How to choose a mirrorless camera system to replace your DSLR’s

How to choose a mirrorless camera system to replace your DSLR’s

Over the last few month, I received a few requests for advice, mostly from Canon and Nikon shooters asking which mirrorless system to choose to replace their DSLR kit, not photographers just looking for a secondary camera system, this is important because my priorities wouldn’t be the same. Below is a list you might find helpful for your decision :
more after the break

If you have visited this blog before, you probably noticed that I have been shooting assignments with the Canon 5Dmk2, 5Dmk3, the Nikon D800E, the Sony FS100 and FS700.
For personal projects I have used a variety of APSC and M43 cameras, I loved M43 cams for video and the Fuji X system for portraits and street photography.

Lately I have been shooting assignments with the Sony A7 and A7r.

Photographers who emailed were mainly interested to jump on one of two systems, you guessed it, the Fuji X or the Sony A7/A7r system. There really isn’t an easy way to answer this considering our personal preferences and shooting habits, however, I found one common denominator we could all agree on: the favorite lens.

I will keep this very simple, ignore high ISO and AF performance and limit my tips to those two systems as I believe they show great potential for the future.

What about M43?
If you are drawn to it just replace my APSC suggestion with M43, especially if you are also serious about video, the Fuji X system won’t deliver in that department.

1) Full frame shooters looking to switch to a smaller, lighter system without compromising the quality and look of their images.

I believe the most important question one has to ask before choosing a new system is:

Which is the core lens of my current system, the lens that stays on the camera 80 to 90% of the time.
Is such a lens available in the system I am considering to switch to and will it provide similar characteristics I get now, will it be better or worse? The reason I believe the lens issue is the most important because we know that at the current state of technology it appears to be much easier for manufacturers to improve sensor quality rather then release new lenses, there is no guarantee the lens you really want will become available any time soon if it doesn’t already exist.

For extreme shallow depth of field lovers it will be more difficult to switch to a smaller sensor because there is no way to cheat physics.

The Fuji X system offers two fantastic bokeh lenses at the moment, the XF 35mm 1.4 and the XF 56mm 1.2 and for the most part, you can get the job done with one of them, however, if you are currently shooting with a 50mm 1.4 or even 1.2, you will notice the difference and there isn’t a direct way to get the exact same result, you will have to either compromise on bokeh or field of view and go for a longer lens.

If the 50mm 1.4 prime is your lens of choice
, I recommend the Sony A7/A7r/Zeiss 55mm combo, although I am not a big fan of the extra 5mm, I find this combo currently unbeatable, the lens is that good. Even if Sony/Zeiss never manages to produce another decent lens.

If you happen to be a super/wide angle shooter, someone who appreciates extremely sharp results across the field, the switch is much easier.
The Fuji X system offers a few superb super wide angle lenses and I personally prefer APSC for more depth of field. And if low light performance and resolution arn’t an issue, the M43 system offers a few great super wide lenses.

The standard zoom shooter:

Hard to believe but it appears we have a small problem in this category. For the Sony A7/r system, we have the Sony FE 28-70mm f3.5-5.6 OSS kit lens and the Zeiss FE 24-70mm F4 OSS, but neither matches the quality standards Canon, Nikon and Sigma deliver in this category. Fuji on the other hand, offers a very good standard zoom lens. I recommend the Fuji X system.

The tele zoom and extreme tele shooter: Although I expect the Sony FE 70-200mm F4 OSS to be a stellar performer, I would recommend the Fuji X or the M43 system for extreme tele shooters, you will get great quality lenses, fairly small in size and for a reasonable price.

And finally the full frame shooter addicted to the Nikkor 200mm f2 or Canon 200mm f1.8. I hear you man, hard on your back, a real pain to travel by air, train or boat. Sorry, but for now you have to stick with your gear, nothing in stock in the mirrorless department, work out harder and find a good physical therapist, a small price to pay for priceless bokeh.

Evaluate carefully, don’t think you can just replace your current favorite focal length with something unfamiliar, this will only work for the first two weeks. Once the newness wears off you will miss your favorite lens, trust me on this, I have been there.

If you find this article helpful, please consider helping me maintaining this blog by purchasing your gear through my product links to Adorama and B&H and Ebay. It will cost you nothing and allows me to keep adding! Or consider making a direct donation using PayPal, thank you!

4 thoughts on “How to choose a mirrorless camera system to replace your DSLR’s

  1. mike.kobal Post author

    I agree, not yet, however, with the new Sony A7s announcement, things are looking brighter! I love the Fuji X system but really can’t imagine committing to a system that doesn’t offer usable video. The Sony’s are definitely noisy, which is a good thing shooting models in continuous light, for anything else however, not great. Maybe they will release something exciting with a leaf shutter and speedy af.

  2. derek

    great, you sound like really did right things.
    I did the same, I replaced all my heavy cameras with the Sony A7R+ A7 + A6000+ Oly EM10.
    That said, I do not think the one mirrorless system can replace all high end FF D-SLRs just yet, but 2 systems(Fuji or Oly + Sony)do.

    the new Sony A6000 has incredibly fast AF and it focuses down to -4EV and it is a lot more accurate than any Phase detect AF with the dated mirror.
    just wish the Sony was a bit less loud in operation. I love m43 and Sony Alpha, but I am sure Sony is ready to announce their own MF mirrorless system,and I think that may replace my A7R.
    Take care Mike.

  3. mike.kobal Post author

    I agree about the X-E1’s af speed wasn’t there yet, esp with the 35mm 1.4, the X-E2 however, focuses much faster. I love the Fuji X system and will keep one for street photography for sure. As a system, I find it very tempting, even for FF shooters, however, the lack of usable video was the deciding factor to go with the Sony.

  4. gerald t

    Well put as always! I love reading your comments because my gear almost mirrors yours. I have the D800 and was looking to downsize so I first jumped to the Fuji X system and then the Sony A7. While Fuji produced great colors directly from the camera, the AF system of the XE-1 was just not up to par. My decision was the A7. I have the A7 with the Zeiss 55mm lens and you are right, that combo is stellar!!

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