DSLR vs Mirrorless Part II: My Experience

When mirrorless cameras came out there were some photographers who jumped right on board and sang it’s praises incessantly.  To be honest, I wasn’t too thrilled.  I don’t know why exactly.  I guess it was because I didn’t like people dissing my beloved DSLR, and the thought of “upgrading” was not one I was very fond of.  I’m not stubborn, but change was not in my wheel house this time around; especially with some of the notable short comings with the early models that I mentioned in part one of this blog.

Then something happened.  I had committed to a two week hike with my son as part of a Boy Scout experience at a place called Philmont.  It promised a two week trek through the back woods of New Mexico, waking with the rising sun, hiking several miles over mountains and through canyons to the next camp site; day after day for two weeks.  A total of 89 miles, 2 summits, and a host of other cool stuff (like a fossilized T-Rex track).  All stuff photographers drool to be a part of.  The only problem is you take everything you need for those two weeks and carry it on your back.  While tents, rain gear, and sleeping bags are part of the necessary equipment, 10 pounds worth of camera gear is highly discouraged. It was time to shop for another camera.

I poured over the potential alternatives and mirrorless kept coming up as the natural answer. I wanted the ability to shoot RAW, a fully manual camera so I could choose, ISO, shutter speed and f stop, and interchangeable lenses in a small, lightweight form.  That eliminated DSLRs and most point and shoots.  Either too heavy or not functional enough.  I scoured reviews of all the usual suspects and settled on a Nikon J5.  In short, it had all the functionality of a DSLR, and the whole thing including camera, lens and battery weighed less than the walk around lens I attach to my D810.  I wasn’t cheap but I got one.

Overall, I had a great experience with the camera.  It was super convenient to keep out at all times, held in place by a carabineer that I could undo in less than 2 seconds to grab a shot when I wanted.  I took close to 1000 pictures and went through  2 and 1/2 batteries in the process.  Not bad.  My pictures looked great, and I can honestly say there is no way I would have taken so many pictures with my DSLR because it would have been stowed most of the time.   Many of the advantages of mirrorless besides weight and size were also appreciated.  Such as super fast focus, high frame rate, and an articulating screen, something more DSLRs are starting to have, but not at the time of this hike.  My biggest complaint was the low light performance which left me hoping for more.  At the end of the day however, I was pleased with my choice and still use the camera today when I’m doing stuff with the family, and don’t want to be weighed down by my big D810.

I have one more post to do on this and I promise to get it out soon.  I just want to talk about the current state of mirrorless and where I think this is all going.  I’ll also discuss why mirrorless isn’t necessarily lightweight or compact anymore.  In the mean time, I’ve included another shot with my mirrorless  J5 that I took while on my Philmont hike.  This is the Maxwell trail camp at Sunset.  I hope you enjoy it.  Until then…All the Best.

Dwindling Light

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I especially like when the sun is low enough in the sky that it just hits the tops of the trees.  The leaves seem to glow in that golden light, and really look great.  If the light reaches the tree bark, as in the case of these pines, the trunks take on a reddish orange color that provides a great contrast against the sky, which is usually turning darker and darker blue as the sun sets lower in the sky.  If you haven’t noticed, trees are one of my favorite subjects to shoot, and believe it or not, I’m especially fond of them when they have dropped some, or all of their leaves.  I love this type of composition, with all the branches splitting off in different directions.  Shooting pictures up through trees is a little rough on the neck, but worth it if you ask me. You’re amply rewarded for your pain, and a little ibuprofen goes a long way once you get home.

On this particular day, the sun was fading fast.  We had hoped to be off the trail by this time, and near a lake shore where we could get some sunset pictures.  Unfortunately,  we were moving to slow and never got there in time.  As a result, this is my sunset picture for the day, and I’m glad for it.  Things don’t always work out as planned, but I guess if you’re having fun with what you’re doing anyway, there’s no harm in it.  As it was, we had a great little hike, and came away with a picture or two for the effort.  All in all, a great day.  I wish you all the best in the coming days.  I hope you are able to get out there and find what inspires you most, and make something great of it.  See you all soon!!!

Corn Maze for Days

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In the fall, it’s a right of passage to explore a corn maze.  I actually don’t know if that’s just around where I live, or if that’s a thing everywhere.  Basically, once the corn has been harvested, the farmer cuts paths into the field, and charges people money to waste the better part of an afternoon trying to find their way through the darn thing.  Trust me on this, there is no worse feeling than stumbling along in one of these things, and finally seeing the exit…only to realize it’s the entrance!!  This was a hard core maze too, so if that happens, they won’t let you out.  They tell you to turn around, and find the real exit.  Imagine getting paid to do that job!!  This corn maze was huge.  It actually had an area cleared out in the center of it with a refreshment stand, complete with picnic tables, and a full menu of junk food.  People were just standing around, eating Hot Dogs, and comparing notes on the best course to take, but the truth was…no one really knew what they were talking about.

For this picture, my daughter and I stumbled upon a look out tower you can climb to see the maze from above; and hopefully find your way out.  As you can see, the light was fading fast, and I fortunately had my D810 with me to grab a quick sunset shot.  I love the lens flare!  I suppose I could have removed it in post, but if your shooting into the sun, that’s the sort of thing you get.  It’s kind of ironic that camera companies put all this technology into special coatings and such to reduce lens flare, and then photoshop actually puts a filter setting into it’s menu to add flare back in.  Anyway, this lens flare is 100% the real deal.  I actually didn’t plan it that way, but I consider it a happy accident. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, no they don’t care if it’s dark and your still in the maze.  I did, but they did not.