Mirrorlessness Blues

Surf Fishing, Santa Cruz

I may have made a mistake. It was calculated, rational, carefully thought through, but still, probably, a mistake.

The Umpqua, Central Oregon

At the beginning of the year, I started focusing on trying to make at least part of my living from photography. Really, I wanted more time to focus on, and think about, making good photographs and seeing where it might take me. It has had its ups and downs, but it has always felt like the right choice. Part of embarking on this journey necessitated putting all my photographic eggs in one basket–financially, I couldn’t justify keeping my Olympus OM-D, and instead I plowed that money back into my bread and butter Canon EOS DSLR system. It was the right choice to make, but it was a mistake.


A friend of mine is going to Spain soon, and I started looking back through my Spain photos–which were all taken with a Panasonic GF-1–that I planned to share with her. Since the GF-1, I have been a big fan of small, mirrorless cameras, and they have accompanied me on many travels.


It is hard to articulate everything that I love and miss about my smaller cameras, but it’s definitely a real feeling, and I am finding myself looking anew at cameras like the Fuji X-E1 and X100s, the Olympus E-P5, and others. I don’t know if it is the mirrorless gestalt, or the surprisingly good image quality, or just the additive effect of these and other attributes, but there is something to these cameras that is more than the sum of their parts.

Boardwalk Tracks, Santa Cruz

It’s not all rose-colored glasses, of course. The GF-1 fell apart at high ISOs while night-shooting and the files were hard to work with without showcasing jaggy artifacting, and the OM-D had a tendency towards purple fringing on blown highlights. However, they often created more effortless, playful shooting journeys with their relative weightlessness and lack of ostentation. They just begged to be played with and taken everywhere. They were never a burden, never sources of aches or soreness.


So if you have a mirrorless camera or nice compact that you are thinking of selling so that you can get yourself a DSLR or a nice lens for your DSLR, think again. Even if it’s right, it might be wrong. Even if it’s rational, you may find yourself trying to fill the void. In life, there is a delicate balance between nurturing your bank accounts and nurturing your soul–the mirrorless cameras have, for me, always been the soul-nurturers (which is not to say I don’t love my Canons, but it’s different).

Azure water, Santa Cruz

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