Mirrorless cameras are a relatively new breed of camera created to give the combined advantages of the impressive image quality and interchangeable lenses of DSLRs and compact portability. These interchangeable lens cameras were first launched in 2008 using advanced technologies with better sensors, improved processors and accurate AF systems. Even though the first mirrorless camera didn't make a deep impact on photographers, the recently launched models are at par with the traditional DSLR cameras or high-end point and shoot cameras. They are currently quite popular due to their compact size. Mirrorless digital cameras are known to produce high quality images with their single interchangeable lenses. The mirrorless cameras are best suited for amateur or beginner photographers as they have the capability to capture amazing images using different types of lenses.
Purpose of the Guide
Since the advent of mirrorless cameras, many varieties have come out and many reviews have been written. We've written this comprehensive camera buying guide to make it easier to understand them and to help you choose the right mirrorless camera.
What are Mirrorless Cameras?
Mirrorless cameras have been constructed with features similar to DSLR cameras and have been designed like point and shoot cameras. These types of cameras were first released in 2008 when Panasonic and Olympus named them 'mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras' or Electronic Viewfinder with Interchangeable Lens (EVIL) cameras. These type of cameras provide an interchangeable lens mount and don't have a mirror reflex optical viewfinder. These cameras do not have the mirror found in the traditional DSLR cameras. This allows the camera to be made smaller and still have a large image sensor.
Mirrorless cameras are small and lightweight cameras that feature interchangeable lenses without the components of a single lens reflex camera. This enables photographers to easily move the lens mount closer to the sensor, meaning smaller and lighter lenses. It also comes with a Live View LCD monitor that makes it easier to compose and focus on objects similar to any compact digital camera. Some mirrorless cameras have a built-in, eye-level electronic viewfinders (EVF) or even accessory attachable EVFs. These cameras have a great design that lack mirror blackout and vibrations that are caused by the mirror's movement found in DSLRs.
Features of Mirrorless Cameras
When deciding on which mirrorless camera to buy, it is necessary to first look at the different features they offer. Mirrorless cameras include lots of features that can prove advantageous for beginners and professional photographers to capture high quality pictures and videos. Let's check out the main features of the mirrorless cameras that can prove helpful to photographers.
Mirrorless cameras provide image quality similar to that offered by DSLR cameras. These cameras have larger sensors that ensure that images have less noise as compared to the images captured by point and shoot cameras. Smaller sensors with tiny pixels are limited to shooting at low ISOs without compromising image quality for noise. Mirrorless cameras instead capture detailed images that perform well even at high ISOs.The larger sensor of these cameras provides larger sized pixels resulting in enhanced light collection and significant reduction in image noise. In order to get better images it is necessary to get a mirrorless camera with larger sensor. This will also enable photographers to capture great quality images even in low light conditions.
Mirrorless cameras and lenses are smaller than DSLR cameras, makign them easier to carry around. Until now only DSLR cameras provided interchangeable lenses but since mirrorless cameras also have this feature, it allows photographers to capture DSLR-like images by switching between different types of lenses. Mirrorless cameras also utilize adaptors for use with manual focus lenses such as Zeiss and Leica lenses as well as the lenses from their older SLR cameras.
The autofocus system in a mirrorless camera is very important because it can accurately track any moving object. It allows close-up shooters to focus accurately on the landscape or object they are capturing. The manual focus system also comes in handy, especially for landscape and macro photographers. As opposed to the phase-detection AF used on DSLR cameras, the mirrorless cameras use contrast-based AF. These cameras use the image sensor to measure contrast in contrast-based AF systems. When the contrast is maximum, the focus is perfectly accurate. They also use full-time Live View operation that offers excellent manual focusing capability. It also provides the facility to zoom on a certain part of the object on an LCD or OLED monitor for close inspection of the image.
Full Manual Control
These days most photographers, amateur and professional alike, prefer the mirrorless cameras as they are compact in size and provide various manual controls over exposure. These cameras are a perfect combination of compact point and shoot cameras and DSLR cameras.
The display on a mirrorless camera shows information including auto-focus and a preview of the shot just before it is taken. Since mirrorless cameras don't have a viewfinder, this feature allows the photographer to view the shot as soon as it is taken.
Like point and shoot cameras, mirrorless cameras are compact in size which makes them perfect to carry around. These interchangeable lens cameras are not only small in size, but also quite lightweight. When compared with other compact cameras, the weight of mirrorless cameras is just slightly heavier than most compact point and shoots. Mirrorless cameras are the perfect choice for those who want to carry around a lighter system with the same functionality of a DSLR.
Most digital cameras these days offer facial recognition features to help detect your subjects' faces in a scene. The camera senses a face and locks focus and exposure suitable for the image. Like face recognition, some cameras provide smile recognition features which automatically detects a face and takes the picture when they smile.
Utilities of Mirrorless Cameras
When buying a mirrorless camera, it is necessary to consider some important points like image quality, interchangeable lenses, ISO settings, display, etc. These factors will enable you to understand what the camera can do and if it is suitable for you. So, when buying a mirrorless camera make sure that the model you are selecting has the features you need and whether it is suitable for professional or amateur photographers.
Top 5 Manufacturers
The recent onset of the mirrorless cameras is the cause of various leading companies producing high quality interchangeable mirrorless cameras with lots of great features. Let's check out the different manufacturers that are currently the leading producers of mirrorless cameras.
Olympus is a well-known brand for producing the best quality mirrorless cameras for professional as well as amateur photographers. It also offers a comprehensive range of SLR and cameras that feature unique sensor technologies for giving fine, crisp images even in extreme shooting conditions.
Samsung is one of the largest companies in the world that manufactures digital cameras including DSLR, compact, and mirrorless cameras. Samsung offers a huge range of mirrorless cameras that let photographers experience the magic of professional digital photography.
Panasonic is the leading manufacturer of mirrorless cameras which provide impressive image quality to photographers. They also produce the Lumix cameras, which produce high quality images with a high speed response.
Sony is one of the largest manufacturers of digital SLR and mirrorless cameras specially made for professional photographers. It is famous for creating feature-packed DSLR cameras that are perfect for capturing the finest details in pictures with its full-frame imaging capability.
Nikon is a world-famous manufacturer of imaging products and services. Its digital SLR cameras have unique ergonomics with amazing image quality. Nikon's DSLR and mirrorless cameras offer great performance, giving photographers the chance to experiment their skills.
Knowing some important terms when buying a mirrorless camera is important. These basic terms can prove useful for purchasing any type of mirrorless camera. Here are some key points:
- Image Quality:
- The larger sensors in the small sized mirrorless cameras give excellent quality with reduced noise when shooting images.
- Interchangeable Lens:
- Mirrorless design allows smaller, more portable lens that can be changed as per user's requirements.
- AF Performance:
- These cameras have impressive AF systems that can accurately track moving objects.
- Full Manual Control:
- The mirrorless cameras have various controls for adjusting settings manually which prove to be beneficial for professional photographers.
- These cameras have an LCD screen but don't have a viewfinder. It enables photographers to preview the captured photos immediately on its display.
- The compact size and light weight of the mirrorless camera make it a perfect choice for those who travel a lot to capture pictures.