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Why mirrorless cameras?
A mirrorless camera is an interchangeable lens camera system that represents a fusion between Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras and compact cameras. They are designed to deliver high image quality in a smaller and lighter body.
But what is the meaning of mirrorless?
Mirrorless means that the camera doesn’t have a mirror-based optical viewfinder unlike a DSLR. With an optical viewfinder, or TTL (through the lens) optical viewfinder, light enters the lens, reflects against a mirror, then a pentaprism (also called pentamirror) and finally goes through the optical viewfinder, where your eye is looking. When you release the shutter button and take the shot, the mirror flips, letting the light hit the sensor instead. (For that brief moment, the viewfinder is dark, so you are not actually seeing a live view of the picture you are taking).
Because of the lack of a mirror, less space is needed between the lens mount and the sensor, which in turn allows manufacturers to reduce both the size of the camera and the lenses.
The term “mirrorless” is very generic as only DSLRs (and film SLRs) have a flipping mirror, so even a small point-and-shoot camera or smartphone is “mirrorless” from a technical point of view. The term mostly refers to digital cameras but the technology isn’t new. Film cameras without a mirror such as the rangefinder-type camera (Leica M series is the best example) have been around for a long time.
Usually people who search for mirrorless cameras online are either referring to MILC (Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Cameras) such as the Olympus/Panasonic Micro Four Thirds series or premium compacts with a non-interchangeable lens and a large sensor (like the Fuji X100s). We also include reviews about high-end point and shoot cameras that have a large sensor, such as the Fuji X20 or the Sony RX100.
Usually mirrorless cameras rely on an electronic viewfinder or an electronic LCD screen. There are a few exceptions, such as the Leica M which incorporates a traditional optical rangefinder, and the Fuji X100/s and X-Pro1 that have a hybrid viewfinder (switchable between optical and electronic).
Then there are Sony’s SLT cameras, which are in between DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. They have an electronic viewfinder and a different type of mirror called “translucent”. It is a semi-transparent fixed mirror that reflects a portion of the light to the phase detection AF system and the other half to the sensor. A few users have asked us if they should be considered mirrorless as well, but since they incorporate a mirror, we don’t include them on the list.
The first digital mirrorless camera was the Epson RD-1. In the blink of an eye, several other brands joined the mirrorless movement and today there is a wide spectrum of choice.
Why choose a mirrorless camera ?
I honestly don’t think that mirrorless cameras will replace DSLRs entirely, at least not in the foreseeable future. Reflex cameras still have some advantages over mirrorless cameras, and a lot of professionals will continue to rely on them. But mirrorless cameras are a true alternative, if not the perfect choice for jobs where discretion is required such as weddings and events. You will attract less attention with a smaller body and lens than with a D700 with a 24-70 attached, but you can still take similar if not equally beautiful pictures when it comes to quality, sharpness, bokeh and so on.
I started to use the OM-D and X cameras for my work, and I didn’t touch my Nikon D700 after I started using them. This is why I sold it and went completely mirrorless in 2013.
Interested? Doubtful? Need more convincing? Then this is the site for you: go and read our reviews, browse through the galleries and discover the mirrorless world.
You won’t find cumbersome technical and scientific reviews here. There are already many excellent sites which provide them.
What we want to talk about here is photography – the concept, the philosophy, the pleasure – and a technology which is constantly growing and can satisfy amateurs and professionals.
Some helpful articles to get you started:
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