Mirrorless Photography, is it Right for You?


About 10 years ago I bought my first camera. It was a film camera.  This was right around the time DSLRs were becoming popular but there was still a lot discussion on whether or not they would become standard.   A lot of the articles I read said crap like, DSLRs weren’t real cameras, and film was the only way to learn, because with a DSLR anyone might thing they could be a photographer.  What a snobby way of thinking. So anyway,  I decided to go with film instead because the DSLR just sounded a little too new and iffy and like unexplored territory.

So I learned on a film camera.  I took that camera with me to Costa Rica for the 4 months I lived there.   I don’t have any photos I would share with anyone from those wonderful 4 months!  I mean they aren’t horrible photos, but they aren’t wonderful either.  When we all started realizing DSLR photography was here to stay, I invested in a Canon T1i.  I LOVE that camera and still do.  It’s just beautiful and takes beautiful pictures.  Finally a couple of years ago after weeks of research, I bought a full frame, the Canon 6D.  I also LOVE that camera…

But here is the deal.  I like to do travel photography, it’s a hobby, so it should be enjoyable.  But I also want to use the photography for my blog. One thing I’ve realized is that I don’t enjoy it as much as I should because I am always trying to figure out how I am gonna lug all my equipment around.  Should I care more about quality than enjoying something?  Well…I’ll let you decide that for yourself, but for me, if I enjoy something more, I do it more, practice makes perfect (not the camera) and I am much more likely to have great photos, if I am actually out taking photos.

Enter the mirrorless system, mainly for me, the Olympus micro 4/3 system.  There is a lot of discussion about whether or not this is even a system worth pursuing, I mean it’s got a tiny sensor (half the size of a full frame camera’s sensor), so how could it possibly take better photos than even an APC-S system like Canons Rebels (a little bit bigger sensor than the micro 4/3)?  Just to make a point, think of your iPhone or smartphone’s camera, the sensor in it is 4 times smaller than the micro 4/3 system, and honestly, iPhones take great photos. (To understand more about camera sensors go here.)

There is a place for the micro 4/3 system!  Are you a blogger wanting to take better photos than you can get with your phone’s camera?  Do you need to take your camera with you everywhere but don’t want to break your back doing it?  Do you want a variety of great, affordable lenses to choose from?  There is a saying that the best camera for when a photo-opportunity presents itself, is the one you have with you.

If you are a professional, then probably you have decided to keep your full frame camera and haven’t even glanced at the micro 4/3 system, or perhaps you’ve found Fuji or Sony’s full frame mirrorless cameras and have gone with one of those.  So really, this article isn’t for professionals…but more for the serious hobbyist.  But, even though I am not targeting professional photographers, who is to say only professional photographers use full frame DSLRs?

People have created beautiful photos and are considered professional photographers just by using their iPhones.  Anyone who has enough followers on Instagram to have sponsors and a career just by taking photos and uploading to their Instagram feed understands this.  There is an art to taking good photos, no matter what camera you are using.   And if you get paid for taking photos…with your iPhone, then you are a professional photographer. Isn’t the definition of a professional someone who earns their living doing something, like taking photos with your iPhone?

So here it is, if you are considering a mirrorless system that you can take stunning photos with and have fun while doing it, go for Olympus.  If you aren’t sure, get on Youtube and look at the reviews, and then get on Flickr and look at the photos people are taking with these cameras.   What I love about Flickr is you can search for a particular lens or camera and see photos taken with it.   I found some amazing photos on Flickr taken with the Olympus 75-300, for that reason alone I decide to invest in the lens.

Photography has become pretty unlimited, basically anyone can afford a good camera.  The lenses that Olympus makes are incredible.  And if you know anything about photography, you know the lenses are your bread and butter when it comes to sharp photos and silky bokeh (blurred background in photos).

Because of the small sensor (half the size of a full frame) the bokeh of a micro 4/3’s system will not be as creamy or smooth as a full frame.  Don’t think of just the camera though, the lenses you can afford after you buy your camera are gonna make a HUGE difference in your ability to take beautiful sharp photos with pretty bokeh.  And Olympus lenses are completely affordable.  The photos I have seen that use Olympus’s prime lenses are beautiful and honestly the bokeh is also quite nice in them.

From the research I’ve done Olympus is the next system I am going with, and shockingly enough, I haven’t actually received my Olympus system yet.   I am so excited,  though, I couldn’t wait to write about it.  I ordered it through Amazon just yesterday and because of all the research I’ve done on this system I am literally jumping up and down for joy at the results I know I am going to be able to get with the system (and it won’t be a pain to take with me on trips).

I’ve ordered the Olympus PL7 to be my first mirrorless camera.  I like it because it’s small, and it is almost identical in specs to some of the Olympus’s OMD cameras (well except it’s half the price, smaller, lighter, has no weather sealing, less stabilization, and no view finder).  My main reason for buying was price, I wanted to invest in a couple good lenses for the system, before spending more on the camera.  I figure as well that Olympus will probably improve their cameras in a couple of years and maybe by then I’ll have the money for a little bit more serious camera.  But honestly I am stoked about the PL7.

The lenses I’ve invested in are the 25mm and the 75-300.  The 75-300 is a super telephoto lens, on the micro 4/3 system it will actually be a 150-600 mm lens!  Which for traveling and taking wild life photos, it will be incredible.

The 25mm is a 50mm on the micro 4/3 system.  This to me is a necessary lens for any system, though I really eventually want a wide angle lens, and after the wide angle, the 45mm and 75mm prime lenses that Olympus makes.

Ok, so this is where I am at now with photography, or maybe I should say, where I am going.  I still have my canon system and haven’t decide to sell it yet, unless I end up loving Olympus so much that I only use it.  You should do your own research before buying.   A good place to start is with the Digital Rev Youtube channel, which explains everything you need to know about how cameras and lenses work, as well as keeps you entertained.  They also do photography equipment reviews that are very detailed.

If you like the sound of the Olympus micro 4/3 system, check out the Michromatic Youtube channel.  He gives some great advice on equipment and gives you examples of his work which are absolutely stunning.

I should also mention that if you are thinking of going mirrorless, you can get a professional mirrorless camera, it just might not be as affordable as a DSLR professional camera.  And if size and weight doesn’t bother you, then stick with the DSLR.  Generally prices are a little lower right now on DSLR cameras and lenses than they have been in the past.

But really, the main thing I want to stress is you can’t really say that the Olympus 4/3 system isn’t professional just because it isn’t full frame, it’s good enough for Lindsay Dobson.  Check out the links below and have a wonderful day!

Lindsay Dobson Photography


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