I took a DLSR out for a test drive as part of my writing job. It was an APS-C-sized Canon 80D with the 18-135mm kit lens. In some respects a similar thing to the mirrorless cameras that I use on a regular basis but as startlingly different as I could hope to encounter.
I used to use a Nikon DSLR of the same size – a D300. It was the mainstay of wedding, event, and studio work for me for several years and I like to think I became adept at using it. I’ve reviewed images from the period and, while I can see that there were times when I could have framed and shot better, the camera performed pretty well.
Well, so did the Canon – in its own way. The control experience is different between these two major brands but I can tell that they are both doing as good as can be done with a Bayer-array sensor and all the bells and whistles that are applied to a modern camera. I daresay whatever the Nikon equivalent of this model is will be marching exactly in step with it, and if you tweaked both of their operating systems you could get them to put out exactly the same file. Any awkwardness I had in finding out the controls was due to inexperience – a few days and a read of the instruction book would have had me up to speed.
But I found it a disconcerting experience. The bulk and the shape of the camera is something that I have moved away from by going to the mirror-less system. I still have weight to deal with, but the distribution of it in the hand is so much different that the Canon seemed like holding a Tupperware container rather than a camera. It was faster focusing than my Fujifilm, but I found it much harder to focus the mind on the image in the camera. Live view was not good at all.
I have yet to see what the JPEG images will look like in comparison, but will reserve judgement until then. As it is, on ergonomics alone, I can see that I would not want to return to either of the major DSLR systems at all. A valuable lesson for free…
Addendum: the JPEGS are fine things. If you are a Canon shooter go and be happy with this.