This is a question I am asked very often and it’s completely understandable. I’ve shot with a DSLR for a lifetime and with that, only on one brand specifically. Canon.Why then change all of a sudden and endorse mirrorless and in that, Sony Alpha? Well, it’s not a complicated answer and I’ll explain in much more detail as you read through my post below.
I was too young to truly comprehend the changes photographers experienced when the change from SLR to DSLR took place. Sure I had a SRL camera and have been taking photo’s from a very young age. My dad had his own safari company and was a keen wildlife photographer, but I think I had control of his camera more than what he did. I remember how often we used to sit in the living room with the projector running slide after slide of images that my dad took whilst on safari. This was the process every time he returned from a safari – get the images processed and watch the slide show with his kids. He would accompany each photograph with a story and my sister and I would be captivated!
That was a long time ago and I certainly had no idea what I was doing with camera in hand. I just knew that I loved it and that I loved being out in nature with it.
Fast forward many years later, and I now find myself firmly amidst the changes happening as we leave DSLR behind and move over to the new frontier in photography – mirrorless.
All of us as wildlife photographers are living in exciting times. You could be a beginner, someone who enjoys wildlife photography as a hobby or even a serious professional making a living from it. The fact is that we are all in truly exciting times in photography and camera tech. As I type this blog the biggest brands are in competition. The focus is on producing the very best mirrorless systems and the competition certainly is heating up. As we leave the DSLR era behind, the innovation in mirrorless and steps taken thus far is truly astonishing.
I think back to 2017.
I had some guests on safari and a lady had a Sony A9 and a 100-400mm with her. She also had a Sony A7R3 with her. I remember this well would love to explain why.
During that time period I was still very much of the opinion that mirrorless had a long way to go to compete with my DSLR system. One of the biggest factors for me was build structure and quality, and also lens choice. I felt there was alot to be improved on for the mirrorless systems and I had not even considered changing at all.
This was justified. I prefer to shoot on fixed telephoto lenses such as the 400 f2.8, and the 600 f4. None of those existed yet in mirrorless brands and it was a massive consideration for me. I seek that special telephoto effect that a prime of that quality brings, as well as the lowlight capabilities and image quality. Canon at the time had that aplenty and there was no reason to look elsewhere
I do however remember looking at the images that my guest took on that particular tour to the Serengeti, and I was massively impressed. The image quality alone was superior (in my opinion) to the cameras that I had. I remember helping her with editing and looking at the tonal range and sharpness, and also ease-of-editing, and being blown away. Still, there were a few concerns for me that simply had to be met.
Not enough pro wildlife lenses to choose from.
Small in hand, just did not feel comfortable.
Build structure and weather sealing.
Autofocus and possible lag time.