It was a hard decision when I decided to abandon my Canon T4i and enter the mirrorless world instead of buying another DSLR. However, I think that it was just time. There’s a lot to consider when one is choosing to move to a new system, whether it be Nikon to Canon, Canon to Olympus, Olympus to Leica, etc. What is important is looking at the whole picture in regards to price point, usability, lens market, reliability, and anything else that might pertain to your specific needs in a camera.
To simplify my personal reasoning for switching to mirrorless, here are a few quick lists:
Why I couldn’t stand to keep my T4i as my go-to camera:
- Metering issues – if you could even call them ‘metering’ issues. While shooting on anything but full manual, chances are that the image is at least two stops overexposed. Now, you might say, “why don’t you just adjust for that using the exposure adjustment?” Well, that didn’t work, so I started shooting full manual. You would think that would work, but it didn’t either. I would have to severely adjust for the overexposure, but that would just yield severely underexposed shots. I tried factory restoring the camera, but that didn’t work either. I also didn’t really want to spend $100+ sending in the camera for repairs, especially if I didn’t think I wanted to keep it for other reasons. At one point, I considered installing MagicLantern on it, but I’m too nervous about it bricking.
- The shutter has a loud, high-pitched slap – At school, I would shoot for my college newspaper. This often involved going to quiet meetings, shows, and performances where I needed to be unseen and unheard. I would half-cringe every time I needed to hit the shutter. I knew people around me disliked the noise too based on their faces of disgust.
- Performance for sports [+metering (?) time] – Now, here is another issue with seemingly metering. 90% of the time when I click the shutter, and repeatedly, the camera would not take the photo immediately. It usually takes a solid 5-10 seconds and many clicks of the shutter to actually take a picture. Shooting sports for the newspaper… not happening… Besides, you can’t really feel confident standing next to professional sports photographers with giant L lenses and 7D’s and whatnot with your puny T4i and a cheap telephoto.
Now most of you might say I am ridiculous for giving it up for these reasons. Yeah, I could have sent it in for repairs and then it would be good for a few more years, but I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to.
Why I considered getting a mirrorless system:
- Size – I hated having to lug around a good-sized bag for just the camera body and three small lenses (kit 18-55mm, nifty fifty, and 70-300mm). When I am taking photos, I am usually traveling, whether it be literal travelling on vacation, walking around town, hiking, etc. Therefore, a small system would suit me well.
- Speed & reliability- Regardless, anything was going to be faster than my T4i which wouldn’t take the photo that I needed 90% of the time. Also, there were plenty of mirrorless systems that had faster AF and burst shooting than entry-level DSLR’s (that I could afford).
- Something new – You should stick with a camera because you know it and it’s the photographer not the camera, yada yada yada… While I would absolutely agree that it is important to know your camera, as well as the photographer is more important than the camera, I still have my reasons for wanting something else. Mainly, I liked the T4i but it wasn’t for me. I was missing something. I shot with it all the time for years and some of my best images were taken with it, but my reasoning for switching has pretty much nothing to do with wanting the ‘next best thing’ or being creative or some other reason that usually doesn’t have anything to do with the camera itself.
Regardless, the Canon was not fitting my needs and I wanted to try something new. Instead of investing in repairs, a new body, and/or upgraded glass, I wanted to see if another system was more suited for me. I found just that in mirrorless.
So, what did I get? Well, I did my research for months. I watched YouTube videos and reviews, looked at sample photos, tracked prices, research lens markets, and I even made Excel spreadsheets comparing and contrasting cameras. Ultimately, I decided on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 (Mark I, of course). The camera body + 12-50mm kit went on sale on Amazon for $999 in May, 2014 when I purchased it ($300 savings at the time). I also purchased four-year accidental insurance for a one-time $76.99. While I am usually extremely careful with my belongings, I knew this would be at college and going abroad with me, so I might as well spend something so little to insure something so valuable.
I hope to share as much wisdom as I can about the brilliant Olympus micro 4/3 system in many posts to come! Next I will have another post about how to choose a new system and what may be right for you. I will link that article here.