DSLR or Mirrorless?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Chevelle, Dec 31, 2013.

  1. Chevelle macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2010
    #1
    I'm looking to get my first real camera. Photography is new to me but it's something I always wanted to explore. I picked up a new macbook pro today (13" 2.6) to replace my 15" 2010. I figured this would be plenty good to run Aperture or Lightroom. I'll be getting a monitor to hook up to.

    Now I need to figure out the camera. I'm intrigued by mirrorless cameras because I like how small they are and I'm attracted to new tech. I was thinking of something like a Canon Eos M, or a Nikon 1 J4 (I know it's not out yet but I expect it to be released at CES.)

    Or am I going to get better performance with a DSLR? I was thinking Nikon D5300. I think I'm going to want to experiment with shooting 1080p video too with whatever camera I choose and using Final Cut Pro.
     
  2. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #2
    First - go to DPReview site. They cover lots of cameras via review and tests.
    They also mention how well the cameras do for video.

    While I admit I am not a fan of doing video via a "still camera," many are and in that, there are various facets to these cameras that you need to examine for the best video use. - This is why reading up on the cameras (and lenses) would be important.

    Second - it is really easy to not use a camera to its best advantage if you do everything in some sort of program or auto mode. It doesn't matter if its mirrorless or DSLR. Find a camera that helps you learn about taking pictures via controls. You may not use all the controls but some are about common facets of photgraphy - ISO/ASA, depth of field, when to use fast and slow shutter speeds, fill flash, and more.

    While I shoot now exclusively with mirrorless, I almost always think that a DSLR is a better place to start (and perhaps that is because I came from film cameras originally). Neither of the options you listed would be close to a first choice for me but may work well for you.

    If you opt for DSLR, look at some of the Canon line up as well. Though I was an avid Nikon user for more than 2 decades, I think the Canon digital offerings work well for those that do video as well as still images. Again check out DPReview and also join their forums and put your ideals of a camera there and you'll get massive replies on what to get (include the Nikon you listed) and why.

    -------------
    Fuji X-E1, Fuji X-E2, 35 1.4, 18-55, 55-200.
     
  3. HabSonic macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2011
    Location:
    Canada
    #3
    I would go mirrorless. I think it's the future and both cameras and lenses are smaller.

    But I would not choose Nikon or Canon. Nikon mirrorless are ok, but Canon is wayyyyy behind. Check Olympus, Fuji, Sony and Panasonic. They are the leading brands.
     
  4. Chevelle thread starter macrumors regular

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    Sep 9, 2010
    #4
    Thanks guys. I think I want to go mirrorless because it just appeals to me. Since it's developing so fast ill see what comes out at ces.
     
  5. Ubele macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 20, 2008
    #5
    I second phrehdd's advice about researching on DPReview. It's a great source of information. One piece of caution, though: you're going to read comments from people who tell you that one particular brand/model/format is vastly superior to all others, and such people can be very convincing. Then you'll read something equally convincing about a different brand/model/format. What it usually boils down to is that camera X marginally beat out all the others at ISO 6400 on details on the test chart under low light, which you can only see if you blow up the image to a size you probably never would in real life. There is no perfect camera, and the DPReview reviews do a good job at summarizing the compromises. But most camera these days are good. As a beginner, don't get too hung up on finding the "best" camera, or soon you'll find yourself trying to justify getting a $3,000 full frame professional DSLR. ;)

    I went through a months-long research phase and finally ended up getting a Sony NEX 6, which many regard as the best bang for the buck in sub-$1,000 mirrorless cameras. I considered getting a DSLR, since I used to shoot with a 35mm film SLR, until I remembered why I switched to point-and-shoot digital cameras for 12 years: carrying around a heavy camera and multiple lenses was a pain. I love my NEX 6, and Sony is regarded as having some of the best video on its still cameras. Fuji and Olympus have their fans, as well. What swayed me toward the Sony, aside from price, is that, with an adapter, I can use my old Minolta Maxuum lenses. That defeats part of the weight advantage of mirrorless-camera lenses, but at least it's an option.

    You'll also want to invest in some good software. I use Aperture, while many prefer Lightroom. For additional post-production, I use Adobe Photoshop Elements 12 and OnOne Perfect Photo Suite, which I got on sale. I'll never exhaust their possibilities.

    There are also hundreds of tutorials and resources on the Internet. Good luck to you!
     
  6. HabSonic macrumors regular

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    Jul 31, 2011
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    Canada
    #6
    Like the two people above me said, check out DPreview. BUT, don't base your opinion solely on what your read there. Most (at least 75% imo) members are old time, hardcores photographers. The average member probably has above 50 years old with 20+ years of experience in film photography. Sure they know A LOT of things, but they don't necessarily have the same priorities and tastes as the younger and new photographers.

    Last thing: you will read a lot of things about image quality being superior with a brand or another. ALL mirrorless cameras (even Nikon's smaller sensor) have very good image quality. You won't notice anything unless you pixel peep or if you print your pictures on a big wall.
     
  7. Ubele macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2008
    #7
    Hey, I'm over 50 years old, with 20+ years of experience in film photography. :D In all seriousness, what different priorities and tastes might younger photographers have that would affect one's choice of camera and other equipment? The DPReviewers seem quite open to new technologies, but some of the people who post in the comments sections are less open. For instance, some posters claim that DSLRs have significantly better image quality than mirrorless cameras, which isn't true.
     
  8. blueroom macrumors 603

    blueroom

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    Feb 15, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #8
    I also went the mirror less route, a Sony NEX-5T for me and the wife is getting a RX100mk2.

    Both excellent and highly recommended.
     
  9. glenthompson macrumors 68000

    glenthompson

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    Apr 27, 2011
    Location:
    Virginia
    #9
    I opted for mirror less for the small size and light weight - Nex7. I just don't like the bulk of a DSLR. A lot boils down to your specific needs.
     
  10. ElectronGuru macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2013
    Location:
    Oregon, USA
    #10
    The choice mostly comes down to the viewfinder.

    The whole point of a mirror is to feed and optical VF. If you don't need that, you don't need the mirror. VFs are handy for tracking moving subjects. If you shoot mostly static, this isn't a big deal.

    The easiest way to tell is to just spend the afternoon shooting with your cell phone. If you find composing by screen to be limiting, you'll want a VF. There also digital VFs, which bug some and not others.
     
  11. r.harris1 macrumors 6502a

    r.harris1

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    Denver, Colorado, USA
    #11
    Definitely don't forget lens support in your quest when considering mirrorless. Unless you're purchasing a fixed lens system, think about what sorts of subjects you tend to shoot and whether the given system has the lenses you need at the quality level you want. I dabble in everything from landscape to street to wildlife (mostly birds) and would want a fairly broad focal length range.

    I shoot Nikon DSLRs/SLRs generally and have a decent set of lenses so it made sense for me to move into the Nikon 1 mirrorless system, more from a long lens perspective. It has a nice and growing set of system lenses from normal-ish to long-ish and a great adapter system for adding existing DSLR lenses, which is great if I want to slap my 500mm on to get 1350mm equivalent FOV :D.

    It's definitely about finding the body you're comfortable with, especially with mirror-less, as there can be a wider ranging approach to getting to controls than you see with the more mature DSLR market, but keep those lenses in mind too.
     
  12. r.harris1 macrumors 6502a

    r.harris1

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    #12
    As a near 50 year old (but absolutely young at heart;)), I'll echo another poster and ask what priorities a 20 year old photographer has that a 50 years old one doesn't? For instance, I'm interested in image quality, flexibility, usability, value for money, shooting interesting subjects, sharing those images and following new technological trends in photography. I'm interested in digital and film for their own sakes. I'm interested in the process in making compelling images. Are none of these interesting to 20 year old photographers?
     
  13. DCBass macrumors 6502

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    Jan 23, 2004
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #13
    As many folks have said, certainly refer to dpreview.com. Their forums can be somewhat toxic with trolls and strong opinions, but most cameras are pretty darn good these days, so just ignore them. Follow the reviews, and check out the forums only for pics from others.

    Since you're interested in video, cameralabs.com also have many excellent videos showing autofocus and autoexposure capabilities in video mode for cameras that have them.

    Really, as you do your research, you'll figure out what your priorities are and what you need. For instance, if you're really interested in video, you may want the ability to mount an external mic. Not all cameras have that plug.

    To start you off, if video is a top priority, I would start by looking at Sony's offerings and at Panasonic's. They tend to offer the most framerate options. I hear the Panasonic G6 is a great value and excellent at video, but I'm not terribly familiar with it.

    Good luck,

    DCBass
     
  14. blueroom macrumors 603

    blueroom

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    Toronto, Canada
    #14
    I sense the same snooty attitude on both dpreview as I do at high end camera stores. The NEX is a fabulous camera system, same sensor as some Nikon cameras.

    The only thing they're not as good at is super fast accurate focusing e.g sports, this is where having a dedicated phase sensor excels. IMHO this gap will vanish as sensor technology improves.
     
  15. HabSonic macrumors regular

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    Jul 31, 2011
    Location:
    Canada
    #15
    I'll answer to both of you.

    People of different ages may or may not have the same priorities, but most of the time, there's some difference. For example, most people at DPreview wants to print their work and these people do not care about smartphone connectivity or other stuff like that. They also tend to prefer retro camera styling. I'm not sure that's usually the case with younger demographics or new photographer, but I'm generalizing (I got an Olympus OMD, a retro styled camera, and I'm in my twenties). Or I may be completely wrong...

    It's not better or worse, it's just different.
     
  16. r.harris1, Jan 2, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014

    r.harris1 macrumors 6502a

    r.harris1

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    #16
    I definitely get where you are coming from but I still think you're way over generalizing :). I know plenty of folks in their 20s who love to print, for example. It's a whole other art form in and of itself. I know plenty of older people who wouldn't think of printing and really just want to share online or via social media. I like both myself. Because part of the fun of photography for me is post processing, I don't have a huge need for smart phone connectivity to my camera but I can definitely see the benefit for some photographers. That's not an age thing, just a "do I want it" thing.

    Photographers are a lot of things and those things cut across the age spectrum. DPReview is merely a research tool and is great for helping decide if a camera or lens is going to be the right tool to help you achieve that ultimate image. The key for me is to be a judge of whether any of the comments are worth reading. The fact that it's a horribly designed site for comments anyway makes that easy ;)
     
  17. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    Oct 25, 2008
    #17
    Some of the "retro" cameras turn out to be far more useful than typical DSLR cameras. The "feel" for adjustments simply is better as it doesn't always require looking at a lot of stuff in the viewer or back screen LCD.
    Btw, I am a HUGE fan of the Olympus OMD because it is for a small size camera, very very well designed. If I was not in the "Fuji camp" I might have gone your route. I went with the Fuji at the time because of the combo of low light abilities and great returns on the RAW files.

    If anyone still likes film and travels to So Cal, look me up as I have a very mint like FM2 and Vivitar 105 macro that I am considering selling. Spring cleaning as it were.
     
  18. dollystereo macrumors 6502a

    dollystereo

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    France
    #18
    I like reading kenrockwell.com
    Is way more clear, and without all this non-sense test shots.
     
  19. Apple fanboy macrumors P6

    Apple fanboy

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    Location:
    Behind the Lens, UK
    #19
    I find his advice a little strange and a bit biased. The trouble with sites like his he will give a review that is to favourable to whoever has leant him the last lot of gear.
    dpreview is better than most I have read. I also look at Flickr (where you can filter by camera) to see real world shots. Also Amazon reviews are useful as long as you have a lot of reviewers. I'm always sceptical when you only see a small number of reviewers. How do you know they don't work for the manufacturer etc.
    But the best advice you can get is to go to a real shop and hold/use a camera. If you are spending a lot on equipment, look into renting (or if you are lucky enough to know some kind soul, borrowing) your chosen gear for a day. You will learn what you like (and dislike about the set up)
     
  20. dollystereo macrumors 6502a

    dollystereo

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    France
    #20
    I just posted that I liked the site.
    I use it mostly for choosing lenses, but he has done nice reviews on many digital cameras.
    I have the Fuji X100, and I can recommend that one. Haven't tried the other ones.
    The fuji X100 is so sharp that sometimes is better than my Canon 6D.
    Just my 2 cents.
     
  21. Madmic23 macrumors 6502a

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    Apr 21, 2004
    #21
    I have a Sony NEX F3 and a Canon Rebel XSi with three lenses. I'm selling all of that and buying the Sony NEX 6.

    I bought the NEX 3 because it was half price, and I planned on selling it. Then I started to use it, and wound up using it more than my Canon. My Canon started to collect dust, sitting at home while the Nex 3 went on family vacations with me. It even replaced my high end Panasonic HD video camera, as I shot way more footage of my toddler on the Sony than I did with my Panasonic.

    The NEX 6 is a nice step up, and has a viewfinder which is nice for those sunny days outside.

    I completely recommend a mirrorless camera.
     
  22. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #22
    Re-read both of these posts several times over. They contain the key elements that seperate DSLR and mirror less cameras. Both have their advantages and shortcomings. A DSLR is more flexible but heavier while a mirror less is light and compact, but a bit limited. Be sure to handle both before buying either.

    Don't let the shiny get you. Cameras haven't really changed at all since film. They convert a vision in the view finder into a recorded image to be viewed later.

    It's all about the vision in the viewfinder.

    Dale
     
  23. Ubele macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    Maybe I'm atypical of most fiftysomethings because I spent the first 20 years of my career in the computer industry (starting in 1982), and am now considered one of the "techie guys" in my current company and industry. As such, I've always followed new technologies, and while I enjoy style, function is more important to me. I work with a lot people in their 20s and 30s, and it amuses me that so many of them find "retro" cool, because I just view it as what was available at the time. Anyway, the wireless capability of the Sony NEX 6 was a selling feature for me, because I use my Mac, iPad, and iPhone all the time. I'm very happy to see Sony and others disrupting the market, because I think that Nikon and Canon have rested on their laurels for too long. Don't get me wrong: they still make great cameras, but too many posters on the photo sites pooh-pooh Sony as not being a serious contender because that haven't made serious cameras until recently. I bought the first Minolta Maxuum when it came out in the mid-1980s, and a lot of "serious" photographers considered its then-revolutionary program settings to be gimmicky.

    The Olympus OMD was my first choice because of the weather sealing, but I was on a tight budget and couldn't justify the $300 premium of the EM5 over the Sony NEX 6, let alone the $1,000 premium of the EM1. I tried to justify the EM1, but then I figured, "Why not spend another couple hundred and get the Sony A7?" It's a slippery slope.
     
  24. DesterWallaboo macrumors 6502

    DesterWallaboo

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    #24
    DSLR.

    Here's the primary reason:
    You are at a disadvantage when using a screen as a viewfinder. You are at the mercy of the limitations of the screen in viewing the image you wish to shoot. Everything from the resolution of the screen, to the color gamut and overall accuracy. Also, on bright, sunny days, it can be difficult to assess a shot correctly when looking at a screen.

    Both have their pros and cons. But I think the reliance on a camera screen to make shooting decisions is dicey.

    ----------

    I agree that focusing is another issue that makes mirrorless cameras less appealing.
     
  25. Ubele macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 20, 2008
    #25


    That isn't true for all mirrorless cameras. The Sony NEX 6 and NEX 7 and also the Olympus OMD cameras (and possibly others) have high-resolution electronic viewfinders in addition to LCD screens. The NEX 3 and NEX 5 do not, although it's an option for the NEX 5 (but if you want it, you might as well buy an NEX 6). On the negative side, the image doesn't look quite as realistic as an optical viewfinder. On the positive side, an EVF lets you see the image with all settings applied, in real time. It also overlays information about the settings. This is where personal preference comes in. Some people prefer an OVF, and some prefer an EVF. I grew up with OVFs, but I'm quite happy with the EVF on my NEX 6. I love being able to page through the settings (such as exposure or aperture) and see how the shot is going to look before I take it.
     

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