Monday, May 28, 2012
Should you buy a D-SLR or an EVIL camera?—05/28/12
How to choose between a D-SLR and a Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Compact
|This Article Features Photo Zoom|
- I like to shoot fast action. The right camera for me is… The D-SLR.
Shutter lag time—the delay between pushing the button and the shutter actually releasing—is great in mirrorless interchangeable lens compact cameras. It's usually about the same as an entry level D-SLR, and much faster than most point-and-shoots. But the virtually instantaneous lag time of a high-end D-SLR and fast shooting image buffer are still ideal for capturing fast action. When you add to that the potential to crank up a super-high shutter speed on any number of superfast lenses, not to mention the ability to put the camera up to your eye for composing, the D-SLR has a fast-shooting edge with which most compact mirrorless cameras just can't compete. On top of all that, the phase-detect autofocus of D-SLRs is preferable to the slower (albeit improving) contrast-detect autofocus of most EVIL cameras. For capturing fast action a compact camera might ultimately be more frustrating than fun.
- I like to travel. The right camera for me is… The Mirrorless Compact.
With powerful features (including manual controls, interchangeable lenses, high image quality and RAW capability) compact mirrorless cameras offer many of the benefits of a D-SLR without one of the major drawbacks: cumbersome size and heavy weight. Compact mirrorless cameras are exactly that—compact. So for size and weight comparable to a professional D-SLR and kit lens, you can carry a compact camera and full complement of lenses and accessories. Sure, there might be more lenses available for a given D-SLR, but you're sure not going to take all of them with you wherever you go. Even if you're not obsessed with traveling light, the benefits of compact camera systems for travelers are unmatched in the D-SLR realm.
If you're planning on turning your photographic hobby into even a part-time profession you'll need a D-SLR. First of all, any client is going to wonder about a photographer with a camera that looks more like toy than tool—no matter how good the pictures it makes. But more than anything, it's the trappings of most D-SLRs that make them actually more versatile for business, and for surviving the long haul. Accessories like a hot-shoe and PC connection provide options for synching with strobes, and a wider range of lenses and accessories from flashes to filters make D-SLRs the rightful standard of the professional ranks.
- I just want to have fun. The right camera for me is… the Mirrorless Compact.
If you like the idea of interchangeable lenses but don't at all care for the idea of having to learn how to use all the features of a D-SLR, the mirrorless compact camera might be perfect for you. Sure, great compact mirrorless cameras have pretty much all of the exposure controls and shooting modes of a given D-SLR, but they're also closer kin to pocketable point-and-shoots so they don't seem quite so intimidating to new users. It may be a matter of aesthetics, but it's true: these cute little cameras just "feel" a lot easier to use to a whole lot of people. If you don't want to be daunted, avoid the D-SLR and invest in the EVIL compact.
- I have specialized needs. The right camera for me is… The D-SLR.
Whether it's macro close-ups, low-light work or wildlife photography, D-SLRs still have the edge when it comes to most specialized photographic pursuits. Not because compact mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras do a poor job of focusing close or delivering low noise at high ISOs (though contrast detection AF systems do operate slowly in low light), but because D-SLRs have such a head start with a very robust ecosystem of parts and accessories long in place. For instance, there are tons of great options for extreme macro close-ups in the D-SLR realm. Let's say you own a Canon D-SLR. You can choose from a couple of macro lenses from the manufacturer, as well as the offerings from quite a few third-party lens makers, as well as numerous filters and extension tubes that are all designed explicitly for serious close-up photography. If it's going to be the bulk of your pursuit, any highly specialized need will likely be better met by a D-SLR. At least for now.