Years ago, when mirrorless cameras came out, I wasn’t the skeptic that many pros were. They seemed to fit a niche for the hobby photographer who needed something light and easy to use at the expense of resolution and pro features. The fit a gap between plain point-and-shoot cameras with which you couldn’t change lenses, and full on DSLR rigs that offered resolution, lens changes and such but were cumbersome to carry around.
Well that final DSLR quality has done me in on family trips and casual shooting. I’ve grown tired of hauling a 5D MKII, 17-35mm lens, 50 prime, 100 macro, and 70-200 L-series glass around on family trips and casual shoots. With my iPhone’s camera quality being sufficient for 90% of what I encountered, I usually just snapped and processed images on it instead of carrying my big gear anymore.
Well, now mirrorless tech has matured to the point where I feel the investment is worth it for myself and the business. Here are three reasons why I’m using Cyber Monday 2014 to score a deal on a Sony a6000 with 16-50 kit lens (Click link if you’re interested in the same deal):
1. Weight – My current Lowepro backpack with DSLR gear weighs roughly 10-15 lbs, depending on what gear I’m hauling at any given time. Add a tripod capable of holding a DSLR with a 70-200L lens, and it goes up even more. I’m 36, I have a five year old and a baby to keep up with, I walk a lot on family outings. I’m tired. I need something compact, lightweight and easy to store when not in front of my face. A point and shoot or mirrorless camera fit the bill for such uses.
2. Functionality – Shooting cars, or anything for that matter, becomes less intuitive and spontaneous the more gear you bring to the shoot. Photographing detail shots of collectible vehicles in an auction preview area is a hassle (and a liability) with a tripod and big camera set up. Being able to handhold a camera and quickly change angles and camera settings helps with creativity. It also makes you less of an asshole for all the other people waiting around to view the vehicle you’re diligently photographing. BUT, having the functionality of lens changes, a camera flash hot-shoe, tripod mount, and exposure bracketing were things I wanted in a handheld set up. The lens changes allow me some creative freedom over a point and shoot rig, even finding old vintage lenses to adapt to the current Sony mount to play with some vintage or DIY lens effects. The flash hot-shoe means I can throw on my Pocket Wizard or other remote flash sync unit and shoot studio strobes for portraits, action, and car beauty stills. This means I can use the camera on paid shoots and get just as good of lighting but with a smaller camera kit. The tripod mount I require so when I’m doing beauty stills, I can shoot multiple exposures, but being able to use a smaller, lighter tripod will keep my kit as a reasonable weight. Exposure bracketing helps in many situations, one of which I run into on a sunny Concours and need to tone-map layered exposures together to retain both shadow and highlight detail in a single final image.
3. Wifi image sharing – Honestly, it’s not as much of a sell as the reasons above, but being able to slingshot images I capture to someone’s phone nearby, is pretty handy. For personal use, sending my wife an image we just shot at Disneyland so she can forward it to the Grandparents would be neat and save time later in the hotel downloading, processing and emailing images out. From a business standpoint, I’m hoping I can slingshot images from the camera to a client or art director at the shoot so they can preview images, without having to look over my shoulder at my camera screen. I tried this with a technology called Eye-Fi years ago, and I never got it setup to reliably work on location, so the 8gb Eye-Fi memory card is still just sitting here unloved on my desk.
And, again, click this link if you want to take advantage of the Sony Alpha a6000 Interchangeable Lens Camera with 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens 2014 Cyber Monday deal on Amazon.com.