Mirrorless Cameras

I recently bought a Nikon Z6 and have found it has a pretty steep learning curve after coming from Nikon DSLR cameras. Some things seem intuitive, but a lot of things that once had external buttons now are only accessible via the touchscreen menu system. I'm debating on whether to use this or stick with my DSLR bodies when I head out on my chasecation later this month. Have any of you used mirrorless cameras and how did you like them for shooting storms? Any tips or tricks specific to mirrorless systems?
 

Warren Faidley

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May 7, 2006
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The newer cameras have a larger learning curve and unless you know the often complex menu and settings options like the back of your hand, there is an increased likelihood of failure. I've done this myself when I first transitioned to professional digital cameras. It's not so much the mechanical leap from DSLR to mirrorless, but the technology jump. Customized settings can help with this -- along with a LOT of practice shooting. The advantage of course with newer cameras are the creative features and better quality images, depending on the camera. Battery life is also a consideration, as digital cameras drain batteries faster, so you need spare batteries or a power grip with an extra battery.
 
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The newer cameras have a larger learning curve and unless you know the often complex menu and settings options like the back of your hand, there is an increased likelihood of failure. I've done this myself when I first transitioned to professional digital cameras. It's not so much the mechanical leap from DSLR to mirrorless, but the technology jump. Customized settings can help with this -- along with a LOT of practice shooting. The advantage of course with newer cameras are the creative features and better quality images, depending on the camera. Battery life is also a consideration, as digital cameras drain batteries faster, so you need spare batteries or a power grip with an extra battery.
That’s good advice. I’ve noticed that the battery life of my Z6 is much less than that of my D750 or other DSLR bodies.I think much of it is due to the viewfinder being an OLED display rather than light through the lens reflecting on the mirror and into the pentaprism viewfinder.

And there is quite a learning curve with all of the different AF modes that I didn’t have before as well as different shutter modes that can introduce weird motion effects.

I’ve been thinking a bit, and I’ve decided to bring a DSLR and my mirrorless, using my DSLR as the primary camera and the mirrorless I will use for less critical things until I am very comfortable with it.

But I’d still like to hear other people’s experiences so I can hopefully not make some of the same mistakes others have. But I’m sure I’ll still make plenty of my own.
 
Aug 9, 2012
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I love my mirorrless bodies (A9 II and A7RIII, plus soon to be A1). I'd never go back to shooting on a DSLR ever again just for the sole reason of having an EVF (electronic viewfinder). No more fumbling and guessing at settings in the moment (like when a tornado is on the ground), I can see the photo I want right as it gets shot and often times the ability to shoot at 20+ fps until my memory card fills up and not have to worry about whether I got the focus wrong or what not.

My Sony glass is many times sharper than anything I ever used with Nikon or Canon as well and despite many claims of poor battery life, I can shoot all day (birding and sports) on just over 1 battery and easily do 2500+ photos (Sony A9 II). The autofocus on the Sony full frame cameras (especially the A9 series bodies) is faster than anything I've seen in my life. I have a 95+% keeper rate on many of my bird photos. I can shoot up to ISO 4000+ in many cases and recover just fine. Sometimes I push the envelope and will go for 8000 ISO, but I have to run through Topaz Denoise for that.

You are correct though the reason some of the bodies get a lower battery rating is because the EVF is a viewfinder that stays on when your camera stays on, therefore it is using power. I recommend using a battery grip, you can fit 2 batteries in there at once and it will often-times switch over from #1 to #2 when the first one is drained.
 

STexan

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Feb 11, 2012
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I would stick with whichever system you feel is less apt to let in dust while in use (best sealed) and allows for quickest lens changes. I've been using a mirrorless system since before they were even called "mirrorless" (now defunct Samsung NX1) and I like my setup but from what I can understand, the newer systems are all different and have different pros and cons versus more "old-school" equipment, particularly when bringing into a storm chase environment.

But, we will soon think of mirrored DSLRs like today, we think of film cameras. Might as well make the jump (it's not a leap really). Just buy a quality sensor cleaning kit and learn how to use it properly.

The doubling as a great video system (and leave the clunky handycam at home) these bring immediately to the table are worth it for any storm chaser but be sure to learn and understand the video features and best-practice setups for good and lower lighting setups before heading to the field and trying to figure it out there.
 
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Shawn Gossman

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Feb 9, 2007
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A good friend of mine has the mirror less Sony. Maybe A7 series if that sounds right? I got to say his photos are amazing before post editing. He used it to collect photos for a book he wrote about snakes. I joined him on a lot of his photo expeditions and the photos are amazing. Of course, I’m sure lenses are still a key factor.

Id love to venture into mirrorless one day but now I’m finally trying to learn SLRs beyond the auto setting!
 

Dave C

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Jun 5, 2013
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I recently bought a Nikon Z6 and have found it has a pretty steep learning curve after coming from Nikon DSLR cameras. Some things seem intuitive, but a lot of things that once had external buttons now are only accessible via the touchscreen menu system. I'm debating on whether to use this or stick with my DSLR bodies when I head out on my chasecation later this month. Have any of you used mirrorless cameras and how did you like them for shooting storms? Any tips or tricks specific to mirrorless systems?
I shoot a Canon 5D4 DSLR and last year got the Canon R5 mirrorless. I have been able to configure them both pretty similarly using custom menus. I've had the R5 out on several outings but not yet for storms, but I have no concerns it will be any harder to use than my DSLR. It is actually a faster workflow for almost all situations.

The features in mirrorless such as in body stabilizer, exposure preview and tons of info in the viewfinder, electronic programmable lens rings, electronic shutter option, etc. were new to me but I find everything else very similar or even simpler to use than my DSLR. After a couple shoots I felt I had mastered those.

Hopefully after a few weeks you will feel the same about your Z6, the Nikon mirrorless are quite nice. I think Sony is at a lens design disadvantage with the flange distance on their mirrorless system. Canon and Nikon both went with flange distances that should make lens design less complex and more cost effective. The RF glass is incredible and can usually do resolve more and at better focal lengths (for zooms) than the EF counterpart for this reason.

Not sure about the Z6 options but on the R5 I am able to disable EVF or screen or both for different shooting scenarios, and find the battery lasting to within 80% of my DSLR with IBIS set to only be active when shooting. I'm seldom running out and I have plenty of batteries anyway.
 
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I shoot a Canon 5D4 DSLR and last year got the Canon R5 mirrorless. I have been able to configure them both pretty similarly using custom menus. I've had the R5 out on several outings but not yet for storms, but I have no concerns it will be any harder to use than my DSLR. It is actually a faster workflow for almost all situations.

The features in mirrorless such as in body stabilizer, exposure preview and tons of info in the viewfinder, electronic programmable lens rings, electronic shutter option, etc. were new to me but I find everything else very similar or even simpler to use than my DSLR. After a couple shoots I felt I had mastered those.

Hopefully after a few weeks you will feel the same about your Z6, the Nikon mirrorless are quite nice. I think Sony is at a lens design disadvantage with the flange distance on their mirrorless system. Canon and Nikon both went with flange distances that should make lens design less complex and more cost effective. The RF glass is incredible and can usually do resolve more and at better focal lengths (for zooms) than the EF counterpart for this reason.

Not sure about the Z6 options but on the R5 I am able to disable EVF or screen or both for different shooting scenarios, and find the battery lasting to within 80% of my DSLR with IBIS set to only be active when shooting. I'm seldom running out and I have plenty of batteries anyway.
If I weren’t so invested in Nikon gear the R5 is what I would have. It is a phenomenal camera and an absolute pleasure to use. I’m taking him out on his first storm chase next week so it will be fun to put both of these cameras through their paces.