Though small and light is all the rage in camera circles these days (think mirrorless and smartphone) I can’t help but recall an observation made many years ago. A friend was complaining to me that her new Canon 35 mm point and shoot seemed to turn out many blurry images. While that wasn’t unknown on the small Nikon I was using her ‘blur rate’ seemed much higher. Upon inspecting her camera the first thing I noticed was how much smaller and lighter this camera was compared with my own.
Taking a practice shot I instantly noticed that just the act of pressing the shutter caused one topush the camera downward when taking a photo.
Hence the blur. After I pointed this out to my friend she became much more conscience of this and more careful. The frequency of blurred images subsequently dropped to a more tolerable level but never completely went away.
When I got my first digital camera, a very small Canon, I noticed much the same thing. As the light got difficult the blur rate went way up.
That anecdote came back to me as I was thinking about why I still drag around a relatively heavy dSLR even on long hikes, such as a recent 30 km trek through the Sierra Nevada mountains. The answer is multi faceted but one of the least appreciated aspects of a bigger, heavier camera is just that, they are big and heavy. They are therefore a remarkably stable platform for taking pictures. Even hand-held in deep shadows with an ND or polarizing filter on the lens I can get sharp images down to 1/20 of a second without resorting to extreme ISO settings or using image stabilized lenses. That and nothing really beats a real optical viewfinder for precise composition.
Of course the other factor is battery life. I can go for days, and 1000+ images, between charging the battery of my dSLR compared with my mirrorless camera. The issue being that the mirrorless camera, when it's not asleep, is always metering and running its electronic viewfinder. As a result one is always aware of the battery life issue, especially when far away from an electrical outlet. So carrying a spare battery is not uncommon.
As much as I appreciate the compact nature of the smaller mirrorless cameras there is still something to be said for the bricks of the camera world.