When Mitch and I travel, we take along our tiny mirrorless camera (also here) and lens. For the blog and for my freelance work, I normally shoot with an old Canon 5D Mark III (newer Mark IV here) and my beloved 35mm f/1.4 II lens, and I truly adore that setup because it’s lighting fast and performs extremely well in low-light settings. That said, its massive size and weight aren’t optimal when we’re on the go, and I often find that when I do bring it, I take fewer photos than I would otherwise simply because it’s so cumbersome.
I’m a firm believer in the idea that the best camera is the one you use.
Even if it’s the iPhone! I’m amazed by how far it’s come, and use mine constantly. So while yes, we took my most of my Florida “outfit photos” quickly in the morning with the 5D/35mm, we almost immediately ditched it in the hotel room or left it hidden in the car right after–risky, I know–in favor of the mirrorless combo. It’s so light that I can just throw it in my bag, and therefore I actually pull it out and use it to capture family fun.
I’ve had my mirrorless camera (also here) and lens for a few years, and I love it. No, it’s not as good as my DSLR setup, but considering it’s less than a quarter of the cost, I think it’s pretty spectacular.
Wondering about the difference between mirrorless and DSLR cameras? In short, a mirrorless camera is one that doesn’t have a reflex mirror–something that all DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) cameras have. Instead, light is exposed to the imaging sensor all the time. And because there’s no reflex mirror, mirrorless cameras are much, much smaller than DSLRs. Learn more here.
A few favorite things about my Sony a6000 Mirrorless Camera:
- Extremely lightweight.
- You can see how changes to the shutter speed, aperture and ISO affect the photo in real time. For example, if you increase the ISO, you’ll see the (potential) photo get brighter in-screen. Mitch loves this! No more “setting up” or “oops” pics.
- Easy to use. Building off that, the “priority modes” allow you to learn how shutter speed, aperture and ISO affect your photos. So if you’re not a pro, no worries. It’s a teachable camera!
- Interchangeable lenses. If you’re interested in buying this mirrorless camera or any mirrorless camera for that matter, I highly recommend buying the body on its own and then a prime lens separately, instead of a “kit.” This is because prime lenses are far faster and therefore crisper than *kit* zoom lenses. Better bang for your buck, even though the kit lenses tend to be less expensive. (Looking for good “bokeh,” meaning the coveted blurry background? I love this 35mm.) I know, I know. It adds to the pricetag, but believe me: it’s worth it! A camera body is nothing without good glass.
- Wifi. Thought I wouldn’t use it. But I constantly find myself transferring the pics to my phone, quickly editing in Lightroom Mobile, and sending to family. It’s a fantastic tool!
- Price. Again, it’s less than a quarter of the cost of my DLSR setup.
One notable drawback is that the monitor (or the display screen) isn’t the best.
This is common with smaller cameras, and something you just have to get used to if you normally shoot with a DSLR. I’ve learned that while my photos don’t look like anything special “in-screen,” their quality is apparent once I get ’em on my phone or computer!
In terms of comps, I haven’t done much research on other similarly priced models that have since become available, so I probably won’t be much help in that department. This, however, is GREAT recent article on the best “pro” and affordable mirrorless cameras, and my Sony still makes the list! But I really just wanted to share these photos to prove that you don’t need to spend thousands to get beautiful shots. Yes, good gear will always help. But if you don’t know how to operate it, or you don’t pull it out because it’s too bulky, it’s kind of pointless! And the weight difference between even the smallest consumer-grade DSLR and mirrorless cameras is considerable.
So here are some of my favorite family snaps taken with our teeny mirrorless, on the first day of our trip to Marco Island! (I was a bit snap-happy on Day 1, which is why I’m going to share the rest of our mirrorless pics tomorrow, haha. These were taken on the JW Marriott’s beach!) Let me know if you have any questions; happy to help. :)
Btw: I edit my photos by hand using Lightroom, but if you’re a beginner and not familiar with Lightroom, the mobile VSCO app is super easy to use, and the presets are outstanding. These photos were all taken at f/2.2 shortly before dusk.