Photography - Knowledge

Mirrorless Camera: Know All the Details and Invest in One!

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When we talk about cameras, the mirrorless cameras are definitely worth mentioning. These cameras have been in the market for over a decade but have started to gain popularity only recently. You would have seen the professional photographers using DSLR’s but a lot of them have recently traded it for the mirrorless models that are way smaller and lighter. An additional benefit being that they are quieter as compared to their counterparts. This is because there’s no mirror slapping up and down. However, choosing from a wide variety of mirrorless models can be a daunting task. This is especially true when the manufacturers are competing with each other to produce better models.

We would cover all the details that you need to consider when you are purchasing mirrorless cameras. This would ensure that you can make an informed decision and have an exciting experience when purchasing your new camera. Let’s get started.

What is a Mirrorless Camera? 

Well, the mirrorless lens cameras are those which do not have the optical viewfinder or the mirror that can usually be found in a DSLR. These cameras are also known as compact system camera (CSC) and hybrid cameras and their body is much thinner as compared to the digital SLRs. This is because; it does not have a mechanical mirror to switch the scene between the optical viewfinder and the image sensor.

sony mirrorless camera
Mirrorless camera for the perfect shots

How do Mirrorless Cameras Work?

A DSLR camera makes use of a mirror mechanism to reflect the light onto the optical viewfinder or pass it through the camera sensor directly. However, a mirrorless camera, on the other hand, lacks any such mechanism and the light passing through the lens ends up on the imaging sensor. As light isn’t reflected on the optical viewfinder, the mirrorless DSLR’s usually depends on the electronic viewfinders and LCD’s which help in projecting what the imaging sensor sees. Due to the lack of mirror mechanism, these cameras are generally simpler and less bulky as compared to the DSLR cameras. In a normal operation, the mechanical shutter of the camera remains open and is usually utilized only towards the end of the exposure. As there is no mirror or pentaprism in these cameras, the flange distance on the mirrorless camera can be significantly shortened.

working of mirrorless camera
Less bulky and compact mirrorless camera (source)

Why Should You Consider Purchasing a Mirrorless Camera

Let’s find out the best reasons that will motivate you to invest in a mirrorless camera:

1. Autofocus

The autofocus was once considered as a weakness of such cameras. However, the hybrid autofocus systems have been able to close the gap between DSLR and mirrorless focus performance for all but the most demanding applications. The hybrid autofocus system uses a variant of the phase-detection method that is used in DSLR’s so as to determine how far a subject basically is. However, not all of the mirrorless models offer autofocus. Therefore, when you are confused regarding mirrorless vs. DSLR for beginners, it is best to invest some time in research.

But, the fact that the autofocus is the strength of the mirrorless models cannot be denied. This is because all such cameras evaluate focus from their imaging sensor rather than a separate module. Thus, they are more accurate and consistent especially when focusing wide-aperture lenses. Along with the awareness of the scene which allows the best mirrorless cameras to track and then maintain the focus on the eye of the subject, the mirrorless models are definitely worth the investment.

2. Sensor’s Size

The mirrorless cameras are usually smaller as compared to the digital SLRs. This is possible because, just as the name suggests, the camera doesn’t have any mirror in it. Therefore, the lens can now be mounted closer to the sensor which reduces the size of the system. Also, the lenses are designed in such a way so as to match the sensor’s size which means that it would be smaller too. However, for the DSLR’s too, the lenses these days are designed to be smaller and faster. But, for a few full cameras, the lenses still are quite bulky.

3. Lens System

Another difference between the mirrorless vs. DSLR is that the mirrorless models have interchangeable lenses. This does bring about a huge difference and if you never had a camera with interchangeable lens, you would be quite astonished by the results. The point-and-shoot cameras usually have a built-in lens which offers an optical zoom with a small sensor and a variable aperture.

This does mean that you would get to shoot wide as well as telephoto zoom lengths but you won’t be able to have much control over the shallow depth-of-field or selective focus techniques. When you shoot with a larger sensor, interchangeable-lens camera, the very first thing that you would notice is the selective focus which often accentuated by a pronounced bokeh effect. This is because; with the best mirrorless camera, you get the chance to shoot with a prime portrait lens with a f/1.4 aperture or with a long zoom lens with a f/2.8 aperture. The options are many.

interchangeable lens of mirrorless sony
Interchangeable lens

4. Electronic Viewfinders

When switching from digital SLR’s or another type of cameras which have optical TTL viewfinders to a mirrorless camera, the viewfinder is something that you need to consider. With a TTL viewfinder, you would be able to see exactly what the lens is seeing. However, the mirrorless models do not have any mirror to direct the view of the lens to the viewfinder and thus use an EVF (Electronic Viewfinder).

The very first advantage of this is focus peaking that has become a favourable asset when you compare the cameras for manual-focus or video uses. Focus peaking is real-time focusing aid which highlights the edges of contrast within the frame with the help of a coloured line. This aids in availing a more objective system of controlling the critical sharpness when using manual focusing. Another advantage of EVF is its ability to provide a precise representation of any colour balance, exposure or another camera-setting adjustment before shooting. This means that you would get a better and closer depiction of the final image.

5. Video

As discussed above, in such cameras, there isn’t a mirror blocking the sensor. This means that you would have to change the way in which you usually shoot videos using a DSLR. If we talk about mirrorless vs. point and shoot, the video quality of mirrorless cameras is going to be leaps and bounds better than what you might have seen with point and shoot cameras.

You could of course still use similar means of previewing and shooting when you are switching from stills to video. The mirrorless cameras, therefore, offers much better videos that you can take advantage of. The mirrorless camera’s smaller size means that it is lightweight and thereby you would be able to shoot for long hours with comparatively less fatigue as compared to shooting video with a handheld digital SLR camera.

6. Wireless Functionality

Another reason why a lot of people choose mirrorless cameras is that of its wireless functionality. Most of these Wi-Fi equipped cameras also have a partner app for either Android or iOS which gives the user the chance to control the camera from a Smartphone or tablet. These apps offer the user to control the shutter, provide a basic live view along with full control over the speed of the shutter, ISO, aperture as well as other settings which you normally would need to adjust on the camera.

A few cameras might also allow you to transfer the images directly to a smart device or at times even to your favourite social media platform. Another much favourable Wi-Fi function is the NFC (Near Field Communication). This function allows the camera to connect with one another or to a smart device so as to share media. This is a helpful feature especially if you are with friends or relatives and need to share the pictures without having to mail them later.

wireless functionality of mirrorless camera
Transfer photos to other gadgets (source)

Cons of Mirrorless Cameras

The disadvantages of mirrorless are undoubtedly decreasing with every new generation of camera. There are only a few remaining drawbacks which are related directly to the lack of a
mirror.

  • The Constant Need To Power the Screen and Sensor While Shooting

When shooting on mirrorless cameras, you would have to continuously power the screen and the sensor. Combined with it are the attempts to capitalize on the mirrorless’s size benefits. This means that the battery life on most of these cameras is limited which can be quite an issue. Therefore, before you make a purchase, it is essential that you go through mirrorless camera reviews to get a fair idea about the product.

  • Absence of Optical Viewfinder

In case you are thinking of purchasing the best mirrorless camera Canon, Sony or of any other brand, you need to be aware of the fact that there’s no optical viewfinder in such cameras. It, of course, is a known fact that the electronic viewfinders (EVF) are improving constantly and can give you a preview of the final image accurately. However, the mirrorless camera of Sony has a stunning optical viewfinder that will let you click the best shots. 

These cameras also aren’t limited by the image format’s size. However, the live view feed of most of the contemporary cameras still does lag behind the action when you are shooting continuously. Other than that, a lot of people prefer the feeling of ‘part-of- the-scene’ which the optical viewfinder offers.

  • Less Consistency of Behaviour and Performance across Brands

The mirrorless cameras still being a relatively new thing, the manufacturers are trying to find their feet even now. Therefore, there is much less consistency of behaviour and performance across the brands. Things like user interface and ergonomics are even now the subject of experimentation. Not every company has been able to figure out the design of lenses for these cameras that can autofocus quickly.

All of these disadvantages added with the vast number of people who still prefer DSLR and its amazing functions over anything else guarantees that the mirrorless camera would not be able to replace the digital SLR’s in the near future.

Wrapping Up

The mirrorless cameras have begun to compete in an area where the DSLR’s have dominated traditionally. The DSLR makers have slowly started to respond to this challenge by introducing on-sensor phase detection in a few cameras so as to offer a faster and better live view experience and autofocus while recording video. Within a few years of time, the mirrorless models would be able to offer all that the digital SLR’s have to offer. Whatever you choose, rethink multiple times and then make an informed decision.

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