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Thursday, 08 June 2017


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>>but good mirrorless EVFs vs. the lower standard of entry-level flipping mirrors does seem like an obvious choice.

Got to agree with you there, Mike. But I disagree that OVFs are better for judging depth-of-field. Their focusing screens are optimized for brightness, so you'd have to stop down a fast aperture lens to at least f/4 before you'd notice any difference in DOF at all.

Another limitation to DSLRs is video. The only way to shoot video is with the mirror up, which eliminates the eye-level viewfinder. EVFs let you shoot video at eye level or with the rear panel; whichever you prefer.

Electronic viewfinders sound good and work for many photographers. A lot like EyeControlled focus for the Canon gear with the EOS3 and similar.
Problem with electonic finders is composition in night photography. Most won't show what you are trying to photograph. A good optical finder still shows well enough to compose. Then there is the bright light of the finder - which wiped out night vision.
I like a clear, unobstructed view when I look through the finder. Fuji X-Pro 1&2 allow it and still give the option of the electronic finder. Seems like a good way to go.

I was a LF photographer for more than 50 years. Now that I have all the problems that go with being old, I much prefer the EVF to OVF, because in my mind, what I see on the EVF is like the ground glass I am used to, only I had to retrain my brain not to see it upside down!

EVFs do not work as well for spontaneous action and their associated auto-focusing abilities are lacking in comparison with the big CaNikon DSLRs. After spending most of my life with static larger format cameras or 35mm/DSLR with "normal" lenses, using a professional telephoto lens with modern auto-focus tracking is a revelation. This opens up an entirely new world of photography right at my doorstep.... I can't do this with even the latest and greatest Sony in spite of the advertising and internet hype. And barring some breakthrough, I think the OVF DSLR will always have the lead in this.

FWIW I just sold a nice Fuji X100f in favor of a Nikon D5500 for a lightweight family/travel camera. The Nikon is less than half the price of the Fuji yet has an equal or better sensor, metering, and focusing system. My 13-year old liked the retro styling of the Fuji better but - without practice and relying solely on intuition rather than instruction books - she can operate the Nikon with authority while the Fuji remained a puzzle to every non-photographer who picked it up. (Even when set to auto-everything.)

Mirrorless holds great promise as a cost-savings manufacturing move that can also shrink the camera body size and weight. I like the novelty of using an old screw mount Russian lens on a Panasonic m4/3s. But for general photography of living, moving things (like people and other animals) I really prefer the OVF DSLR with larger, more ergonomic controls.

The DSLR is for me an evolutionary dead end. The last one I had was a Nikon D800E which had more resolution than I needed and more weight than I was willing to tolerate. (It also had a view finder that was not very good for my manual focus lenses – a step down from my F2.) So it is long gone along with all the bulky and heavy AF lenses it needed.

When I'm getting serious with my photography, I make use of the Leica rangefinders (another evolutionary dead end, but this time, one that works for me), and I can carry one anywhere all day long. And then when I want to take pictures of my family and other forms of wildlife, I have my micro 4/3 system with all it's amazing technology at the ready

All needs properly addressed!

That question assumes that I'm only going to have one camera. As a person who has multiple hammers, saws and other tools I see cameras the same way. The tool of choice should fit the task at hand and there is no one tool that does every task equally well. Consequently, I will always want at least two cameras.

It's what I'm used to; Canon, in my case. I've been using Canon (D)SLRs since 1988 - I bought an EOS 650 when it was still the current camera. I recognise that there are advantages to other formats (disadvantages, too) and I also recognise that Nikon DSLRs may be better, currently, than my Canons (750D/T6i & 6D) - for example, those Sony-based sensors seem to have greater dynamic range than the Canon ones (but Canon have narrowed the gap).

But what it comes down to is that when I pick up one of my Canons, I just know where everything will be (even though they do sometimes move the cheese, as Thom H puts it). When it comes down to it, will a different camera really give me better shots? I think not, because my unfamiliarity with it will negate any technical advantage that it might offer.

I recognise that eventually many of us just can't pick up the camera bag like we used to, and that might call for a change of system. But other than that, I can't see a good reason to switch. There's nothing in my Canons that's limiting my images, the problems are all due to the photographer. Given that, why would I change? When I next buy a new one, why would I not stick with Canon?

PS And there's cost! Look at the price of a Canon M5 and compare it with an equivalent Canon DSLR. Ouch....

When in doubt e.g. going to photograph in concert, I just bought my D500 and D810. Other than its sound being too loud, too heavy etc., I have the confidence that the camera is not the issue if photo come out no good.

I am not sure about bring my Olympus and Panasonic. And they do not allow video in concert any way (even though every one do that as the concert video is out in youtube before I am back home).

I am not sure it is because EVF though.


Going to a strange place (to me) called Canary Islands. I struggled a bit but I guess when in doubt, D810. Just wonder what lens to bring other than 14-24.

I never had a problem with the smaller viewfinders on my old 4/3 cameras like the Olympus 420, and I ended up taking many of my best photos with those cameras. I've found that my eyes and brain adjust to my most-used camera.

These days I appreciate both kinds, but understand the benefits of a good EVF. In fact, I have all three kinds of modern viewfinders, an OVF on my K1, an EVF on my EM1, and an LCD (only) on the back of my GRll. They all work. I end up using the K1 for slow walks, the EM1 for events and wildlife, and the GRII for when I want to pretend I can do street photography.

My preference is for the hybrid VF in the XPro and X100 series Fuji cameras. Best of all possible worlds in my opinion. Mainly I use the OVF and only bring up the EVF sparingly. For those Fuji cameras with only an EVF, I've used them begrudgingly. At least until I used an X-T1. That has been something of a revelation--it's truly outstanding.

DSLR's? I've started selling off my Canon gear. I'll keep a couple of bodies and a few lenses but I can't see myself ever updating what I now have or ever going back to a DSLR as a primary camera.

I think your analysis is fair and accurate, and as EVF's continue to improve, and things like follow focus are improved the balance will continue to shift.
You also said a few days ago that a camera you know and are truly comfortable with is probably more important than any particular Camera model. I strongly agree with this. We have a lot of people who are comfortable with DSLR's and have large investments in a particular lens line. -I'm one of those.
What I think will really change the balance is when Canon & Nikon release Mirrorless bodies that take the EF, & FX lenses without an adapter. It becomes a no brainer to add a body so you can have the advantages of both types of cameras.
Re the Tunnel vision Mirror prism cameras, the reason they continue to sell is Value. Even though mirror less cameras have far fewer moving parts and hand alignments (making the more cost effective to manufacture) Manufacturers have priced them significantly higher than entry level DSLRs with similar or even the same sensor.
Manufacturers recognize that volume will be lower and thus need a higher profit margin, while customers look at bang for the buck.

"OVFs are beautiful. You're seeing the real world in real time."

True, but due to the shutter lag associated with flipping the mirror up first, it is harder to capture the image in real time.

And that, in a nutshell, is why my APS-C rig is Fuji X and my DSLR is a Nikon FF. I loved the haptics of the Nikon D5500 for travel except for 3 deal breakers: 1) where are the Nikon Dx lenses? 2) I couldn't see anything in daylight in that finder. 3) No front command dial.

I also prefer the tilty-flippy screen to the fully articulating one even though the latter has the advantage of being able to fold screen against camera to protect it when needed.

My SLR use began way back in the film days, when I was doing lots of macro. Did you ever try macro with a rangefinder camera? GAH. Especially with extension rings. So, the Exacta V and Pentax 67 with their interchangeable waist level and prism finders were what worked best.Unfortunately none of the DSLRs have waist level finders, but now at least a few have the rotating LCD. Wish I could afford one.

"If you do prefer an OVF, though, wouldn't you want a good one?"

Well, yes. Similarly, I'd want a good EVF. Having said that, don't you only need a really good OVF if you're manually focussing?

For about a couple of years now, I've owned both a mirrorless and a DSLR (or two), and I use both. In fact, I've got a matching set of lenses for each in terms of aperture and field of view.

I tend to grab the Fuji X-T10 when I really don't want the weight of the Nikon D810, and by that measure, the mirrorless is a huge win. In its small Domke bag (F10 MED Shoulder), the weight of the Fuji with 56mm 1.4 and 14mm 2.8 is a non-issue.

The D810 with comparable 85mm f/1.4 and 24mm f/1.4 (in the black Domke F3 Super) is truly an anchor. It's a major decision whether I want to carry that much bulk and weight.

But I've take each camera on major trips overseas as well as all over the US and Canada and I'm to the point where I'almost always willing to put up with the weight of the Nikon.

I have never gotten used to the EVF. The OVF of my full-frame DSLR is just far superior. In addition, even the small blackout time of the Fuji's shutter release makes a difference to me whenever I'm shooting anything continuously. It's really an impediment. There are other annoyances, too, in the interface for example.

I love the quality of the Fuji's images and the quality of the lenses is superb. (I would prefer 24 megapixels over the X-T10's 16, but the APS-C sensor lets me get some beautiful bokeh at wide apertures.)

But outside of weight, the Nikon does everything at least as well and usually much better. I waited for the X-T10 to become transparent in my hand, but no matter how long I've used it, it simply never did. Unlike the Nikon.

I realize I should try a newer Fuji, and that's on my agenda -- the latest models may make big improvements -- but I suspect that mirrorless has a ways to go before I'll consider it a good enough alternative to my DSLR.

"good mirrorless EVFs vs. the lower standard of entry-level flipping mirrors does seem like an obvious choice" What about price?

Screen Size______2.5"
Live View_______No
Viewfinder Type___Prison window at end of tunnel
VF coverage______87%
VF magnification__.79X

I own both DSLRs and mirrorless. I like both—but use them in very different ways. A DSLR with a bright OVF is a neccessity for night landscapes and, especially, astrophotography. Try as I might, using an EVF for this kind of work only leads to a loss of night vision.

I find it inexplicable that Nikon does not provide an EVF for live view manual focusing with their current high end DSLR's, nor a focus screen for manual focus. As a result, migrating to a mirrorless camera to use manual focus lenses seems inevitable.

Remember when someone handed me his DSLR for a selfie snap- put it up to my eye and I was... gobsmacked! I brought the camera down and checked his expression- thought I was being punked. It was my first experience with a cropped viewfinder; how was any human supposed to look thru let alone compose on something that infinitesimally minute!?

I think it's most accurate to state that follow-focus is a win for DSLRs with the exception of the following EVF mirrorless cameras: the Olympus OM-D E-M1 MkII, the Sony A-9 and the Fujifilm X-T2 in Boost Mode with the Vertical Power Booster Grip. Not only is follow-focus on those models comparable to a DSLR, they are comparable to the professional body DSLRs, not just consumer-level bodies.

It's not that I like electronic finders that much over mirrors, it's that I like face focus, or setting a focus point anywhere over the entire screen...way better than almost any mirror camera. Almost every professional picture I take has a person in it that needs to be the point of focus, and many times, only the one. Perfect for my business arc....

I never really noticed the alleged huge difference between the viewfinder in my Fuji S-2 or Nikon D200, and my current Nikon D700. Once I'm looking through it, my eye adjusts, I think.

But the reason to buy an SLR is for the AF. I'm trying to get out of the DSLR world, but not even the Oly M-1 mk. II can handle focus tracking on a chaotic pack of fast-skating roller girls. And my D700 is many generations out of date, the D5 would be monumentally better in this area. Perhaps the Sony A-9 will be the first EVIL camera to achieve this level, but my budget doesn't really run to experiments at that level.

That's the only thing I need that level of AF for; it's crossed my mind that maybe I can't afford to continue in RD photography.

(EVIL: Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens; proposed in the early days, for some bizarre reason didn't become the standard term. Still my favorite.)

An OVF is a perfectly decent reason why DSLRs still sell, and I think it's why Pentax DSLRs are still around and, somehow, keep trucking along. Pentax doesn't cheap out and makes a pentaprism available in their mid-range DSLRs (and I admit to not knowing if Canikon do in their lower price cameras). I still use a K-5 from time to time, and the viewfinder on it is nice and bright and uncluttered. Maybe not quite as good as a film SLR's was, but just more enjoyable than an EVF.

Here are two more reasons why DSLR.

There is something satisfying to the ker-chunk a flipping mirror and shutter makes in a well-damped system. Again, the K-5 and other Pentaxes I'm familiar with, make a good sound when you press the shutter. It is hard to define but it is there. You are still holding a mechanical, precision device, not a computer with a chip and a lens. I'm looking at you Sony.

More fundamentally, many DSLRs aren't at all bigger than many mirrorless cameras and are much cheaper. Size counts. The K-5, or if you want a 24MP version, the K-3 or the new KP, is hardly bigger than the Fuji XT or the Pro. It's a little bigger than the Olympus OMDs but not too much. Now compare prices.

I do a lot of street shooting as you know, and certainly know the advantages of a small mirrorless at times, even a soulless plastic excuse for a camera like the Sony A6000 that takes wonderful photos when I reluctantly pick it up. But I personally prefer to pick up my old K-5 or K-3 with a nice metal DA lens anyday.

A few years back a few of my friends and I shifted over to mirrorless. But within a few months all those mirrorless cameras gave all of us trouble with the lenses. We are forced to look for replacement lenses. There was no way we could get them fixed, here in India. I was shocked to see how expensive those micro 4/3 lenses were. For the price of a 25mm micro 4/3 lens I could buy a good DSLR with lens. So all of us shelved our dysfunctional mirrorless and bought DSLRs. Even the cheapest DSLR has a better functionality than a mirrorless. We are in no hurry to go back to mirrorless cameras. Right now, my micro 4/3 camera body, minus the lens, does a good job of a paper weight. Ranjit, India

I came to your conclusion after using an Olympus E-M1 for a very short time. The electronic viewfinder is much more WYSIWYG than the view through a DSLR lens - Plus or minus exposure adjustments are instantly visible in the viewfinder. No need to imagine the results, which you have to do with a DSLR or any other type of camera. After using my Olympus for a little while, I lost any desire to use a DSLR ever again. Just make sure you have extra batteries.

This reminds me that I need to get back to using (practicing) the OVF with manual focus (legacy) lenses on my XPro. If I could afford an M this wouldn't be an issue. :) A DSLR? Never for me.

". . . an entry-level DSLR with a small mirror-box finder? You get a tiny little prison-window-at-the-end-of-a-tunnel view, so small that details can be hard to see"

We are not all created equal. My first DSLR was the first Digital Rebel, aka 300D. It had exactly the kind of OVF you describe; others had worse things to say about it.

I could sit at home, look through the 300D and an OM-1, and see how vastly superior the OM views I had used for many years was. Yet, in the field, the OVF just disappeared; I somehow "saw through" to the subject, and was never bothered by it.

E-M5 II EVF better than GM5? On paper, sure; GM5 has about half the pixels, 2/3 the apparent size. In direct comparison, OK, if you say so, but I just never notice when using the cameras.

The eensy little EVF on the ZS50? OK, it's not great - but infinitely better all the same class cameras from others, as they don't have one at all. And it works when I use it. I can see and frame what I'm shooting; at the long focal lengths, aiming is far easier than with the LCD.

My only gripe with the Oly, Panny and Sony EVFs I use is the reds. Beautiful fall colors look muddy in the EVFs, somewhat better on the LCDs, but reds are shot on faith.

I can't imagine buying any DSLR now. If only just for one thing you don't mention, let alone others - precision focus. The Oly Varimagni is a wonderful little piece of mechanical/optical engineering, solid, bright, clear. Compared to the magnify functions of EVFs, it's 2.5x max is very limited. I always felt I was just making better informed guesses than without it.

If mirror or screen aren't perfectly aligned/seated, all bets are off. On tripod or copy stand, the EVFs give precise focus OVFs couldn't even dream of - and it's exactly what you will get, not an estimate.

To produce a lot of noise at press conferences?

I have been quite sceptic towards mirrorless for the last few years. But mirrorless have matured to the point that as of 2016 DSLR's are a dead end, basically a niche product.

I sold my entire DSLR equipment a few months ago and am now better off with mirrorless. No point holding on to a dying breed.

A big viewfinder is nice to have but I doubt it's enough to save the DSLR.

I'm looking forward to Canon releasing a mirrorless sibling to the 1Dx. When they do I'll be happy to switch.

Let me tell you a story about where my recent quest, to assist my wife in upgrading her camera, ended.

(But first, an aside about me. After nearly 30 years of SLRs I first went digital with a Canon G7 'enthusiast compact', but soon realized its limits and got a Canon 7D and 4 lens kit, which lacked a decent long tele, the thought of which, added to my bag and bills, terrorized me into flipping and going Micro Four Thirds, where I remain.)

My wife, to whom non-video still-image photography is a keen hobby just like it is for me, really values smallness (without limit), but is surprisingly fussy about image quality. After her pocket-able travel zoom gave her wildly varying satisfaction levels, and a flirtation with a point-and-shoot superzoom turned initial delight (carrying it around and ooh the big zoom) into utter dismay at home on the PC, I talked her into an m43 twin zoom kit (the G3), where we learned that changing lenses is not for her. Enter the 14-140 (28e-280e), 10x Panny zoom and a state of general satisfaction for the past 2-3 years, especially after inheriting my GX7 body.

But yesterday I just bought her a new camera of a different sensor size, of my own recommendation and research (with consultation of course). What do you think I got her? What would you point towards for her? Her priorities above have not changed, and I should add that she is a committed JPEG shooter and Lightroom editor, who determinedly refuses to 'learn cameras', and my concerted attempts to get her to learn PASM, exposure triangle, and a few other camera details led only to repeated photographic disasters. She now sticks to iAuto mode and burst shooting mode, adjusting little more than the zoom and turning the flash on or off. My suggestion of a new camera came from observing the following when we are out shooting together:

--There are times when 280mm-e is not enough zoom
--She complains of her photos lacking 'pop', which she describes as clarity, detail and vibrant quality
--She gets very frustrated when shooting moving subjects, with a combination of AF problems, screen lag and intermittent loss of live view
--Likes close-up photography but frustrated by constantly screwing on and off the 250D filter, so has kind of given it up
--Wants better landscape results, refers to lack of detail
--Often crops quite heavily, and
--Situational portraits are terribly important to her, but results are highly variable indoors, sometimes excellent but too often subject-motion-blurred, or noisy, or inadequately lit with the anemic pop-up GN 3.5m (100) flash on the GX7

Despite all my own inclinations towards all-in-one bridge cameras and mirrorless technology, get this, I bought a D5600 and the latest Nikkor 18-300 superzoom lens, and a SB-500 swivel-head flash. I just could not find anything that meets the criteria better. It is even reasonably light and compact.

Back to the future? Just goes to show that you can't count them out just yet. I actually surprised myself with where this quest took us.


The window at the end of a tunnel was the final deciding reason why I went with full frame rather than APS-C 6 years ago. However, that was eons ago in digital, and I can't see ever buying another (at least digital) SLR. I'm going to place my order for the GX85 in the next short while.

Just a quick note on clutter free OVF and cluttered EVF's as this is a comment I've read several times so I think it's worth saying... You can probably (depending on the make and model) unclutter the EVF if that's what you want to do.

You seem to be suggesting (perhaps without realising it) a camera system that has both EVF cameras and DSLRs, all sharing a common lens mount. No adaptors required.

This could work well, with photographers choosing the camera or cameras that best matches their need. You could have a DSLR for some things and an EVF camera for others.

New photographers might choose an EVF camera that's smaller, lighter and cheaper than a DSLR, yet still has a decent viewfinder. they might be keener to get into a particular camera system if there's at least one camera that's less trouble to carry.

Experienced photographers might buy the same camera as a second body that's easier to lug around than their big and capable DSLR.

In the not to distant future you may be able to buy a "mirrorless DSLR" (not really a contradiction in terms): a mirrorless camera with a EVF that uses the Canon or Nikon DSLR lens mount.

This would be a benefit in many ways: there are a lot of SLR lenses available; they're cheaper to make; the EVF enables features that the DSLR doesn't have; a modern EVF is better than a small pentamirror OVF; for full frame cameras the lens is the limit on size not the body.

They'll look like SLRs or DSLRs either retro or blobby.

It's an obvious idea and I'm surprised we've not seen it in entry level models from Canon or Nikon. There are rumors that Canon are making a "35mm sensor" "mirrorless DSLR". The Nikon body designs have already started to look less blobby and more like a "body + lens adaptor" design.

I'm of a mind the images modern cameras produce these days are all about the same excellent quality, so choose the camera that brings you the most comfort and fun, and does the things you like for the kind of photography you do. The discussion these days is regarding features rather than image quality, so go for the camera that has the features you like. And also of course, the lenses. Life is good right now, all the cameras are great, more choices than ever.

I am interested in Dave Karp's comment that the EVF is much more WYSIWYG than OVF because that is precisely the reason I have difficulty shooting with EVF. Instead of focusing on seeing the real world and imagining an image I wish to create, I focus on what is presented on the screen. Just an analogue v. digital generation thing, I suppose.

After years of taking pictures with DSLRs, I pride myself in judging the "correct" exposure while looking through the OVF. I'll work out in my brain "now how would this scene fool the camera meter" "and what is important in this scene", and I'll be able to dial in the right amount of exposure compensation instantly. I don't have a chimping habit, probably from my years of taking pictures with film. I only chimp now and then.
After using mirrorless for the last few years, I now find that I am no longer able to nail the exposure compensation with a DSLR, let alone remembering to set it for the scene!! My skills are really backwards these days!!

Aren't the little DSLRs a just better value for the money? The little Nikon D3200 I just bought for my SO seemed like a heck of a lot of camera for the money. A Sony a6000 would have been much more expensive and we already had lenses for the half-frame Nikon.

OK, I have a Nikon D600 which I almost never use, and a Sony a7 which just does what I need it to do. I make my living with it, despite it's warts. The VF is ugly IMHO, but it tells me what I need to know, important when you just get one chance to get the image that is going to bring in tens of thousands of, well you know what.

But isn't the size difference between the Rebel and Nikon equivalents and the M4/3 and APS-C really less important than the other factors? And she doesn't hate the viewfinder. It wouldn't work for me, but it does OK if you take a lot of pictures and just want to get a few good ones.

Most painters look at a relatively narrow field of view. We photographers are obsessed with big views but I am not sure it helps us see.

Just saw a pic of Comey surrounded by 22 press photographers. All had DSLR's held up to their eyeballs..no mirrorless.

Battery life, IMHO, is still the main attraction of a DSLR.

Yes, I know and have heard, ad infinitum, the statement that you can just carry lots of batteries and that film rolls are only 36 shots, etc. But you always know where you stand with a film camera, it's right there in plain sight.

What I'm talking about here is the simple, vital peace of mind that comes from knowing that your camera is. ready. to. shoot.

I don't "go shooting"...my "shooting" is 24/7, just whatever I happen to see. With the last DSLR I used, a borrowed 5DII, it could be "on" for days, always ready to shoot.

With mirrorless cameras such as the Sony A7r I've been using for the last few years, I can never be sure if it's actually ready to shoot. I hope it is, can be reasonably sure it probably is, but there's always that nagging possibility that the battery has run down, that it's dead. There's just no way to tell. And that in turn makes spotting a photograph a bit of a gamble, every time. Occasionally I'll raise the camera to find no response. Is it dead? No, it's just asleep. Wake up! Oh, too late, the shot's gone.

It's the system, as you are fond of saying. Canon and Nikon DSLRs give you more to expand into. There are healthy used markets for lenses, flashes and other accessories and lots of third party options.

It's also easy to find friends who know how to use one and/or have equipment to lend you.

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