A number of online forums are jumping into the mirrorless vs DSLR camera debate.  I posted this response to one of those forums a few days ago.  Though some of my previous posts have outlined some of my growing pains with this new mirrorless technology.  Most of these problems have resolved with better lighting work.

Textile, closeup image

Textile Closeup Image Sample

Yesterday I took advantage of some nice spring weather and moved a textile product shoot outdoors.  On outdoor shoots I set up a backdrop in a shady spot with a table or some racks and shoot away.  For outdoor shots of products, I don’t bother dragging out my MacBook Pro for a tether, nor lights or flash; a reflector or two usually suffice.  With textile sessions, you want to get some good overall product shots but you also want to get some closeup shots (not macro) to show texture and detail, so focus bracketing/stacking is often necessary for textiles that are “draped”.

I could see through the viewfinder well enough to frame the images but not really well enough to see a lot of detail.  I spot metered and focused, locked the focus and meter, started at one end of my camera rail and shot away.  About half way through the session I noticed I had forgotten to set my shutter release to the usual 2 second delay.  You see, my mirrorless camera does not have an IR trigger.  I have to do the old DSLR shutter delay trick to reduce camera shake…at least I thought I did.  Duh, 45 years of practice and I still make dumb mistakes.

Fearing the worst, I ran back to my studio and quickly took a look to see if I had to re-shoot.  My worries were totally unfounded.  This little mirrorless camera, a Sigma Quattro H, who the Nikon and Canon “pros” ridicule as “not really a serious camera”, was producing tac sharp images in full 14 bit color.  I quickly printed out a 17″ x 22″ print, still tac sharp.  BTW, the images used for focus stacking was producing a 2 GB file that was topping out my brand new 27″ iMac and Photoshop CC.

I haven’t seen results this good since I moved from medium format film to digital, no matter what the brand of DSLR body and lens.  As an old MF film guy, I have always been leery of the results from any of the “miniature” format cameras, whether they are APS or Full Frame.  Yes focus stacking and panos got acceptable results but never in the league with medium format.  Now I finally get to work with image quality I have grown to expect…with an insignificant mirrorless camera that is really not good enough for “serious” photographers.

Mirrorless makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint.  Everything in contemporary cameras is electronic or electronically controlled anyway.  Why not eliminate the mirror/prism mechanism that for most of its product life has been prone to problems and a vibration source for most of us?  Yes, mirrorless cameras, along with almost any new technology has growing pains.  But mirrorless has also put Sony (Minolta) and Fuji back on the map and Canon/Nikon are the ones who need to catch up.  Yes, sales statistics are showing that the nails are going in the coffin for DSLR’s but will there be a resurgence?  Probably not in my lifetime.  A resurgence of film is more likely and I can not see any advantage of a DSLR over mature mirrorless technology.