Much Ado About Nothing? The Mirrorless Camera Debate.

My curiosity has been peaked. I have heard and seen all the hoopla about mirrorless cameras, even in the little time that I have been into photography. I didn’t really consider it as an option, just having spent a small fortune on obtaining my new camera and the assortment of lenses, tripods and everything else I really didn’t need to go with it over the last year and a bit. But, like many others out there, I suffer from GAS  (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and lately, beside getting an older 70-200 f/2.8 used lens from Henry’s, there wasn’t a lot I have been craving. So rather by accident or maybe it’s just a rationalization, last fall when we went on our east coast trip, I considered whether I should be looking at a mirrorless camera.

Here are some examples, by Trey Ratcliff, who freely allows other to display his work readily.

Trey Ratcliffe 2015 – Rivers of Fire – Taken with a Sony AR7

Rivers Of Laser Fire

 

Trey Ratcliff 2014 – Botswana, A dazzle of Zebras in B&W – Taken with a Sony A6000

A Black and White Photo

 

Trey Ratcliffe 2017 – Dubai UEA – Taken with the Sony AR7

Dubai, UAE

 

Besides the beauty of these photos to convince one to make the switch, I have a bit of a problem with my neck for which I need surgery. What this means is that my hands and arms experience regular numbness and sometimes extreme weakness. When we were going away to the east coast, I found lifting the camera up to my eye very difficult with my walk around lens, the 24-70 Nikon f/2.8. It seemed very heavy at the time. However, I figured I’d just take my tripod and two of my monopods and throw them in the trunk of my car, should I continue to have difficulties. Then the plan changed and we were flying down and renting a car there. Scratch the monopods. That’s when I decided to give the mirrorless camera a look. I couldn’t get it for that trip, but figured I should consider it for the spring given this condition. (As a side note, I took my tripod and for the entire trip and I did not have any problems carting my camera AND my tripod around lol!)

I saw the photos that looked amazing. The ones using the Sony A7 and A7R series, all full frame sensors between 24 – 36 MP for the cost of $2000 – $4000. Hummm…. I was pretty sure I didn’t want to spend that kind of money … again … AND so soon. But then I joined Trey Ratcliff’s Stuck in Customs club and I watched his videos about making HDR photos, all while he used his Sony A7R, and I was just starting to get into trying HDR photography. I did a little research and I found out that for about $400 I could purchase a good converter, allowing me to attach and use most of my Nikon lenses with the Sony camera. Of course, I didn’t really want to use those lenses because of their size and weight. It would be kind of defeating the purpose of converting to a mirrorless camera, much smaller then the DLSRs. But, I told myself rationalizing, I could use my small, lighter lenses like my 35 and 50mm prime lenses! The real problem, the underlying issue at this point, was that I was suffering greatly from GAS and I was about to rationalize anything and everything.

It was that initial steep price tag that held me back. I mean, I would need to at least to purchase the kit lens of 16-50mm and match it with the 55-210 lens. Just to start. So that would be about $1000 just for the lenses. So, at that point, my arms were feeling better and my pocketbook a little light and so I squashed those flames of GAS. At least for the time being. Enter Professor Hines of Dynamic Vision Photography  A Master with the Arcanum, I became familiar with his work there. He does HDR photos and he does many landscape and city scape, including night shots, which I really wanted to try and shoot.  But most importantly, many of the photos on his website that I loved were shot using the measly Sony A6000, a respectful $650! This was Sony’s first hit in mirrorless cameras in 2012 and the reviews for it are fantastic. Now I must admit, Professor Hines even mentions on his website that he is a representative for Sony and Zeiss and that’s all he uses, but the GAS burner was lit again, and I dismissed all rational considerations of bias. Along with that, I realized that not only did I need the kit lenses, I needed to purchase the Sony 10-18 f/4 lens at $1000. This was because Professor Hines uses this lens 90% of the time, and I wanted photos like his. But I could wait for that I thought lol!

There was a small voice of sanity, that came through during times between researching and actually purchasing this camera system. Do you really need it? What and when would you use it? Would it become yet another camera, like your lenses, that you take out the door with your DSLR? What about all the money you put into what you’ve already got?  So I needed to do some more researching. I checked out what Trey had to say. He lists three cameras, depending on the bank account. This is listed as his recommendation for a cheap lead in. But I did search the web more and read all the accolades about this camera. In fact, there was really nothing bad about the camera, except maybe its hard on batteries, but overall consumer and professional ratings was that it was an excellent camera and produced, sometimes surprisingly, great photos! Okay, I’m sold that it’s the camera I can try out and see if I like mirrorless without breaking the bank.

But do I need it? There goes that GAS light again! But there was something alluring about carrying a smaller camera and infinitely lighter tripod and monopod. There was something sexy about visualizing it for street photography where it’s unobtrusive, unlike my DSLR with the massive lens. There was something striking about packing it in a back pack for air travel and the load being only 10 pounds (with tripod)  instead of the 18 pounds (without the 5 pound tripod) I took to the east coast. But even more convincing then all that, was the inspection of the type of photography I actually take. This camera suits it. I mean we all want to shot everything and be able to do so at a moments notice. However, we all have to decide on a specialty, one that we purchase the lenses for and other equipment and hone our skills for. I am not a birder or wildlife photographer. I don’t need a long 200-600 lens with an extra heavy duty tripod for it and a fast lens to capture birds in flight. Yes, sometimes it has meant I didn’t get a really good shot of an eagle, but unless I am there to specifically shot an eagle, I won’t be taking that lens anyway. I don’t do a lot of action shots. I learned that the hard way while taking photos of pelicans fairly close while in Mexico. I think of fast speeds as 1/100 or so because of what I shoot. Needless to say, many shoots where blurry. I like street photography, architecture, sometimes portraits, ever increasingly landscapes and most of all, still life. Yes, the mirrorless A6000 with kit lenses and converter, would suit me well. And so it was decided. I would dabble and see if I do like these systems.

So, next month I will be making the purchase. And it’s because I NEED it, and not because of GAS hitting me hard. Yeah, Sue says the same thing …. BS!

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