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Mirrorless Musings

Date: 31/12/2014 | By: Mathieu

Best Mirrorless Gear of 2014 and Happy New Year!

best mirrorless camera 2014

Best Mirrorless Gear of 2014 and Happy New Year!

The year 2015 is at our doorstep and it is time to summarise the best gear we’ve tested during MirrorLessons’ second year of activity. As you probably know, it isn’t very easy to rank gear because our decisions can easily be influenced by our subjective feelings about a product. And while it is fine to have a personal preference, it is also very important that we also consider objectives factors such as the system the gear fits into or whether it brings something new to the user experience.

I must also add that we still don’t have the means to test every single camera and lens that is released. There are items we buy and therefore test for a longer period of time while others are lent to us for a shorter time. In short, our choices might not be perfect and they might not reflect everyone’s opinion but I can say one thing: it is an honest list.

Before proceeding, Heather and I would also like to wish all our readers a very Happy New Year! 2015 will be an exciting year for us with more reviews, more projects and other things we will announce later on. We hope that it will be an exciting year for you as well!

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Mirrorless Camera Accessories of the Year 2014

This is perhaps the most difficult choice since there are many different kinds of accessories for cameras and each is designed for a specific purpose. In fact many of them can be used in conjunction with only one specific model of camera. As such, we decided not to assign a winner for each category but instead pick two products that in our opinion stand out this year for their innovative design and ease of use.

Peak Design Slide, Clutch & Leash
Peak Design Slide, Clutch & Leash

The first accessory is the new Peak Design strap system. It is simply the most practical camera strap we’ve ever used. The anchor link mechanism allows you to quickly and easily detach the strap, attach it to the camera or exchange it with another kind of strap such as a wrist strap for example. Thanks to the provided arca swiss plate, you have more anchor points than the two default strap lugs. Furthermore the anchor links can be used with other straps if you prefer third party products. I find the Slide really comfortable but you might want to be able to use your own strap. It is very robust and can be used with any camera, from heavier medium format bodies to lighter mirrorless cameras. It is new, it is different, it is smart and most importantly: it works!

  • You can check out our review about the Peak Design straps here!

Mirrorless cameras belong to Cosyspeed camera bags
The Cosyspeed Camslinger bags

I have used both Cosyspeed Camslinger bags extensively since I received them for testing in April. I’ve used them for work, for long walks in the mountains or simply for a quick walk around the city. I don’t care if they aren’t the prettiest vintage leather bags in the world. They are so functional that no other bag this year can compete. They allow me to carry a camera and a couple of lenses with nothing hanging from one of my shoulders or weighing down my back. You can add one or two pouches to the belt if you want to carry something extra like a pancake lens or batteries. They are designed especially for mirrorless cameras and therefore embrace the mirrorless philosophy perfectly: it’s all about moving faster and moving lighter!

  • You can check out our review about the Cosyspeed Camslinger bags here!

Mirrorless Camera Lens of the Year 2014

This is another tough call. We can indeed say that 2014 was the year of mirrorless camera lenses more than mirrorless camera bodies. Companies like Fujifilm are getting lots of attention not only for the design of their cameras but also because of the quality of its glass. And remember, often if not always, the lens is more important than the camera when it comes to image quality.

2014 was also the year of professional lenses. The mirrorless market is starting to reach the Pro level and each brand is releasing lenses that can suit the most demanding of photographers. Within this niche category, professional telephoto zoom lenses created the most controversy. On one hand, they are bigger and somehow defeat the purpose of carrying around a smaller system. On the other, they serve the important purpose of completing the lens line-up of a professional system. Plus, one can also argue that they still remain more compact and lighter than DSLR equivalents.

m-zuiko-40-150mm-8
The M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro

As the photo shows, our lens of the year is the Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 ED Digital and the reason is simple: it is smaller than the lenses offered by the competition while offering more versatility in terms of zoom range thanks to the dedicated 1.4 Teleconverter. Simply put, you can’t find a smaller lens capable of offering an equivalent 80-300mm with a constant 2.8 aperture. Amongst all the new Pro telephoto zooms released this year, the Olympus gear gives the furthest reach in the smallest package. This also shows how the Micro Four Thirds system, despite its smaller sensor, is still the best CSC system in terms of the quality/size equation. But its dimensions aren’t the only thing that matter: this lens delivers great results in terms of sharpness, bokeh and overall rendering. It can be used for many purposes: events, portraits, wildlife. The optional MC-14 teleconverter is the cherry on top and allows you to extend the zoom reach to 420mm (full frame equivalent). And I didn’t need to change my mirrorless camera bag to carry it around.

  • You can check out our review of the Olympus 40-150mm here and see some pictures taken with the lens below!

Mirrorless Camera of the Year 2014: Our readers’ choice

This list wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t include your choice. On Christmas Eve, we launched a poll to vote for the Best Mirrorless Camera of the Year according to you, our readers, and over 1500 of you participated! We are very grateful that you took the time to share your thoughts with us.

So, without further ado, the mirrorless camera of the year according to MirrorLessons readers is the…

E-M1, 16/10, f/ 28/10, ISO 200
The Fujifilm X100T

I must say I am surprised by this choice. If I had to guess between the X100t and X-T1 as our readers’ favourite, I was ready to bet on the X-T1. After all it seems to be one of the most popular mirrorless cameras amongst photographers, including professionals. But the X100t won instead and I can understand why. The X100s was the most popular camera last year so its successor is still attracting lots of attention even if the upgrades might not appear substantial at first. Moreover, the original X100 was Fujifilm’s first X series camera and therefore the line is the strongest. The design is gorgeous and I can’t think of another camera that synthesises the analog and digital photography worlds so effectively.

The race for the crown was extremely close between the Fuji X-T1, the Fuji X100t and the Olympus OM-D E-M10. The X100t won with 383 votes, 11 more votes than the OM-D E-M10 and 68 more votes than the X-T1.

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  • You can check out our first impressions about the X100T here and some pictures taken with it below!

Mirrorless Camera of the year 2014

I hesitated a long time between three cameras: the Panasonic GH4, the Samsung NX1 and the Sony A7s. With the GH4, Panasonic has pushed the hybrid photography/video concept further than ever before. Indeed, the GH4 is a gem for both stills and movies. But the GH3 was already a great camera and the GH4 mainly stands out for its 4k internal recording, which isn’t something little but at the same time not yet essential. As for the NX1, I have the feeling it is simply the best mirrorless camera ever conceived. The reason it didn’t win the title this year is because my testing isn’t finished yet. I know, it might not be fair but it is honest. I just got it a few weeks ago. I didn’t want to rush my review just for this purpose. Listing the best gear of the year is fun but won’t change anyone’s life. The NX1 has so much potential that it deserves a long period of testing.

So as you might have guessed, the MirrorLessons Mirrorless Camera of 2014 is the…

E-M1, 17/1, f/ 8/1, ISO 200
The Sony A7s

The Sony A7s is the camera I enjoyed shooting with the most. That we picked it over the others is also a way of recognising that Sony is indeed challenging the market more than any other brand right now. They also raised the bar higher with their full frame sensors packed inside compact bodies. The system is still young and far from perfect. The A7s is however the best camera of the A7 trio: great autofocus even in low light and a completely silent shutter option. More importantly, it improves upon an aspect that until now was lacking in the mirrorless realm: sensitivity. The image quality that comes out of the A7s is absolutely stunning and its high ISO capabilities are convincing not only photographers but also filmmakers. Because the A7s is a great camera for video as well, many professionals are starting to use it. That sensitivity combined with Broadcast and Cinema profiles makes a tangible difference in many situations.

List Price: $2,198.00
Current Price: $2,198.00
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  • You can check out our in-depth review of the Sony A7s here and see some pictures and a video taken with it below!

 

So there you have it – our gear of the year 2014! Is there another camera of the year you would have chosen? Do you agree with our choices? Leave us a comment below!

And again, Happy New Year and all the best for 2015!


Like our blog? Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter! If you’re planning on buying camera gear, you can check out Amazon and Adorama. Prices remain the same for you, but a small percentage of your purchase value is valued back to us. Thank you!

About the author: Mathieu Gasquet

Mathieu Gasquet is a professional photographer with French and Italian origins. Besides running his own video and photography studio 3Dit Lab, he is also the official photographer for the National Cinema Museum in Turin. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter or Facebook!

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com/ Heather Broster

    Thank you Tim. How envious we are! It is sunny here as well but cold enough to freeze your winnebago. 😉

  • Tim Barrable

    Happy New Year! Excellent website, folks, keep up the great work in 2015 :-)
    Cheers from sunny New Zealand!

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com/ Mathieu

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Lukasz. Happy new year to you as well!

  • http://korbasiewicz.eu/ Łukasz Korbasiewicz

    Hi! Just found your site from (thank you Twitter) and I like it. Thanks for putting so much effort!
    Answering your question at the end of this article, I would definitely vote for X-T1 as camera of the year – there was something with Sony I didn’t liked. So now I’m happy with X-T1 as my workhorse camera and X100s which is always with me. Have a great year!

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com/ Heather Broster

    Thanks Sean. I have a feeling it’s going to be a great year. :)

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com/ Heather Broster

    Thank you, Otto! The same to you!

  • Otto Von

    Thanks for the hard work you guys put into your site. I enjoy reading your reviews and agree on the Sony A7s as the camera of the year. I used it for a wedding and the high ISO ability is freeing in low light situations. I look forward to seeing the Sony A7 line mature. Have a great 2015!!

  • Sean T

    I agree with Bruce. I enjoy this site so much, you two do a great job covering all mirrorless cameras. I’m so glad I found this site! Happy New Year and here’s to another year of great coverage.

  • http://www.mirrorlessons.com/ Heather Broster

    I understand how you feel, Bruce. It is easy to become distracted by the thousands of varying opinions and novelties online. I say stay true to yourself and you’ll be fine. Happy New Year!

  • http://mocorealestate.com/ Bruce Lemieux

    Thanks for a great round-up — your site has become one of my favorites this year. My resolution for 2015: stay off the internet. This reprieve will allow me to take the time needed to master the equipment that I already have without being distracted by the next fabulous *new* thing.

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