The benefits of shooting with a mirrorless camera has been a subject covered extensively for the last few years by blogs, magazines, photographers, etc., so I don’t plan on droning on about the usual suspects as to why my camera is so great. However, after being on the road with one lens, one camera, one crappy tripod and thousands of miles later, I have a good idea as to why my Fujifilm X-E2 has worked so well for me.
If you have taken a look at my Car-V “Atlas”, or have been one of my friends I’ve seen along the way who has seen the mess that is my mobile domicile, then you know why space is at a premium when you’re traveling.
I have somewhere to lay my head, organize my clothes, consolidate my cooking gear, and very little room to store my electronics. Without having much space, one camera and one lens has been more than enough to capture great photographs.
2. It’s Unassuming
When I’m overlooking the White Sands National Monument, or pulling off the Pacific Coast Highway in Big Sur to capture a sprawling vista, I always see photographers with their DSLRs, fast lenses and sturdy tripods. I won’t lie, I sometimes get jealous of all those people out there with full frame cameras and fast glass, but I watch them carefully every time I stop somewhere scenic.
The photographer often looks like a serious professional trying to master his field of view in front of the lens. I jump out of Atlas and meander through the crowds and take photos handheld like every other person around me. So what’s the difference between the other guy and me? I feel less restricted and observed than someone toting a DSLR.
When I’m with the mirrorless camera I don’t feel like all eyes are on me. Something fancy and expensive looking automatically draws attention. You can often tell an amateur with an entry-level DSLR from Canon or Nikon apart from someone with all the latest and greatest, and when I shoot I feel better when I blend in with the crowd because I might find a candid moment or see something that I want to shoot but would otherwise feel uncomfortable doing with a DSLR
3. Light, Sturdy and Mobile
The best camera is the one that’s with you according to Chase Jarvis, and I hardly disagree. Well that is not really a concern anymore because we can get great photos with our smartphones with the help of Instagram filters and sliders.
I use my iPhone to capture Instragram shots, but I would never rely on it solely for my photography because it is certainly not comparable to a shot made with a larger sensor camera (at least they aren’t yet…).
In my travels I have gone on long hikes, have walked around downtown areas for hours and wandered through ghost towns with nothing more than a Domke camera bag and the X-E2 and kits lens. I’ve traveled from Japan to Puerto Rico shooting with a DSLR and by the end of the day my shoulder was burning from carrying equipment and my arms felt like play doh. The mirrorless camera is light and sturdy, and as easy to lug around as my iPhone.
4. Can’t Beat the Price
I think the reason as to why mirrorless has been advantageous for me is because it was affordable. For $1,000 I got a camera body and one of the best kit lenses I’ve used. If you’re a photographer on a budget, some of the mid-range mirrorless cameras are priced under $1,000. So it makes the point of entry for getting a solid camera with either an APS or full-frame sized sensor much more feasible for some photographers like me.
5. Quality Photographs
This little Fujifilm makes an amazing photograph. It works well in low light so much so that DSLRs from several years ago wouldn’t be able to hold a candle to its low-light performance. If you look at the Sony A7 series of cameras, then you probably know how far Sony has pushed the evolution of mirrorless technology into being a true pro camera. That’s not to say that the current crop of DSLRs aren’t better than mirrorless, in fact the high end DSLRs are just as capable and amazing in low-light performance, but my point is, that gap is shortening with every new iteration of mirrorless cameras.
The image quality is amazing. From the EVF viewfinder to reviewing on the LCD to post processing your image, the Fuji capture phenomenal detail, rich and accurate colors, and even film modes that emulate one of my favorite films — Fujifilm Velvia.
While I’m not saying that I will never buy another DSLR again, my journey with the Fujifilm X-E2 has been the perfect choice for the road. I think the combination of multiple cameras, mirrorless, DSLR and even smartphones are all a part of the future of photography. There are many paths that the medium will take, but the dust hasn’t settled yet, and that’s the beauty of photography — nothing stays the same.