If you’re in
the market for a camera or already have a camera you probably discovered the
ever increasing interest in various mirrorless cameras and how they are now
closing the gap with traditional DSLRs.
If you recall (depending on your age) when film was slowly dying off during
the advancements in digital imaging technology, many folks stayed the film
course and continued to spout how much better film was over some electronic
image. Well, we know what happened in
Rochester, NY – Kodak HQs. Here we are today surrounded not by rolls of film
but by faster and larger capacity memory cards.
The same thing is happening to the analog viewfinder and mirror box
found in traditional DSLRs.
First let me give you my advice up front, then decide if you wish to read the remainder of this article.
I can recommend a mirrorless system if you fit into one of these categories;
- You don't already have a DSLR
- You don't have an investment in DSLR accessories / lens
- Your not a professional photographer
- You are tired of your current camera
If you fall into the category above, I highly recommend you research the current mirrorless camera systems available. Keep an eye on sensor size and lens availability while you do your research.
What is a
mirrorless camera? Sounds like a simple
question, and for the most part it is.
A mirrrorless camera is a camera whose focused image light path goes
straight to the sensor and is not diverted or reflected by the use of a mirror.
This means almost every camera except a DSLR is a mirrorless camera, so we are
already surrounded by them, that iPhone has a mirrorless camera. For the purpose of this article we will
speak about those mirrorless cameras who’s features very similarly match that
of a DSLR.
about what makes a mirrorless camera an attractive alternative to the
DSLR. First, with the absence of a
mirror box and pentaprisim a similarly featured mirrorless camera’s overall
size and weight is less, making it an easier package to carry around. In most cases the lens are similarly sized
smaller and lighter as well. Thus
overall a mirrorless system is smaller and lighter which makes it an attractive
alternative to the heavier DSLR system.
Everyone! Without the flapping of that
mirror a mirrorless camera can operate silently, making it a perfect solution
for weddings or other situations that frown on noise. Stalkers love mirrorless cameras.
viewfinder; When the manufacture implements this correctly, I believe an
electronic viewfinder offers many benefits over a traditional reflected light
pentaprisim. For one, in dim light you
can actually see better for easy composing.
Some hybrid mirrorless cameras employ the traditional glass viewfinder
for composing, usually of the straight through variety. Until recently, lag and resolution was
holding back the EVF, but now that is less of an issue.
Vibrations; without the added moving parts of mirrors flapping around, you
normally have less vibrations and with that, translates to sharper pictures.
Faster better; Once again,
without the mirror a mirrorless camera can shoot images at blazing speeds, much
faster than even the highest end DSLRs. 20, 60 fps. Wow!
Why don’t we all switch to mirrorless? Those who shoot DSLRs normally fall into a
couple of categories, budding amateur, enthusiast, or semi / pro. So, in order
to move to mirrorless system we want something comparable to that DSLR we use
now for its superior image quality and to keep shooting with the same great
lenses we have invested soo much money into.
Neither Canon nor Nikon have a semi-pro level mirrorless system (yet).
It makes no sense for me as a
Nikon shooter to jump to a 4:3 format solution, just for the benefit of a
mirrorless, smaller lighter camera body and abandon my FX lens. Even with lens
adapters you’re faced with a crop factor + the loss of features due to the lens
is not made for the camera body / mount.
This is a HUGH reason not to
switch to one of the “Current” mirrorless systems, unless you also buy into
their lens systems – and why would you do that when you already have soo much
invested in your current lens. I do have
a Nikon 1 camera but I don’t pretend it replaces my current DSLR, simply
because it can’t, even though I can use
most all my current Nikkor lens using the FT1 adapter.
This leads to the question – When
is Nikon or Canon offering a decent
DX / FX mirrorless camera body? To me this would make more sense than switching
to a different body and mount simply for it being mirrorless with an EVF. I think we all know why Nikon and Canon have
not yet released a pro / semi pro level mirrorless camera body, but I suspect
that day will come sooner rather than later.
Olympus, Panasonic, FujiFilm,
Samsung, Sony, Pentax, Nikon, and the overly priced Leicas have all expanded
their range of mirrorless offerings, and why not. Nikon and Canon are not doing
anything serious in the mirrorless markets. No one offers a FX sized mirrorless
sensor system, or a wide selection of professional lens to use with current
mirrorless cameras. So those who make
their living with the DSLR are probably still making their living with their
DSLR and don’t give the crop factor mirrorless sensors cameras much thought.
I have mentioned sensor sizes for
current mirrorless camera offerings: like
CX, 4:3, or DX. All these have various
crop factors from 2.7 to 1.6 although it may sound wonderful to mount that FX 400mm
lens on the CX (2.7 crop) sized sensor body to achieve a whopping 1080mm fov
lens, but realistically speaking your results may be less than acceptable
unless of course you’re doing stationary shots of things that don’t move
much. Show me someone who can get
consistent bird in flight with that set up?
here is if you’re considering a mirrorless camera then also consider what lens
you’re going to
use with it , if you’re willing to sacrifice
the limiting restrictions of using either lens adapter for your current lens or
shell out another $800.00 for a matched
lens maybe your ripe for the mirrorless game.
** If I
had a DX DSLR with one or two lens, sure. I would sell them off on ebay and
pick up an Olympus OM-D E-M1 silver edition, with the 14 – 40mm 2.8 pro lens,
and never look back. But I have a pro
level system with many pro level lens, and there is no way in digital hell I
would do a step down.
Why would a full frame sensor
shooter switch to a smaller sensor size? Sensors are like condoms, some fit you
better than others. Nikon’s mirrorless
sensor size is a 1” CX format, almost eight times smaller than the FX sized
sensors, and you can image how it compares in performance to the larger FX
sensors. Realistically speaking, Just because two sensors have 18mp does not
mean they are even close in performance.
I think we learned this during the megapixel race to the top when DSLRs
where fighting for the top MP slot. Noise,
dynamic range and lens selection all are factors. Until the Big two releases their FX
mirrorless bodies I will stick with DSLR.
manufactures, have the middle ground of APSC (DX) and 4:3s, sized sensors. Most DSLR shooters are familiar with the DX
sized sensors and have a wider range of lens to choose from. I think this class of sensors you have more