When I switched from Nikon to the Panasonic Lumix system last spring, I was nervous. I had used Nikon for more than three years. It was my bread and butter — I knew it inside and out. And it worked great.
But one thing it wasn’t was innovating. I started to feel like it was holding me back — specifically with its video capabilities. As the demand for video from my clients started to grow, I knew that I needed to think about making a change.
Fast forward nine months later, and I couldn’t be happier. With my new Lumix G9 in tow, along with a GH5, I’m excited to see what I can create in 2018. I’ve discovered more about myself as a photographer during this time than I ever thought was possible, and to me, the results have been clear.
Mirrorless cameras are steps beyond traditional DSLR’s when it comes to innovation.
The Big Difference: Video
This past weekend, I was blown away when working on my first-ever corporate video shoot. The results were shocking. Everything was in focus. Using features like focus peaking, and then autofocusing on a gimbal, I was able to come away with a video that I think looks pretty good for my first effort.
Why is the difference so big when it comes to video?
I remember trying to shoot video with my D800. It was painful, and autofocus was very, very slow. And now I know why. While full-frame cameras give you a wonderfully shallow depth of field and very selective focusing, doing so means the camera’s auto focusing system isn’t as fast. And while a lot of videographers use manual focus, if you’re vlogging or carrying around a gimbal, often you have to rely on the camera’s autofocusing system.
Furthermore, most mirrorless cameras produced recently offer 4K video shooting. But with DSLR’s, this feature seems to be limited to higher-end bodies like the Nikon D5 and D850.
What About Stills?
Despite the amazing video features that mirrorless cameras have, I still consider myself to primarily be a still photographer. With the Lumix G9, Panasonic has introduced several still-specific features that I haven’t seen any DSLR camera manufacturer offer. The same can be said for Olympus, Sony and Fuji.
This took a few days for me to get used to, but the benefits here are huge. Electronic viewfinders offer the ability to display a live histogram — meaning you can expose properly and keep an eye on highlights. You also get a real-time preview of your images, instead of one that’s reflected off of the mirror in your camera.
With the G9, I can capture 80-megapixel photographs with its new High-Resolution Mode. This is a feature that shifts the sensor slightly while capturing eight frames. It then combines these to create a final image. I can’t wait to try this for some winter landscape shots!
Even with the highest-end DSLR cameras, you’re limited on your shooting speed. The Nikon D5 offers 12fps, and so does the G9. But the G9 takes it a step further — in AF-S mode, you can use the electronic shutter to burst up to 60fps (realistically 50fps with a buffer). And in AF-C mode, you can shoot up to 20fps.
If you’re shooting manual (stills or video), you’ll learn to quickly rely on focus peaking. This highlights the areas that are in focus in your photograph, perfect for when you’re setting up a long-exposure or video interview.
With an electronic shutter, you can choose to be completely silent. I’ve used this a few times, and in addition to the high shooting speeds I mentioned above, being able to be silent means no more interruptions during quiet performances.
While full-frame DSLR’s are a great option for still shooters, mirrorless cameras are catching up, and are leading the way in terms of innovation. With features like an electronic viewfinder and high-resolution mode, I’m excited to see what mirrorless cameras have in store for the rest of 2018 and beyond.
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