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

November 02, 2017  •  3 Comments

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 DSLRs in some form or fashion for many years.  I went from entry-level cameras to professional grade cameras and lenses.  I used to shoot film cameras 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 cameras.  There was a learning curve at each step, and I would like to think that my photography skills improved with each level.  So you're probably wondering, why switch if I have been shooting professional-grade cameras?  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 five or six 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.  My son and I 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, etc... Well, we soon found out that the packs were heavy, and then when you carry a full-frame camera and a couple of professional lenses, the weight really added up.  A camera and a couple of f2.8 lenses could weigh up to 20 pounds. That's like three one-gallon jugs of milk that you carry around with you on top of all of your camping supplies.  That made the pack very heavy, and it was already heavy enough with just the camping stuff.  There were many pack configurations that were tried to relieve the weight of the 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 photos, so I started looking into micro 4/3 cameras.  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, and it needed to be able to change lenses. I actually had it down to two cameras, an Olympus and a 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 cameras.  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 1. Sensor Quality.  Sony makes a lot of sensors for many camera companies besides 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.

2. Customizable buttons.  The Sony cameras 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.

3. Size.  Not only is it lightweight, but it is also small.  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 and you are still rested enough to keep looking for good shots, not looking for somewhere to sit down. 20171102_untitled shoot_000120171102_untitled shoot_0001

4. 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.

5. 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 sees, 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 takes the guesswork 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 cameras more fun to use.  Isn't that why we love photography so much? It's 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, three lenses, and filters.  The lenses are 10-18 f4, 18-105 f4, and a 70-200 f4 full frame equivalent to 105-300.  This kit is very light, and I can carry it very easily in a shoulder bag that I call my purse.  I used this system at our annual photography workshop a couple of weeks ago, and it was fantastic!  While everyone was lugging around a large camera and one lens, I had my purse with three 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 of 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!


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caster wheels(non-registered)
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Chip Craig(non-registered)
Max - I loved reading this blog and have been considering doing something similar. I own a lot of high-end Canon gear and my gear is now close to 35-40 lbs. Because it is heavy and too much to carry, I don’t shoot as much as I could or should.

I picked up a Sony RX100V last year as a small travel camera. It takes great images and has a great AF system, but it is only a 1” sensor and has a fixed 24-70 f1.8-f2.8 (equivalent) lens which I find limiting. It is great for casual, family gatherings, but not great for any serious photography.

I have been contemplating testing the Sony A6500 with the 10-18 and 16-70 lenses. Can you use the LEE filters with your setup or are they too big???

I may wait until the next version comes out (a6700???) hoping it will have a brighter rear screen and more touchscreen functionality.
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