Note: this section is no longer being updated.
Mirrorless cameras have only become popular in recent years but they have actually existed for quite some time.
The term “mirrorless” in the sense that we use it can actually cause a lot of confusion. If we want to categorise cameras that don’t have a flipping mirror, we might as well include all existing cameras that aren’t a DSLR or DSLT. This would include every compact camera … and smartphones too
But when we talk about ‘mirrorless cameras’ in the present day, we are actually referring to a specific category that as been now officially acknowledged. Quoting from the CTA (Consumer Technology Association, ex CEA):
- Mirrorless (short for Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras) is a subset of ILC cameras that does not include a mirror mechanism.
Mirrorless cameras have been also called by the name of CSC (Compact System Cameras), MSC (Mirrorless System Camera), DSLM (Digital Single Lens mirrorless), DILSC (Digital Interchangeable-Lens System Camera) or EVIL (Electronic Viewfinder with Interchangeable Lens).
On MirrorLessons we extend the coverage on other cameras that might not be technically “mirrorless” according to the CTA definition but are really close to them. We are talking about cameras with a non-removable lens and a large sensor.
The non-interchangeable lens can either be a prime lens or a zoom lens. We specifically refer to the cameras that have a larger sensor than traditional compact cameras, which means overall better image quality with more dynamic range, shallow depth of field and better low light performance.
But let’s talk about sensor size for a second, shall we?
There are many different sizes as you can see in the illustration below.
Note.: To simplify the illustration above, I excluded other small sensor sizes such as 1/1.8″, 1/3″ etc…
We review both MILC and compact cameras that have a sensor equivalent to or bigger than 2/3″. Why start from 2/3″? Well, because only a few compact cameras have a sensor that is 2/3″ or larger while all the others have a smaller sensor (1/1.7″ and smaller). Plus the entry-level compact camera market is dying and has been replaced by smartphones.
As for MILC cameras, they all feature a large sensor with the Nikon CX being the smallest. The only exception is the Pentax Q and Pentax Q7 that have an interchangeable lens mount with a small “standard compact camera” sensor (1/1.7″ and 1/2.3″). However that series is now discontinued.