Clearing the Cache

My Canon Camera

Despite all the promise of mirrorless cameras, I still choose a faithful SLR for my next camera body. But, it might be the last SLR I’ll buy.

I’ve been happy with my Canon 450D (XSi) for over seven years. Five years before that, I used the Canon 300D, the first consumer digital SLR. Every time I’ve upgraded, it was to gain better image quality, especially for low-light.

On the original 300D, I wouldn’t push past ISO 400 because the photo became too grainy for my taste. The 450D allowed me to use the maximum ISO 1600 comfortably. I shoot street-style, and using a flash often interrupted the event or the people I photograph. I only use flash if I have to, although I’ve seen some amazing things with flash.

I attempted astrophotography last summer and ISO 1600 wasn’t enough. I finally hit a point where the camera limited me, rather than my skills.

I wished I could’ve gone with mirrorless, but it isn’t quite there yet for me. I believe SLR and mirrorless can co-exist, but mirrorless will likely be more popular than SLRs. Mirrorless cameras will overtake traditional SLRs because they allow a photographer see the photo they’re taking quicker.

Traditionally, with film, you shot your photos and finished a whole roll before you developed the photos. So, you wouldn’t know you got the shot or not until an hour after. With digital SLRs, you could review the photo you took a second later. But you still had to review the photo. With mirrorless, when you look through the viewfinder, you are seeing the photo you will get. That sort of immediate feedback is invaluable.

Another benefit for mirrorless lies in the name. Without the internal mirror, you have less mechanical parts to wear down and require more space within the camera body. The weight and size are favorable with mirrorless cameras. They can discreet and not a load to carry all day.

From all that I like about mirrorless, why didn’t I buy a mirrorless camera? Lenses. As a hobbyist, I’ve slowly grown my lens collection over the last 10+ years and if I chose a mirrorless camera, I would have to start a new collection. Canon’s mirrorless cameras are still developing as their competitors have great options. If I had to start photography now, I would seriously consider Micro Four-Thirds or Sony.

There were other factors besides lenses. I consider the software important as I want it to be easy to change settings while I’m shooting. From what I’ve read, Canon’s competitors haven’t quite got their software to be easy to use.

Back to the Canon 760D, there were a few standout features that made it my pick.

  • Flip screen. Ever since Jenni’s first digital camera had a flip screen, I’ve always wanted my camera to have flip screen. It allows me to shoot low or high without me contorting to see through the optical viewfinder. This is huge with kids. Taking photos at their level helps center the story in the photo about them.
  • Wireless connectivity. Most people take photos to share them. Wireless connectivity allows me to take a photo with the best equipment I have and quickly broadcast it through my smartphone.
  • Image quality and low-light performance. I want to explore astrophotography and continue to shoot indoors without flash wherever I can.
  • Size and weight. I strongly considered some of the semi-pro or advanced-amateur camera bodies. But similar to how I chose the Canon 70-200 f/4 IS over the prestigous and expensive Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS, I’m going to have to lug this gear with me. Weight matters.
  • Movie mode. Since I have some good lenses, I’m interested in experimenting with video, especially selective focus. Ultimately, Jenni and I are visual storytellers and this adds another tool to our arsenal.

I really wanted to get ahead of the curve with a mirrorless camera, especially a full-frame mirrorless, but I couldn’t justify the cost of the new technology and switching lens systems. Perhaps I’m only delaying the inevitable, but I’ll be taking photos happily until that day I make the switch.