5 months ago, I decided that it was time for me to buy a new camera.
I still really loved my DSLR, but my needs had changed. Where I once used a camera for photography only, I now needed gear that could handle video as well, and my 5 year old DSLR just wasn’t cutting it.
I’d heard that mirrorless cameras were the next big thing, so I decided give this new technology a go. It’s been a few months since I transitioned to mirrorless, and now I can absolutely understand why so many people are now choosing to use these cameras.
For those of us who want a camera that’s easy to travel with and takes excellent photos and videos, there are many reasons why a mirrorless camera may be the best choice.
I put together this post for those of you who want to know more about mirrorless cameras, and have included details of my complete mirrorless camera setup for travel!
how is MIRRORLESS different to dslr?
If you detach the lens from a DSLR camera, you’ll be able to see that there’s a little mirror inside the camera. This mirror is used to reflect the image that comes through the lens into the viewfinder. When you look through the viewfinder, you’re seeing a reflection of the image from that mirror.
Mirrorless cameras are very similar to a DSLR, but they have a digital sensor instead of a mirror. This means that if a mirrorless camera has a viewfinder (like mine does!), then the image that you’re looking at is actually a digital image and not a reflection from a mirror.
Why use mirrorless?
From 2012-2016, I carried around my DSLR on every one of my trips. Let me tell you, that 1.5kg camera and lens combination was a pain in the ass to lug around!
The digital sensor in a mirrorless camera takes up less space than the mirror in a DSLR. This means that mirrorless cameras are becoming an increasingly popular choice for travellers because of their smaller size and lighter weight.
Many mirrorless cameras also have the option for interchangeable lenses, so you can change up your lens to match your photography situation.
My Canon M5
I ended up choosing the Canon EOS M5 as my preferred mirrorless camera. This was not necessarily because it was better than every other camera, but because I already owned a Canon DSLR so the transition would be easier for me.
I watched a lot (seriously, loads) of YouTube reviews on this camera, and I also went into a local camera store to play with it before I made the purchase. If I was going to spend $1000+ on a new camera, I wanted to be absolutely certain that it was the right one for me.
I wanted my new mirrorless camera to take amazing photos and great quality videos, and was happy that the M5 fit both of these requirements. Here are my favourite qualities about the M5:
- The touch screen focus is excellent and easy to use.
- It has great auto-focus and focus tracking in video mode.
- It’s more intuitive to use than my old DSLR (making it easier for my Instagram husband to use!).
- The camera is much lighter than my DSLR.
- The lenses are lighter and cheaper than DSLR lenses.
- The camera performs well in low light situations.
I absolutely love my Canon EOS M5, but there are other mirrorless cameras that are equally as good for travel. See my camera gear guide for a few more options.
Lenses make a huge difference to the quality of your photos. The lenses that come with a camera body are often good, but not great, so I ended up selling the 15-45mm kit lens that came with my camera and purchased this selection of Canon EF-M lenses instead:
- 11-22mm wide angle zoom: I bought this lens as I wanted a wide angle lens that would easily get my face and surroundings in the frame when I was vlogging. This one works great! The photo quality isn’t quite as good as my other lenses, but it’s definitely my preferred lens for video. You can see my review of this lens on YouTube.
- 22mm f/2 fixed: This lens is my absolute favourite for photography! The wide aperture means I can get awesome photos of things up close with the background blurred nicely. This lens is also the smallest of my lenses, so if I’m travelling light, I choose to take this one.
- 55-200mm telephoto zoom: I use this telephoto zoom lens to capture things that aren’t that close to me (like faces in a crowd, or an animal in the wild). It’s not as useful for video as it’s not as steady, so I use this one mostly for photography. You can see my review of this lens on YouTube.
Tripod: My most used camera accessory would be my Joby GorillaPod, which I use when I shoot video or when I’m taking photos in low light. The tripod easily fits in my backpack and the bendy legs can be adjusted to suit almost any situation.
Microphone: I have a Rode VideoMic which I sometimes use when making videos. The audio quality is better than the mic on my camera and it comes with a “dead kitten” (that’s legitimately what it’s called!) which reduces annoying wind noise when I’m filming outdoors.
Lens filters: I recently bought some lens filters for my lenses. I have a polarizing filter for the wide angle lens, which is supposed to assist with reducing glare in photos. I also have a UV filter for the telephoto lens. It doesn’t make a huge difference to photo quality, but it does help protect the lens from damage.
Cleaning cloth: A microfiber cleaning cloth is essential for keeping lenses and filters free of smudges and dust. The cloth works so much better than rubbing the glass with your clothing! My cloth came free with one of my filters, but you can buy them dirt cheap online.
Spare battery: I actually have 2 spare batteries for my mirrorless camera, but 1 should be enough. Believe me, you don’t want to be caught out with no spare! It would be horrible to miss out on some great photo ops just because of a dead battery.
This might seem like a lot of gear, but it actually doesn’t take up too much space. I usually pack it all in a small backpack and take it as carry on luggage when I fly, and then I’ll just pick out the most appropriate items to take with me when I’m out and about on a trip.
It’s also worth noting that I didn’t buy all of this at once! I started with just the camera and spare battery, then I upgraded 2 of my lenses, then I got the microphone, then the third lens, then the filters. It took about 5 months to build up my current mirrorless setup for travel.
If you’d like to see this post in video form, here it is!