Mirrorless vs DSLR – Debunking the Myths About the Need for Full Frame Cameras

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It’s broken record time, as any regular visitor this website has no doubt read that we wholeheartedly believe that the Image Quality gap that once existed (and not very long ago) between full frame cameras and their smaller and lighter mirrorless cousins has been significantly narrowed…  heck – it’s been closed!  Now it seems like more and more former full frame shooters are beginning to realize this as well, and many are making the switch to mirrorless cameras and seeing numerous additional advantages besides the smaller size and weight of mirrorless systems (advanced autofocus tracking and video performance that runs circles around FF DSLRs are two that readily come to mind).  Yet while many are seeing the light, many more are still hesitant to take a look.  They’re reluctant to stray too far from the comfort zone created by their Full Frame Cameras, and are leaning on FF Myths as crutches.

Veteran Photog Scott Bourne is one of the shooters who has stepped into the light side of the photo force, having recently switched from FF DSLR gear to micro 4/3 (an Olympus OM-D E-M5), and he is “more convinced than ever that these cameras perform as well as ANY camera in 95% of the situations where it counts.”

Scott posted an article on his website – Photofocus.com – debunking 7 of the most common myths about the need for full frame cameras.

Photo Myth-Buster…

Scott writes…  “While I used to be an advocate for full frame cameras, I changed my mind when I saw the advantages of going small. So to counter all the posts that are out there advocating why you need a full frame camera, here’s why I think you do not.

1. The Low Light Argument

While the “religion of low-light” has caught many of you in its net, the majority of the last 100 years, photographers haven’t been concerned about it.  My flashes, reflectors, hot lights, etc. will work anywhere, with or without power. Since photography is actually about light, I don’t understand the fascination for working without much of it.

2. The Shallower Depth of Field Argument

You may not know this, but not every photograph requires shallow depth-of-field. In fact, most do not. But when you want it, you can have it two ways on a mirror less system. Very fast glass, and post-processing tools can make an f/22 shot look like it came from a tilt-shift lens.

3. The Lens Flexibility Argument

Some full-frame shooters like using old film camera lenses on their full-frame cameras. They seem to think this is only possible on full-frame. In fact, Micro Four Thirds cameras can easily, quickly and affordably be set to work with almost ANY lens, including lenses that will NOT work on full-frame cameras.

4. The Sharpness Argument

People actually think they can make sharper photos on full-frame lenses. The physics say differently. Sharpness is controlled by MANY factors, lens, pixel depth, pixel size, subject distance, and photographer skill. To think you’ll get sharper photos just because you switch to full-frame cameras is pure horse pucky.

5. The Wider Angles Argument

While it’s true that ultra wide angles like 16mm etc are not available on some non-full-frame cameras, the trade off is that the very crop factor FF proponents rely on here works against them for those who need longer reach. If you’re a wildlife or sports shooter, trading ultra wide angle for longer telephoto reach is a no-brainer. And many of the smaller cameras are able to shoot 24mm un-distorted. We used to think of 35mm lenses as wide when I was a kid so 24 seems pretty wide to me.

6. The Better Build Quality Argument

This is plain stupid. Just because a camera is full-frame doesn’t mean it’s built any better than one that is not. Some full-frame cameras have no special waterproofing or dust blocking capability. My Olympus OM-D E-M5 on the other hand does – and it’s no full-frame camera.

7. The Full-Frame Cameras Look Cooler Argument

If your photography is so bad that you put more importance on how your camera looks than your images, there is no hope for you. Start learning to garden, fish or whittle – photography isn’t for you. (CLASSIC! 🙂 )

(Note:  I’ve edited the above, so I highly recommend that you read the full article on Photofocus.com – video above courtesy of ThePhotoSoup on Youtube.  It’s shot with a Panasonic Lumix GH3 and 12-35 2.8 lens, obviously handheld, but still looks great!)

My 2 Cents – and My Take on the 7 Myths

1. The Low Light Argument

This used to be a lot more true than it is today.  The latest mirrorless cameras are made to work well in low light situations (sans flash), and you’ll get impressive results at high ISO, even from moderately priced cameras like the Sony NEX 3N, Olympus PEN Lite E-PL5 and Panasonic Lumix G5 – which inherit top quality sensors and technology from the higher ups in their respective lineups.

2. The Shallower Depth of Field Argument

There’s a lot more technology built in to mirrorless sensors nowadays and there’s a heck of a lot of great glass to choose from.  Anyone who thinks you can’t get good bokeh with a mirrorless system is sorely mistaken.

3. The Lens Flexibility Argument

Scott is spot on with his analysis above.  Micro 4/3 cameras are among the (if not THE) most adaptable cameras available, and there are a ton of shooters out there using legacy lenses on their M43 systems – including me 🙂

4. The Sharpness Argument

Just put the images from your mirrorless system side by side with those from a full frame camera.  Chances are, if you know what you’re doing, there will be little if any difference in sharpness… or IQ period.

5. The Wider Angles Argument

Last time I looked, there were some pretty wide lenses available for mirrorless cameras.  Just check out the Panasonic 7-14mm.

6. The Better Build Quality Argument

Not only is the Olympus OM-D E-M5 weather sealed, so is the Panasonic Lumix GH3 and new Pro spec Zoom Lenses.  Look for more Pro Level mirrorless camera systems to hit the market.

7. The Full-Frame Cameras Look Cooler Argument

Really?  Cooler than the OMD or Fuji X-E1?  I don’t think so.



Here are some mirrorless camera systems that’ll go toe to toe with ANY camera – no matter how big the sensor…

Panasonic Lumix GH3 – Best in Class for both stills and video, Pro Level Lenses and Wi-Fi make this the Best Hybrid Camera on the Planet today.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 – Classic styling with top notch performance and revolutionary 5 point IBIS make this one of the breakthrough cameras of the last year.



Fuji X-Pro1 – Hybrid Viewfinder combined Fuji’s X-Trans Sensor and EXR Processing Technology deliver some of the best quality still photos you’ll get from ANY camera (35mm or smaller).


Fuji X-E1 – Same Sensor and Processing Technology as the X-Pro 1 in a smaller, more stylish frame.


Panasonic Lumix G5 – One of the best mirrorless camera values today.  Delivers many pro level features and performance at a mid level price.


Panasonic Lumix GH2 – The former flagship of the GH lineup.  This model is a few years old, but it’s still one of the best video cameras you’ll get anywhere.


Sony NEX 6 –  Hybrid Autofocus, Wi-Fi and most of the main features of the flagship NEX 7 make this the most advanced NEX camera yet, though there are not many native lenses from which to to choose.




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