Wildlife Photographers: Is It Time To Ditch Your DSLR?

Hey wildlife photographers! Is it time to ditch your DSLR and move to mirrorless?

This is a question many have been contemplating and one that lands in my inbox on a daily basis. In this video we’ll examine all the pros and cons – plus I’ll give you my advice as well. If you’re struggling with this decision, this video is a must see!

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As always, I welcome your comments and love it when you share my videos 🙂

PS – If you enjoyed this post, I think you’ll REALLY like my e-books and video workshops! Thousands of pages and hours of videos filled with tips, tricks, and techniques – all my best content! Check ’em out – click here (hey, it’s free to look).

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dinamicostudio
1 month ago

I’m a wildlife photographer myself, so your blog post about switching to mirrorless cameras was so interesting to me. I’ve been thinking about switching for a while, but it’s always been difficult to make the switch. I really liked your video about the<a href=”https://dinamicostudio.com/service/image-masking“>Hair Maskin g</a> Nikon Z7i and Z7ii, and I also really liked your video about the D500. I would have liked to see a little more about the mirrorless cameras, but I’m glad you showed some of the benefits of switching and that the D500 was a good choice.

Duncan MacFarlane
Duncan MacFarlane
6 months ago

I’ll wait. After the Nikon Z7 then Z7ii debacle, I’ll stick with my D500 !

Stephen Berger
Stephen Berger
10 months ago

I think the ‘right now’ aspect of making the switch (for me at least) is getting the most value out any DSLR that needs to be sold or traded to make the switch.

Jeff Jaekel
Jeff Jaekel
11 months ago

While I love my 850 it’s heavy and with my 200-500 lens lugging it around is not fun. Mirrorless with lenses made for it might sway me in the future.

Matthew Freeman
11 months ago

Thank you for the advice about Ditch Your DSLR. It was a fantastic video that was quite useful!

Daniel J. Francione
11 months ago

ThankYou for your information on to Ditch Your DSLR It was an Awesome Video extremely helpful.!!!
Boston Massachusetts ( TimeTraveler )

Daniel J. Francione
11 months ago

Been watching Your Videos, I am an amateur and elderly, Your strongest point is always showing Lens Aperture, f/stop & I.S.O. THROUGHOUT your Video from beginning to end ThankYou because it takes me Time to get a Pen & Paper, there are so many that don’t explain as good as you do an explain in such detail as YOU.!
PLEASE don’t Stop showing Lens & Settings, you are helping Amateurs a 100% percent.!!! Again ThankYou
Boston Massachusetts ( TimeTraveler )

Jeff Rothman
Jeff Rothman
11 months ago

One last thing. Steve said that 80% of the quality of the photo relates to the person taking the shot. He would know. It’s a lot like cycling. I used to be a roadie and like camera equipment, there was always new expensive technology coming out every year. If you were racing bikes for a living, it made sense to ante up. If you were anyone else, chances are you’d improve your cycling if you got a bit more rest, ate better and dropped five pounds, than buy spending thousands on new technology. I took a seminar from two guys… Read more »

Per Lundsgaard Andersen
Per Lundsgaard Andersen
1 year ago

Thank you for your exellent videos, and e-books. They made me buy a D850, a Nikon D 200-500 and a TC-1.4
I considered a mirrorless, but being a happy amateuer, I wanted to save money on new lenses. My, very old, nikon 80-200 2.8 works well on the new camera and so does my50mm 1.4. And with time I hope “old” F-mount lenses get cheaper when the rest of you buy into mirrorless.

T. Roberts
T. Roberts
1 year ago

I’m a Nikon user since early 70’s and bird photography Is my main focus. In past two years I have acquired the nikon 600 f4 (my dream lens), 500 pf f5.6, and d850 (just in time for mirrorless to explode) to go with d500 and d750, and several other nikon lenses. Considering the extreme cost of the 600 and 500, I am hesitant to switch to Sony even though I am entering my golden years and the future is now. Based on your experience with the Z cameras, how do you guess the non-native 600 and 500 will do on… Read more »

T. Roberts
T. Roberts
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Perry

Thanks Steve. I’ll keep working on the 80%.

Kirst King-Jones
Kirst King-Jones
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Perry

Hi Steve, it is not possible to determine whether the FTZ is to blame. All we can conclude is that the current Z cameras in conjunction with the FTZ adapter slow down AF using the metric you mentioned. I know that is what you mean, but it seems wrong for folks running around saying the FTZ adapter is at fault.

Steve Jackson
Steve Jackson
1 year ago

I’m looking for input on using a Z 6II with the Helicon FB Tube for field macro/close-up relative to my current D7100. I’ve only become interested in mirrorless since trying field macro/closeup stacking with the FB Tube. The D7100’s small buffer made my first attempts take too long and subject movement an issue with first few attempts. It felt like I was missing windows of stillness that a faster frame rate would solve. Doing some research apparently I should be able to get 6 FPS continuous if I shoot 12 bit and crop mode on my 24 MP DX sensor.… Read more »

Stephen Jackson
Stephen Jackson
11 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jackson

Looking into the Z 6II, I see that like the D850 the Z 7II and Z 6II come with focus stepping for stacking as a native function. So, the FB Tube wouldn’t be needed. Yet another plus for the Z 6II. So, now my question is different.

Has anyone tried the focus stepping of the D6II?

Is the native setup enough or is it worth using the wireless for remote from a tablet or laptop?

Jeff Rothman
Jeff Rothman
1 year ago

Hi Steve,

Thanks for your comments re DSLR vs. Mirrorless video. I have a Nikon D 610 with a 28-300 mm (3.5-5.6). The wife got mad at me for not spending enough time with her, so my photography is on hold at the moment.

This coupled with Covid, I haven’t been able to travel, which is when I take most of my photos anyway.

I look forward to your e-mails and videos. I should probably get on your forums, as I do have a question or two about my camera.

Best,
Jeff Rothman

Ihab
Ihab
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Rothman

When I buy a new gear, I hide my receipts! Also women are never satisfied! Why not take photos of her if you can’t take photos of what you want?

Sanjeed Quazi
1 year ago

Sorry to disappoint. With my Canon pro DSLR bodies and premium lenses, I don’t foresee a switch even in next five years. There’s no reason to.
However, might get a low-end MILC body with adaptor just out of curiosity.

David Drage
David Drage
1 year ago

Thanks Steve. A useful video (as are all the others you have done). I recently upgraded from a D3300 to a D780. I thought about going over to mirrorless, but I don’t think Nikon is quite there yet. I went for the D780 as you can effectively use it as a Z6 (minus the EVF of course), which means I can use all my Nikon glass on either the DSLR or mirrorless, all in the same body. Anyway, it will keep me going for a good few years, and then mirrorless will be more mature and I can make the… Read more »

Kurt T.
Kurt T.
1 year ago

Enjoyed your timely video as I am at that turning point of either going mirrorless vs buying another dslr. I have been waffling back in forth with wanting video alongside sharp fast autofocus / high resolution to crop capabilities in one package. I have read a ton of reviews on everything and thought my plan was good, wait on mirrorless tech. I was actually in a local store 3 days ago to buy the D850 ( as a great DSLR and video capabilities) as I am newly retired and now have the time and desire to recycle an old hobby… Read more »

Kurt T
Kurt T
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Perry

Thank you. I never get a chance to sell anything as my son is an avid hobbyist and takes everything so I never get any money out of my equipment. It will not go to waste.

Tibor Hrnko
Tibor Hrnko
1 year ago

My feelings precisely. The more I use camera, the more it shows that gear is very important, but light and technique are winning. Thank you for the video, Steve.

Hemant
Hemant
1 year ago

Hi Steve ,ty for the video my question is slightly different i have 2 bodies a D5200 which i started out with and a D500 which i got slightly less then 2 years back using two bodies cause i would like to shoot with 2 lens , i have a 70-200 2.8 fl and a 200-500 so then i don’t need to keep switching … now i want to upgrade the D5200 looking at D7500 for now or a D780/850 i also thought of upgrading that body to a mirrorless but someone impressed upon me that the quality for shots… Read more »

David J. Prepelka
David J. Prepelka
1 year ago

Steve, nice balance report. I just received a new D850 when they went on sale and have 10 Nikon lenses. When I really learn the D850 maybe I’ll revisit this question, but don’t hold your breath.

David Prepelka
David Prepelka
1 year ago

Steve, I like your balanced approach. Since I just received a new D850 when they went on sale and I have 10 Nikon lenses; I’m not going anywhere soon. When I really learn the D850 maybe I’ll revisit this but don’t hold your breath!

Rick
Rick
1 year ago

I had the D850 and D810 as many have. When the Z6 and Z7 came out, I traded my D810 for the Z6 in order to learn the Z system and the fact that I had a lot of F mount glass and the FTZ converter was part of those early deals, I thought it was time to move my secondary body to the mirrorless. It worked out so well for me I traded in the Z6 for a Z7 II when they came out and that was also a great deal. Love the colors and crispness of my Z.… Read more »

Chris Nenov
Chris Nenov
1 year ago

To me, the main advantage of mirrorless at this time is the ability to shoot stills and video with a single camera and lens combo. I had been using D850 with Sigma 150-600C for bird photography for about 3 years. Recently, when the D850’s viewfinder started acting up, I bought a Canon R5 and rented both the Sigma 150-600C lens and Canon’s 100-500 lens to try for a week in Costa Rica. In my opinion, in addition to having solid video capabilities the R5 body is a decent replacement for the D850 for birds, although I missed shots due to… Read more »

Bob
Bob
1 year ago

I’d be interested in any thoughts you have about making the Nikon DSLR to Sony mirrorless transition from a user interface standpoint: menus, controls, etc. Is one more satisfying to use than another?

Venkatesh VT
Venkatesh VT
1 year ago

Steve.Thanks for sharing your thoughts.What are your thoughts on Nikon bringing out a D 880 incorporating the best of D6,D 500 & D 800 in one body reasonably priced giving a fresh lease of life to Nikon shooters & helping them to postpone their move to mirrorless Good or bad Nikon has not got its act on mirrorless yet unlike Sony or Canon or even Fuji.While Z9 is being talked about no one has seen Nikons capabilities before briging about a flagship (Unlike Sony which had A9,A 9ii before it brought out A1 & similarly Canon with its R5 &… Read more »

Stan Carton
Stan Carton
1 year ago

I’ve thought a bit about mirrorless, but not a great deal. I love my D850s and my D810. I have a complete line of lenses including an AF-S 400 f2.8, teleconverters and other great equipment. There are a few things I think would be an advantage, but switching is most cost prohibitive. I am used to carry two bodies and lenses when I shoot an event, but the weight of the mirrorless is a consideration along with them being quiet. For me, I plan to wait until I have more pressing reasons to switch and I see more options in… Read more »

Nick Delany
1 year ago

Thanks for the recent inputs on Mirrorless, Sony & the conversations on the Forum. I finally made the decision to transition from the D850 & Z6ii to Sony a1 & prime lens as I mainly photograph action wildlife in low light. I’m sure the Z9 will be good however, I believe their autofocus system is 1-2 years behind Sony in development. I’m also tired on Nikon’s supply issues every time they introduce a quality new camera or lens meaning my expectations of scoring a Z9 and 600mm prime might be as long as 12 months from now whereas you artfully… Read more »

Fred C. Kerr
Fred C. Kerr
1 year ago

I’ve been thinking about this issue for quite some time now – I have a D5 and D500 as well as a 500mm ED FL f/4 lens, etc. Plus big tripod, etc. Have been suffering from a bad back so carrying and using heavy equipment is getting increasingly less desirable. Thank you Steve for the wonderful and helpful video. I am really thinking changing might be the best for me – and although moving to a Sony system might be a learning curve transition (have always used Nikon) I think it might be the best option for me. I still… Read more »

Doug Greenberg
Doug Greenberg
1 year ago

Wildlife photographers I know perceive concrete AF advantages to Sony over Nikon Z right now when it comes to such subjects as birds in flight. The anxiety comes with the uncertainty as to when the Z9 will be released and what its capabilities will be. There is always “demise of Nikon” chatter in forums, with Sony and Canon apparently having the deep pockets to survive a high-end-gear manufacturer shakeout. I have shot Nikon since 1968 (!) and am really reluctant to switch, but out in the field with my Sony-toting friends, I get some stomach-clenching over what their mirrorless rigs… Read more »

Doug Greenberg
Doug Greenberg
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Perry

Well, true. But—some people end up using the high-tech features as a substitute for learning real photographic skills, and therein lies the trap of gee-whiz technology. I will add that the darkish aspect of being a Nikon loyalist right now is the prospect that, because of chip shortages, continuing COVID issues, and on and on, the vaunted Z9 will remain “vaporware” (tech equivalent) for not just months to come but a couple of years. That is a daunting thought. I am no spring chicken; I don’t have infinite years to wait for that catch-up Nikon camera. I know, First World… Read more »

Kirk Stickney
Kirk Stickney
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Perry

True, except the chainsaw has more parts to break and more costs to keep running…

Kirk Stickney
Kirk Stickney
1 year ago
Reply to  Doug Greenberg

Amen!!!

WARWICK ATKINSON
WARWICK ATKINSON
1 year ago

Nice video. I guess it comes down to money as well such as just how compatible are say FX lenses to mirrorless even with an adapter. Your advice is a good and balanced approach. I’ll stick with my D750 for now.

Bipul
Bipul
1 year ago

I recently discovered, Nikon D6 doesn’t work with Nikon AF-S D series lenses ( The one with an aperture ring). So I’m guessing those new Z mount camera will soon abandon F mount lens. So switching means buying new lens as well, sounds expensive choice for wildlife photographer

Colin Toth
1 year ago

Thanks for the comments, Steve. I sometimes suffer from “upgradeitis,” and I have looked at the Nikon mirrorless camera options, but I have stayed away from it due to the financial cost: I would have to buy the Nikon lens adapter and the Tamron lens tap device in order to still use *some* of my glass. Though I’m just a hobbyist, it’s nice to know using a DSLR does not mean I am necessarily using obsolete equipment (I shoot with a Nikon D7500).

Rich Fisher
Rich Fisher
1 year ago

Thanks Steve. A lot of good advice. As I think about my timing. If I move now, my used Nikon dSLR lens are likely to be worth more in trade or on the used market than if I wait till path is clear. However waiting allows me to reduce the risk of picking a system that will not work for me and the need to buy/sell a second time.

what to do? Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Thomas Wilson
Thomas Wilson
1 year ago

Great video about this! I have a D 850 and D 500 pair that are working great for my photography. I do plan on keeping them for a while and your video confirmed that this is not necessarily a bad plan. I also thought your comments about adapted glass vs. mirrorless mount glass was very good and I agree with it. I do wonder, given the high cost of telephoto VR primes, if bodies with in camera VR will breathe new life into legacy AF-s and AF-s II lenses which were not VR.

Stephen
Stephen
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Perry

…so is the common saying. But after excessive testing I am very satisfied (again) with my AF-S 300 2.8 ED IF II (non VR) on the Z6II. This is the lightest Nikkor 300 2.8 and the “Sport” mode IBIS on the Z6II works great in action scenarios. By the way I switch in action scenarios from 14 to 12 bit, this accelerates the whole Z6II system. I got this tip from Jasin Boland, Nikon ambassador and first class movie photographer…

Craig Thompson
Craig Thompson
1 year ago

Any thoughts on the future availability of super telephoto lenses, especially affordable zooms, for Nikon from 3rd party vendors or possibility of adaptors for Sony or Canon lenses to fit the Z’s?

Rick R Shroy
Rick R Shroy
1 year ago

Steve Great video about this subject. Personally, I have started the translon to mirrorless about 6 weeks ago. My budget allowed for a used A9 and 200-600 with a 1.4x. My keeper rate has gone up, especially with birds flying straight at me or small erratic birds in flight such as swallows. I love the silent shooting, it’s something that can really extend my time with what ever bird or animal I’m photographing. Plus the 20 FPS lets me choose the best decisive moment. Regarding third party glass: I recently added a Tamron 28-200 zoom made for the Sony E… Read more »

Larry Kurfis
Larry Kurfis
1 year ago

For me it was a no brainer about a year ago. I wanted a lens like a 150-600mm. So I switched to a mirrorless with a 2x crop factor sand a 150-300mm. For me the right choice.

Also I’ve learned, and continue, to learn from Steve.

Ed Ciolkosz
Ed Ciolkosz
1 year ago

I agree. I am retired and I have a lot of Nikon DSLR equipment.. I don;t see the point of switching at this time. I do have a Sony a6500 with a couple of lenses that I like. Small, lightweight.

David Sneddon
David Sneddon
1 year ago

Steve the “Voice of reason”, again. Excellent advice as always Steve.

Cookie S.
Cookie S.
1 year ago

Thanks Steve, this is absolutely what is rolling around in my mind now. But for me, it would be also about the weight consideration. I traded my Nikon 500 f/4 FL ED for a used (like new)600 f/4 FL ED, and sold some stuff to get the D6 and the 180-400 And I still have my D850. So I have what I consider to be the perfect set up, but it’s so heavy! I have been training myself to shoot handheld in some situations, and I love the image quality in this set up. I have been eyeing the Sony… Read more »

Mal Austwick
Mal Austwick
1 year ago

Hi Steve, thanks for this video. I’m an amateur wildlife photographer currently with second hand D7200 and new Sigma 150-600C. I’ve learnt so much from your YouTube videos since last July and went full manual from getting this gear. I’m now beginning to look at an upgrade and thinking of moving to mrrorless for lightness when walking miles and silent operation so as not to disturb wildlife when capturing images.
What would you advice be? Stick with my current set-up for now and improve my skills or move to a mirror less system?
Cheers,

Flickr- Mal from North Yorkshire

David Parrish
1 year ago

Thanks for the excellent (as usual) discussion! For me, I will be staying with DSLR for now… As a retired person, living on a fixed income limits my options significantly. I am currently using Nikon D7100 with DX lenses and a few FX lenses. I am looking at upgrading to a D500, D780 or D850. Those last two options would also need some new lenses. Changing to a whole new camera system, such as the Nikon mirrorless with the dedicated lens is such a huge investment that it is certainly cost-prohibitive at the moment. If the transition happens, I would… Read more »

Donald Kelley
Donald Kelley
1 year ago

One quick question, Steve. What’s your opinion on the Sony a9ll vs. the Sony a1? I certainly don’t want to store 50 MP files, but if the auto focus is much improved, I’d get the a1. I have the Sony 100-400 and 200-600, and I’m concerned they may not perform as well on the a1 as they do on the a9ll. I see all the excitement surrounding the a1, but I’m reluctant to get one because of the additional noise factor and the gigantic file size. What say you, Steve? I also shoot a D6 with the 500/4e and do… Read more »

Donald Kelley
Donald Kelley
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Perry

Thank You, Steve

Joe Schmitt
Joe Schmitt
1 year ago

Thanks Steve, your thoughts are always appreciated. You have given me a lot to think about. I shoot with a Nikon D850 at present. I’ll probably hold off awhile.

David Bennett
David Bennett
1 year ago

I am only just now getting good shots out of the camera I have got, so despite the attraction of lower weight with a mirrorless, I think I should spend more time getting shots because I am starting to enjoy it.

Gary
Gary
1 year ago

Hi Steve
I only have a D4s, just love it, except for the pixel density
My only move would be into a Nikon Z6II for video shooting as an addition to my shooting

Saravanakumar
Saravanakumar
1 year ago

I still enjoy seeing the world through an optical viewfinder and would still go for DSLR until the used DSLRs are still available.

nicholas zografos
nicholas zografos
1 year ago
Reply to  Saravanakumar

I’am in total agreement with you. I will let everyone else jump on the Mirrorless bodies. I get great shots out of my D5, D500, and D850. I use my D750 a lot less than I used to as my D859 does Focus Stacking right in the Camera for my when I happen to be doing Macro shots and even Landscape shooting. DSLR’S work just fine and as I always proclaim, “It matters who has their eye to the View Finder” I will put any of my D5-D500 Wildlife shots against any of the Mirrorless Cameras. Mirrorless has a lot… Read more »

David Cox
1 year ago

I am in a little different situation looking to get more dynamic range on my landscape and wildlife photos to have d750 and want to go to 850 for its performance or would you wait a couple of years and look at future Z models. I want to upgrade my quality of shots.

colorAZeta.it
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Perry

What about the DR at high ISOs, e.g. ISO 3200-25600, and focus reactivity of the mirrorless, compared to a D5/D6, with F-mount primes & TCs? I’m a bit scared of the 8K-capable sensor in the future Z9, regarding low light performances. If you have a mediocre light mostly, would you get a D6 instead (may be waiting for a D860 for good light)?