An Often Overlooked Advantage of Mirrorless Cameras

Northern bobwhite photo by Scott Bourne

One of the things I tend to take for granted in my Olympus OM-D E-M1X camera is how quiet it is. Even when I don’t use silent shutter mode, it barely makes a sound.

I was given a stark reminder of why it’s important last week when I was photographing birds in southern Texas.

I shared a blind with some Nikon and Canon shooters, sporting their massive lenses, and all the accessories that go with those big beasts.

We were working with Northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) who are pretty skittish. If your average life span was measured in months rather than years, you’d be skittish too.

The Northern bobwhite was a life bird for me. I had never even seen one let alone had a good chance at photographing one. But in Texas I saw several. As three ran across the open field in front of the blind, I got excited. Sure enough they came to us, and I got some good stuff.

But the first time they appeared, I heard the massively loud sound of the Nikon D5 camera that was next to mine and boy was it LOUD! It scared me – and of course the quail. The birds eventually came back but it reminded me that there are certain types of photography where silence truly is golden!

Obviously, bird and wildlife photographers need to be aware of the noise they make. Some species are extremely timid and it can be harder to get close if you are making noise – sometimes ANY noise, but especially the loud, obnoxious noise created by a mirror slapping at 10 FPS!

But wedding shooters, stills shooters on movie sets, dance or fine art performances even photojournalists and street photographers can benefit from a quiet camera.

Northern bobwhite photo by Scott Bourne


As you can see, I eventually got the Northern bobwhite, but being reminded that DSLR shooters don’t know what they are missing when it comes to using a quiet camera just made me that much happier that I shoot mirrorless.

Silent mode on a mirrorless camera will help you get shots you couldn’t get otherwise.

P.S. While some DSLRs do have a quiet mode, and while this can help, it’s still much louder than a mirrorless camera. Test it for yourself if you have the chance. For me, it’s somewhat jarring to hear that loud mirror slap after three and a half years of nothing but mirrorless.

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