I recently upgraded most of my camera gear from Canon DSLR’s like the Canon 5D Mark III & Canon 7D Mark II to the Sony a7 III and Panasonic Lumix G9 Mirrorless cameras and have notice a lot of differences between the two systems. Upgrading all my camera equipment has meant not only getting used to a different camera set-up and buying new lenses and lighting gear, it’s also meant the change from a DSLR to a mirrorless camera, and in the case of the Panasonic Lumix G9, a micro four thirds system.
DSLR Cameras vs. Mirrorless Cameras
The biggest difference I’ve noticed so far between a DSLR camera and a mirrorless system is the size of the gear. With the compact mirrorless systems, I can now fit all my equipment including all cameras, lenses, lighting equipment and accessories into my camera bag at once.
The next big difference to me in the new mirrorless system is the digital viewfinder as opposed to the optical viewfinders in my Canon DSLR’s. When I look through the electronic viewfinder, I do find it more like looking at a computer monitor or my smartphone.
Not to go all ‘hipstery’ on you, but there’s just something satisfying about looking through the viewfinder and seeing what the lens sees. I started my career in the film days where a photographer had to know in advance how to set the f-stop, shutter speed, and ISO to achieve the desired effect. Being able to see how adjusting the exposure affects the image in real time is jarring to me. It’s also time-consuming and annoying when I’m trying to shoot a long exposure due to the lag. However, it is convenient and better for work flow to be able to use the histogram, focus peaking, and zebras in real time, which is also fantastic for video.
Zoom Lenses vs. Prime Lenses
I’ve not only changed from DSLR’s to mirrorless systems, I’ve also started using prime lenses. I still use the Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8, but I also wanted the ability to shoot with faster lenses with larger apertures and I wanted to see what all this ‘bokeh’ fuss was about.
Up until this year, I had never owned a prime lens and to be honest, I was a little apprehensive to make the switch. I was so accustomed to staying in the same place from shot to shot, I felt that shooting with a prime lens would not allow me to frame certain shots the way I wanted and therefore change the way I navigated through a photo shoot. And I was right; navigating through a shoot is different now and the change was worth it.
Now that my main lenses have a fixed focal length, I’ve been experimenting more with my images and really thinking through each shot, instead of zooming and shooting, zooming and shooting. At the end of a shoot, I come out with higher quality and more well thought out images, and less of the same images at different focal lengths.
In all my years of shooting with only zoom lenses, the largest aperture available was f/2.8. Now I have access to f/1.4 and with two stops more light, it’s changed the quality of my photography because I don’t have to push my ISO so high and I get a shallow depth of field.
I do miss the image stabilization and versatility in my zoom lenses, but I’m enjoying the challenge of learning a different way of shooting with my prime lenses. As mentioned above, I have the Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8 if I’m headed out for a fun day trip and really need a zoom fix!
What’s in My Camera Bag
For a more detailed look into every piece of gear I take with me on a photo or video shoot, read What’s In My Camera Bag.
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