Mirrorless vs DSLR for Wedding Photography

Mirrorless vs DSLR for Wedding Photography

If you’re a portrait or wedding photographer, capturing any sort of lifestyle photography of people, you might be wondering, is it time to ditch your trusted DSLR, and go totally mirrorless? Is the technology mature or reliable enough yet? Or if you’re in the market for a new camera, or are just getting started, which one is the better camera to buy? I think we all know that mirrorless photography is the future, but is it there yet? In today’s blog , I’m gonna be sharing my perspective as a wedding photographer of over a decade, as well as specific considerations that you’ll want to be aware of, for professional, portrait and wedding photography. But first, if you’re new to my channel, I’m Chelsea Nicole and I share photography tips, editing tutorials, and business and marketing strategy videos, to help you improve your craft, while building your own fun, wildly profitable photography empire.

professional level mirrorless versus DSLR

All right guys, the hot debate right now is mirrorless versus DSLR. And with the rise of professional level mirrorless cameras, right here I have Nikon’s Z6, Z6 II, and Sony’s A7R IV, and I’ve also heard amazing things about the Canon R6. So there’s lots of amazing mirrorless options out there right now, but there’s also a few big considerations that you’ll definitely want to know before pulling the trigger. So we’re going to be talking about those but first there’s a lot to love about mirrorless. So let’s first dive in to the pros and the biggest benefits of jumping on the mirrorless bandwagon. So one of the biggest benefits of a mirrorless, is it has an EVF, an electronic viewfinder, versus an OVF, optical viewfinder inside a DSLR. So real quick, let’s talk about what that means and why that’s important.

So if I were to open this up, you could see that we have a mirror at the back of our camera. So that’s how a DSLR operates. When I’m looking through the viewfinder the mirror is reflecting, and I’m able to see basically the same, or very similar image to what I would see in the real world. But what it isn’t taking into account is, the settings that I’m dialing in. This is why we have to read the meter in order to know the proper exposure. The difference with an electronic viewfinder is what you see is what you get, rather than it being very similar to true to life, what I would see would be very similar to the viewfinder. Through this view finder, it’s taking into account the settings that I’m dialing in, the individual exposure, the individual white balance.

So the benefit of this is while looking through the viewfinder, I’m able to see the image that I will actually be capturing. And this allows you to really quickly, dial in your settings and see what you’ll be getting, even before snapping the photo. This really lessens the learning curve for new photographers that maybe aren’t as comfortable with you know, their exposure settings just yet. And also for more established photographers, it’s just one less thing to get in the way, of being in the moment with your people. And while metering with your DSLR is probably second nature to you right now, if you are more established and been around longer, this just simplifies and makes things even better. The other benefit is being able to preview your images through the viewfinder. So after you’ve taken your photo you can actually preview it through the viewfinder versus with a DSLR, you need to preview it on the back of your LCD. And a major benefit of this is if you’re shooting in bright sunlight, the image could appear washed out. And it’s harder to see on the back of an LCD, but looking through the viewfinder, you get a better preview.

And also if you’re uncomfortable with chimping and having clients see you checking the images, it’s nice that you’re able to preview and competence check your image right inside the LCD without having to bring down your camera. So another noteworthy feature of mirrorless is auto-focus eye tracking, which was made big through Sony because they have the best eye tracking in the game. Cannon also has really great eye tracking. Nikon was known for not having the best eye tracking when they first came out with their mirrorless cameras but with recent firmware updates, it’s actually fantastic. So if you’ve ever struggled with focus when it comes to nailing focus of people you’ll find this to be just magic. To be able to have it eye track people. And for myself, like I’ve been shooting a long time. I am very comfortable with single point focus and moving the dials and buttons. It’s actually second nature where I don’t even have to think about it when I’m getting my focus. So I moved back and forth between the eye tracking and single point focus a lot.

I usually use the eye tracking more when I’m doing a lot of movement and stuff in my engagement sessions then I’ll switch to the eye tracking so that I’m not having to follow my subjects as much with single point focus. Otherwise, I actually like the control that I have of being able to set my focus point. But other than that, it is really just such a fantastic thing. Anything where our cameras can get out of the way and have less focus on the TAC and more focused on the moments and the people I am all about. The camera’s auto-focus in general it is not good with objects. So if you’re focusing on capturing details, you’re definitely going to want to switch back to the single point focus because you’ll find that it does weird things and focuses behind the subject rather than focusing on the subject that’s right there in the middle. But other than that it is just a fantastic benefit of the mirrorless cameras.

The next thing you love about mirrorless is the edge to edge focus points. And this is a big one for me because this has always been something that has bothered me about DSLRs, is if you’ve read my blog on how to get sharp portraits, which I definitely recommend checking out after this if you haven’t, then you’ll know how I feel about focus and recompose for kneeling sharp portraits especially when shooting with low apertures. It has the ability to throw off your focus just slightly. So I like to lock my focus point specifically where I want it to be. But with DSLRs, you don’t get edge to edge focus points. So if you have your subject towards the outer edge of your frame then you’re not going to be able to set the focus point right where you want it.

And sometimes you will have to focus and recomposes slightly, but with mirrorless, it fixes this because at least with Nikon, it’s almost three times the amount of focus points as the DSLR version. And this is a $6,500 camera for the newest D6. And this is around $2,000. So it’s incredible that this performs so much better than even the flagship DSLR and you have edge to edge focus points. Next is IBIS, which is in body image stabilization. And this is big because Canon and Nikon have never had in body image stabilization. They’ve only had stabilization on their lenses and not all lenses, either. Typically when a lens has stabilization there’s maybe going to be two different versions of it and you’re going to pay a significantly extra for the version with stabilization.

So it means that you’re not always going to have the most stabilized lenses and cameras but with mirrorless and no longer matters if you have a stabilized lens or not because everything will be stabilized because it’s built into the body and with Nikon, what they’re promising is a full extra five stops. The image stabilization is so good. So of course, your subjects are still going to be moving and breathing. But it’s great that on our side, we were essentially now human tripods and where this is great. I don’t know about you, but at weddings sometimes I am on chairs to get those high details and my hands are a little shaky and that in-body stabilization will definitely come in handy. The next benefit is not having the need to do micro adjustments or calibrate your lenses. However, there are still some circumstances where you might want to specifically when working with adapters and also to check if you have a good or bad copy of the lens.

I have a full blog on calibration that you can check out here. And they also talk about some of those considerations when it comes to mirrorless. The next benefit is the quiet or silent shutter of the mirrorless. And for any wedding photographers out there you probably know my pain of when you’re in each church wedding, and there’s like, it’s very, very quite or maybe they’re in a moment of prayer and this is something that you want to capture. It’s a very special moment, but as you’re capturing it, you are just very aware of how loud you’re being as the wedding photographer over here, with your loud shutter, just clicking away. So the mirrorless fixes this. You can hear the shutter, but it is whisper quiet. That’s beautiful. And it can even be silent, if you prefer. With the DSLR, we can turn off the beeps, we can turn off a lot of the sounds going on but we can’t turn off the sound of that shutter with the mirror. And the last bit of it, it’s probably something that is a little obvious but I’m going to share it anyways because it was really big for me. And that is the small size and the lightweight body which makes it not only great for travel.

So if you do destination photography, it’s easier to pack. And also the native lenses are, tend to be a little bit smaller in size and lightweight which makes it easier to pack and travel with as well. But also for our backs, especially as wedding photographers, you know what it’s like to be on your feet for a 10 to 12 hour wedding day, yielding heavy gear and contorting our body into these weird shapes in order to get the shots that we need to get. The heavy gear can be really bad on your back. I personally have a scoliosis so I have a bad back to begin with. And so the lighter body is much nicer on our bodies and it’s also easier to travel with. So that to me is a huge part. So there is lots to love about these mirrorless cameras. But now that we’ve talked about some of the biggest benefits, let’s dig into some of the potential pitfalls behind buying one. With the first being there not being a ton of options when it comes to native lenses.

And that being said, there is actually a lot of lenses already. And if you check out the roadmap, there’s a lot of horizon for the next year, but for Canon and Sony, I’ve noticed that they have a lot of good, really fast prime options but Nikon in particular, I’m a little disappointed that all of their primes seem to be F 1.8. They don’t have good 1.2 or 1.4 options, yet. They are, I know working on it, but right now it’s not on the roadmap. And that’s something that has been a little bit disappointing. The adapter though, does work phenomenal with most newer lenses, Nikon lenses. The one lens it does not work with sadly, is my absolute favorite lens, which is the 85MM F/1.4 D. So that is the older version of Nikon’s 1.4. If you have the G version it will work with that via adapter. So I’m still using my D4 and haven’t fully switched to mirrorless mostly because of this, because I absolutely love the bokeh on this lens. It is gorgeous. So you might run into that, whether you’re a Nikon, Canon or Sony. Having a lens, you really love that just doesn’t work with the adapter. Currently, I’m considering testing out a few other 85 options.

I want to try it against the native 85 1.8 and also against the G version and the Sigma Art 85 1.4. So if anybody has experienced with any of these lenses and has an opinion on it drop it in the comments I’d love to hear. I just haven’t gotten around to testing this out yet but I am disappointed that they don’t have a native 1.4 but I know what’s coming in the future. Another worry that I’ve heard I heard from some of my students is not looking professional enough at a shoot with this dingy, little camera body that is so small, but any very professional and established photographer is actually very excited about mirrorless. And it’s becoming very well known. So I wouldn’t think twice about using this on a wedding or a photo shoot. And especially once you put your lenses on there get an adapter on there. You can even add a battery grip if you wanted to bulk it up but that’s not something that I would be concerned about at all.

So the other potential con is blackout. While you were looking through the view finder and taking images, you’ll notice that the screen goes black inside your viewfinder just really, really quickly. And it comes right back. But this is something that I found a little jarring at first. I know a lot of photographers find it a little bit annoying but as I shot with it more and more, it kind of disappeared. And now I don’t really notice the blackout that much. And it’s probably also because with the Nikon cameras, the Z6 II majorly improved the blackout with the new dual processors over the Z6 I. So the blackout on that is less and these cameras are just going to improve more and more but I’ve noticed that, you know, the more I shoot with it I just don’t really notice it too much. And it doesn’t bother me anymore. So to wrap things up, those are some of the biggest benefits and a couple of the potential pitfalls of going over to the mirrorless camera system.

Now, if you’re in the market for a camera or you’re wanting to upgrade or needing a second body for weddings, I highly recommend going mirrorless. It’s the direction I would go if I was needing a new camera or if I was starting from scratch I would a hundred percent go the mirrorless direction. If you already have the camera that you need and you aren’t really needing a new camera and money is maybe a little bit tight. And there’s other areas in your business that the money would be better spent, I would hold off for now. I still use my DSLR and love it. So if you’re not needing a new camera and you don’t have that money to spend, it’s not something that is a necessary expense to go out and get a mirrorless. I love it. Highly recommend it. My only one hangup with mirrorless for weddings was not having the dual card slots. And that’s now been solved with Nikon and across all the major brands. So there’s really nothing I could say bad about the mirrorless cameras. They’re pretty amazing. So you hope you enjoy this quick breakdown of mirrorless versus DSLR, and I’d love to know which one do you think wins. Drop it in the comments below mirrorless versus DSLR. And if you’re currently shooting with a mirrorless also let me know which camera you are using and I will catch you in the next blog.

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