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My Mirrorless Experience

My Mirrorless Experience

I made the switch from DSLR cameras to the Micro Four Thirds (m43) based interchangeable lens system in about 2014. My last dSLR was a Nikon D200, and I switched to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 that I am still using.1

IMG 1170

The switch to m43 has been awesome.

My personal photography revolves around underwater, seascapes, landscapes and travel photography. For all of these genres a balanced and lightweight rig provides an a lot of advantages for me.

Advantages of m43

Travel is getting more restrictive, and there is a clear move by airlines and security agencies to increasingly limit the amount of gear we can travel with, particularly carry on. Many of the destinations I go to are accessed by small aircraft, placing even greater restrictions on the kit that can be carried.

In my photography, I tend to move around a lot, and the smaller rig allows me to more easily carry all my kit in one bag.

I can also use a smaller, lighter tripod to stabilise my rig – important in my photography.

The m43 gear also tends to be ahead of the curve, compared to most DSLR gear, in terms of introducing new tech.

This is not an exhaustive list, but some of the key things that work well for me.

Disadvantages and Mitigations of m43

IMG 1081

Clearly the smaller sensor size (compared to the misnamed ‘full frame’ cameras) means lower resolution. My GX7 is 16 megapixel2, and to be honest I’ve never found a scenario where I have wished for more. For most photographers, anything upwards of 12 megapixel will be more than enough.

Autofocus on (most) mirrorless cameras is slower. If I were to be shooting high speed subjects (e.g. sports) this would be a concern. For my shooting, not so much.

Bokeh is more difficult on smaller sensors. I won’t go into the maths, but the depth-of-field is actually greater for the same f-stop, so you need a bigger aperture to achieve the same result3. To meet this requirement, some manufacturers are now making super fast lenses for m43 and other mirrorless cameras. One of my favourite lenses is the Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7, and there are at least a half dozen lenses with a maximum aperture in the order of 0.95.

Final Thoughts

IMG 1475

The move to mirrorless has been the right move for me. I am glad I started down this path, and will stay the course with m43. If I was starting over I would happily choose m43 again, although would consider the Fuji mirrorless system.

I also find that I make more photos, more regularly, because I really have fun shooting mirrorless.

I am not advocating m43 (or other mirrorless) cameras as the perfect solution for all photographers, but for landscape, travel and underwater photographers there are many reasons mirrorless should be considered.

What is certain is that we are in an exciting time for photography when we can choose a wide range of cameras and accessories to make wonderful images.


  1. I am in the process of upgrading to the Panasonic Lumix DC-G9, but will keep my GX7 as a backup and second scene camera. 
  2. My upcoming G9 will be 20 megapixel. With some smart hardware/software magic 80 megapixel images can be made. 
  3. On the flip, the mirrorless depth-of-field is outstanding for my macro photographs. 
Nikon’s Future Mirrorless Line

Nikon’s Future Mirrorless Line

Having been a Nikon SLR user from the film days through a couple of generations and into the dSLR era, I had a substantial investment in Nikon cameras and the awesome Nikkor “f-mount” glass.[1] So the shift into mirrorless for me was not a decision made lightly.

When I heard recently about Nikon pre-announcing a future mirrorless camera range I thought for a moment that maybe I should have kept some of those great lenses, especially when I heard that the Nikon President said that the company aims to “put out a very Nikon-ish mirrorless camera which is superior to rivals in quality

My decision to shift to mirrorless was made not on simply losing the mirror, but instead was about losing bulk and weight for my camera kit. As an underwater, landscape and travel photographer who travels a bit with my gear, any chance to reduce bulk was welcome.[2][3]

In episode 193 of the Peta Pixel Photography Podcast, host Sharky James (once again) expressed the view that Nikon should put out a mirrorless camera that takes f-mount glass.

I get where Sharky is coming from, but I’m not sure that the absence of a mirror will solve many problems. The f-mount lenses are built with a particular ratio of distance from the rear of the lens to the sensor. Keeping the same awesome but bulky lenses won’t have a huge effect on reducing the size of the camera body. And of course, the (large) lens size remains as is.

Since moving to mirrorless (I use the micro four-thirds, or m43, system) I have been impressed with the power of the cameras and the quality range of lenses from Olympus and Panasonic, as well as a host of other makers. And the cameras and lenses are much smaller.

I do hope that Nikon does something, soon, to deliver a quality camera in the mirrorless space. But simply moving to an f-mount mirrorless body may not really be solving any problems for many photographers.

Real mirrorless innovation is more than just removing a mirror.


  1. I really loved a couple lenses in particular — the 12–24 wide angle zoom and the 60mm macro were amazing lenses from which I got a lot of pleasure.  ↩
  2. Particularly in an era when airlines are cracking down on cabin luggage carried.  ↩
  3. The name BalancedLight for this blog is in part based on my preference for light-weight camera gear.  ↩