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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.