This might be one of my most requested blog posts ever– and I’m SO excited to share it for all the photographers out there! Over the last few years, there has been a huge shift in the “fancy camera” industry moving away from DSLR cameras and towards mirrorless cameras. I am the first to admit that I am not a super “techy” person in terms of sharing all the specs and ins and outs– but I certainly can share my experiences with both types of cameras and what I recommend. If you want super technical details, you will be able to google and find lots of answers about the differences between the two types of cameras!
First, let’s start with the important parts for photographers: both types of camera allow you to shoot fully manual (controlling as much of the settings as you want), both types allow for a huge variety of interchangeable lenses (and you CAN use your lenses from your DSLR on your new mirrorless with a simple accessory addition- I’ll explain below!). In the past, there wasn’t a very wide selection of mirrorless cameras– especially for Canon users, and especially in the professional (but not totally break the bank) camera lineup. That changed last year.
In my opinion, the next details are where mirrorless cameras shine:
1). They are a bit smaller and lighter. Some of this size difference gets negated by the use of the converter to make your DSLR lenses work– but it still feels a bit smaller and I love that.
2). The video capabilities on mirrorless cameras are generally better. On DSLRs, you have to be on a really high end professional model to have 4k video and other options for super high quality. On Mirrorless cameras, there is often in body stabilization and also 4k video on much more consumer-level models, both which are super helpful for video! The focus system is often really different as well, making focus for video a lot easier. Speaking of focus…
3). I think overall, the focus abilities of my mirrorless camera is the biggest game changer for me. Every DSLR I have shot on has a certain number of “focus points” which you use to choose where you want to focus (depending on how you photograph), and while you can “focus and recompose” to have your focus somewhere else in the field of view…it is inconsistent. With a mirrorless camera, all of that recompose-and-hope-you-didn’t-change-your-angle is GONE. You can literally focus ANYWHERE in your field of vision and as long as you focus properly, it WILL be right. There are no focus points- you can focus anywhere on the screen/in the viewfinder (your focus box can move ANYWHERE). Like any photographer, I had a fair amount of shots that weren’t perfectly tack sharp before to go through to pick the tack sharp ones- and now pretty much EVERY photo I take is 100% tack sharp. It is AMAZING. There is also out of this world movement tracking on my mirrorless camera of choice, which is SUCH a great tool as well. I use it for running kids, moving bridal parties, and beyond, and it is so much more spot on than any movement tracking focus I have used before. The focus system is truly a game changer. Of course– you have t know how to achieve good focus in the first place for this to work out for you (I like to toggle my focus using spot focus- so I choose exactly where the camera will focus for each shot, and then use a back button focus button to lock it in)- but if you have a good system in place, I am confident your focus will improve SO much with this camera!
4). In close second, the last thing I am going to touch on is also AMAZING. A DSLR camera uses a mirror to show you an actual reflection of what is coming through the lens- through the viewfinder, you see what your eye sees. A mirrorless camera (or at least the ones I am recommending!) has no mirror inside- so the viewfinder image is created electronically…meaning it reflects your ISO, shutter speed, and aperture changes. What you see through your viewfinder is what your photo WILL look like– you see your setting adjustments live. This is HUGE, especially for photographers still getting a hold of shooting in manual, and truly makes it nearly impossible to get a super under or overexposed shot– because you can see what is happening! You do have to watch that your shutter speed isn’t too low for motion blur though since your viewfinder can’t reflect that!
Ok so ALL of that being said, which did I choose? Well, Canon released R5 and the R6 last year, and I chose the R6. In comparison to the R5, it is at a lower price, has smaller (but still PLENTY huge) file sizes to save some harddrive space, and lacks some video specs a videographer might want…but I am not a videographer.
I LOVE my R6…so much so that upon recently shooting on my Mark IV again so Mike could use the R6 to film my Posing Bootcamp, we finished the session and I knew right away that I wanted to get another R6 as my backup camera so that I didn’t have to switch back to the Mark IV again. Listen…the Mark IV is an AMAZING camera, and if that is what you have and love– THAT’S JUST FINE! But going back to it after the ease of use, focus, and viewing of my R6 was not enjoyable for me.
Some people have a big adjustment to shooting with the R6 when they get it, but for me, it was a super easy transition and one I am SO happy to have made! Here are some links below to what I recommend:
EOS R: This is the camera I recommend if you are looking for a little less of an investment and a little bit more of a hobby level camera . This camera has only 1 card slot (so I wouldn’t recommend it for wedding photographers!) but it has a LOT of the other features of the R6 and would be a HUGE upgrade from a Rebel series DSLR.
When switching to mirrorless, you will need an adaptor to keep using your EF lenses that you have used with your DSLR camera. But– they are cheap, light, and easy to use! Here is the more economical version ($100 at the time of this post!):
Control Ring Adaptor This is my adaptor of choice because it has a control ring. That means you can use the ring to control another setting on your camera and avoid going into the menu- I use it for white balance (I manually set that) and it is AMAZING! No more sorting through menus to change my Kelvin number!!
Last but not least, the Canon R6 records with 2 SD card slots. For weddings, I love recording on 1 128 GB card (so that I never have to change it and it just stays in my camera) and 2 64 GB card (so that I have a backup that does get changed and put in a different location)– these are the best, fastest cards– I literally never have to wait on my camera to write/load images to this card, and I shoot fast— so I highly recommend them!
Ok there it is friends– I hope this was helpful for you if you are considering the switch to mirrorless! If you have further questions, leave them in the comments and I will do a follow up! I am also working on a resource for my shop about how I have my R6 set up!
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I'm Jill, a wedding and portrait photographer based out of Chicago and Central Illinois, and available world wide! I'm also a photography educator, wife to my favorite person on the planet, mama to 3 amazing kids and an energetic Aussie, and obsessed with statement jewelry and all desserts (especially fruit pies!).
As a past high school teacher, I have a major heart for education. After going full time in my business, I have built a business I love that gives me an almost 6 figure salary and allows me to be home part time with my kids. I dream for you to run a business that enhances your life and lights you up, and I believe I can help you learn how to do it with a little hustle and a lot of heart!
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You're in the right place! As a past high school teacher, educating others is my life's work and a HUGE part of my business! I have been teaching moms and hobbyists how to use their camera from first purchasing it all the way to coaching them into businesses of their own, and I'd love to help you as well, wherever you are (and whatever camera you have!).
I'm so glad you are here! Teaching Photographers and other small business owners how to run more joyful, successful, and profitable businesses is one of my favorite parts of my business! I specialize in working with photographers to make their goals a reality (or figure out what their goals should be in the first place!).