This article is about mirrorless camera. In case you are not familiar, mirrorless camera is a type of digital camera that visually resembles a conventional digital single-lens reflector (DSLR) camera but it doesn’t have a “mirror box” inside it. It is smaller, quieter, and lighter than your average DSLR.
As simple as it sounds, mirrorless camera is a product of generations of innovation and failure. This article is about mirrorless camera. Specifically, it tells us about its history, its mechanical value, and its place in the modern tech market.
History of Capturing Image
Many of us take it for granted but we are actually bombarded by images every single day. Though it is true that us, Homo sapiens are known to be heavily reliant on our visual prowess (a central part of our socio-biological evolution), this particular period of our history offers an unprecedented mark in terms of image abundance and diaspora.
Many enjoy their selfies from the time they wake up, go for their daily run, eat their breakfast, accomplish their mundane work activities, and so on. We watch TV or stream online videos during our break. And as we drive our way home, we are existentially lorded by towering billboards with images of celebrities and commercial brands.
The abundance of images may be attributed to a great many factors. But one of them would certainly be the invention and the mass production of image capturing devices – which we now fondly call cameras. The decentralization of camera to the public’s hands certainly propelled the production and the consumption of image into new heights. Coupled with market gravitas, humans created a universe flooded with vibrant images.
Originally, the invention of the camera was guided by the discovery of two focal principles: that of camera obscura and the fact that some substances visibly change when exposed to light. In the mid 19th century, it would literally take more than seven hours to capture and expose a single image (no wonder why people were not smiling in their portraits back then)! As such, those who want their photos taken needed headrests and back-supports to maintain their position for hours.
After years of continuous development, the camera has evolved into a device that may be unimaginable to its original designer. What used to be hours of light exposure turned into seconds. What used to be bulky clanking machines turned into portable pocket devices. And the monotony of camera types has been long forgotten. Today, cameras come in various types such as Polaroid, film, SLR, bridge, digicam, action camera, mirrorless, etcetera.
Difference of Mirrorless Camera, Digicam, and DSLR
Mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (MILC), or more known as the mirrorless camera, is a type of digital camera with a lens mount but uses a digital display system rather than an optical viewfinder. Visually speaking, mirrorless cameras heavily resemble the looks of DSLR camera.
But it is fundamentally different from your ordinary DSLR because it doesn’t have an optical mirror box (thus, the name mirrorless) inside the kit which explains the lack of optical viewfinder. Any single-lens reflector, no matter if it is digital or film, captures an image by means of a mirror that lies inside the camera (positioned directly behind the lens).
The label “interchangeable lens” comes from the fact that users can freely mount different types of lens to adjust the camera’s optical capacity. Cameras like these are also called compact system cameras (CSC). This feature sets mirrorless camera and DSLR from other modern cameras. As long as they are mounted by the proper lens, both can capture scenic landscapes, self-portraits, moving subjects, and macro subjects without much problem. Examining their fundamental features, mirrorless cameras are basically hybrids of digital cameras and DSLRs.
Most mirrorless cameras are comparatively more compact, lighter, and a lot quieter (unless the simulated shutter sound effect is activated). This is due to the lack of built-in mirror box. Its mechanical construction is also much simpler. The combined smallness and quietness of MILCs make them suitable for situations where going “unnoticed” is essential – this includes photojournalism coverage, street photography, and even wildlife photography.
MILCs are also excellent during travels because of their size and weight. They are easier to pack and they are more convenient for outdoor photo shoots.
In the past, the quality of a mirrorless camera is heavily inferior compared to DSLR. DSLR used to be the camera. It served as the structure, the very pedestal of image capture. But recent tech developments in the field of image sensory and electronic viewfinder made the competition much more interesting.
Pros and Cons
As of late, choosing between MILC and DSLR has become more difficult. This goes for both professional and amateur photographers. Looking at the pros and the cons will help us decide whether what kit suits our needs.
Purists and professionals would certainly argue that DSLRs win this aspect. Because DSLRs use phase-based auto-focus imaging, the time-gap between the perceived subject display in the viewfinder is next to nothing. MILCs, on the other hand, rely on high-speed contrast detection auto-focus to view its subject without much time-gap. Despite the improved imagery responsiveness for the previous years, top-of-the-line DSLRs will still topple the fiercest MILC competitor.
But for the larger public, the result would be more unpredictable. In the era of smartphones, most camera users are more accustomed to the rear screen digital display than optical viewfinders. If you are into digital display feature, a mirrorless camera would be an excellent pick.
As mentioned earlier, the flexibility of mirrorless camera is on par with DSLR. As a compact system camera, its quality largely depends on the use of a mounted lens. Both can capture photos with similar image resolution and volume of noise. This also means that both can capture high-quality photos. Currently, there are several lenses available for MILC including fast prime lenses, wide angle, and telephoto lenses.
But unlike DSLR, the mirrorless system offers less option with regard to lens range and brand. Other than lens range, DSLR also offers a broader option of cam accessories. This is probably one of the key disadvantages of a mirrorless camera as of the moment. Fortunately, the production rate of the new mirrorless camera is very fast. This entails a broader set of lens option for the coming years.
Like DSLRs, many mirrorless models are already using the best APS-C sensors to ensure excellent image quality. MILCs are also equipped with image-stabilization systems to gain image stability. You don’t want to take blurry pictures using expensive an expensive camera after all. In this category, we can actually say that DSLR and MILC are on even terms. The competition is also tight in terms of video recording. This is because both systems offer models that can record full HD and even 4K. But for many amateur users, a mirrorless camera will be much more convenient because it offers easier and better video feature control.
DSLR cameras consume lesser energy because they can shoot without the use of electronic viewfinder and LCD screen. But since all MILC and DSLR use removal batteries, you can always carry an extra whenever you are on the run.
In principle, making MILC is cheaper than making DSLR. It is easier to assemble due to the lack of delicate mirror mechanism inside the body. Maintenance is also cheaper. For these reasons, we can see mirrorless models in the market that are relatively affordable compared to entry-level DSLRs. However, there are also MILC manufacturers that raise the price of their products simply because they are relatively new.
Best Mirrorless Cameras
Listed in this section are probably the best mirrorless camera models of 2017. Though they are much more expensive than your average digital camera, I also assure you that the price of these gadgets is absolutely worth it.
Sony Alpha A7R
This model boasts a full-frame stacked sensor with 42.2MP resolution. It is supported by an advance auto-focus system with 10fps of maximum continuous shooting rate. As of the moment, A7R is widely dubbed as the complete mirrorless system. This model will definitely give DSLRs a run for their money.
This camera is equipped with 24.3MP resolution and an APS-C sensor. It also holds an 8fps of maximum continuous shooting rate with an elite auto-focus mechanism. As such, it can easily track moving objects due to its excellent image stabilizer. Functionally, it is a first-rate mid-range camera that can be used by both professionals and beginners alike.
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III
This model is probably the sexiest camera included on this list. The OM-D E-M10 Mark III is equipped with 16.1MP resolution with Micro Four Thirds sensor. It enjoys an 8.6. fps of maximum continuous shooting range. It is also very portable when compared to most MILC and DSLR in the market. On paper, it is pretty clear that this model is not as powerful as the first two cameras listed above. Having said that, this device is still an excellent camera kit for intermediate users.