What It Takes For Me To Buy Into Mirrorless

I’m still living in the world of Nikon DSLR cameras, but like many DSLR users out there I will eventually have to come to grips with the future and the future is tilting towards mirrorless ICL bodies.

At present, my photography is done using a Nikon D850 and a Nikon D810. Both are very good cameras, but time is catching up and mirrorless technology is at the point where the features and capabilities of mirrorless bodies are exceeding what a DSLR can do. I think image quality between a DSLR and comparable resolution Mirrorless ICL is about identical. One can confirm the sensor performances between the two easily enough by looking at the technical test measurements on DXOMark and Photons to Photos websites. Sensor performance hasn’t changed that much over the past five years, but other aspects of digital camera performance are pushing mirrorless into new territory, beyond what the best DSLR’s are capable of. For example, in-body image stabilization, frame rates, focusing technology just to name a few.

My D850 is my primary landscape photography camera. With over 45 megapixels of resolution, it generates about as nice a landscape photo as one could ask for, as good as any mirrorless body.

I use my D810 for wildlife most of the time. At 36 megapixels, it gives me great results every time I push the shutter button. The frame rate is a little on the slow side by today’s standards. The D810 only shoots at 5 frames per second. Not exactly slow, but compared to other DSLR’s and Mirrorless bodies, it’s quite slow. The buffer depth on the D810 is a little shallow too. I can squeeze off about 20 shots continuously shooting full resolution RAW files, but there are numerous cameras that can keep shooting long after the D810 has to come up for air. I’ve tailored my shooting style to accommodate this limitation, but when I compare it to the Nikon D500 DSLR that I recently sold, the D500 shoots at 10 frames per second for well over 200 shots without burping.

I loved the Nikon D500. A professional grade body with a DX (cropped) 20 megapixel sensor. And therein was the problem. The sensor resolution of 20 megapixels is below my minimum requirements for any camera these days. Nikon never updated the body with a higher resolution and they appear to be moving on from it. It’s still a good camera, but it’s ancient by current technology standards and moving into the future won’t involve ancient hardware for me.

So what I’m looking for in a possible mirrorless camera is a body that will fill the hole of the D500 I sold and the D810 I’m currently using for wildlife. I see no reason to buy into mirrorless for another body that will be used primarily for landscape photography, as the D850 will hold that line for me at least for the foreseeable future. What I’m looking for is a mirrorless body that will pick up where the Nikon D500 left off. It doesn’t appear that Nikon has anything in the works regarding that, and for right now, I only really see a Sony A9II as a possible mirrorless solution. The A9II at 24 megapixels resolution is a damn fine camera, but again, I’m looking for something with more resolution. And something cheaper. The A9 II is also expensive, as in $4498 as per current B&H prices. It too is beginning to age, with cameras first hitting shelves in November of 2019. By the time I finally do buy a mirrorless body, it will be a 4 year old camera, and probably with another iteration of the model at a higher price. Add in to the equation buying at least a couple of new lenses to go natively on the mirrorless camera, and we’re talking about an investment that I can’t justify simply for the sake of going mirrorless. Mirrorless has to solve a problem and right now it doesn’t, at least for me.

Back in the day, say 10 years ago, I primarily used a Canon EOS 7D DSLR as a wildlife camera. I have made more money off of the Canon EOS 7D than any other camera I’ve ever owned. The 7D is a 17 megapixel, APS-C (crop sensor) body which was subsequently updated to the 7D Mk II, 20 megapixel DSLR, which improved on the original 7D in many regards. Still, the 7D Mk II is an obsolete camera that can only be found used, and it’s not as good a wildlife body as the D500, so as you can see, time is passing the DSLR by, particularly the high performance APS-C DSLRs. Canon is done making DSLR’s.

There are rumors floating around that Canon will be announcing a new mirrorless body to pick up where the 7D line left off. The Canon EOS 7R. Rumored Canon 7R specs are a 32.5 megapixel, APS-C mirrorless body with five-axis in-body image stabilization and a 20 fps frame rate. At this time though, Canon has not made any official specifications known about this new camera. It is said to be in field testing though, which means it will probably be announced sometime later this year (2022.) The hope is that it will far exceed what the EOS 7D Mk II was capable of at a price tab at or below $2,500.

While I prefer full frame bodies, I don’t have a problem using a APS-C body if it performs well. I don’t have a problem with keeping two different brands or types of camera in my kit. I’ve done it in the past and it didn’t cause me any problems beyond needing to have additional space in my road kit. I’ve got camera bags coming out of my ears. I have room for a second kit from another brand. Who knows, I may eventually be switching back to Canon when I switch to mirrorless totally. Canon seems to have a leg up on Nikon with their mirrorless selections at the moment. I’m not a brand fanboy, I simply use the best gear I can afford that does the job I need to do.

So my switch to mirrorless is beginning to look like it will be a switch to Canon mirrorless, assuming they make a Canon R7 that doesn’t cost $4,500. I’d probably sell off my Nikon stuff to finance the switch, but I doubt I’d get a lot of return on two old DSLR’s.