Good bye DSLR, Welcome mirrorless! - Mohamed Hakem's Photography

Good bye DSLR, Welcome mirrorless!

10 reasons why I switched to mirrorless

Every decade, photography enters a new era. There was an era of the large formats, then medium formats , then Leica came up with the 35mm, then rangefinders took the art out of the studios. Then came the SLRs that captures what exactly you see from the same lens, not   for a different one. Then the digital world conquered and the DSLRs. The question now is the era of DSLRs folding? are we in the era of mirrorless? The answer is YES we are.

I love Nikon. I love their legacy, their designs, their colors and quality. I had extreme confidence and trust in these cameras and they never failed me. 2 years ago I was so much into the gear syndrome of getting gadgets to get this tiny better performance. I would spend hours of research and money on shipping and taxes to get a slightly different tripod that may affect 1-3% more sharpness. Best quality was my ultimate goal.I can’t recall the number of lenses that I ditched to get another. I reached a point when I got all the supreme bulky gear. I never thought that I can ever use an iPhone camera.Until I discovered an ugly truth. A truth that we all know but keep convincing ourselves otherwise; the truth is that size and weight matters!.The seeking of the extreme quality make us sacrifice our effort and the ease of use. Every time I had to take a picture I have to follow a workflow to get the picture I want, I had to carry 3-7 kilos on my shoulder and worry about leaving the gear in a car or nearby. On casual gatherings with family or friends getting my SLR to take pictures was a pain in the ass. But the thought that I was tired never crossed my mind because of my love and passion to the art.

The only option around was to go for an overpriced Lieca system. You will sacrifice the autofocus, the zoom reach, the fast shots, the autosettings for a much different style of shooting. For me this was a losing debate. So I was totally conviced that what I do is the right decision. Until a defining moment, when I got a Fuji X100 thinking that it will be a second body that will solve my casual outing’s issue. The camera was amazing, fun, small, sexy combined with supreme quality. It didn’t require many accessories, I didn’t spend money or time on it, I was only focused on the Real photography. for more you can see my older post understanding the real meaning of photography.

It wasn’t long that Fuji announced the newer version addressing a lot of issues in the older model. And then other famous giant companies kicked in like Olympus, Sony with their full frames and Panasonic with a more video oriented view of a 4k videos. I started to see articles like Fuji VS Leica… wait a second what????? Leica??? Is a 800$ camera comparable to a 7000$ body!?? Do I really sometimes get confused by which camera, D800 or the fuji this picture was taken? I spent a year and half going back and forth in my decision until I got a Fuji XT-1. I was blown away with every single feature in this cute machine. I couldn’t help but sell all my Nikon Gear.


Fuji XT-1

The 10 reasons why I left the DSLRs and switched to mirrorless

1 - SIZE and WEIGHT! this made a HUGE difference in my ease of shooting. A year and half ago I went to Moez street. A famous Street in Egypt that has tons of culture and mosques. After 2 hours of moving around with my Nikon gear under the sun of Egypt I started to faint. People kept gazing at me when I point the Bazooka towards them, others were really offended. Street shooting was all but a vanished dream in Egypt. I was also a bit worried about my safety as the gear is really theft tempting.

A year and half later I went again with my wife and friends, photography was not really on the list as I was giving more attention to the group, so I decided not to take the Nikon and take the fuji instead. I was more than Happy! I wasn’t tired! I was focused on the composition, which really mattered more with a NON difference in quality. I captured much better pictures more efficiently!

2 - The view finder! Years ago what made the SLR kill the rangefinders is that you see through the same lens that will capture the image. Now you can Actually see the “picture” not just an optical version BEFORE taking it. Any adjustment makes an instant effect on what you see before capturing! Imagine the time saved looking at the image you just shot to recapture. I can now take less shots without experimenting. You can see the depth of field, the exposure, and the effect of every single parameter you change live! even adding filters or using B&W modes BEFORE shooting! Another mind blowing advantage is you can see everything in lowlight, the viewfinder bumps up the exposure and you can see in complete darkness. Needless to say you can see the pictures you shot or change any setting without taking your eye off the viewfinder!. you can do blend modes and see all the pictures inside the viewfinder being stacked. Amazing

3 - The manual focus is now a real joy to use!. I do a lot of landscapes, Macros and sometimes use old non autofocus lenses or lenses from other brands, the manual focus was impossible for me to use on the SLR! You have to see a small green dot in the size of an ant to know that you are in focus. I changed the focus screen inside the camera as the good old days but it affected the autofocus so I totally gave up the Idea. During my night shots for stars there was nothing to do except trial and error. Now it is different. The electronic view finder can zoom in to your area of interest and allow you to smartly micro adjust the focus. You can have something called focus peaking which allows you to see a plan white lines on the area in focus! You can even change the colors of the focus lines. On the Fuji XT-1 you can also have a split screen as the view finder is huge you find another screen zoomed to adjust freely. Amazing.

4 - LCD and tilting screens. Who said that using LCDs are not for professionals? we say so because its actually a limitation on the DSLRs as the live view mode is very limiting in terms of autofocus, lag and adjustments. Now a very smart sensor is placed around the view finder that whenever you take your eye off the view finder, the LCD automatically and seamlessly with zero lag operates. You can tilt the LCD screen allowing you to capture from different angels by raising your hands up or lowering to the ground with the SAME camera autofocus performance, same framing and everything. Very useful and has tons of applications.

5 - Discrete and Quite. DSLRs are subconsciously connected to spying or FBI. No one feels comfortable if he sees some stranger points at him with an SLR, It’s in the human nature. But hold a Leica in the street and people will not notice and will not be offended. This is a proven experiment that was tried thousands of time before. The mirrorless ,totally unlike the DSLR, are very discrete, even there bags are not black. They make you look more of an artist than a reporter or a spy. Children are less tempted and people are much less offended. Even the shutter sound is barely hearable due to the fact that there are no flapping mirrors. Quite modes on these cameras are REALLY quite. It definetly makes a better camera for capturing the moment without interfering.

6. Less expensive gear. Cameras, lenses and accessories are all less expensive. See the full frame sonys and Fuji’s flagship prices. Compared to the DSLRs, the lenses, tripods bags all are smaller and less expensive.

7 - Wifi Remote Apps. Nikon and Cannon made some GPS and wifi Add-ons and apps, but they were nowhere near what I have seen on the mirrorless. On the mirrorless you can actually see the screen on your mobile or tablet meters away, you can do the adjustments and see the effects: adjust the colors, apply filters, change the focus EXACTLY the same as the viewfinder but maybe on an iPad (bigger screen), I can now stay inside my tent, do full adjustments and perform my timelapse or long exposure shots without touching the camera. And of course you can copy photos, tether, and do other more things. Another thing that I noticed is that the battery life is not affected as the camera shuts down the viewfinder and the LCD during wifi operation.

8 - Believe it or not the mirrorless has higher quality. It is proven that any Leica is much sharper than any DSLR. and this goes to the simple fact that distance between the back of the lens and the sensor is much smaller in mirrorless. DSLR lenses had to relay the light rays further inside as there is there is a space for the mirror in-between, while in the mirrorless the sensor is less than 2cm behind the back of the lens, just the distance for the light to converge. For pixel peepers and quality seekers, relaying the light rays further decreases the quality of the light a bit. Sometimes the inside of the camera has a different temperature thus different density, so the bigger space allows the the light rays to bend more causing aberrations Also lenses become smaller and more compact as they relay the light nearer. Thats why the Leica always win in sharpness.

9 - Updates and Upgrades. believe it or not the DSLRs has a tiny little room for upgrades. How many years have we been stuck in a same camera different junk releases?. DSLRs reached their mechanical/Physical limit in the frame rate, shutter speed, focus area points and viewfinder quality. Unlike the mirrorless, the Sky is the limit! and believe it or not that doesn’t mean that you will have to change the body, new firmware upgrades have really interesting features! the X100 which has two successors still receive very decent updates, the latest update enabled me to use focus peaking!. Another Update next month for the XT-1will allow you to use a 1/32000 electronic shutter! that is MIND BLOWING! I can now shoot directly at the sun without a filter at max apertures without paying an extra penny. this is the kind of upgrades I receive now. Not to mention new view finder customizations and focus adjustments.

10 - The auto focus points covers the WHOLE frame, any mirrorless now has more focus points than the biggeset of the DSLRs! and covering the whole frame!

Thank you folks!!

Mohamed Hakem

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