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Date: 15/12/2014 | By: Heather

So, DSLR users: what’s stopping you from switching over to a mirrorless system?

DSLR user switching over to a mirrorless camera

So, DSLR users: what’s stopping you from switching over to a mirrorless system?

By now, you’ve probably read numerous stories about photographers who have made the switch over to a mirrorless system both on this website and around the web. Some call it a passing fad, others a natural progression. Whatever it may be, the stronghold the mirrorless segment has on the market is significantly stronger than it was a year or two ago, and barring unpredictable contingencies, the trend should continue.

But here’s the thing. As much as we love stories about photographers switching over to mirrorless (we do run a mirrorless website, after all!), we are also eager to hear from you, the DSLR users who don’t plan on changing systems any time soon.

What we’d like to know is: what’s stopping you from switching over to a mirrorless system? In your opinion, which characteristics do they continue to lack?

Before we hand over the virtual microphone to you, we’d like to share a condensed list of reasons we’ve come across in our time blogging and talking with photographers. If you feel that one or more of these points is relevant to you, we invite you to vote on the poll. If, on the other hand, you have an additional point to add, please leave your two cents in the comments section!

We look forward to your answers! 😀

Update: Our professional readers have responded! According to the poll results, the main reason they are reluctant to switch over to a mirrorless system is because of the autofocus system being inferior to that of a DSLR. This was closely followed by battery life, lens availability, sensor size and the cost of investing in a completely new system. Did you expect these answers? :)


NIKON D3000, 1/320, f/ 56/10, ISO 100
Mathieu and his old Nikon D700.
This poll is closed! Poll activity:
start_date 2014-12-13 23:03:23
end_date 2015-02-03 23:59:59
Poll Results:
Feel free to choose as many answers as are applicable to you!

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    About the author: Heather Broster

    Heather Broster was born in Canada, has lived in Japan and Italy but currently calls Wales home. She is a full-time gear tester at MirrorLessons. You can follow her on Google+, Twitter or Facebook!

    • efilho

      After one year since the last post, as an amateur user of both Nikon D750 and Pana GX-85, I don’t see a “switching” in sight: at Rio Olympics 2016, both cameras delivered fine results, but the output of the FF system made m4/3 an option only when compactness was paramount (discretion or when big gear was forbidden at the venues). So far, no switching: using both. :)

    • Heather Broster

      Which mirrorless systems have you tried?

    • Stephen Chung

      The mirrorless system seems to be a bit laggy, from the time it focus till the time the shuttle actually actuates…

    • Vanitas Foto

      For me it is battery life, what is strange is that they could actually do a big high capacity battery (ala eos (1dx or Nikon d4s) for the mirrorless cameras that use a battery grip (sony a7/s/r/I, Oly OMD’s OMD’s, Fuji XT-1, etc.)

      Not all of us want a mirrorless because it is small or lightweight :) some of us simply find the system more convenient but with 900-1000 mah battery as only option with a power hungry system well… Seems logical what I propose :)

    • HF

      For landscape and amateur use it will be fine. Photographing weddings or portraits of children and pets constantly moving, it can be a pain. It is further not about the autofocus acquisition, but AFC (tracking with back-button AF, for example). So far all mirrorless I used produced a keeper rate not high enough. The smaller sensor cameras are now getting better (NX1, a6000), but the FF model we want are still lacking. If you are paid to deliver, needs to work and not get into your way. Canikon still delivers here. But this could change withen the nex couple of years, of course.

    • Serj Kasparoff

      yeap, but it’s not worldwide)) And i think that it’s not fair that elementary level DSLR with zoom lens is more affordable than OM-D or GX/GM series. And also in my country (russia) we have higher prices and now in addition we have so crazy falling currency, so any already high price rise in more than twice for us.. but it’s not about mirrorless, it’s about local economy problem))

    • Heather Broster

      The GH3 is pretty affordable nowadays as well. I’ve seen it for $500 used (body only of course).

    • Serj Kasparoff

      i’d like to recommend mirrorless system to all the people who ask me what to buy for video, but when they talk about $500-600 budget, i understand that Canon 650-700D/Rebel t4i-t5i is the only thing what they can afford : (

    • Bill Rees

      I also have an E-M1 and see no lag at all and I used to own all Nikon FF and DX gear up until last year.

    • damnhandy

      Agreed. Once I got an adapter for an old Leica Summicron I had kicking around, I got to appreciate how awesome manual focus is on a Micro Four Thirds body.

    • damnhandy

      Big issue for mirrorless is night photography. Specifically focusing in extremely low light.

      I’m a Nikon shooter and got a GM1 last year to test the mirrorless waters. The little camera packs quite a punch. I do start to miss things like an EVF and bigger grip, but it’s so small that I have it with me everywhere. One thing that has made me cautious about going full mirrorless is using the EVF focus in night shots.

      I decided to do some long exposures with the GM1 and the thing that immediately jumped out at me was the inability to focus, either in auto or manual mode. The LCD is completely black and you have no idea how close you are to getting something in focus. While AF may still be a crap shoot with an optical view finder, I still have much better luck. I’ve tried to see if the higher-end bodies fare an any better and I’m seeing the same general issues reported by others. Instead, people have offered hacks such as using a flashlight or laser point to acquire focus. This just make its really, really hard to go full mirrorless.

    • Trinavi

      That’s odd, I find the E-M1 shutter delay quite short and I have lots of experience with other cameras. Things you should check out:

      – Are you using shutter anti-shock mode? If so, what setting is it on? Even the ‘0’ setting will produce shutter lag of about 0.1 sec. This setting is found in the EXP/ISO-menu under anti-shock.
      – Please check your shutter release lag setting, it should be set to short instead of normal. This setting is found under the RELEASE-menu.
      – Please check your EVF frame rate setting, it should be set to high instead of normal. This setting is under the DISP-menu.

    • Alex

      I currently have an OMD EM1, a Leica M240 and a Nikon D610 (and severe GAS). To me, by far the biggest weakness of mirrorless cameras, such as the Olympus, is the shutter lag caused by sensor metering, combined with the EVF lag. Where the Leica and Nikon fire immediately when I press the shutter button, the Olympus has a slight delay. Not a problem for landscapes or portraits, but in street photography or social photography, it is a problem because what I see is not what I get – I need to anticipate the shot to a much larger extent. Especially when shooting with flash, the shutter lag is quite substantial – it feels like a second. Even my old Canon A35F (a cheap rangefinder from the late 70s) fires immediately when the shutter button is pressed – but the Olympus is frustratingly slow in this regard. Until this is sorted out, it’s not a fully acceptable substitute for a DSLR or digital rangefinder imho.

    • Ovidiu Oprea

      I had all kinds of Canon gear and got tired of the huge weight of my 5D, 24-105mm, 70-200mm f/2.8 IS, 17-40mm and so on…

      I Bought a OMD E-M10 and i will buy the new E-M5 II as well. I do NOT agree with people saying there arent enough lenses for Mirrorless. Olympus has enough lenses and you can even use Panasonic lenses too.

      The newer Olympus lenses are very good in all terms and with the newer bodies you can easily keep up with a DSLR. Sorry but my AF System on the E-M10 kan keep up with a DSLR.. maybe not in sport.. but give it 2-3 years.

      I also use a Hasselblad H3D31 for professional use like productphotography.
      But for landscapes, travel, street or just some portraits i have my E-M10.

      the Question is.. do you really need all those things a DSLR offers, when you have Greate image quality with something smaller?

      If you need a bigger sensor.. get a A7II… yes.. not that many lenses out yet.. but.. you can use Sony glass. Fujifilm has already a very good lens range… I dont know why people are complaining about the lack of lenses…
      Hasselblad dont have lots of lenses either have they? and their lenses are produced by Fuji… why do i need so many lenses like canon offers when most of them are either way to expensive of just crap i wouldnt use even if i got it for free. if you subtract all these lenses you have a decent lensrange you can afford ot buy just like the mirrorless system.

      im no pixelpeeper anymore.. i dont need the dynamic range like a Sony sensor offers or 36MP (except for Productphotography.. going to try out the 40MP of the new E-M5II)
      i just grew out of this.. if you need all of these super advantages then you may just not be a very good photographer. if you can take very good pictures with a cheap camera.. you will probably also do well with any camera.

      Fast action photography may be still an issue.. but as soon mirrorless can keep up… or even surpass DSLR, pros will get the best gear thats on the market.. and when they do… everyone will want to. And Sony, Olympus, Fuji and Panasonic will have a big advantage over Nikon and Canon.

      just my two cents.

    • speltrong

      I’d probably steer a complete newbie toward something like a LX100. Most people that I’ve gotten started on mirrorless ended up ditching after awhile because it’s still too much stuff to carry around. I personally don’t think you start to see really stellar results with any ILC system until you get past the kit lens (which all of a sudden greatly increases the cost of entry). The LX100 gives you great results right out of the gate that you’d never be able to achieve with your phone, and it’s versatile enough that you can learn all about shutter speed, aperture, depth of field and everything else you need before deciding to make the jump to an ILC. If you see the value in specialized lenses and want to take the next step, the LX100 is still a great tiny second, or beach/party cam when you don’t want to haul out your bag.

    • Steve Vansak

      All great points, but I’m one of those who think it is there (except for auto focus tracking and high resolution MP’s) for my needs. Not to be argumentative, but I’m curious about something. If you had a complete newbie just out of the gate ask you what system they should invest in, what would you suggest? I tell them mirror less, not DSLR. I do understand the reluctance of those with a lens investment.

    • Steve Vansak

      In the USA I believe the reluctance is cultural in that people here tend to go big with everything – gas guzzling SUV’s, 60in TV’s, you name it. My fellow Americans equate bigger with better. That’s unfortunate as most of them do not need continous autofocus tracking for wedding work or huge megapixels for family portraits, etc. Image quality these days has much to do with the processors in cameras and less and less about sensor size. The mirror less camera makers aren’t conveying this enough in their marketing. Don’t just say it’s small. Talk about how good it is first. I’m the only mirror less wedding shooter in my area and probably will be for a long time. I know people who are due for an upgrade in both lenses and bodies, but they still won’t consider a mirror less camera. It’s peer pressure too. They’re afraid of what others will say. Oh, and Canon and Nikon haven’t gotten serious about them yet. That certainly plays a role, although I’m puzzled by the blind brand loyalty.

    • radcraig

      I also just purchased the Rovelight and kept my Canon flash. Can you tell me how you are controlling both the Rovelight and Canon flash together remotely?

    • Erick Redcloud

      Intresting responses… I would have never though autofocus would be so high. Didn’t think so many photographers relied on the autofocus.

    • Henk Coetzee

      I recently replaced a dead compact with a Fuji X-A1 with 27 2.8 and kit lens. Image quality is every bit as good as my DSLR – a Pentax K3, although I haven’t yet ditched the DSLR because of the lenses and other accessories I have. What I’ve found is that the X-A1 is becoming the camera that’s with me a lot of the time – usually with only the 27 2.8, while the DSLR gets pulled out for specialised stuff like macro, super wide, long time exposures and so on.

      I’ve also taken the plunge into strobist stuff recently and, while it does look a little odd with a large controller or flash in the shoe, the little Fuji does fine.

    • Heather Broster

      Great points, Duncan. No doubt the differences will become smaller and smaller as time progresses!

    • Duncan

      I did not switch, I added the MFT system to my Canon FF bodies. Why? Because of size, weight and general ease. Why not switch? Well, the MFT system is not quite there yet! In low light noise performance is amazing for such a small sensor, but I do prefer the contrast and color I get from my 6D . The focus is fast, but not nearly as accurate as with the 6D. The flash system is not as accurate as well. I know I won’t miss a shot with my 6D, and when I go on a job that is what I need. I can not trust the MFT-system to deliver the same constant quality. But it is moving fast, so maybe in 2 or 3 years I will make the switch completely.

    • Ayatollyahso

      I Don’t understand; gh-3 and pocket wizards work fine ( manual flash is not that hard to learn).

    • Brandon Scott

      This is an extremely good point. To really be comparable, a 300mm would have to be at least f2.8, not f4.

    • Joseph

      Absolutely. If I am going out to intentionally do photography, I take my DSLR and the appropriate lenses AND the X100t. The X100t is the camera I would take in to the coffee shop or on a side trip to do something else–so that I have a camera with me that will shoot a good image if the opportunity arises. Also, I plan to use it for street shots that the larger DSLR sort of inhibits.

    • Frank Bunnik

      Thank you Heather. No, I am not on Google+, But if I can share some images or some experience I am willing to do so.

    • Jay Farrell

      The biggest thing I have to stress is the operations and how the mirrorless systems work are different. I see many jumping ship who expect it to work like their DSLR, You’re in their house now, lol. It’s working for me, others’ mileage may vary….definitely people switching need to be adaptable.

    • HF

      Yes, I got it two days ago, together with LA-EA4, 135/1.8 and the Novoflex Nikon adapter. For traveling and landscape work I can use the 18-35G lens, which is very sharp even on the D810. The Sigma Art lenses give me the possibility for very good IQ for stationary stuff, too. Ibis seems to work great. Got critically sharp handheld photos with the 135 at 1.8 around 1/20 – 1/30 seconds, AF is decent in good light (135/1.8 is an older construction). I want to extend the kit with 55/1.8 and 28/2.0 next year. However, for event work or weddings, we still rely on the Nikons, for else the A7ii is a nice alternative.

    • Heather Broster

      Great point, Marco!

    • Heather Broster

      Interesting. Do you feel this way even about the A7r? What it is about the image quality/performance that doesn’t appeal to you for landscapes?

    • Heather Broster

      All great points, David. I too feel DSLRs have a fairly long life ahead of them. It’ll be interesting to see how their role will change as mirrorless cameras improve and begin to dominate the market for certain types of photography.

    • Heather Broster

      For sure. I guess it is just a matter of expense. If you plan to invest in an entire mirrorless system, you may have to sell off some of your older gear to afford it.

    • Heather Broster

      Good point, Jay. Switching should only be necessary if you are unsatisfied with your current system, and professionals especially should always experiment with a new systems by renting equipment before making any drastic decisions.

    • Heather Broster

      Nice to hear your opinion, HF. Have you already ordered the A7ii? The great thing is that you can use your Nikon lenses on the Sony system as well. Two birds with one stone!

    • Heather Broster

      Lovely image, Frank. If you are on G+, you should share your work in our community. :)

    • Heather Broster

      I get the feeling that people tend to change quite often, which isn’t really a good thing as you never get to know your camera intimately. It is best to stick with a system if you are happy with it!

    • Heather Broster

      I’m curious–do you also bring your DSLR when you go on holiday since it is more likely you’ll be doing a wide variety of photography, not just street?

    • Joseph

      I bought a X100T and I like it because it is small and I can take it with me almost all of time. It is capable of making nice images–almost to the quality of my Canon 5D 3–but not quite. I don’t mind the fixed lens because I shoot 35 mm most of the time with the DSLR. The noise for the X100T is pretty good and the sharpness is acceptable. The electronic view finder works well. BUT, if I am going some place to shoot (other than street photography), the DSLR is a superior camera. For street shooting or getting shots from awkward angles, the X110T is the better option since getting a reasonably good image is way better than not being to shoot at all.

      Lastly, with Lightroom, I can adjust the sharpness and contrast and decrease the noise to get a quality from the X100T that is comparable to the 5D.

    • Claude B.

      Sorry but what is the X-E1 and XT-1?

    • mouse

      Simply because my old DSLR still functions…

      I am tempted to buy something smaller for trips and hiking, but that good old A200 of mine still works like a charm. Photography is just a hobby for me, so justifying the cost of completely new system is really hard (yes, I could use my existing lenses with LA-E2 adapter, but the size advantage would be gone). But there are certainly times I would like to shoot at higher ISO than 800 :-)

      I wonder reading sites like this how often do you people change brands and cameras?

    • Frank Bunnik

      I shoot mainly landscape and seascapes, had a 5d mark 3 but switched to an E-P5 and a GH4. I was afraid the smaller sensor would be no match for the sensor in the 5d3 but I was wrong. I use 100 or 200 iso, just like on the 5d3, and the images, printed to 30×45 cm (I rarely print larger) are fantastic. Excellent detail, contrast and sharpness. The added depth of field is a nice plus for landscapes. I use the Zeiss ZM 2.8 25mm, 2.0 35mm and 1.5 50mm lenses and these give an incredible three dimensional look to the image. Because of the lighter weight compared to the Canon set, I take my m43 with me much more often.

    • HF

      The problem I have with the 300f4 esp. with TC is the large DOF even at largest aperture. Oftentimes you don’t have nice backgrounds or they are close to the subject, making it difficult to nicely separate your subject. For portability it’s great, of course.

    • WOST

      Hi, I,m Wolfie…i came to this site over the X20, just bought one, and feeling happy with it. For buisness, i´ll rather take the Canons 5 + 7D….same reason I chosed the X20 for.The ovf, the manual zoom, the manual control of the (more or less) functional buttons. Ciao, W.

    • Brandon Scott

      It looks like Olympus is putting in place system that will challenge the long telephotos of Nikon and Canon. I too am interested in what might happened. I suspect we are one generation of camera away from a real challenge.

    • Jay Farrell

      All those concerns are valid….and there is no reason to switch unless you have a reason to. I got burnt out on my lack of impression by Canon’s upgrade options and the price of their glass. I wanted something other than the big 2. It’s not a decision anyone should jump on, because the systems are so different…..but is it a capable tool and are the lenses and color tones awesome? Absolutely.

    • Steinar Knai

      Olympus is bringing out the 300 f4 in the new year. With the converter, that will be 840mm in 35mm terms, with the IBIS system. I am waiting for that. It’ll weigh about a third of the Nikon 500 and be half as long, if that. In the meantime, people are starting to try the 100-300 with the EM1 and reporting good results. I am about to try it out myself for animal photography. With the EM1 amazing AF, it might not be so bad, but of course, it demands shutterspeed and tripods. And I find the EM1 makes files that will print nicely at 40×60 cm.

    • Steinar Knai

      Have a look at the Cactus web site; I personally do not ave any experience with that, but there is a mention of a battery pack in their site. I think your LED cube will fire if you use the V6.

    • Andy

      I love landscape shooting and seascapes and i have not seen yet from any mirrorless camera a single picture that would make me choose form above function, yes i love the size of these cameras especially the A7 series from Sony but they’re simply not up to scratch for the money in comparison to a dslr, can anyone prove me wrong, if o then please do?

    • Brandon Scott

      I really depends on what you want to photograph. I have a GX7 with a good selection of primes and I find that I am using this camera more and more, especially for travel and macro work. But I just returned from 4 days at the Bosque del Apache NWR in New Mexico. For those of you not in the USA, it is a famous winter birding destination. Mostly birds in flight. There were hundreds of photographers there, all with Nikon and Canon 500 and 600 mm lens. I brought my GX7 along and took some great environment shots. But with the birds, that was where the Nikons and Canons showed their glory. Mirrorless is just not up to speed for the fast action.
      I’m more than satisfied with image quality of Panasonic. I regularly make and sell 13×19 prints. No problem. I would like better battery life, don’t care about dual card slots. I love the touch screen and ease of use, focus peaking, etc. The electronic viewfinder is ok and getting better. Most of the time I frankly don’t notice a difference.
      So I am now using two systems. Nikon for the long lenses and some macro work, the GX7 for everything else. But mostly I’m waiting to see what will happen. BTW I have been a Nikon user since 1967. The only thing keeping me with Nikon is that quick and accurate auto-focus and the 500mm lens. The first mirrorless that can match that gets my business.

    • BM-17

      Nice, maybe I’ll give it a shot. I have a set of V6s and a new IC12 LED Light Cube and they won’t fire from the E-M1. FL600 fires from shutter release, so maybe I’ll get rid of the light cube and go with a bank of RF60s. I see they have an external power source, any experience with that?

    • Steinar Knai

      Olympus has a good system and if you need radio triggers, the Cactus V6 trigger and the new Cactus RF60 flash work with Olympus. I just converted from Nikon to Olympus and it all works well. The Olympus flashes work very well on and off camera including in TTL mode, much like the Nikon CLC system and when I need radio triggers, the V6 are perfect. I can also use my Nikon and Olympus flashes together with the V6 trigger.

    • MRomine

      Love pretty much everything about the mirrorless revolution but there are two main things that hold me back. As has already been mentioned, the lack of off-camera radio controlled flash systems that would work with Olympus and/or Panasonic. Also not having the feature of dual cards makes me nervous.

    • christopher zydek

      I sold my last Canon DSLR today!!! :) only using X-E1 and XT-1 as of today!!! :)

    • Marco Venturini Autieri

      Here is my answer:
      By staying with Canon and Nikon, I can buy gorgeous lenses and use them on digital as well as on film.
      No mirrorless camera, of course, offers me the possibility of using their native lenses onto film cameras without adapters of some kind.

    • BM-17

      None of the options above bother me. It’s the lack of quality off-camera lighting solutions that is keeping me from making the full switch. Coming from Canon 600EXRts to “line of sight” is like ditching my iMac for my old Commodore 64. The Olympus selection doesn’t offer a quality external power source anymore, and getting radio triggers to work is proving to be a nightmare… I use my E-M1 and E-M5 for about 80% of my work (editorial spreads, product photography, Portraits, large events, other) and I’d go a full 100% if I could mimic the functionality of my Canon speed lights setup…

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