Why I won’t be going small

Why I won’t be going small

There seems to be a sudden rush towards compact system cameras at the moment, at least if you follow some of the more social media savvy photographers. I can see why a smaller, lighter camera would be appealing but I find the cries that the DSLR is a dead a bit over the top.

I can’t recall ever seeing anything like this before, even in the fickle world of photography. Trends have come along and there has been much bandwagon jumping but there is something that feels a bit disingenuous about this one. Photographers that have made the switch to Micro Four Thirds or the Sony or Fuji systems seem almost evangelical. These people, who have previously proclaimed that it’s “not about the gear, it about the photographer”, are now running around the globe shooting with a mini camera telling us all to ditch our DSLRs today. I have even seen photographers saying they can offer a better service to their clients now they have made the switch. Really? Why should clients care about, or even understand the difference? Something just doesn’t sit right.

I must have missed the point at which full frame cameras with their excellent low light capabilities and shallow depth of field stopped being the thing to aspire to own.

Bigger is better?

Case in point: I’ve been an avid listener to the This Week In Photo podcast for years and it wasn’t that long ago the host, Frederick Van Johnson, made a bet with co-host Ron Brinkmann, that crop sensor cameras would soon become extinct and everything would be full frame. Fast forward to now and Frederick is waxing lyrical about his Olympus OMD with an even smaller sensor than those crop bodies. And he’s not the only one but when did the size and weight of your camera become the main factor to consider? These cameras are capable but simply not as good quality as a full frame DSLR, no one disputes that and when pressed on the topic the response is “it’s almost as good!”

Almost? No thanks. I don’t want to compromise on quality or have my kit impose restrictions on what I can do. Sure, a little Fuji X100S would be a nice to carry around on a daily basis but I’m not about to follow Trey Radcliffe’s advise and sell all my Canon gear and invest in 3 Sony NEXs. Why does it have to be either/or?

This is may be cynical but here’s my theory. Anyone wanting to build a large audience and become a celebrity photographer needs “a thing”. It used to be organic. David Hobby was the small flash guy, Zack Arias was the one light guy but those things have been done. There’s a rush for the next big thing and it seems to be small and mirrorless.

I have dabbled with a few compact system cameras and while they are great fun, they just don’t do it for me. I like my full frame DSLRs with their heft, fast auto focus and big glass. Maybe I am missing something but so far no one has been able to tell me why these new cameras are better, aside from being smaller and lighter. My iPhone is small, light and always with me, and it can make calls too! If I’m going out with the express intention of taking photographs I’ll throw my 5D over my shoulder.

I am all for new technology opening up new possibilities and mirrorless cameras are definitely interesting and have a future but they aren’t the be all and end all of photography. So maybe my “thing” is to not go small. To stick with my big, “antiquated” DSLR. The be the “full frame” guy?

This is how I feel about the topic today but I can’t promise I won’t suddenly and dramatically do a 180 degree change in direction if someone makes a good case in the comments…