Like a lot of professional landscape and nature photographers, Ross Hoddinott was a die-hard DSLR user, favouring Nikon gear. Recently, though, he is increasingly using the company’s Z series mirrorless line-up, particularly the Z7. To mark our mirrorless special online, he tells us the reasons for this.
When did you start using mirrorless cameras professionally?
The nice people at Nikon tempted me with a Z7 soon after the camera was launched. I had a body on loan for a few weeks to field-test and review and then – after a little time to think – I decided to invest in the new system around 18-months ago. Since then, the Z7 has been my go-to camera for landscape photography. One of the key factors in my decision was the excellent EVF on the Nikon. I also wanted to be able to tap into the new system of Z lenses.
Were you sceptical at first, if so, what has changed?
I’m not sure sceptical is necessarily the right word, but certainly hesitant… even reluctant. I’ve used SLRs for over 30-years now. I’m accustomed to how they handle, and changing to a different system is a big move for anyone. Using my Nikon D850 is like wearing an old pair of trainers – comfortable and reliable. Change can be daunting and I should emphasise that I wasn’t switching because I was unhappy in any way. However, mirrorless is clearly the future – I always knew I would go mirrorless sooner or later. From my perspective, last year seemed like the right time to embrace it and benefit from the many advantages of shooting mirrorless. The lighter system is already proving easier and more enjoyable to lug around and the EVF allows me to preview changes I make to exposure through the viewfinder and work more comfortably and precisely in low light.
Do you use a mixture of mirrorless and DSLR? Can you see yourself totally changing to mirrorless?
Currently, I’m using both systems. I find I use my Nikon D850 for wildlife photography, as I still slightly favour the ergonomics and handling of a digital SLR, and when shooting handheld with longer lenses, the D850 still balances better in my opinion. But long term, I will definitely switch to mirrorless completely. I’m not sure when that will be, but I suspect within the next few years.
You have written some great books on exposure. Do you think people will find this easier now, as EVFs now give a very accurate rendition of the actual exposure the camera is about to record?
Thank you and yes, I do think mirrorless cameras make it easier to achieve correct or creative exposure. The ability to mirror everything you see via LiveView through the viewfinder makes the experience of composing and focusing images so much easier. And being able to preview any changes to exposure immediately – as well as being able to access a live histogram through the EVF – gives photographers few excuses to get things wrong. I’m a big fan of optical viewfinders, which is one reason why I hadn’t switched to a mirrorless camera sooner. However, EVFs are now so good that it is hard to argue against switching.