Are mirrorless cameras better than dSLRs yet? That’s been my question for the past few years ever since I reviewed the Fujifilm X-Pro1. It was clear that mirrorless cameras were the future even then, and that the companies involved were improving them faster than the traditional dSLR manufacturers.
But at the time, I thought that there weren’t better yet, and bought another Nikon. I wanted to see what the current mirrorless cameras were like. And from the 100,000+ views on the video I also put together on YouTube, it seems that interest in mirrorless cameras is pretty strong.
So this is about helping you decide whether mirrorless cameras can replace your dSLR, and to validate your choice if that last sentence isn’t applicable.
Fujifilm kindly lent me their excellent X-Pro2 camera with the 23mm, 56mm f1.2 and 90mm f2 lenses. I teamed up with world-travelling photographer Richard Hadley for the review and tried several of his Fuji lenses including the 35mm f1.4 too. Therefore, this review will also address the lenses available for the dSLR/ mirrorless systems; and which I preferred and recommend between the esteemed 56mm f1.2 and 90mm f2 lenses.The X-Pro 2 Viewfinder
The immediate difference between dSLRs and mirrorless cameras is, surprise surprise, the flappy mirror. The X-Pro 2 actually has a dual viewfinder with an evf and also an optical viewfinder that looks similar to a rangefinder. The latter wasn’t so useful with the longer lenses I was using so I didn’t use it much.
The benefit of the dSLR mirror and pentaprism viewfinder is that you’re literally looking through the lens. So of course there’s no lag and the colours are limited only by the glass and your eyes; and there’s no battery drain either.
These differences used to be enough to disqualify mirrorless cameras for everyday use. But when I looked through the X-Pro 2 camera’s electronic viewfinder (evf), I immediately saw that things had changed.
There was so little lag that I couldn’t notice any, and the colours were bright and clear. Where previous evfs has been dark and noisy in low light with blocked shadows, the X-Pro 2 was actually better than looking through my Nikon’s optical viewfinder.
And in good light, it was arguably better. Because you can see the images as they will actually look, which makes black and white photography a lot easier. You can also see the pictures you’ve taken clearly without having to find shade so you can actually see the screen.Manual Focussing and Lens Treasures
All of this talk about the viewfinder has brought back fond memories of manual focus with the Fuji Xpro2. Let me be clear that I usually hate focussing manually, mainly because even with the dioptre adjusted, I don’t find the viewfinders on most dSLRs good enough to achieve critically sharp focus at f1.2-f1.8.
But this changed with the Fuji camera. Focus peaking, which accentuates micro contrast (using a high pass filter I think), makes manual focus much easier. And that without sacrificing the brightness that focussing screens built for manual focus [...]