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Window shopping for mirrorless cameras


It’s no secret I’ve been looking at mirrorless cameras for awhile now. When I wrote a post about my current camera gear two years ago, I was already suggesting people who were looking at their first camera take a look at the Micro Four Thirds format. Even though I’ve yet to spring to action, the interest has not abated.

I’m not one to rush to action on new camera gear. In fact, in over a decade, I’m only on my second digital SLR and I have had as many point and shoot digital cameras in that same time span. I figure as long as the equipment I have is delivering good results, what’s the motivation to purchase the latest and greatest? I’m just not one for keeping up with the Joneses.

So, why all the interest in mirrorless? Well, I think this photo illustrates it in a roundabout way.

Golden Moment On The Boston Waterfront
Golden Moment On The Boston Waterfront

There’s a saying that the best camera is the one you have with you. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you have the latest camera on the market if it’s sitting at home when you need it! And sometimes the best moment to capture occurs when you least expect it. Although I did have my dSLR with me at the time, it was because I was using it later that day. Moments before this I had been waiting for a water taxi in a little lobby in Boston by the marina. The skies that morning had been a dull steel gray, and for just a moment, the sun managed to make its presence beyond those clouds known. The weather prediction that morning was for the clouds to burn off, but they mentioned nothing about intermittent golden moments! Had I looked out at the dull gray skies and left my camera behind, I would have missed a very beautiful moment.

And these days, I hate to admit, that would be more common. I’ve gotten to the point where I only have my camera bag with me when I know I’m going to use it. This shift happened gradually as I added more lenses and gear and found that a shoulder bag was rough on my shoulders. Despite preferring the easy reach of a shoulder bag, I moved to a backpack to prevent sore shoulders. It seems to be a given that nice lenses for an SLR equal heavy! And that weight adds up quickly.

The weight factor has had me looking at mirrorless for awhile now. My shoulders day-dream about a compact but capable camera. And the one I’ve had my eyes on most of late is the Olympus OM-D E-M5. Not only is this mirrorless camera smaller and uses the interchangeable Micro Four Thirds system, it’s an Olympus! Guess what? My first digital camera was an Olympus! Although the resolution of those long ago pictures is small, those photos were still the roots of my love of photography, so I have a soft spot for the brand. It was a capable little camera to begin my journey with.

From what I’ve read so far, this particular Olympus MFT model is comparable in most respects that matter to me to my current Canon. When I was looking a couple of years ago, this was not the case. The Micro Four Thirds cameras then had a resolution closer to my point and shoot camera than my dSLR. I was interested but couldn’t see a big push to go that way then. Although I am confident that the person behind the camera is more important than the camera, resolution does play a big factor in how large the prints I offer can be!

A brand I like and a camera that’s comparable to what I have. It seems like the place to begin! I started reading various articles and anecdotes of other photographers making the switch, particularly travel photographers. Very reassuring! Then I stumbled over a very recent post on Stuck in Customs about Trey’s switch to the Sony Nex-7. His choice muddied the waters a little for me. The Nex-7 shoots in higher resolution than my current camera (and the Olympus OM-D) and since it uses the aps-c sensor, it has the same aspect ratio that I’ve grown used to in my years of shooting. But it’s yet another proprietary lens system. The very thing I liked about Micro-Four-Thirds was not just the smaller size but that the lens system didn’t tie me to one brand of camera. Even if that post did leave me with some questions about which camera comes next, seeing a high profile photographer make the switch makes me feel like these smaller cameras really are coming into their own.

So, I’m looking hard, but I’m afraid without a surprise windfall I don’t see the switch happening immediately. In the interim, perhaps Olympus or another Micro-Four-Thirds camera maker might come out with something to make overlooking the Nex-7 easier. And maybe I’ll also try grabbing one of my small bags and making the hard choice to put my current camera with just one lens in it. After all, even if it’s not mirrorless, it would still be the camera I have with me which is better than none! I’d hate to miss out on a photo like the one from Boston above simply because I have tired shoulders!

Note: Some of the Camera gear links in this post are Amazon affiliate links. I get a commission on those sales but you pay the same price!

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