Traditional DSLR or Mirrorless - Confused?

There are two topics that seem to permeate every discussion amongst photographers today. First, the discussion about the popular Off-Camera Flash (generally known as OCF), and the latest camera craze sweeping the world, the Mirrorless Camera System (often referred to as micro 4/3).  This week we'll talk about the cameras and next week I'll tackle off-camera flash with some in-depth illustrations and technical details. 

It has now been a few years since the first mirrorless cameras made their appearance in earnest in still photography with professionals using them either full-time or at least as a significant part of their arsenal of equipment. The reasons seem quite varied. Of course, size is at the top of the list as well as features. But before looking closely at the advantages and disadvantages, I'd like to talk about my own findings and opinions.

©2017 Tony Corbell: Shot in Ireland on a Panasonic Lumix GH5

©2017 Tony Corbell: Shot in Ireland on a Panasonic Lumix GH5

My first test camera was after hearing from so many of my friends that the only way to go in the future was with mirrorless and that Sony's (then current) A7rII was the magic answer. I begged a one month loan from Sony for testing/evaluating. I was pleasantly surprised with the great image quality and the much lighter and smaller lenses when compared to my DSLR Canons (5D Mark III's).

The menu presented a challenge for me that eventually I just could not overcome. It was deep and more capabilities than in any camera I have ever seen. But it was also very difficult for me personally to use. So I tested again and again and came to settle on the Panasonic GH5.  Many of my friends are using this little beauty and I needed to know why.  Oh and for the record, it doesn't matter what your favorite brand of choice is when it comes to cameras.  They are ALL terrific these days and can all take a really great picture.

The Panasonic GH5 is a true hybrid camera body that perfectly suits the video as well as the still photo markets as the gap between camcorders and still cameras has been closed for good.  Still folks crossing into video and video people crossing into still. Even film maker's themselves are gravitating into this new way to capture movie footage.  The GH5's ability to capture 4K video with killer frame grab capabilities for making large, high-quality prints from rolling video is huge.  But that is not why I got it. 

Panasonic Lumix GH5

Panasonic Lumix GH5

As followers of this blog you know that Rob Hull and I do a lot of travel and tour workshops throughout the world. The amount of equipment needed for the variety of conditions truly is staggering and well, in a word-HEAVY. I can't do heavy any more when traveling.  And more importantly, I just don't want to.  

Another Ireland image and my first real test with GH5. 

Another Ireland image and my first real test with GH5. 

There are things this camera can do that I will NEVER ask it to do and that I find a bit "over-the-top." There is a depth of technology that is truly remarkable. I'll not list all of the features here as this is not a product review and I don't understand much of it anyway. Plus, there are plenty of reviews online. This is just my opinion on the topic of conversation. 

Am I abandoning my Canon DSLR?  No.  But there are times when the small, lightweight and exceptional quality from the GH5 is ideally suited for the needs of the task at hand. Let's look at the advantages first. 


  • Travel - The size and weight of the mirrorless camera/lenses make it a great choice for travel. 
  • Editorial - Again, moving fast, spot news-gathering photography perfectly lends itself to this camera type, regardless of the brand
  • Cost/Expense - I find the cost of this new style of camera to be well-in line and a fair value


  • Many people feel this does NOT look like a professional camera but more amateurish
  • Some seem concerned about the low quality of High ISO comparitively

In the late 80's I recall a wedding guest watching me closely as I worked a country club reception. He finally made his way over to me and said, "wow, you must be a true professional carrying around two Hasselblad cameras." While he didn't know if I was any good or not, he knew enough to know I was at least a pro by definition of the cameras I used. My cameras of choice stood out.  With so many non-professional photographers carrying cameras today and with so many looking very similar to each other, this might come across as a disadvantage.  On the other hand, that same guest may come over to me today to say "wow, that is the new GH5? You must be a professional."  

Do the research folks. Get the features you want and try to do some testing with the help of your local camera store. But be open to this.  You just might find that this is not a fad and that just like film transition to digital, we be be in the middle of a true and final camera frontier...