How Mirrorless Cameras Are Changing the Game for Photojournalists

How Mirrorless Cameras Are Changing the Game for Photojournalists

One of the best features of mirrorless cameras is their ability to shoot totally silently thanks to the lack of a mechanical mirror. That feature turned out to be a great boon to a photojournalist at the recent Democratic debate, allowing him to shoot in a position where others couldn't.

The Sony a9 is known for its electronic shutter with fast readout and no viewfinder blackout, which allows photographers to shoot in complete silence. For New York Times photographer Doug Mills, that became a great advantage at the recent Democratic debate. It turns out that the sound of the DSLRs used by other photojournalists was picked up by the broadcast microphones, leading NBC to tell them to only shoot during audience applause. When Mills was brought to the side of the stage for his turn, he was told he couldn't shoot, but he quickly explained that his camera didn't make any noise, leading the NBC tech to remark that such cameras should be standard for all photojournalists. If you've ever listened to any live political event, you've probably heard the constant clatter of DSLRs, so surely, an eventual migration to mirrorless cameras would be beneficial in that sense. Nonetheless, press companies are deeply invested in Canon and Nikon cameras and lenses, so such a change won't happen overnight. 

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dale clark's picture

Movie studios used what was called a “blimp” back in the day for movie stills. A large sound deafening enclosure with a clear class hole for lens ( similar to underwater camera housings). You can buy a poor mans version at the major photo outlets.

Robert Sommers's picture

My d850 has a really neat feature called quiet shutter or silent shutter. And it has an actual viewfinder to boot! And enough weight to nicely balance my nikkor 400mm 2.8 fl, not a flimsy potato chip on the back end. What am I missing out on again?

Matthew Saville's picture

The "silent shutter" on optical viewfinders isn't really that silent, and the live view autofocus of a DSLR isn't on par with the sports-capable AF tracking of an A9.

And the Sony 400 2.8 is SOOO much lighter, it actually balances perfectly with an A9, with or without a vertical grip. If you haven't yet held the new Sony 400 2.8 you really should give it a try, it's astonishingly light...

Robert Sommers's picture

I hear that it is truly a marvelous lens. At the prices of these particular lenses, it would be impossible for me to make a move in that direction but I have heard nothing but great things about it.

Yin Ze's picture

lol. are you seriously comparing the a9 electronic shutter to the silent shutter mdoe on the 850 aka live view? the one that you have to look at the back of the screen and rely on contrast detect af and are limited to 3-6 fps, with rolling shutter. also

" Note that during burst photography, focus and exposure are fixed at the values in effect at the start of each burst".

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

You are seriously in compensation mode right now.

Do you not hear the machine gun shutter sounds at press events. Maybe you should let them in in your little silent shutter trick. LOL!!! Seriously, think about it. Either the majority of photojournalists don't use your camera body for some reason (ahem, D5, 1DX); or they don't use silent shutter for some reason.

Jonathan Brady's picture

Don't worry, Robert, all your high school friends still think you're really awesome! You just keep clinging to the past and ignoring the reality of the present!

Robert Sommers's picture

Jonathan I would be willing to bet that I was published and working for magazines long before you were even born, not to mention having multiple solo shows of my photography. But the majority of my high school friends do think I am awesome or I would like to think so anyway. Thanks for chiming in.

Robert Sommers's picture

Not looking for your affirmation, just spare me the snide patronization that typifies so much of the content and commentary on this site. I rarely visit because of the juvenile banter and fanboy idiocy, now I remember why.

Jonathan Brady's picture

You go from this... "My d850 has a really neat feature called quiet shutter or silent shutter. And it has an actual viewfinder to boot! And enough weight to nicely balance my nikkor 400mm 2.8 fl, not a flimsy potato chip on the back end. What am I missing out on again?"
To accusing others of "fanboy idiocy"?

David Howard's picture

Check your posts, you did not add anything of value here. I am sure you are a great guy, just missed the mark here.

C Fisher's picture

Have you ever actually held a mirrorless camera, or are you too busy crying in the corner about Canon.

Dave Dundas's picture

If you're gonna take shots at someone else for not knowing what they're talking about, you should have your own facts right first.. Canon hasn't made anything called an 850 since about 1989, it's pretty obviously a Nikon that he's referring to.

C Fisher's picture

Yeah but crying over nikon just doesn't sound as good, no alliteration.

Stuart Carver's picture

Tell me i didnt read this wrong, you are bragging about having silent shutter on a camera that feels balanced with a lens where you would be stood 1/2 a mile away from the subject? I suppose you could be stood in a Library shooting a press conference thats 2 streets away.

Brent Rivers's picture

I too scoffed at the mirrorless revolution, laughing, poking fun - "look at my tank in my hand, NOTHING is better!" Until i actually used a Sony A6500. Granted that one was so small, it wasn't usable for me. Enter the A9 - After a week of using it I sold off 3 Nikon pro bodies, a host of lenses and never looked back. Fast forward and I have the A7rIII for studio and portraiture paired with the A9 and with latest firmware updates, they just leapfrogged even the latest firmware offerings. It's just a matter of time...

Robert Teague's picture

I kind of did that myself, but instead went with the Nikon Z7. No desire to go back.

Robert Sommers's picture

I had an evf camera once, the high resolution but totally klugey foveon sensored Sigma DP2 Merrill. I think I am forever an optical viewfinder guy. Just not my thing.

Stuart Carver's picture

There just isnt a comparison between that camera and new gen mirrorless. it doesnt even have a viewfinder does it?

Robert Sommers's picture

Not in the true sense of the word, you are right.

Stuart Carver's picture

Pick up a cheap Fuji and a couple of primes then head out and see what you can get, it’s a great 2nd kit option if nothing else, but the 1st and 2nd gen xtrans 16mp sensor will blow you away. It makes it all less serious.

Pieter Batenburg's picture

@Matthew Saville. You need to educate yourself on the difference between mirrorless and d-slrs as it seems you have missed the last five years of development.
Besides, a press conference with a 400 mm lens. Really??

David Widder's picture

What are you missing out on? Lol, only reality. Comparing the hobbled shooting experience of temporarily turning a clunky DSLR into a pseudo mirrorless camera with the shooting experience of an ACTUAL mirrorless camera shows you know little to nothing about any facts this post is talking about. There is NO COMPARISON. Fake news, move along.

Russell Stubbs's picture

An optical view finder is not better than a digital one. That idea just doesn’t fly anymore. An EVF has no black out in burst shooting, you can see your exposure and depth of field before taking the shot, You can view a lot more data about your camera and its settings in the EVF, etc. Your silent shutter is NOT the same as mirrorless.

I recently shot an event with a D810 and a D610, both with battery grips. NEVER AGAIN! From now on it is 2 XT3sOne with a wide zoom and the other a medium zoom,. It is a night and day difference unless you absolutely need full frame (90% of the time you don’t)

Matthew Saville's picture

Dork moment: I heard about this as I was listening to Leo Laporte... :-P :-D

Marc CORBI's picture

Actually, Mirrorless are still not really mature after 10 years selling .. and the main ML seller is shrinking in quantity in 2019, soon or later they will have to switch from an apsc mount to a real full frame mount to attract DSLR users. Professionals need more or less sharp images from corner to corner, they also need a viewfinder with no lags and no jerks during continuous shooting. Mostly b loggers are attract by some secondary functionalities more than picture quality..

Kevin Harding's picture

So much ignorance and so much wrong in this post it's hardly worth the effort. Go do some research.

Yours truly,
Ex-Nikon D3s etc. user, now very happily switched to a Sony A9 and other Sony cameras for the past 6-7 years.

Jonathan Brady's picture

Marc, are you trolling or just astonishingly ignorant?

Brent Rivers's picture

It's just a matter of time, Canikon knows this and has been scrambling to come up with competing's been tough for them, and they flubbed the first stab at it.

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