Source: pixabay.com

Buy­ing a high-end cam­era is a com­mon prob­lem faced by hob­by­ists and more expe­ri­enced users alike. Until recent­ly, dig­i­tal DSLRs were the obvi­ous choice in this area.

In recent years, a new and rapid­ly devel­op­ing type of cam­era has appeared on the mar­ket — mir­ror­less (sys­tem) cam­eras. Is it an inter­est­ing alter­na­tive to DSLRs and advanced com­pact cam­eras or is it the flag­ship of the pho­to mar­ket? What are their advan­tages and dis­ad­van­tages? What is the best mir­ror­less cam­era? Let’s fig­ure it out togeth­er.

What is it and what type of camera is it

The name “mir­ror­less” comes from the biggest dif­fer­ence between the cam­eras in ques­tion and their main com­peti­tor, DSLRs. The dif­fer­ence, of course, is the lack of a mir­ror. A mir­ror­less cam­era does not have an opti­cal prism viewfind­er. Get­ting rid of these ele­ments made it pos­si­ble to sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduce the size and weight of the body with­out com­pro­mis­ing the size of the matrix, which means the qual­i­ty of pho­tographs. The opti­cal ele­ments of the viewfind­er have been replaced with small­er elec­tron­ic ones. If a mir­ror­less cam­era is equipped with a viewfind­er, then it is elec­tron­ic.

Thus, the sys­tem cam­era is a device with more DSLR capa­bil­i­ties, which is much small­er and lighter than the com­peti­tor. Pho­to qual­i­ty, speed, aut­o­fo­cus accu­ra­cy, func­tion­al­i­ty and ergonom­ics are on par.

What types of mirrorless cameras are there?

Mir­ror­less cam­eras, like DSLRs, can be divid­ed by the size of their dig­i­tal image sen­sor, that is, the sen­sor. This set­ting is impor­tant for advanced users. A larg­er sen­sor usu­al­ly means bet­ter pho­to qual­i­ty and bet­ter back­ground blur. The angle of view of the lens also depends on the size of the matrix. How­ev­er, this should not always be the most impor­tant fac­tor when choos­ing.

Mir­ror­less cam­eras oper­ate on the same prin­ci­ple as the cam­era on a smart­phone: the light direct­ly hits the sen­sor. Source: pixabay.com

Full frame mirrorless cameras

The 36x24mm sen­sor is the size of 35mm film, which was a pop­u­lar medi­um before the era of dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy. Full frame mir­ror­less cam­eras are usu­al­ly aimed at pro­fes­sion­al and inter­me­di­ate users. New devices are expen­sive.

They also require the use of appro­pri­ate lens­es, which are usu­al­ly larg­er and heav­ier than small­er sen­sors. Full frame is the ref­er­ence when con­vert­ing the angle of view of the lens, which we get if we have a cam­era with a small­er sen­sor.

APS‑C mirrorless cameras

Matrix 24x16 mm or 22x15 mm in case of Canon cam­eras. The small­er sen­sor size has a pos­i­tive effect on the price of the cam­era, and also makes it pos­si­ble to use more com­pact lens­es with it. APS‑C sen­sor sys­tem cam­eras are the most com­mon. This is a very good com­pro­mise between great pho­to qual­i­ty and low price.

These cam­eras are ide­al for ama­teur and semi-pro­fes­sion­al use. How­ev­er, a small­er sen­sor means a nar­row­er lens angle of view. In the case of the APS‑C for­mat, the focal length must be mul­ti­plied by 1.5 times, and for Canon cam­eras — by 1.6 times. A 20mm lens on an APS‑C cam­era will give us an image sim­i­lar to that tak­en from a 30mm lens on a full frame cam­era.

If you take a cheap seg­ment of cam­eras, then a bud­get DSLR will pro­vide more options than a sim­i­lar mir­ror­less cam­era. Source: pixabay.com

Micro 4/3 mirrorless cameras

17x13mm trans­duc­ers are used pri­mar­i­ly in Olym­pus cam­eras. These devices are high­ly func­tion­al and com­pact. Olym­pus Zuiko lens­es are also small. The Micro 4/3 sys­tem is a great choice for peo­ple start­ing their pho­tog­ra­phy adven­ture.

How­ev­er, there is a caveat — excel­lent optics make these devices suit­able for cer­tain pro­fes­sion­al appli­ca­tions. The lens focal length mul­ti­pli­er in this case is 2x.

What to look for when choos­ing

Its size, res­o­lu­tion, tonal range. It is the most impor­tant com­po­nent of any inter­change­able lens dig­i­tal cam­era. The size and qual­i­ty of the matrix deter­mine the price of the cam­era.

Entry-lev­el and video-focused mod­els usu­al­ly don’t have a viewfind­er at all, just a screen. In oth­er cas­es, mir­ror­less cam­eras are usu­al­ly equipped with an elec­tron­ic viewfind­er. Some sys­tem cam­eras have an opti­cal viewfind­er, which, how­ev­er, does not dis­play an image that match­es what is seen through the lens. The image in such an opti­cal viewfind­er is slight­ly shift­ed com­pared to what we see in pho­tographs.

Mod­ern sys­tem cam­eras have fast and effi­cient aut­o­fo­cus. Just a few years ago, this field was the Achilles’ heel of this type of equip­ment. How­ev­er, the most mod­ern mod­els can com­pete with high-qual­i­ty dig­i­tal SLRs.

Mir­ror­less cam­eras lose in auton­o­my: 300–400 frames are obtained on a sin­gle charge. Source: pixabay.com

Video record­ing is the forte of mir­ror­less cam­eras. These cam­eras dis­play a live image on the dis­play or viewfind­er while record­ing with con­tin­u­ous aut­o­fo­cus. The abil­i­ty to record in 4k res­o­lu­tion is also par­tic­u­lar­ly use­ful. This will allow you to keep all the details and details on the video. Some cam­eras also sup­port high­er video res­o­lu­tions.

  • Image sta­bi­liza­tion

Some new­er mir­ror­less cam­eras have built-in image sta­bi­liza­tion. These include cam­eras from brands such as Sony or Olym­pus. Sta­bi­liza­tion reduces cam­era shake, result­ing in clear­er pho­tos and videos in low light.

The oper­a­tion of a mir­ror­less cam­era is essen­tial­ly the same as the oper­a­tion of a com­pact cam­era or even a cam­era mod­ule in a smart­phone. A prop­er­ly adjust­ed lens will project an invert­ed image onto the sen­sor. This in turn con­verts the amount of light hit­ting each pix­el into a cor­re­spond­ing elec­tri­cal charge. This sig­nal is ampli­fied and processed in turn.

Because the image sen­sor in mir­ror­less cam­eras is much larg­er than in com­pact devices or smart­phones, the raw sig­nal is stronger and less ampli­fied. The result is much less noise. The image proces­sor then process­es the sig­nals to fur­ther improve the image qual­i­ty. Final­ly, the image is saved in a spe­cif­ic for­mat (JPEG, for exam­ple) on the mem­o­ry card.

Which is better, mirrorless or DSLR? What are the differences?

With­out a mir­ror, there is no opti­cal viewfind­er, mean­ing the pho­tog­ra­ph­er has to rely entire­ly on the dis­play or elec­tron­ic viewfind­er. Source: pixabay.com

The main dif­fer­ences between mir­ror­less cam­eras and SLR cam­eras are the dif­fer­ent design. SLR cam­eras have a mir­ror, a lens, and a prism, through which the image from the lens is trans­mit­ted to the opti­cal viewfind­er. These ele­ments rev­o­lu­tion­ized pho­tog­ra­phy in the mid­dle of the last cen­tu­ry and made SLRs the most pop­u­lar piece of equip­ment used by pro­fes­sion­als.

How­ev­er, this tech­nol­o­gy is now con­sid­ered by many to be some­what out­dat­ed, and mir­ror­less cam­eras can be con­sid­ered its suc­ces­sor. The sys­tem cam­era is small­er and lighter. The mir­ror­less mod­els cur­rent­ly on sale are fast, have long bat­tery life, have excel­lent viewfind­ers, and man­u­fac­tur­ers have pro­vid­ed a large num­ber of lens­es that we will be con­nect­ing to these cam­eras.

Thus, the choice between a DSLR and a mir­ror­less cam­era will depend on our pref­er­ences regard­ing the size and han­dling of the cam­era.

Mirrorless: how to take pictures? Basic Tips

Tak­ing pic­tures with a mir­ror­less cam­era is not dif­fi­cult. Each such device has an auto­mat­ic mode that will set all the para­me­ters. These are good solu­tions for begin­ners who do not yet under­stand pho­tog­ra­phy.

Almost every sys­tem device also allows you to set semi-auto­mat­ic or man­u­al mode. Thanks to them, we will use the cam­era in accor­dance with our set­tings. Some devices have built-in tuto­ri­als that will great­ly speed up our famil­iar­i­ty with the equip­ment.

The main advan­tage of mir­ror­less cam­eras is their com­pact­ness. Source: pixabay.com

Mirrorless for beginners

A basic mir­ror­less mod­el is a good choice to start your pho­tog­ra­phy adven­ture. Its advan­tages, of course, will be small dimen­sions and weight, as well as ease of use. Thanks to these fea­tures, such a cam­era will not pre­vent novice users from always car­ry­ing it with them.

Pro­fes­sion­al, slight­ly larg­er, heav­ier and more dif­fi­cult to use mod­els will take more time to learn. A sim­ple sys­tem cam­era has the abil­i­ty to change lens­es, so you can devel­op equip­ment in the future.