No more DSLR envy - No more Mirrorless inferiority complex




'It can give entry level DSLR's a run for their money.' 
'AF is almost as fast as a DSLR.'
'This is certainly almost as good as a DSLR.'
'This is a fine DSLR alternative.'
'The......is truly an impressive little camera. It holds its own against entry-level DSLRs in terms of image quality and handling.'
'My DSLR is a better camera but I leave it at home and use my.....'
etc. etc. 

You may have gathered from recent posts that I'm getting somewhat 'irritated' by this constant comparison to DSLR's and that people who use Mirrorless cameras have to justify that use and of course apologise for using something so small. I get particularly 'irritated' by the 'Gosh, this mirrorless camera is almost as good, if you look at it in the right light  and hide it away from proper photographers so that they don't see it, as a beginners DSLR.' type comments.

Now those who read here regularly will know that I am far from anti-DSLR and in fact often write about how Mirrorless enthusiasts exaggerate the virtues of their choice and make false predictions about how DSLR's are 'dinosaurs' 'old-fashioned' and 'doomed to oblivion and landfill.' And just as statements like that are misguided and inaccurate, statements which patronisingly and begrudgingly give the best Mirrorless cameras parity with these 'entry level' DSLR's only are just as pointless. Because let's get one thing clear, most of these 'entry-level' DSLR's are rubbish.

Plastic cheap feeling Canon bodies sold with the truly dreadful 18-55mm kit lens (it should actually win an 'award' for being so bad) and plastic Nikon bodies with files that have so much noise reduction applied to them that you would be lucky to recognise any members of your family you have chosen to photograph with one of these cheap, boring, endlessly recycled, discounted after being on the market for a matter of weeks, dull excuses for a camera that talentless snapshooters can pretend make them look like real photographers. If only!!!

(OK. That's the hook 'em in and get a mention in the Dpreview 'scratch your eyes out' forums, start to this post.)

Isn't it about time we stopped these DSLR / Non DSLR comparisons? And just treated a camera as a camera and make our assessments and judgements on it for what it is, rather than how it stacks up against another type of picture taking machine. Particularly in the light of the fact that it's getting more and more difficult for the people who don't live on the photographic internet (And believe it or not, there are some of these poor unfortunate souls still around) to tell the difference between a Mirrorless and DSLR body. And while it's true that some high-end DSLR's can do what even the best mirrorless cameras can't there are many Mirrorless cameras that are so much better than the aforementioned 'entry-level' DSLR's that it's an insult to refer to them both in the same sentence. 

For example, what DSLR can compete with the image quality from a Sony A7r. Well actually one. The Nikon D800E. And what DSLR sensor can compete with the Fuji X-Trans sensors high ISO performance. Well two, the unit in the Nikon D4's and the Df and the Canon 1DX. Then there is the video performance of the Panasonic GH3 (and GH4) the speed of current m4/3 AF, electronic shutters, EVF's, live view that doesn't require a mirror clunking out the way, the blinding speed and burst rates of the Nikon 1 system, the incredible 24-200mm f/2.8 throughout zoom on the Sony RX10, the Sony RX1, sheer class and IQ to die for, but incredibly small, the Sigma DP Merrills with their mind boggling resolution, the Fuji XF lens range, the Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.2, the Panasonic 7-14mm zoom, the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 etc. etc. 

Whatever the virtues of DSLR's and there are many, Mirrorless is the leading edge of digital photography technology. This is where the innovations are. This is where we get the features that expand our horizons, make the previously impossible possible and where we can use the features we only ever dreamt about previously. But then Mirrorless cameras all have this inescapable flaw. The attribute that will constantly hold them back in the eyes of many and mean that for some they can never be taken seriously. They are so goddamn small!!!

Because what else can it be? All the evidence is pointing to Mirrorless cameras, far from being only the equal of some of their mirrored 'competitors', becoming superior in almost every way to all but a very select band of high-end DSLR's. But still there is this endless recycling of the myth that even the best regarded Mirrorless cameras can only ever aspire to be the equal of Canons called ?00D or Nikons called D??00. (Fill in the blanks yourselves.) Whereas the truth actually is that these nasty little Canikons are seriously uninspiring things whose only virtue is the brand name on the front of them and that they are cheap.(In more ways than price unfortunately. Oops, that's not actually a virtue is it?)

So yes this is (mostly) a huge exaggeration, but all this hyperbole is making a serious point. And you are all far too intelligent for me to have to spell it out. So since we are all mature enlightened adults here, let's resolve to stop all this pointless deference to the DSLR and conversely the exaggeration of the modernity and 'coolness' of Mirrorless systems. Because endlessly repeating these cliched and useless statements achieves nothing but show those who parrot them to be bereft of imagination and genuine analytical skills. And that hardly encourages us to be creative thinkers and photographers does it? 


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N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) at the bottom of this post.

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