Mobile vs Mirrorless vs DSLR: what you really should use !

Isn’t that a silly title? Yep, it is. And still you can see posts/articles with similar titles all over the internet, for example:

  • Mirrorless vs DSLR : 10 Reasons To Ditch The DSLR
  • 5 Reasons to Buy a DSLR
  • The iPhone 6 camera is the only camera you need
  • Your Phone Isn’t The Only Camera You Need

If you’re interested in photography and follow a few photo sites you will soon see articles with titles that claim to have the one true answer to what camera you should use – the actual article is probably a bit more balanced. And it’s not uncommon to find people that consider anyone that doesn’t use their choice of camera to be … well, let’s say ”of lower standing”. And that’s even before we have started to discuss camera brands.

Right now I’m fairly fed up with this type of writing. I do enjoy a good review of new camera/lens, a nice tutorial, and I can dream about buying the latest and greatest camera/lens, or switch to another system, etc. Reality is however quite different, I’m a hobbyist that need to take a longterm view of what camera gear I invest in, I don’t have an infinite amount of money making it possible ti switch system every time a new great camera comes out. And more importantly, I’m not good enough to actually see the difference in image quality between a brands latest models.

I got all three types of cameras, a phone, a mirrorless and a full frame DSLR. And they are all great, here are three examples of photos I’ve taken – one is taken with an older iPhone, one with a mirrorless and one with a full frame.

None of these images are perfect in any sense, but I think they show that all types of cameras are able to produce fairly good photos. In fact, the weakest link in my photography is me … it’s my fault that the photos doesn’t turn out well, not because of the camera gear. In fact, it’s very, very rare that a limitation of my equipment is causing a problem. I suspect that most hobbyists are in the same situation. Ohh, before I forget, the first photo is taken with a 10-year old full frame (Nikon D700), the second with a fairly new mirrorless (Lumix GX80) and the last one with iPhone 3Gs or 4s (I don’t remember).

That said, I do think that you have to fit your gear with what kind of photography you want to do (or the other way around). For example, a phone wouldn’t be my first choice for sports photography although it can certainly be done with good results. On the other hand I wouldn’t carry around a full frame camera in my pocket when I’m at work – I would need to buy a pair of new, very odd looking, pants first.

While the gear certainly enforces some limits on what you can do I think that there is way too much focus on ”the best gear”. All the cameras I use produce excellent photos. To me it’s ”just” a matter of learning the strengths and weaknesses of each camera so I can take full advantage of the gear I have.

So instead of reading another ”10 reasons why you should buy X”, I would like to see more articles about:

  • Story telling – I love when someone mixes text and photos to tell a story. I want to learn to do this also, but every time I try I end up with something that is not good. I think that my problem is that I haven’t enough patience for completing a project (a general character flaw of mine). So I would like to read articles about different ways of telling a story, with the hope that I one day can complete a story that is OK.
  • Thinking about the images – with this I don’t mean perspective, framing, etc, but more about the ”feeling”, content and what you as a photographer want to say. The photos I take tend to be ”documentary” in the sense that they document what happened but there is no story/thought behind them – this is something I really want to change. I want to take photos with a clear ”intention”/”idea” in my mind, I’m getting better at this but I want to learn more.
  • Good stories – I love to read a good story, unfortunately I don’t see enough of them. Here are a few I found today when searching: ”The Enemy Within”, ”Revealing the trauma of war”, ”How the Fight Against Ebola Tested a Culture’s Traditions”.

Sure, there are sites where you can find these articles/stories but I wish they were more common. National Geographic is for example a good source for stories and I like reading what David duChemin writes.

Before ending I better say that I do understand the rationale behind the headlines I mentioned above: bold headline => click => ad-revenue => profit.