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Head to Head: Mirrorless or DSLR?

Head to Head: Mirrorless or DSLR?

| On 18, Oct 2016

Dear Diary: Paul Marshman (The Travelling Boomer) and I were chatting over coffee about some recent camera reviews, and we both made the same observation. Although it seems counter-intuitive, DSLRs (and by that we mean digital cameras with mirrors) tend to be more responsive, with less shutter lag than their mirrorless competitors.

With that thought in mind, we started listing some of the comparison points that seemed relevant to us, and came up with a script for the following video.

Behind the scenes
Because the script contained mostly talking heads, we planned to spend a day in the Niagara region to shoot with a variety of backgrounds. By planning the shoot in early October, we were hoping that the fall colours could be part of the scenery – but the warm and lingering summer conspired against us.

We shot in the town of Niagara on the Lake, at Balzacs, at Fort George, around the Brock monument at Queenston Heights and at the Niagara Botanical Gardens. It’s a lovely touristy place to visit, (Paul’s take on Niagara) both close to and far from the slightly tacky commercialism of the town of Niagara Falls.

We were unhappy with one scene, so re-shot the opening scenes in High Park in Toronto. The camera store scene was shot at my local, The DV Shop – a friendly, helpful and competitive local retailer. Terry and Sean were very accommodating to a slightly disruptive video shoot. I can only wish you have a shop like this close to you.

Calla was behind the camera for the scenes in Niagara, Thom for the scenes in Toronto.

In the video, Paul uses a Nikon D5500 on loan from Nikon/Strategic Ampersand. I use my Sony A6000 with an A7 strap – sorry about the confusion. (Paul’s review of the D5500)

The video was shot entirely on the Fuji X-T2 with the XF 16-55 lens, the VPB-XT2 grip and a B+W 0.9 ND (for exteriors). I trust that you’ll be as impressed with the quality of the images as I am. It’s an excellent example of why mirrorless cameras are better for video.

The scenes are shot in 4K 24p, and many are recomposed for output to HD. Shutter at 1/60, aperture 2.8-4, exposure adjusted with ISO. Custom white balance. I recorded internally, so not in FLog (as we wanted to travel light and didn’t want to lug the Shogun around). I did set colour -2 and sharpness -2. I did (using FCPX’s native color board) make some minor grading adjustments in post – just to set our facial tones at 70%, reduce the whites from 100% to 90% and to slightly reduce saturation for scenes that were still a little over-saturated. Very happy with the final results.

As required, we used an Aputure Amaran AL-H160 on camera LED.

We used Sony ECM 44Bs, recording dual system to a Tascam DR-70D. 

We used the Manfrotto 546/504 tripod/head and the smaller 190/701 (no longer available) depending on circumstances.

Edited in Final Cut 10.2.3 on a 5K iMac.


Links in the text above are all B&H, if you prefer Amazon, try these:

Nikon D5500

Sony A6000

Fuji X-T2

Fujinon XF 16-55

Fuji VPB-XT2

Aputure Amaran continuous LED

Sony ECM 44B

Tascam DR-70D

Manfrotto 546/504


I do read and respond to all comments, which are moderated. If you leave a relevant and civil comment without links it will be posted.


For your guidance – 

The products reviewed are on loan, and returned after the review unless otherwise mentioned.

I am not sponsored or compensated by any manufacturer, I have not accepted payment to review any product.

My relationship with Fuji: Fuji asked for my assistance with video production, I am helping them shoot and edit videos for the Fujiguys Canada channel. In exchange, they have provided an extended loan of a Fuji X-T2 camera, grip and two XF lenses. No money has changed hands, they have no editorial influence on maartech videos for Fuji or other products.


I am not compensated for my reviews except through Google Adwords. The Amazon and B&H links are affiliate links, I do receive a small commission – but please do not allow this to influence your purchase decision.


I also encourage you to visit and support your local photo/video retailer.


  1. Maartin, your grasp at the DSLR may be the last one ever. The Google Pixel has already taken the mirror less picture when the shutter is pressed, in fact several. Already multiframe noise reduction and multiframe frame high contrast processing in real time are available as standard with every shot with their mirrorless camera. And once again silicon wins, not in the sensor where it replaced film but in processing the visual field. Interrupting the stream of optical data with a wagging shaking mirror is like trying to extend the stone age with more stones.

    • Maarten

      An interesting point of view. I’m not sure that I would classify the Google Pixel as a camera, but it certainly takes good photos, although the early reports seem to suggest not as good as the iPhone7. I too thought that the mirror was a huge obstacle, but I’ve kept my mind open during some reviews and find that mirrorless cameras, as we suggest in the video, still have a lot to offer, particularly for professional photographers with demanding needs.
      If your needs are satisfied by the Pixel, then that is the best camera for you.

  2. Bob St. Cyr

    How about a shoot out between advanced point and shoots and mirrorless. For example a Canon M100 with the 18-55 lens versus the G1X iii? I like that you review cameras other than the “standard” DSLR. Many of us would like a small light flexible camera that still allows us to take control, sometimes and have good enough images that we could print them up to about 18×24 or maybe even bigger. While I would like to do this and have some beautiful pictures of our trips I do not want to have to carry a backpack of equipment to do it. Coat pocket or small waist/belt bag at most. The Fuji X100 looks like a possibility if I can convince myself that a fixed length lens will not be too restrictive.

    • Maarten

      It’s a good idea, but in general I don’t like to review cameras with sensors smaller than one inch, which leaves most point and shoots out. How about an entry level DSLR (Nikon D3400) vs and entry level mirrorless (Fuji X-T20 or X-E3)?

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