Some of the seemingly minor advantages of mirrorless cameras really made a difference for me…
Sometimes getting a photo means walking a long way and hanging around for quite a while, and there may come a point where I get a bit tired and discouraged. The heavier the camera bag, and the more it bonks me on the hip as I walk, the sooner that point is reached.
Mirrorless cameras are significantly lighter and manufacturers often make lighter lenses to go with them. And lightweight lenses with plastic bodies are great. I’m not shooting in a war zone with my camera gear rattling around in the back of a jeep – so I don’t need a lens that’s built like a pipe wrench.
Smaller means less noticeable, reducing my chances of being hassled by mission-deprived security guards at “public” buildings or landmarks. Carry a big bulgy black DSLR with an f1.4 lens and a hood, and they’re on you like a bad cold. But I slyly pull a mirrorless out of a pocket and get the shot before they can climb off their stool and amble over to inform me of “the policy against photography” while surrounded by people shooting the same things with phones.
These Taiko performers are in the middle of a traditional Japanese piece for drums and flute. In the spaces between the notes you could hear a pin drop. But with silent electronic shutter, the people sitting right next to me aren’t even aware I’m shooting.
I see actual DOF in the viewfinder.
Remember your DSLR’s “DOF preview” button – that you never used because it made the viewfinder too dark to see anything? Forget about it.
I see a live histogram.
I’m not out there with a tripod, spending an afternoon carefully applying the Ansel Adams Zone System. With a live histogram in the viewfinder I can quickly figure out how to squeeze in the important highlights and shadows, then fine tune the curve later in postprocessing.
I can zoom w-a-a-ay in and focus.
Right in the live EVF, I can zoom in to get that one thing I really want in sharp focus – and forget about “focus peaking” which fills the view with distracting bright jaggy lines that are really based on contrast, not sharpness.
I can see the shot in B&W.
Live, in the viewfinder. Removing the distraction of color shows me the real hot spots and helps me frame the shot. And if the photo doesn’t look interesting in b&w I can skip it because it won’t be any good in color, either.
It’s easier to clean the sensor.
A lot of people say mirrorless sensors attract more dust, because they’re not normally behind a mirror, but I haven’t really noticed much of a difference. Bu if a mirrorless sensor does get dirty, it’s easy to clean – you don’t have to wade into the menus and do a “mirror lockup”. Just remove the lens, and there it is, ready for a blast of air from a squeeze bulb.
I don’t need the glasses.
I need reading glasses for anything closer than arm’s length. With a DSLR I needed the viewfinder for shooting, and the LCD for menus and reviewing what I just shot – so those glasses were on and off a thousand times. With mirrorless I can do it all through the viewfinder – no glasses and no glaring menu screens in dark auditoriums (see “silent”, above). Or I can leave the glasses on and use just the LCD, while pretending I’m doing something else (see “security guards” above).