We normally don’t talk about camera brands and specifications that much here at Jansen Photo Expeditions. Mainly because we have always focused on the creative end of landscape photography and how to get the best out of any camera you own already regardless of the make, model, or cost.
But today I had to address what’s been going on in the world of digital photography over the last couple of weeks.
Unless you might have missed the big announcements from Nikon and Canon, full-frame Mirrorless has arrived from both of these popular camera manufacturers, and you’ll now find plenty of information on them, and opinions on their specifications everywhere on the web by now.
That’s not what I’m going to address here entirely, but if you’re a Nikon shooter like myself, or you in to shooting Canon, you’ve been waiting for this announcement for quite some time. Or, you most likely got tired of waiting and have already made the jump to Sony Full-Frame Mirrorless. I myself was patient and even skipped a couple Nikon 800 series DSLR camera body improvements. I have been waiting to move quickly on a solid, ergonomically built full-frame Mirrorless offering from Nikon. Mainly because for me, beyond any obvious technological reasons, a camera’s body should be kinda like a pair of comfortable boots, and Sony’s odd boxy camera body feel never made it for me personally. It’s good technology stuffed into a hard-edged box for the most part. The following comparison may seem odd to many, but just like a pair of good hiking boots, once I find a brand that fits my feet, I tend to stick with that brand regardless of some minor color or leather changes, as long as the fit hasn’t changed and they hold up in all the outdoor conditions from dust to rain and even mud. All of these conditions are encountered in my business as an outdoor photography guide for Jansen Photo Expeditions. If my feet feel good in them I’m happy.
When it comes to camera bodies, it needs to feel comfortable in my hands first and be able to withstand the elements!
I tend to embrace the new changes while being familiar with the old. I then learn to work through any, if perceived by others, minor imperfections. In the case of the new Nikon Z7 or Z6 and even the Canon R, the amount of memory card slots, eye focus feature or buffer issues really don’t matter with my style of photography. These tech issues, if they are actual problems, could perhaps be worked out in future firmware updates.
Like Many of us shooting DSLRs with either one of these brands, this seems like the time to make the leap from full frame DSLR to mirrorless full frame. This is true especially if you’re a landscape photographer and you already own a good amount of Nikon or Canon lenses. The adapters for Nikon seem to be working out fine, and I’m sure Canon’s R Mirrorless will as well.
As far as myself, being known as a fine art landscape and street photographer, full frame has always been my main requirement as far as print size options. This goes well beyond posting images for advertising and social media and allows me to shoot for large format projects.
The Canon R does have a fully articulating screen, great for Vloggers, while the Nikons have only a Flip up screen. This doesn’t allow you many options when video blogging.
This brings me to the actual need for a new mirrorless camera and all its advantages from behind the lens. I’m always talking about getting it right in camera with my clients in the field as far as composition goes.
It’s widely known to Sony users that getting it right in camera brings it to a whole new level beyond just composition. Seeing your exposures live, and making adjustments in camera before capture is truly remarkable. Not only this, but coming from a dyed in the wool DSLR user, seeing my live subject through the lens has always been important. I’m hearing the EV (Electronic Viewfinder) has been widely embraced by many newly introduced to the Nikon Z6 and Z7 as being as real as it gets and the switch from the classic prism naked eye viewing to Nikons EV is a seamless transition. I will definitely need to have one of these cameras in my hands to confirm this, but my hopes are high.
I’ve always said this to my students and clients that most cameras produced over the last 10 years paired with good technique will produce superior images in most model ranges. The question is, will one of these new mirrorless full frame cameras actually make you a better photographer?
Will the images that you produce with them be crisper and better exposed than the ones you were shooting before with your previous camera?
That is, as long as you understand that compelling landscape photography has little to do with camera gear and has more to do with understanding composition and exposure. There is no way around this, no matter how advanced the technology you use to capture your photograph, or how sharp your lenses are. This fact will never change.
Now when it comes down to the actual purchase of one of these new Mirrorless cameras, first, you’ve got to ask yourself, should I wait for the next model improvement, which seems to come about every 2 Years with Nikon and Canon, or just jump in? In my own personal experience with Nikon, I’m tending to wait a bit until I get my hands on one at least. Nikon has a habit of dropping that (S) model trick. You think you gotta have it, but you find you should have waited for the upgraded version of the newest camera body. I personally keep my camera bodies for years.
Certainly, I would enjoy the compactness for my street shooting and all the live view mirrorless features for my landscapes, but I have yet to exhaust my present Nikon 800 series cameras. These cameras are built to last and I tend not to replace something that’s doing an excellent job for me. This is also paired with the fact it’s such a brand new camera, and what I said above, the improvements on the next generation Z6 and Z7’s may be truly remarkable and might be worth the wait.
That is unless these cameras begin to be used by professionals in the field and they rise to a higher level of form and function than ever expected. Then I might be convinced to bite the bullet and go for it! We’ll have to wait and see.