How I got tempted by

Mirrorless cameras

My first encounter with Mirrorless camera’s

3 year ago I started the process of writing The Advanced module on Wildlife photography for the Photography Institute. During my research on photographic gear for wildlife photography, I came across the term mirrorless cameras. After reading countless blog and articles on mirrorless systems, I ended up writing a small section about mirrorless camera into the module. However I did state it would be some time before mirrorless cameras could match DSLR’s in the wildlife sphere of photography.

This was my first encounter with mirrorless camera’s and my knowledge about them was all second hand information. However, mirrorless cameras had made an impression on me. They are cameras that have been designed to hold a digital sensor and the *mirror was no longer necessary. *(a unnecessary remnant from film cameras).

There are no bad cameras on the market

None of the top camera brands can afford to make a bad camera or lens, the competition is currently just to stiff. So no matter what camera and lens you buy it will be good. All the manufactures are making photography a alot more accessible and less complicated to a wider audience of buyers. So which camera you choose is completely personal to your own style and requirements from a camera.

“If you love DSLR’s, you can stay with them and be happy. Just don’t be closed minded about what else it out there”

So why would you want to change to a Mirrorless Camera?

I think the first reason which has drawn in a lot of wedding and street photographers is the size and weight benefits of a mirrorless system. Mirrorless cameras are significantly smaller and more compact and with no loss in image quality. One of the main reason for this significant shedding of weight is because the mirrorless camera’s don’t have a mirror. In a DSLR a mirror inside the camera body reflects the light coming in through the lens up to a prism and through to the viewfinder, where you see the image you are about to photograph. This requires space and extra weight. By removing this and with the use of a EVF (electronic view finder) that reads directly off the sensor. Mirrorless manufactures can shed away the excess weight.

This EVF (electronic view finder), is also a huge advantage for a photographer over the conventional lens and mirror viewfinders. For one simple reason, what you see is what you get. This is a massive advantage for judging exposures. Where DSLR photographers are constantly *Chimping. With a mirrorless system, photographer see there final image before the act of taking the photograph. They can adjust exposure setting then and there, before touching the shutter release. This is a benefit that most DSLR users will not understand until the try a mirrorless camera them selves. I found it to be a huge advantage in the fast pasted world of wildlife and natural light.

*Chimping is a colloquial term used in digital photography to describe the habit of checking every photo on the camera display (LCD) immediately after capture. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimping

Bang for your Buck, this was a major factor in my decision on where I was going to take my photography. The two big DSLR manufactures have held a huge market share on the photograph world for far to long time. I feel this has made them almost arrogant on the prices they charge photographers for cameras and lens, especially here in South Africa (where our politics don’t help our cause much either). So when you have a budget and you want to get the most of of each rand you going to spend. Then companies like Fuji Film, Sony and Micro 4/3 companies (Olympus and Panasonic) have constantly packing their cameras full of features and at costs below DSLRs of similar price.

For example, the key features I looked at in the FujiFilm XT2

  •  24 Million pixel sensor
  • Dual card slots
  • ISO 125 – 51200
  • Exposure compensation 5 stops either way
  • Max shutter speed, Manual 1/8000sec, electronic 1/32000sec
  • Continuous shooting, 11/fps manual and 14/fps electronic
  • 4K video
  • wifi enabled
  • weather sealing
  • build in intervalometer (time-lapse)
  • 14 bit RAW image capture

Now that reads very similar to a lot of full frame DSLR specs, but go look at the price different between the XT2 and a DSLR with similar specs. The XT2 is currently retailing for R24000.00 (May 2017).

It gets better … Fujinon

If you compare at the price of Fujinon lens vs that of a major DSLR brand. There are surprises to be had there as well. A Fujinon 50-140mm XF f/2.8 (70-200mm f/2.8 equivalent) retails for R23595.00 (Orms May 2017). A Canon was R29995.00 and Nikon was R39895.00 (Orms May 2017). Note this does not take into account any special that Orms may be running, straight off the shelf price. If you are concerned about these lenses being cheaper, because of their quality not being up to standard. Then I would recommend you pop into a retailer and check for your self, while you are there go check who makes lenses for Hasselbad H-mount.

During my research into which mirrorless system I would invest into, I came across a common theme about Fuji Film. That they really listen and care about their photographers. With plenty of evidence to back up this very warm feed back from the Fuji photography community. Every model of camera that is released, bloggers constantly write about the improvements from one model to the next. Things they had brought up directly with Fuji during testing and feed back sessions I suspect. It was the firmware updates that really got my attention, Fujifilm is still releasing firmware updates for cameras that are 5 years old.  Once they release a new model, previous models get the same software tech with the update, as long as the hardware can handle it. This makes any camera I intended to buy, future proof. That stretches my buck even more!

So I bought a Fujifilm XT2

So a year ago I took the plunge and bought myself a Fujifilm XT2 and over a series of blogs, I want to share my experiences with the camera. This will be from a wildlife photographers point of reference. A point of view I have found very lacking in South Africa and even further afield. I will share my frustrations and there were many in the beginning. How I over came them and how they all melts away when the camera is in my hand.

Regards

Etienne

Read my about my First impressions about the Fujifilm XT2