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Customer Focus: Mirrorless or DSLR? Andrew Wilson shares his thoughts

Over the last month we’ve seen major ‘full frame’ mirrorless launches from both Canon and Nikon – so is now the time to make the move?

 

DSLR or Mirrorless remains a good question – but a blend of both can be the perfect solution.  We caught up with Andrew Wilson, a previous Wilki Blog guest, who’s recently joined the mirrorless revolution, but still firmly hanging on to his DSRL kit too – for now!

 

Would you like to be our next blog guest? Customer Focus is our new feature where we focus on you! If you’d like to be featured, then please get in touch and tell us a little bit about yourself. Maybe you have a passion for landscapes, run a photography club or photography has helped you overcome a hurdle in life. We’d love to hear your story and hopefully share it too!*

 

What tempted you to try mirrorless, having resisted for quite some time?

I actually tried the Fujifilm X-T2 on a workshop back at Digital Splash 2016 and liked it then. Since then I kept on looking at mirrorless cameras at photo shows, but it was my wallet and sensible side that resisted for a while! This past year I found myself using my Canon 6D more often when going away over my 5D Mark III to save on weight, so I started thinking about mirrorless again as a further weight-saver.

Wilkinson Cameras were running a spend-and-save deal after opening the new store in Liverpool and Fujifilm had brought the price down on the X-T2, so I was able to get a really great deal on the body for £879 along with a three-year warranty – it seemed like too good of a deal to miss and time to buy the X-T2! I also thought it would be nice to treat myself to a new camera and to expand my equipment choice.

 

Giant Spectacular Little Boy Giant taken using Fujifilm X-T2

You said you purchased a Fujifilm X-T2 – which lenses have you chosen to go with that body & why?

I decided to go with the Fujifilm XF 16-55mm F/2.8 WR zoom lens for now as I wanted a quality walk-around lens that would cover the focal lengths I would likely shoot at when out-and-about. As much as I like using prime lenses, changing lenses isn’t always convenient when travelling with others in busy environments. Also, the cost of buying several primes to cover the same shooting range would cost more than the 16-55mm. It’s a bit of a hefty lens so I knew I would be losing some of the weight advantage of buying in to a Fujifilm mirrorless system, but the overall package was still lighter than the equivalent of what I was using. It also lacks OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation), but I figured I would typically be shooting at fast enough shutter speeds to compensate for this, but when it came to having a quality lens (both in terms of optics and build) that had a fixed aperture of F/2.8 and weather sealing, this seemed like the best lens for me to start with.

 

Fujifilm X-T2 and 16-55mm f/2.8 lens setup

Why Fujifilm over say Sony or any of the other brands?

Well I have to admit I’m still interested (and somewhat tempted!) by the Sony Alpha series cameras, but one camera at a time for now! It’s hard not to notice the progress and development Sony has made with their cameras.

Admittedly I’m not that knowledgeable on some of the other mirrorless brands, so it was between Fujifilm and Sony for me. They seem to be the two main camera companies who have become more innovative and bolder in the past few years.

When it came to going with Fujifilm there was a certain “something” about their line of cameras that I wanted to give a go. On an aesthetic and functional level, I like the design of the cameras, which remind me of using my Canon AE-1 Program 35mm film camera, but I also like Fujifilm’s clever approach to releasing firmware updates that improve performance and introduce new features to their cameras.

 

Coastal Walk Santander taken on Fujifilm X-T2

How do you find the Fujifilm compares to your Canon DSLR? Likes & dislikes of both?

When comparing my Fuji X-T2 against my Canon EOS 5D Mark III and Canon EOS 6D this is what I like:

  • Lighter and smaller camera body
  • EVF (Electronic View Finder). For me it makes shooting quicker as I get a preview of the exposure for the final photo before I’ve even taken it
  • Manual focus assist options. Of the two manual focus assist options (Digital Split Image and Focus Peak Highlight) the Focus Peak is my favourite as it overlays an outline to hard edges and textures in focus in white, red or blue. You can also zoom-in when looking through the viewfinder to give you that extra bit of help
  • Customisation of buttons/dials. There’s a welcome amount of customisation options available on the X-T2, something I’ve never been used to with my DSLRs
  • T mode on the shutter speed dial. Allows you to set shutter speeds up to 15 minutes, useful for long exposure
  • Electronic shutter. I probably won’t use this an awful lot, but it could be useful in the right situations. It allows for a near complete silent shutter and shutter speeds up to 1/32000s
  • Aperture dial on lens. Aside from liking the feel of it, I can see the set aperture in between taking photos before even turning the camera on by just looking down at the camera. A small thing, but handy
  • Flip screen. This has come in useful for a few photos and I think for more in the future
  • In-built intervalometer and time-lapse feature

 

Shooting silently in a museum using the electronic shutter. Taken on a Fujifilm X-T2

Here are my dislikes:

  • Battery life. This is a known general weakness for mirrorless cameras, so it didn’t come as a surprise when I started using my X-T2. I’ve found shooting solidly for a whole day will run a battery down, so I bought a spare battery for going away just in case
  • Ergonomics of the grip. My DSLRs have a fuller rounded grip, which I find more comfortable to use. I bought the metal hand-grip attachment (MHG-XT2) for the X-T2 to bulk out the grip and make it more comfortable
  • Auto-focus is not as reliable. I’ve noticed the occasional photo being out of focus in a sequence of photos of static subjects for no good reason
  • Fine image quality not quite on a par with my DSLRs. This is more noticeable when zooming in on the image, but really it’s not something I will worry about as lighting, composition etc. are more important factors in any photo than the rendering of pixels
  • Delay in display of the EVF. When I put my eye to the viewfinder there can be a variation in the time it takes for the EVF to display, sometimes up to a good second. If I was shooting in a situation where I needed to respond quickly to what was happening around me that could be an issue
  • Turning on the camera to view the scene through the viewfinder. With a DSLR you can look through the viewfinder and observe the scene or arrange a composition without turning on the camera. It’s not a big deal and understandable due to the design of mirrorless, but it took me a bit of getting used to always turn the camera on to do this even if I ended up not taking a photo
  • Raw files seem to take longer to render in Lightroom 6

 

Escalator in Santander taken using the flip screen on a Fujifilm X-T2

You said you intend to keep & use both systems  – how do you envisage this working? One or the other for a particular shoot, or a bit of both?

Yes for the meantime I intend to keep both and see how it goes. At the moment the way I see this working is one or the other for certain shoots, but I’m open to changing my mind.

I’m thinking DSLR for situations where carrying the additional weight is not a concern, such as shooting in a single location or somewhere like the Lake District where I’m happy to carry extra gear in my camera rucksack and have time to stop and change lenses. I also have a great macro lens and extension tubes for detailed work for my DSLRs so they’ll definitely be my go-to for that type of work.

The Fujifilm I see more for travelling or for taking out on a casual day out in case I feel like taking a few photos. I see it as a smaller and lighter alternative.

 

Long Exposure at the Lakes. Taken on the Canon EOS 5D Mark III

What do you have in mind for mirrorless – do you think this will become your take anywhere camera due to smaller size etc.?

Quite possibly! I did take a DSLR out with me a fair bit and always when travelling, but the X-T2 does have that smaller form factor and is lighter which means I’m more likely to take it out with me just in case!

Would you recommend mirrorless – and if so, why?

I would recommend that people give it a try if possible – why not? It might not be for everyone, but you won’t know until you try. Even if someone didn’t buy mirrorless after trying it out, then I think it’s interesting to try out the technology and see where it’s heading within the industry. I think hybrid systems that have larger bodies with the benefits of mirrorless, like the newly announced Canon EOS R and Nikon Z6 and Z7 cameras, are going to be the focus for those companies to compete with Sony.

 

Bald Eagle taken on Fujifilm X-T2

What do you see as the key benefits?

For me I’d say the smaller and lighter body and the EVF for exposure and manual focus assist. I also think the near silent electronic shutter could be useful but I think those required situations might be few and far between for me.

Is there anything about your DSLR that you just couldn’t give up?

Probably the overall image quality and low light performance from the full-frame sensor. Also they are solid and rugged pieces of kit that have lasted me really well, so I have developed trust in them as dependable and reliable kit – it’s too early for me to say the same for the X-T2. I also have some great lenses for my DSLRs so the overall kit is a bit difficult to give up just yet!

 

Iguana taken on Canon EOS 6D & EF 100mm F2.8L

If you could add one feature to mirrorless/improve one thing, what would it be?

From my experience I’d have to say improve the battery life. The newer Sony A7 cameras sound like they have improved in that area, so I think that will be a general improvement for mirrorless cameras over time.

I’m going to cheat and add one more thing – the new Canon EOS R has a shutter that covers the sensor when the lens is removed. That’s a very good idea and reduces the potential amount of dust gathered on the sensor – that could be a bit of a problem for me with the X-T2 and I can see that idea being added to other mirrorless cameras in the future.

Are you a convert?

I’m certainly happy with my X-T2 so far so I will be keeping an eye out to see how mirrorless cameras continue to develop. As I’m still planning to use my DSLRs I’m not sure if you could say I’m a convert – perhaps I’m more of a hybrid shooter?!

 

About Andrew Wilson:

Andrew Wilson is a Liverpool based photograopher, shooting mostly on a digital camera but occasionally using his film camera.

You can find out more about Andrew Wilson at awilsonphotography.com

You can also follow Andrew on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Flickr.

 

All images featured Copyright Andrew Wilson Photography.

 

*Please be aware that we cannot guarantee to feature every story or customer

 

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