And people wonder why professionals still use DSLR's

The video above, 100% hand held, wasn't taken with Olympus or Sony cameras using their much hyped IS systems, or with a Panasonic GX8 plus dual lens and body IS. It was shot with my Canon 5Ds DSLR plus a Canon 24mm f/2.8 IS lens. 

So not only does this Canon have more pixels, better dynamic range, faster AF, better battery life, higher specs., a full frame sensor and better lens range than any mirrorless camera, it also has IS every bit as good as the much talked up cameras mentioned above. I should also point out that with my carry speed video loupe attached, I got an excellent image in my viewfinder, fast and reliable AF with the camera in live view mode and simple quick operation. And if you read that DSLR's have slower video operation, treat it as the same BS that mirrorless enthusiasts repeat constantly when attempting to elevate their cameras to the levels of DSLR's.

And people wonder why professionals still use DSLR's.

I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that the only 'advantage' of mirrorless is smaller and lighter. Though again I have to say that using the Canon body and lens combination wasn't really any hardship. 

A couple of days ago I did a property shoot.

Again I used DSLR's. The Canon + my 17-40mm zoom and my Nikon D750 + Samyang 14mm f/2.8. Again superb results.

Now I've been a fan of mirrorless cameras for a long time. One of the reasons I used them was because I was suffering in terms of back pain. However, since I really did want to continue to use DSLR's I decided to investigate if it was other behaviour that was causing the problem, which indeed was the case. My back problems were caused by the way I worked at my computers. I fixed that and now I can carry a DSLR outfit around with no problems. 

Another reason I used them was a cost saving. But these days as the mirrorless manufacturers get more ambitious (not always justified by what they produce of course) this is largely been eroded. Indeed many mirrorless cameras and lenses are now significantly more expensive than their DSLR counterparts. And I'm not interested in less for more money, no matter how good looking some mirrorless offerings are. 

A third reason was that I hoped that things would have improved by now in the mirrorless camp. I honestly expected, better battery life, more ergonomic design, less fussy menus, an emphasis on genuine new features that make our lives as photographers easier rather than 'fluff' and an emphasis on classy, aesthetically pleasing small, light cameras and lenses. (The latter of which DSLR's conspicuously fail to achieve) But no, the same old copycat designs and layouts are continually being recycled. 

All of this is because, just like mirrorless, the DSLR world doesn't stand still either, something that many who write in the mirrorless cause choose to overlook. The (admittedly expensive) Nikon D500 and some of the Sigma ART lenses (admittedly big and heavy) are redefining what APS-C DSLR's are capable of for example. And far from going away and being 'squeezed' by FF and the smaller sensor cameras (m4/3 and 1") DSLR APS-C is flourishing and offering some genuine quality options. 

The above video and stills are a prime example of well this works. The 5Ds creates beautiful footage and the stabilisation is just incredible. Again this is 100% hand held. I won't pretend the camera and the 24-105mm f/4 IS L lens I used wasn't heavy, but sometimes you have to put yourself out to get the results. I make my living from doing this so that's something that doesn't bother me and to some extent that's why I endlessly bang on about the whole 'mirrorless myth.' Sure, we can all buy what we want, for whatever reason we want, but I find it hard to comprehend why so many people seem inclined to compromise quality for convenience. Again, I realise that the photographic internet is dominated by hobbyists, enthusiasts, leisure snappers and 'fauxtographers' and while I may not be on their wavelength, I can understand what they may want.

However, the problem comes when these preferences get twisted into some kind of notion that mirrorless cameras are right up their with pro DSLR's in terms of operation, features and image quality. This is not restricted to users and those who just want to post a few pictures on forums and sharing websites, unfortunately there seem to be a collection of 'old pros' and supposed working photographers who have decided to talk up mirrorless cameras to try and gain an audience for their sites and from that generate some income. In addition we have the 'shop assistant internet superstars' (god help us!) who seem to adopt a lowest common denominator, tabloid approach to their reviewing and bombard us with their cliched thinking and dull photography. And all of this results in some chronic misinformation. I'll explain what I mean in what follows.

Lot's of mirrorless manufacturers and their customers are starting to produce what we might describe as 'pro-spec' lenses. These are heavy, large and expensive. But the mirrorless fans proclaim on every occasion that these are lighter, smaller and cheaper than their DSLR equivalents. OK, so they are, but there is a problem to this point of view. Firstly lets eliminate the Sony FE full frame cameras. Their 'pro-spec' lenses (when they produce some!) will be just as heavy, large and expensive (probably more so) as their DSLR counterparts, the large sensor takes care of that. Sony for example are apparently going to come up with a series of lenses including a 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom, or something close to that. Considering the size and weight of the existing f/4 telephoto zoom, I just wonder how monstrous that is going to be. Furthermore, this is going to to be mounted onto an A7 etc. body. Personally, I just wonder if those FE cameras are up to it. The thought of the lens mount parting company with the camera strikes me a real possibility.

But the rest of the mirrorless cameras range have smaller sensors than Canon and Nikon FF DSLR's, which these monster lenses are really designed for. This usually means that there is around a one to two stop noise advantage at higher ISO's. So on a mirrorless camera e.g. m4/3 or Fuji X, you attach a 70-200mm f/2.8 equivalent. You get the shutter speed and aperture you want at ISO 400. But then on a FF DSLR you will probably get the same noise performance as on the mirrorless camera at ISO 800, or even ISO 1600. So in effect to get the same image quality, you could afford to use a slower lens (and therefore smaller, lighter and cheaper.) An f/5.6 aperture used at ISO 1600 on a DSLR and reduced in size (assuming you use one of the high MP DSLR cameras) to the same as the mirrorless cameras, probably looks as good or better than the mirrorless image. And in terms of weight, size and price all the advantages of the mirrorless pro spec lens is gone, because with a FF, high MP DSLR, you can 'get away' with a non pro-spec lens and get the same result. 

But I hear you say, mirrorless cameras are improving at higher ISO's,which is indeed true. But then so are DSLR's. My Canon 5Ds has a sensor that in terms of pixel size is no better than many smaller, mirrorless sensors. However, Canon can take advantage of the advances of the smaller sensors, including smartphones and come up with a pretty decent high ISO performance, which the 5Ds has. 

So many of the perceived advantages of mirrorless over DSLR's are in fact not advantages at all. If I reduce the size of my 5Ds images to the 16 / 20 / 24MP sizes of mirrorless cameras (excluding the full-frame Sony FE's) the sharpness and noise performance far exceeds that of the best of the mirrorless options. Simply because of the amount of 'information' in the file. (I suspect that this is why the video on the 5Ds is so good) And over and over again, people go on about the 5-axis IBIS systems in Sony and Olympus cameras. I think I've demonstrated that the lens IS Canon have come up with (including that in the 24-105mm zoom which lets not forget is over 10 years old!!) is just as good and probably better. So this is another example of mirrorless manufacturers getting us all hot and bothered with features that DSLR's have had for years. 

And this is the 'misinformation' that I constantly write about. There seem to be a group of people who live in a 'mirrorless bubble' when in fact all mirrorless is doing is coming up with stuff that DSLR's owners take for granted. The icy lake shots in the video and stills I took yesterday were achieved in temperatures around freezing, I was focusing manually for most of the shots and holding a heavy camera to my eye. The footage is still rock solid and the stills seriously sharp. 

in terms of the post title 'And people wonder why professionals still use DSLR's' I've tried to explain why this professional is returning to DSLR's. Like many others, I was seduced by the size and style of mirrorless camera and like others I tended to think that DSLR's had stood still, while mirrorless cameras overtook them. The reality is that just wasn't / isn't true. Nikon and Canon have seriously upped their game recently and for me this is where the real innovation (in terms of usefulness for photographers) is coming from. The 50 MP sensor of the 5Ds is amazing, it's HD video output is so good it almost makes most 4K offerings redundant and the performance of the IS on a 10-year zoom lens makes all these IBIS boasts look what they are, boasts. If you look at what Nikon have put into the D500, then it's obvious that that is a 'pro-spec' APS-C camera, something that wildlife and nature photographers will certainly appreciate. Who knows, it could even justify the 'pro spec' price!! 

It may be true that apart from the serious enthusiast / professional market DSLR's will in some way 'die.' Unless, that is Nikon and / or Canon can 'reinvent' the DSLR. But even so, my suspicion is that for many people, a 'serious' camera has that NIkon and Canon logo on it and try as they might companies like Sony and Panasonic with their huge ranges of other products, still have an uphill road in convincing the non-photographic-internet-savvy camera market that their mirrorless products are anything other than gadget loaded, expensive toys. And while I did wonder for a while whether Canon and Nikon had almost given up in terms of updating what they offer, I'm now convinced that isn't the case. Many of their recent products have laid down a 'follow that' challenge to the mirrorless manufacturers. And I'm sorry to say the Fuji X-Pro-2 (despite it's retro old school charm) has come up short. A great camera to play with I'm sure, but that 'Pro' designation in it's name is more about marketing than anything else. 

As ever this is a personal view and there is no intention to persuade or convince anybody else to do anything other than what they are doing currently. You may disagree with me, you may agree, but ultimately we all have to come to our own decisions. I've outlined where I'm heading and hopefully you have found the above entertaining for a few minutes. If so I will have succeeded in what I set out to do, no more than that. Because after all, as I write again and again, it's the pictures we take that's the most important thing anyway and the gear we use is always secondary to that. However, for me, every little helps.