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Going Mirrorless? Here is what they don’t tell you

Background

First I’d like to say, I love my mirrorless Sony A7R II camera. I have really enjoyed shooting with it. When I was looking to migrate to a full frame camera I selected the Sony Alpha and have not regretted it. But there are several things that are very different about using a mirrorless camera that are different to me.

  1. The Sensor in the mirrorless camera

    1. Dust Spots on the sensor really show up. I believe, part of this is the fact the sensor isn’t protected by the mirror when you change lenses and part of this is because it is a 42 megapixel sensor. Little things show up more.

      Red Arrows pointing to the spots on the mirrorless sensor
      The red arrows point to the spots on the sensor. These are caused by dirt that gets to the sensor easier due to it being mirrorless
    2. Dirty sensors and HDR do not MIX. These spots are amplified when you post process photos into HDR. It just makes it look horrible.
      More sensor spots
      More sensor spots, it looks worse in HDR

      How to fix this is below

  2. Changing your lenses

    1. I had to change my behavior. I would change out the interchangeable lenses on my Canon 70D and Digital rebel in the field, without thinking much about it. With the Sony I have to make sure dirt and dust won’t get in there, so I need to be isolated in a dust free environment. No changing out the lens while you are on a boat in the water or in the sun flower field anymore. This is fine, and forces me to take better care of my equipment.
  3. Battery Life!

    1. I read about the battery life not being good and that you will need an extra battery or two at all times. I just didn’t realize how bad it was. I charged the battery in my Canon about once a month and it was good. On the Sony I need to charge the thing after only a few hours of shooting. I actually have to turn the camera off when I am not shooting. This is just a minor behavioral change; however, it is rather annoying. I hear things are better with the A7R III and the A9; however, unless one shows up at my door I cannot validate this.
  4. View finder

    1. Guess what? It doesn’t work without having the camera turned on. It is electronic, same with the screen on the back of the camera, so when you have it on and it is displaying anything…your battery is draining FAST.
  5. Weight of the camera

    1. Yes, the Sony A7R II is a light camera compared to other full frame cameras. It is NOT lighter than my Canon 70D and is actually a fair bit heavier. I had to upgrade my tripod to something that could handle more weight than the consumer grade camera I was replacing. B&H and Oben didn’t seem to mind.
  6. Size of the camera

    1. Like all cameras you want to make sure it fits into your hands. I let a couple of my friends hold the camera and it just didn’t fit into their hands well. So they couldn’t move from the Canon or Nikon professional grade cameras to this one, at least without the extra battery grip and that adds weight.

Cleaning the sensor

No worries if you end with dust on your sensor. Kits are available from cameras stores, like this one from B&H Photo. Here is a video from YouTube on the topic. But for the most complete information check out Brian Smith’s Blog.

Conclusion on Mirrorless Cameras

Overall, the camera is amazing. Between the cameras ability and me focusing more on photography techniques and post processing, my images have improved 10x. I just wish someone had told me a few of these things prior to the purchase of the mirrorless camera. I would have bought the sensor cleaning kit and more batteries when I got the camera. Finding out about the sensor dust while on vacation in a country you don’t speak the language is much less than ideal. I was in a state of panic because I didn’t know that I could fix this in Lightroom and/or Photoshop using the spot healing brush. I had to learn this one REALLY quickly. I thought my vacation photos were ruined.

 

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