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!

.

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).

Please tell others about this post:
This entry was posted in Opinions, Wildlife.

75
Leave a Reply

avatar
44 Comment threads
31 Thread replies
48 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
48 Comment authors
Stephen BergerKirst King-JonesJeff JaekelMatthew FreemanDaniel J. Francione Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Stephen Berger
Guest
Stephen Berger

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
Guest
Jeff Jaekel

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
Guest

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

Daniel J. Francione
Guest

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

Daniel J. Francione
Guest

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
Guest
Jeff Rothman

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
Guest
Per Lundsgaard Andersen

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
Guest
T. Roberts

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 »

Steve Jackson
Guest
Steve Jackson

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
Guest
Stephen 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
Guest
Jeff Rothman

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
Guest
Ihab

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
Guest

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
Guest
David Drage

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.
Guest
Kurt T.

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 »

Tibor Hrnko
Guest
Tibor Hrnko

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
Guest

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
Guest
David J. Prepelka

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
Guest
David Prepelka

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
Guest
Rick

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
Guest
Chris Nenov

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
Guest
Bob

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
Guest
Venkatesh VT

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
Guest
Stan Carton

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
Guest

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
Guest
Fred C. Kerr

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
Guest
Doug Greenberg

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 »

Kirk Stickney
Guest
Kirk Stickney

Amen!!!

WARWICK ATKINSON
Guest
WARWICK ATKINSON

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
Guest
Bipul

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
Guest

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
Guest
Rich Fisher

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
Guest
Thomas Wilson

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.

Craig Thompson
Guest
Craig Thompson

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
Guest
Rick R Shroy

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
Guest
Larry Kurfis

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
Guest
Ed Ciolkosz

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
Guest
David Sneddon

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

Cookie S.
Guest
Cookie S.

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
Guest
Mal Austwick

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
Guest

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
Guest
Donald Kelley

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 »

Joe Schmitt
Guest
Joe Schmitt

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
Guest
David Bennett

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
Guest
Gary

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
Guest
Saravanakumar

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
Guest
nicholas zografos

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
Guest

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.