The DSLR is dead. Why I am keeping mine

Recently I had the chance to work with a circus artist called Thula. Thula specializes in aerial hoop and a bit of contorsion. She had contacted me about 2 years ago to do a shoot but schedules never worked out. It had a great deal to do with the fact that most circus artists get contracts from around the world and not in one specific area. So if Thula got a contract, we did not work; plain and simple. Because of her grinding schedule we never were in the same place at the same time. Finally after a great deal of phone tag, we set a date for the end of October in Montreal.


The photo shoot concept


The initial idea was to shoot outside around the city of Montreal but at the last minute Thula contacted me because she had recently fitted a costume for another event with a costume designer Catherine Gauthier. Catheriner had a great workshop space and Thula had concluded that we could possibly shoot in the workshop given that it was getting at tad cold outside. She sent me pictures that the costume designer had taken with her cell phone.


before and after image of a shooting space


I was super excited because the workshop space had a really cool empty feel to it so this opened up the possibility to experiment with the space. All was coordinated and I hopped in my car and made the 2 and a half hour drive to Montreal. When I arrived I was surprised at the fact that the workshop was far from empty. Thula and I both looked at each other and said “OK lets make this happen anyway”. We were both up to the task and, with some resourcefulness and ideas, we came up with some cool stuff. I guess the lesson from that is that all you need is the ideas and the space is less important. It is up to you to make the magic.


What I used and why


Out of all my photo shoots, this photo shoot is a good example of how I used both the Fujifilm X-T3 and Canon EOS 6D mark ii equally. For instance; Some of the coolest shots you can get from a contortionist are very low to the ground. For this I would take advantage of the X-T3’s excellent live view and tiltable screen. For the glamour shots taken in the more naturally and dimly lit area inside I used the Canon for its full frame low light tolerance and the lovely Canon colors I have grown to love . Both Fuji and Canon colors are exceptional but my preference is for the Canon when it comes to skin tones. A big problem with me making the choice to shoot in both systems however is that while using the X-T3 I tend to get used to exposure preview and, when switching back to the DSLR must remind myself that what I see in the lens is not what I will see on the final image on the memory card. Budget constraints also come into play as I do not have a great wide angle zoom lens at this time on the Fuji system. I have the 16mm f/1.4 (24mm full frame equivalent) but not a zoom as wide and with as good a quality as my Canon 16-35mm L (a full 8mm wider). So all shots with a wide look are shot with the Canon.


Why would I use both mirrorless and DSLR in the same shoot?


Why did I use both a mirrorless camera (fujifilm X-T3 and Canon 6D mark2) and a DSLR instead of using just one type of camera system in this shoot? I think that the easiest way to explain that decision is to tell you outright that I have grown on a DSLR ecosystem and, with my old ways, am not quite ready to rule it out. The mirrorless camera has innumerable advantages to it over DSLR and, once all settings are programmed, can offer great ease of workflow. Among some of the advantages are:

  • Inherent and intuitive live view (shooting away from the camera physically)
  • Seeing exposure in live view
  • Focus peaking and other focus aids


I keep the DSLR for emotional reasons


These are but a few of the places where the Fujifilm X-T3 mirrorless beats out the Canon Eos6D mark2. I would be a fool to say otherwise. But one must not underestimate the ability to look through a lens before taking a shot. Although a mirrorless like the Fujifilm X-T3 offers virtually perfect TTL viewing, there is this feeling of confidence a mirror gives when we actually look through the lens just before the shot. And last but not least, DSLRs are clunky and I love it. I always have loved it and I always will love it. The physical girth of the DSLR is lovely to me. Not something I would find lovely when shooting event photography for a full day but, when I can afford it, It is an experience I thoroughly enjoy. The size of the buttons and that feel in your hand that you can only get from a larger sized camera is great. None of my reasons why I keep my DSLR are objectively plausible or have to do with having a better camera in my hand. It is more about my personal experience with the camera and the feel and experience.


Is the DSLR dead in 2019?


Is the DSLR dead in 2019? The answer to that question is a resounding yes. Indeed for anyone getting into the photography game now, there is no real strong argument to chose a DSLR over a mirrorless camera. With the ever growing competition among camera manufacturers to come out with the best camera tech, mirrorelss offers a path that opens up way more possibilities than DSLR by the simple nature of the way the mirrorless camera captures images. Old advantages like glass choice, IQ, and legacy gear is slowly fading away as we move closer and closer to 2020. so that is my two cents. I would love to be the fly on the wall while listening to the 2030 hipster equivalent talking about how he uses a DSLR to take his photos because it offers him/her a more analogue experience. Who knows, maybe I am a 2030 hipster born before his time.


The Canon and Fuji gear I used for this photo shoot


Fujifilm X-T3, Fujinon 16mm f/1.4, Fujinon 23mm f/1.4, Fujinon 35mm f/2, Fujifilm 56mm f/1.2
Canon EOS 6D mark2, Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L, Canon 100mm macro f/2.8, Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8
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