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The Downsides of Switching to Mirrorless | Candid Chats

By SLR Lounge Official on March 29th 2019

We’ve touched upon the massive shift in our industry from DSLR to mirrorless many times here on the site. Every week a new article comes out about a photographer switching to mirrorless, but the downsides of actually taking the leap are less talked about. Late last week we asked a simple question to our loyal community of 22,000 photographers:

What are the downsides of switching to mirrorless? 

The unexpected number of responses led us to create a new series here on SLR Lounge – Candid Chats. With such a brilliant group of photographers with years of experience and even more opinions, it would be a shame not to hear from each and every single one of them. This series is designed to use their thoughts to formulate an open and honest discussion regarding topics, decisions, and situations we face as photographers daily.

Here are some of the reasons why photographers are having a tough time switching to mirrorless systems and why some made the switch and reverting back to their DSLRs:

1. Battery Life

The most common culprit of switching over to mirrorless is hands down battery life across all social platforms. While companies like Fuji and Sony are now in the game of perfecting their mirrorless models, Nikon and Canon have just set foot into the arena with a long race ahead and a lot of catching up to do. For those looking to stay within their DSLR camera brands to make the switch easier, the latest models don’t offer equivalent or better results than their current DSLR systems.

2. Dirty Sensor

Some photographers complained that because of the exposed sensor while switching out lenses, mirrorless camera sensors acquire more dust over time. This means having to be consistent in cleaning your sensor, while some DSLR users only worry about this task several times a year, if that.

3. Expensive & Limited Lens Options

Another very obvious argument that can easily be refuted with a simple change in perspective is the expensiveness of switching systems. Seeing this as an investment for your line of work seems to be the most logical way to combat this, however, once you switch bodies you must also purchase lenses, accessories (batteries, camera straps, new bags, etc.) which will all inevitably add up.

With a new camera body comes the need for an entire arsenal of equipment. Lenses are already an expensive accessory required for every photographer and yet the current mirrorless systems lacks a variety for those on a budget. For example, Canon has a 50mm f/1.2, 50mm f/1.4, and a 50mm f/1.8. While this may be seen as excess, but its purpose is to create a pathway for beginners to learn and grow with the system. For someone just starting out in photography, there is no real need for a 24-70mm f/2.8 which is why most kits come ready with a 24-105mm f/4. You can of course use an lens adaptor to make use of your current lineup of lenses.

4. Size & Durability

DSLR units are known for their sturdy capabilities and durability over time. It is of no surprise that many users fail to switch to mirrorless because the current lineup doesn’t offer them the same type of security.

5. Interface Issues

Among the problems photographers listed, the electronic view finder was a noteworthy one. Switching from a DSLR viewfinder to the EVF is definitely a strange one, but not impossible.

While there may be some negative aspects to mirrorless systems, this new technology and interface is the future and is more than likely to take over a large part of the camera market. These 5 downsides, although lofty in their impact definitely have counter arguments that make mirrorless systems a formidable opponent to DSLRs. If you are looking to switch to a mirrorless camera, check out these resource articles:

To see our reviews on mirrorless cameras, check these out:

We want to hear from you! Sound off in the comments below if you agree with these sentiments or if you have you had better luck switching over to mirrorless?


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Articles by SLR Lounge Official are created by multiple authors. They represent official announcements by SLR Lounge.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Hilar Babůrek

    Sorry…. but every MLC with EVF 3,6 MPX and more has better ability in dimm light as any OVF in DSLR. The image in EVF is by Fuji X-H1 bigger as in OVF from Canon 1Dx. The AF accurancy of MLC is most, most better as by DSLR. With smart adapters I cann use large nubmer of lenses from DSLRS and Leica. Battery life is by my Fuji about 400 shots – not bad. With battery grip more as 1000 shots. The lens range is from 9mm to 400mm (or 600mm with TC). Aperture on lenses start by f0,95. And the biggest pro ist WYSIWYG in EVF – what I see this I get.

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  2. Ashesh Rajbansh

    Update yourself friend, most of the points mentioned above has already become history. Thanks to mirrorless for reinventing digital photography.

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    • Matthew Saville

      Indeed, this just proves that technology is changing faster than most buyers can keep pace with. Which is a very interesting, important observation to make, and why this article exists.

      We also have articles along the lines of, “wake up and get with the times, mirrorless is the future”, but as you might imagine, those articles get plenty of “hate” too, haha!

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  3. Paolo Planas

    Back then everyone was complaining when smartphones came about versus their tough, durable, cheap, long battery life phones. But now, everyone uses a smartphone. 

    Canon/Nikon is becoming like Nokia. Late in the game for what consumers want. And everyone knows what happened to Nokia..

    It’s the same story for cameras. Mirrorless will take over no matter what the gripe is. 

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  4. Mike Inkley

    I must respond with some despair!

    First and foremost let me declare an interest as one of Olympus’ European Visionary photographers. Let me also tell you that I shot as a Canon Platinum Pro covering international sports for decades before a major accident meant I had to shoot smaller and lighter. I actually bought all of my Olympus gear and only started working with them the following year, so I am not a paid mouthpiece. I have had over 1,000 articles in the national UK press and over 3,000 published images.

    1. Battery Life – this is never an issue for me. One of the joys of mirrorless is the ability to carry a spare battery or 2 in a bag or pocket. Problem solved. My current E-M1X’s are shooting 2,000 plus images on a set of batteries and are USB charged in camera (and in the car) in less than 2 hours

    2. Dirty Sensor – I have never noticed any difference between the mirrorless sensors abiity to attract dust compared to my old 1Dx’s. It gets cleaned no more or no less often.

    3. Expensive and limited lens options – in my case the Olympus Pro lenses are like for like significantly cheaper than full frame lenses whether they be DSLR or mirrorless. When I sold my Canon gear and bought the Olympus it was virtually a nil cost option. I have everything from 14mm ffe to 600mm ffe in my bag at comparable apertures

    4. Size and durability. Size is irrelevant as a drawback. It is simply a fact that for some people like me is a benefit. As for durability, my E-M1X has about the best weather sealing in the world and a shutter rated for 400,000. As good as any DSLR ever made.

    5. Interface issues – If you can’t adapt from an optical viewfinder to an electronic one in 48 hours there is something wrong somewhere. I would suggest changing phone, tablet or laptop (let alone a new TV and remote) is far harder than switching viewfinder type.

    My summation on all of these points is that they are in fact not drawbacks if you are sensible. No camera brand is right for everyone and so I would suggest you ignore brand loyalty in the new technology race. Write down what you need YOUR camera to do, write down all those that can do what YOU want, cross off the ones YOU can’t afford and then go and try ALL of the rest. You will find the ideal camera for YOU whether DSLR or mirrorless, but to consign a whole class of technology as being fundemantally flawed in 5 major areas is simply wrong. I picked a system because it worked for me. That doesn’t mean that it will work for you.

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    • Albert Wong

      You hit it right on the nail.  I switched b/c of issues from carpal tunnel.  However, I am a techie and a photographer.  After a 4 hour shoot using the D850 my wrist and arms hurt.  I now have an Sony A7iii/24-70 combo and i can go for more than 4 hours and not feel it that much compared to my D850/24-70 combo.  Once i got used to the menus and i customized the buttons, I am pretty quick to make adjustments like i did with my D850.  So, battery life of the Z series on the A7iii, i am able to compare it with a my D850.  I can go through a session without even taking a bar off the battery indicator.  The eye-AF is spot on which helps a lot especially when i am doing my dance photography.  

      Yes, Sony had its growing pains like the battery, startup time, etc.  Now since the 3 version of the a7 has come out, they have immensely improved. 

      The only grip i have with Sony mirrorless is somewhat a varied experience with weather-sealing.  In previous experience, i had issues with my camera turning off when in misty conditions when i was photographing on the coast of California.  However, i have found a work around and i am satisfied with it.  It was the exposed shoe-mount.  I actually found a cover that has an integrated bubble leveler and fits tightly so that it doesn’t allow moisture to leak in.  

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  5. Matthew Saville

    Fantastic write-up, Shivani!

    It seems like in recent years, mirrorless as a whole has begun to check all the boxes that were our major concerns 5+ years ago. The new Sony batteries are amazing. Their autofocus is amazing. The viewfinder lag is nonexistent, at least on the better cameras. If anything, for weddings and portraits, I’d rather look through a Canon EOS R viewfinder than an optical viewfinder.

    But, there will always be major downsides, until we get not just one whole camera generation, but one whole human generation, into mirrorless camera usage.

    Dumping your entire set of lenses and bodies in order to switch is a no-go for many people. Or, if you’re able to stay with your lens arsenal using an adapter, you may be limited by the boby options, (Nikon and Canon’s FF mirrorless bodies don’t yet offer the same pro feature sets that their D8x0 and 5D-series bodies offer) …plus using an adapter can be fiddly if you’re also sometimes using one or two native lenses as well.

    That, plus the learning curve feels like a sheer cliff, especially if you’re switching systems entirely. In reviewing the recent crop of pro/semi-pro mirrorless cameras, I constantly found myself remembering, “wait, that’s not the way I’m supposed to do this, there’s a whole new type of technology that is much easier!” Things like the touchscreen, the EVF AF point control, the electronic shutter, the face-detection and Eye-AF, it’s all really awesome and helpful, but it’s a huge undertaking to master it on a level that makes you comfortable to shoot with the camera professionally.

    All in all, if the system you’re currently using isn’t giving you too much trouble, then stick with it. That’s the best advice that anyone can receive. Personally, I’ve had it with AF microadjustment, after 15 years of front-focus and back-focus frustration. So, I’m loving the face-detection and Eye-AF and all that goodness that is nailing shots left and right that I never would have dreamed of attempting before. I’m using autofocus with a 24mm f/1.4 wide-open on the dance floor, and nailing more keepers than I ever could have dreamed of with a DSLR. So, mirrorless is definitely in my future. I just want to see one more generation of Canon and Nikon FF mirrorless bodies come out, and then I’ll decide…

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  6. Jonathan Brady

    I can’t believe nobody touched on what I consider to be the biggest issue: Not being able to use an AF assist beam PROPERLY with mirrorless versus DSLR.

    This is less of an issue with the EOS R because -6EV AF (with f/1.2) and I imagine it will be less and less of an issue in the future as Canon and others improve that rating but for now, it’s definitely an issue for those who do low light flash photography.

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    • Shivani Reddy

      I actually was shocked by this too, we didn’t have a resounding number of people discuss any AF issues. Quite a few brought up that mirrorless performed better in low-light and only a small number mentioned having AF problems. 

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