5 Reasons I Miss My DSLR: A Rant

Like it or not, mirrorless cameras have overtaken DSLRs as the cameras of choice for most photographers. As the major camera brands transition away from developing new DSLRs and focus on mirrorless technologies, there are still advantages to using a DSLR.

In this tongue-in-cheek video, I discuss five things that I miss about shooting with my DSLR. Don't get me wrong, I am exceedingly happy with my mirrorless cameras and have no desire to go back, but there are always tradeoffs when changing gear. In the past, upgrading from one DSLR to another meant better autofocus, metering, and performance, but overall, the cameras were more or less the same. Mirrorless, in my opinion, is a completely different animal and has a few drawbacks worth noting. The biggest thing I miss about my DSLR is that I could use it for an entire day without thinking about batteries. I lived in blissful ignorance of battery life and barely ever changed batteries during a shoot. Now, I find myself carrying batteries and chargers everywhere I go, like some kind of crazed hoarder. Heat is another issue, and I don't mean overheating. I am referring to the fact that the grip on a mirrorless camera becomes incredibly warm, especially if you are shooting outside on a hot day. My other rants include complaints about screen overload, ruggedness, and the iconic shutter sound we will never get back. I hope you enjoy this just-for-fun video.

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7 Comments
Karim Hosein's picture

There are few benefits to mirrorless, and many disadvantages. You may have gotten a few good ones, (battery life, heat), but that's about it, and both of those have little to do with it being mirrorless, (yes, the EVF does use more batteries, and produce heat), and more to do with cheap, cost-cutting makers. Good design will not leave you looking for batteries nor A/C.

Ruggedness has nothing to do with mirror/mirrorless. That is just cheapness of the maker!

The sound of the mirror?!? That is like piston-heads saying they will never go BEV because of the lack of a satisfying engine roar! That is NOT a good thing! Besides, a noisy shutter on an SLR is again just shoddy cheapness from the maker.

Screen overload?!? Really?!? I have an SLR and that rear screen can, (at times) be very useful! Sure, I generally never use it, but when I do, all that information is waiting for my perusal! If your DSLR did not have a high-res rear screen full of information, then your SLR is from a cheap, cost-cutting maker. Get a better SLR.

Also, I will ignore any and talk about video in a discussion about DSC systems. The “S” in DCS stands for, “Still,” as in, not video.

The best things I like about an SLR?
① No lag in the viewfinder, (especially for any sort of fast photography, —such as wildlife, sports, theatre, street, wedding…— where timing is important).
② No bright light in the viewfinder. (Especially in dark venues, or night).
③ Full resolution viewfinder, (not measured in megapixels, because, I can see it with my eye).
④ I can actually see how bright/dark is the actual scene.
⑤ PDAF is NOT on the sensor. (Does not impact achievable image quality).
Notice that the first four —and by necessity, all five— reasons are all about the fact that it has an OVF.

Yes, the only two differences between a well built SLR and a well built mirrorless; OVF vs EVF, and where the PDAF is located, (assuming the mirrorless has one). Mostly, it all comes down to whether one prefers OVF or EVF.

Now, in theory, a mirrorless camera can have other advantages, such as being smaller, lighter, and have better, less-expensive lenses. In practice, it did not pan out that way (so far).

If EVF is your thing, then by all means, buy a mirrorless for the EVF. The rest of the system is immaterial.

The best thing about a mirrorless is only achievable with an electronic shutter, (quiet shooting, no blackout), which creates so many other issues, (flash use, worse rolling shutter*) and those can be done with an SLR in liveview mode.

* Assuming a CMOS sensor, as almost all DSCs use. CCD sensors, which are becoming increasingly rear in the DSC world, —cannot think of any current models off the top of my head right now,— do not have rolling shutter issues in electronic shutter mode, (but will still have a very brief blackout).

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

--- "Now, in theory, a mirrorless camera can have other advantages, such as being smaller, lighter, and have better, less-expensive lenses. In practice, it did not pan out that way (so far)."

Sounds like you're in denial and have dated info. Here, let me catch you up:

1. The bodies are smaller and lighter. Sometimes, just a little bit; sometimes a whole lot.
2. Don't forget the better AF. The AF in the top mirrorless bodies will kick the teeth in of any top DSLR.
3. The lenses with some can be smaller and lighter. Sony has been kickin' ass with smaller and lighter GM premium lenses. Also, third party like Samyang.

--- "The best thing about a mirrorless is only achievable with an electronic shutter, (quiet shooting, no blackout), "

No, not only those, but, the 3 I listed above. And, to add to that:

4. EVF with:
-a) Live exposure and histogram for quicker adjustments.
-b) Magnify especially when using manual focus lenses.
-c) It's like night vision, baby. :D

--- "(electronic shutter) which creates so many other issues, (flash use, worse rolling shutter*) and those can be done with an SLR in liveview mode."

Flash use? No, not always. The only thing I can think of is if you use hi-speed sync.
Rolling shutter? Depends on what you're shooting.

If these are an issue for you, use mechanical shutter. It'll be just as fast, if not faster than a DSLR, and definitely much more accurate.

Leopold Bloom's picture

"No bright light in the viewfinder. (Especially in dark venues, or night)"
You can turn down the "bright light" or switch off the additional info so that there is only the scenery you take photos of visible, thus there will be no bright light.
Especially in low light situations the EVF is much better because you can see where you get the focus while on the OVF you can't discern anything.
In fact mirrorless have a additional advantage in dark venues - you can check the photo through your EVF and not disturb any bystanders with your bright screen of the DSLR.

"Full resolution viewfinder (not measured in megapixels, because, I can see it with my eye)"
Mirrorless: Zoomable, much easier to get the focus with manual focus lenses.

"I can actually see how bright/dark is the actual scene."
Which doesn't mean anything because the camera is a light gathering device and the photo you take only depends on the length of time you expose and not how bright the scene actually is.

"in theory, a mirrorless camera can have other advantages, such as being smaller, lighter"
Not only in theory. And comparable lenses are smaller and lighter as well - at least when you look at Canon. Granted, this has more to do with the new mount, but this would not exist if they had not moved to mirrorless.

Charles Mercier's picture

I sure don't miss the noisy mirror! I love silent shutter!

David Pavlich's picture

I was a mirrorless poo pooer until they did what they did with the focusing system. I thought my 5DIV did quite well until I did a Canon day and used the R5. I now have an R5 and the focusing improvement was worth the price of admission.

Jason Winters's picture

SLRs are lovely tools, but mirrorless just has too many advantages. I do events and portraits and I just hold down the eye AF button, compose and shoot. No more chimping, no more metering surprises, and almost every shot is in focus.

Leopold Bloom's picture

Haha, the "iconic shutter sound". That one is good.
I am happy to get rid of it with electronic shutter and if I like it I can still use the mechanical one.