A First-Hand Point of View from Founder of NJspots
I’d like to start off by explaining my photography credibility. By no means do I consider myself an expert or a professional photographer. Instead, I would claim that I have a wide range of intermediate knowledge in photography and have been a hobbyist since 2011. I don’t want anyone to think that my opinion has a heavy weight of technical background in photography but instead would more likely appeal to a general audience of those looking to make a change from their current DSLR or buy their first one.
My Photo Skills In Less Than 100 Words…
On a scale of 1 to 10 in photography knowledge, 10 being a NatGeo photographer, I would say I’m a solid 4. I know what settings are important for shooting the Milky Way, I may take a little longer to get there than some, but I’m not afraid of manual mode. But on the flip side of things, I’m not a good editor in Lightroom or Photoshop, and usually edit my photos on my phone. I’m not strong in portrait work or lighting, but I’m stronger at framing in 3rds and minimalism.
Why Did I Switch From Mirror to Mirrorless?
So now that you have an idea of my photo skills, it’s easier to explain a few bigs points as to why I was doing research at the end of 2018 to make the switch from my Nikon D5500 to my Sony Alpha A7.
One thing that is great about being part of the NJspots Community is the support, opinions, and experience that everyone brings to the table from trustworthy peers. Below are some of the major reasons as to why I made the switch…
The Background Story…
When I bought my Nikon D5500, it was a pivotal time in my life for many reasons — one of them was finding my deep love and connection with hiking via a trip to Utah’s national parks. I had graduated college 4 years earlier and was working full time and didn’t feel that I had a hobby that I could enjoy. But, I remembered taking high school photography and really loved the expression of photography.
I bought my Nikon as almost an impulse buy. Searched for a “good digital camera with fair price”, and up popped Nikon. My first DSLR years earlier was a Nikon, so the familiarity was comforting. Once I started taking more photos, collected a few lenses (50mm, wide angle) I was shooting a lot. But one thing I realized was that this camera was SO bulky to hike with.
Carrying Less Gear
I had wanted to bring my camera along with me on my adventures, but I found myself choosing not to take it along on some epic hikes because I didn’t want to carry multiple lenses and gear like a tripod.
After realizing my Nikon was limiting me in capturing my hiking adventures, I started to look at some options of downsizing the camera that would also allow me to use one primary lens for most of my travels. I LOVED my wide angle lens for my Nikon, but it was so big that it was too cumbersome to continue to travel with and was limiting in the shots I could take because I wasn’t bringing it with me.
My Photo Gear for Hiking/Traveling
Love this bag. Carries all my camera necessities including tripod, filters, batteries, and cleaning gear. Also, it carries my 100 oz. water pouch, hiking poles, extra layers, and food.
Recently added to my arsenal of gear, this traveling tripod has been durable, reliable, and really easy to use.
Research, Opinions, & More Research
Enter the Sony Alpha A7. I started to reach out to the fine people of the NJspots Community via Instagram asking for their opinion about lighter body cameras, that packed the features that wouldn’t limit my hobby with less-performing features. I was looking for a camera that would allow me to rely on ONE lens (kit lens or otherwise) for all of my travels and hiking, without adding bulk. Many people suggested looking at the Sony Alpha series.
After finding that I was able to not only get a lighter/smaller body, but also a full-frame camera in the Sony Alpha A7, this helped me understand the importance of size. The camera was mirrorless which cut down on the size and weight but the camera also packed a mighty punch in terms of features that I couldn’t get from my Nikon, including the amazing digital viewfinder that Sony has.
When I decided to go with the Sony Alpha A7, I also noticed that the payment options from Amazon were AMAZING with a 6-month 0% interest payment option. This was really helpful because I was switching a little before the holiday season, so it helped lighten the load on my wallet.
I’m not a Nikon vs. Sony vs. Canon girl, it’s never been my style or position. Instead, I always say as long as you’re taking photos, that’s what matters, even if it’s with your phone! I think that for me, this was very personal preference to make it more convenient for me to travel and capture photos along the way without all the bulk.