Mirrorless is Pre-Instant Gratification Photography

While I was writing a chapter today on my upcoming book, Mastering the Nikon Z7, I was thinking about digital photography on a Nikon Z mirrorless camera compared to a Nikon DSLR. Then my mind wandered back to the days of old, when I used a Nikon SLR to shoot film.

Back then, I would take a roll of 36 pictures (usually on Kodachrome) and then send the roll off to the lab. In a week or so, I’d get back my little yellow box of slides and head to the light box to view my images…finally. So, from the time I took a picture to the time I got to see the results was usually a week or more.

Moving forward in time to 2002 when I purchased my first DSLR, a Nikon D100. Now, I could take a picture, and right away the image was there on my camera’s monitor. I had to wait only a second or two to view the results of my work. Nothing much changed through the last several years except that with newer DSLRs my image appeared on the camera monitor without much delay. Digital photography is instant gratification photography!

Arriving at today in time, and thinking about the the new mirrorless cameras, I had an epiphany. Mirrorless photography is pre-instant gratification photography!


If you think about it, in the recent good old days of instant gratification digital photography, we had to wait a second or so to view the results of our photographic efforts. By mirrorless standards, that seems like forever. Why settle for waiting a full second to see your picture, when you can see  what will be the final picture even before you snap the shutter. Pre-instant gratification!

When you are looking at the Nikon Z camera’s electronic viewfinder (EVF) or LCD monitor screen and you make adjustments to the white balance, shutter speed, aperture, or ISO sensitivity, you will see those results immediately reflected in your image. Even before you take the picture you can feel gratification that you have pre-captured just the image you want. Again, pre-instant gratification!

You might object that you have been using Live view for years on your Nikon DSLRs. Well, most of us haven’t, for the simple reason that it can look idiotic to hold out a three- to five-pound DSLR/lens combo at arm’s length to use the LCD monitor—like a massive point-and-shoot. Plus, the contrast-detection autofocus is so slow, jumpy, and erratic on even a current DSLR that few use Live view regularly for photography and only with manual focus for video.

Nikon Z 7 and Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/4 S lens

Instead, with Nikon Z mirrorless we have the best! We can see our image right there in the EVF in its pre-final form and capture a well-composed and exposed masterpiece more often. Eventually, after capturing a sufficient quantity of images with a Nikon Z camera, your brain may develop the ability to visualize an image even before the camera previews the subject (thank you, Ansel). Imagine the efficiency of combining a brain having image pre-visualization capability with a camera capable of image preview. Wonderful images will result.

Hmmm, now that I consider what I have written in this article, I begin to recognize that all this digital instant gratification may be bending my mind. I’ve heard that authors sometimes go mad when writing and writing and writing at wee hours of the morning. I think it is time for me to grab a roll of Fujichrome Velvia and my old Nikon FE2 and slow things down a bit. You?

Keep on capturing time…

Darrell Young

Darrell Young

Darrell Young is an active member of the Nikonians User Community, Nikon Professional Services (NPS), Professional Photographers of America (PPA), North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA), and the author of 24 photography books from NikoniansPress and Picture and Pen Press, through Rocky Nook. You may review a few of Darrell’s Nikon books here. He has been an avid photographer since 1968 when his mother gave him a Brownie Hawkeye camera.

This website was created to support the readers of his educational books, photography students, and clients. Visitors to this website will find articles and reviews designed to inform, teach, and help you enjoy your photographic journey.

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  1. Great Nostalgia, and so very true.
    My first photo-steps were using a Pentax Spotmatic II, and mostly Kodak Tri-X film, developed in my Patterson unit, while the others were having desert in the kitchen. After checking quality with magnifying glass, I would eventually head for the ‘Darkroom’ at the university where I was a member of the club. 🙂

    I am vey curious about the EVF on the Z7, because you are so right about live-view shooting, even on my D850 it is only used in awkward positions and with af tripod.

  2. A thought provoking article indeed, rolling back the years.

    I’m an old timer, an amateur photographer dating back many decades. Numerous disappointments I endured having waited anxious weeks wondering how many prints would develop to a “reasonable” standard. On many occasions I was tempted to ditch the old SLR and find another hobby.

    Today, with a modicum of technical knowledge and my Nikon D5500 I can achieve very satisfying results with relatively little effort.

    I for one just want to keep clicking with the aid of improving technology I can understand and continue to learn from my mistakes.

  3. So true. I write too, Darrell, and it always seems that 2am is prime time for me. My eyes don’t start crossing until about 7am… then I get yelled at for sleeping the day away…lol.
    I’ll be looking at ‘live view’ differently now.

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