Tomorrow will mark once year since I began shooting with a mirrorless camera, a Panasonic Lumix G7. I’d resisted moving toward mirrorless because I’d had some experience with early Electronic View Finders and found the motion lag to be disorienting. As the technology improved, however, I saw no reason why I shouldn’t at least give mirrorless cameras another shot 1. Now I’m not sure I could go back to DSLR full time, and I thought I’d share some reasons why.
To me, focus peaking is the killer feature of mirrorless photography. I am terrible at manual focusing with a DSLR and remain so no matter how hard I practice – I just can’t get the feel for it. On my G7, however, manual focusing is easy. I turn the focus dial until I see my desired elements get highlighted, and then stop. Focus peaking also works with adapted lenses, which makes using older glass a lot more fun than on my Nikon. In fact, in 2019 I’m looking forward to picking up an adapter for my Nikkor lenses, just to get them out of my camera bag a bit more.
My G7 is light. Even when I attach an old Minolta telephoto lens to the body, which pretty much doubles the weight of my setup, the camera is still easy to carry around for an entire day. I never got much neck strain with my Nikon, especially after I picked up a Peak Design strap, but “some” doesn’t mean “none.” After carrying the camera around all day, particularly when I had my longer telephoto lens attached, my neck would send messages of thanks after I set the camera down. I barely notice I’m even carrying my G7, making it ideal for longer photo walks.
While my D7000 shoots decent video, it’s not a great video beast. And, while the D7000 does have a microphone jack, I’ve found the pre-amp in the camera body to be too noisy for the jack to be used. My G7 is capable of shooting 4K at 30 FPS and 1080P at 60 FPS 2. In addition, the pre-amp in the G7 is quiet, making it possible to connect an external mic with no issues. About the only downside of my G7 is the lack of in-body stabilization, which is becoming standard on many new mirrorless cameras across the sensor range.
I’m not sure if the electronic shutter is unique to the Panasonic line, or is common across mirrorless cameras, but it’s become a favorite feature. When shooting with a DSLR there is no avoiding the reality that triggering the shutter will make noise. The mirror has to flip up and the mechanical shutter has to be activated, giving the cameras their unique sound when taking a photo. Camera Manufactures have gotten very good an minimizing the noise associated with taking a photo over the years, but when I photograph quiet events with a DSLR it still feels like the camera noise is thundering through the room.
On my G7, however, I can turn on silent mode. This activates the electronic shutter, essentially creating a full-sensor video feed from which frame-captures can be done. When in silent mode there is a limit to the shutter speed that can be used, but I’ve never had a problem hitting up against it. Best of all, because there are no mechanical pieces being moved inside the camera, there is no sound. It’s very cool.
These are just a few of the reasons why I’ve come around to mirrorless photography. I’ve by no means abandoned my DSLR, as it is also a lot of fun to use, but when I’m grabbing a camera to go out and about it’s the G7 I grab. Every time.