what you get-WYSIWYG when you look through the view finder or the back of the camera what you are looking at is what the sensor see's so you know before you take the photo if it is correctly exposed or in focus there really is no need to chimp and it take the guess work out of exposure and lets you concentrate on composure light and subject.  After the big learning curve there is less fiddling with the camera.

22730511_10210704932196387_7018311079726609722_n22730511_10210704932196387_7018311079726609722_n All the things above and more make the mirrorless camera's more fun to use.  Isn't that why we love photography so much its fun! That's the reason I am gearing down not up!  I have sold all of my big boy cameras and lenses and now only have one camera. I think this will make me think more about photography and less about gear.  Now when I go somewhere I carry my camera and 3 lenses and filters.  The lenses are 10-18 f4, 18-105 f4 and a 70-200 f4 full frame equivlant to 105-300. This kit is very light and I can carry very easily in a shoulder bag that I call my purse.  I used this system at our annual photography workshop couple of weeks ago and it was fantastic!  While everyone was lugging around a large camera and one lens I had my purse with 3 lenses at my disposal at the same weight or less. I know famous people like Jason Lanier and Gary Fong have made the switch but they are sponsored by Sony.  I am the only one that I know that has made the switch from DSLR to Mirrorless.  I know I'm the only one in my photography club that has made the Jump into full time mirrorless.  Some have dabbled in mirrorless but none have gone full in.  I believe I am the first of many that will eventually switch to mirrorless. For me and the photography that I do Landscape, Travel and occasional Portraits this camera works for me. I don't need the Professional camera rig this mirrorless fits me and the photography that I enjoy. So choose the gear that is right for you! Keep Shooting!

Does Gear Really Make the Photo II ,Post trip conclusions

October 28, 2017  •  1 Comment

22814418_10210727646164222_1824769434837060805_n22814418_10210727646164222_1824769434837060805_n Hey everyone hope you had a good couple of weeks. Well this is a part II to the Does Gear Really Make the Photo blog.  My camera club went on our annual trip to the mountains for a week of fun Photography.  We shot wildlife , waterfalls , cityscapes, Landscapes and  Macros.  We shot it all and had a great time.  As I stated in my last blog my experiment for this trip was to use my Crop sensor mirrorless Sony A6300 for my main camera for the whole trip.   We went to some of the same places that we went to in 2015 so I will show you similar shots that I took 2 years ago and this year and see if you can tell the difference from a 36 megapixel full frame camera compared to my 24 megapixel Crop sensor mirrorless camera that I used on this trip.  But first let me tell you about the experience I had with my little camera on this trip.

22687733_10210704932316390_5072236385493429418_n22687733_10210704932316390_5072236385493429418_n Using this camera on this trip was fantastic and I think made my photography better because I could carry so much with me without being weighed down like a pack mule.  I used a little side bag that I called my purse that held my camera 3 lenses , batteries , SD cards, Gopro, filters, sunglasses and phone.  And I had room for a sandwich also if I wanted to. LOL! The weight of this bag wasn't anymore that that of a Full frame camera and a good 24-70 f2.8 lens.  I loved having this bag with me I could change lenses on the fly and it was better than a backpack because I didn't have to take it off to access it. The three main lenses I carried was a Sony 10-18 f4, Sony 18-105 f4 and Sony 55-210mm f4.5-6.3 .  The last lens was the weakest in the set but at a range that I don't use often but I did get a few good ones out of it. This lens I will replace with a better quality one.  While on the trip I used a Canon 70-200 f4 L non IS lens with a adapter that makes it autofocus with my Sony.  It 22730511_10210704932196387_7018311079726609722_n22730511_10210704932196387_7018311079726609722_n worked great and quality was fantastic.  I will be purchasing this lens soon.  My main lens was the 18-105mm and was a great walk around lens.  Worked well on the long exposures also.  The 10-18 was a fantastic performer when I used it mostly for long exposures.  I had circular polarizers that I used often and a Lee filter kit that I used for waterfalls (long exposures) and sunrises and sunset. And all of this fit into my little purse quite well. I had the flexibility to add and remove things as I needed them all while being light weight. As I get older and less agile the weight and size of my gear makes a difference in my stamina and that will effect my photography.

Quality of my little mirrorless camera didn't surprise me it is a fantastic camera with a great sensor.  As you probably know I have been using a Sony crop sensor mirrorless for the last couple of years.  I first bought one to use hiking and slowly fell in love with it. I upgraded from a Sony A6000 to a A6300 this year and it is a great camera.  A mirrorless crop sensor has been my main camera for a couple of years now and I think Im going to take the plunge and get rid of all of my Big Boy camera and lenses and go to a mirrorless crop sensor from now on.  I have already sold a couple of lenses  and plan to sell my full frame bodies and other lenses and flashes that I have.  I'm going to gear down instead of gearing up like I usually do.  The quality of my photo's were the same or even better in my opinion.  Below are some photo's that I have taken from 2 years ago and from this trip.  I put them side by side so you could see if there was a big difference in quality of the photos.  Take time to look at them and see if you can tell which one was a Full Frame camera with F2.8 glass or my little mirrorless sony with F4 glass.

The Photo's on the left side column were taken with a Full Frame Nikon D800 with F2.8 Lenses the photo's on the Right were taken with Mirrorless Crop Sensor Sony A6300 with F4 lenses.  To me it is hard to tell the difference. Especially if they are going to be used on the internet or make prints or canvas's that I would print.  Are the Full Frame cameras great? You bet they are they are fantastic!  The Professional 2.8 glass is Awesome!  But do I really need it for the type of photography that I'm going to do?  I don't think so. The mere size and weight of theses cameras are what is really turning me and the quality of the shots that I'm getting with this small camera is some of the best I've shot.  If I were doing a lot of portraiture or weddings the larger camera would be an asset but for what I do it is not.  So now I am taking inventory and getting rid of all of my larger gear.  Will I ever buy a full frame camera again? Probably , but it will be of the mirrorless cameras that are full frame that makes them smaller.  But for now I'm going to stick with the camera that I used this year.  Any thoughts let me know and Keep Shooting!

2015-10-25-MSP-333Photo 1 D800 70-200 2.8Max Stansell Photography 20171022_GAPC FC Day 8_011320171022_GAPC FC Day 8_0113Sony A6300 70-200 f4

2015-10-24-MSP-0222015-10-24-MSP-022Max Stansell Photography 20171018_GAPC Fall Colors 2017_001620171018_GAPC Fall Colors 2017_0016 20171018_GAPC Fall Colors 2017_001820171018_GAPC Fall Colors 2017_0018 Looking Glass Falls NCLooking Glass Falls NCMax Stansell Photography 2015-10-24-MSP-0732015-10-24-MSP-073Max Stansell Photography 20171022_GAPC FC Day 8_009020171022_GAPC FC Day 8_0090

Product Review Neewer N40S

September 19, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

20170826_untitled shoot_000220170826_untitled shoot_0002  Hey Everyone !  I've got a new product review that I want to share with you.  As you may know I have fell in love with the Sony Alfa series of camera's for doing the majority of my personal photography.  Most of this stuff is outdoors but I wanted a flash that would do TTL.  I am a big believer in the Yongnuo brand of inexpensive flashes for my Nikon camera and have several and can use them in manual mode with my Sony A6300 which is fine but I wanted at least one flash that I could use TTL with and hopefully one that would easily travel.  So I started my search for a small flash that could do TTL. 

20170826_untitled shoot_000120170826_untitled shoot_0001 I stared with Google and of course my beloved Youtube.  The flash that kept coming up was the Nissin i40.  Made in Japan. It does TTL and high speed sync with a guide number of 40.  So I looked it up on Amazon and it was 260.00 which was out of my price range. Then I saw the Neewer N40S made in China.  Its pretty much a copy of the Nissin i40 and the price is right at 75 bucks so I had to try it.

My first impressions of it when I got it was that it is small.  It feels well built and comes with a case that is well built. The guide number is 40 and the guide number of my Yongnuo's are 58 so they are not quite as strong as the Yongnuo's are.  But thats ok Im not looking to do a lot of flash photography with my Sony.  Very easy to operate with dial and not a digital display with complicated menu's.  The unit can be run in Manual, Automatic , TTL and High Speed Sync, and has a video light built in .  Now the Video light is not its strongest feature but its kind of cool that it has one.

20170826_untitled shoot_002120170826_untitled shoot_0021 20170826_untitled shoot_002320170826_untitled shoot_0023











Here are two photos that were both taken at 1/2000 sec @ f4.0 the one on the left without flash and one on the right with flash. High speed sync check! This little flash has ticked all the boxes on my checklist.  I think for the money and what Im going to use it for its the right one for me.

Keep Shooting

Does gear really make the Photo?

August 14, 2017  •  2 Comments

They say that admitting to a problem is the first step in solving a problem so here goes.  I have been a gear hound for a long time.  I have GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) .   For some time now I have been under the impression that gear makes the photo.  Now I'm not alone .  There are lots of you just like me.  I have accumulated some of the finest gear that money can buy and my photo's have improved but was it because of my gear or the know how that I have acquired learning how to use this gear? My Camera'sMy Camera's  To be honest I think it is a little of both.  Good gear does matter to a point for sharpness, depth of field, dynamic range but composure , making long exposures , composition these are all things that the camera does not control we do. Do we really need the top of the line gear if this is just our hobby and most of what we use are images for is for putting on some website?  Do I need 36 megapixels? Do I need 42 megapixels?  I say no unless your printing for Bill Boards!  So what do you need for good photo's?  My answer is simple the best camera you can afford.  Most of all the new camera's that are coming out now will do the job.  So don't max out your credit cards buying the most expensive thing out there just because some article says to do so.  So what is my criteria for a good camera?  One that you can put in full manual mode, that you can shoot in RAW, and change lenses(some of the built in zooms work fine too).  I don't think megapixels make a difference in today's cameras all of them have plenty. DSCF0513DSCF0513

My camera club goes to the Mountains once a year and spends a week with the Fall colors and Water falls and wild life.  This week is the most photo active time of the year for me as I am not a professional full time photographer.  Some of my best photo's of the year come from this trip.  I usually carry my big camera and all of my expensive lenses with me and really get good results.  A couple years or so ago I purchased a Sony Mirrorless camera that has become my go to camera.  Its small and compact compaired to my Big Nikon Rig that I have.  I bought it for backpacking because of its size and weight but I have come to love it.  So this year when my camera club goes to the mountains the Sony Mirrorless camera will be my main camera for the trip.  I will use it for the water falls, wild life , all the fall colors and everything else.  I will take my Nikon and 1 lens as a backup.  The Sony kit will contain the following items

  1. Sony A6300 body
  2. 2 kit lens 16-50 mm and 55-210 lens
  3. 18-105mm F4 lens and 10-18mm F4 lens
  4. Pentax 28mm  f2.8 manual focus lens W/Sony adapter
  5. Nikon 60mm f2.8 macro manual focus lens W/Sony adapter

My Nikon will be the D800 with 24-70mm 2.8 lens.

10404408_10203141767201989_3296463740236017661_n10404408_10203141767201989_3296463740236017661_n We will be visiting some of the same water falls that we have visited in the past that I used my Nikon on and I want to see what the difference is with my Sony mirrorless and my full frame Nikon.  Will my photo's be better, worse or the same? I believe they will be the same but only time will tell.  If they do turn out the same or even better what does that mean.  Will I get rid of my expensive equipment? Will I sell ?  I don't know I still like my big camera and lenses for portraits especially when using studio lights or flashes.  But I could use my mirrorless to do the same.  All that is still up in the air but for the foreseeable future I will be using my Sony for everything except portraits.

How many times have you been looking at Facebook or some other social media outlet and saw a fantastic photograph to be dismayed when you find out it was taken with a iphone. Remember photography is suppose to be fun and not a see who has the most or the biggest gear contest.  Enjoy your photography save your money so you can go more places to use your photography.  Remember it's not the camera it's the photographer that takes great Photo's.  I plan on gearing down and make things more simple not more complicated. Get out and Shoot! 


William B. Umstead State Park Hike

December 13, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Umstead 2Umstead 2 Located in Raleigh NC William B. Umstead State Park is a great park with 22 miles of hiking trails that are well used.  The park is situated in Raleigh and the town folk use it a lot for hiking, trail running, Biking ...   Umstead 3Umstead 3 The 22 miles of trails give you access to most of the park and vary in lengths from short to long trails.  Me and a couple of my photography friends went up there to do some hiking and get some exercise.  Of course being photographers we had to document the event.   GOPR2757GOPR2757DCIM\101GOPRO We had a great time and fellowship and also had a little foot problems by one of the guys that I'm sure will be corrected by our next hike.  Please enjoy the video from the link below!


Umstead State Park Hike Video