'Mirrorless' cameras. It's a term the most casual of photography enthusiasts and hobbyists alike will have encountered. And I guarantee there's a good portion of you who are still vague on what exactly a mirrorless camera involves.
Mirrorless cameras go by many names:
- mirrorless system cameras
- compact system cameras
- electronic viewfinder with interchangeable lens cameras
- mirrorless/digital interchangeable lens cameras
Whatever you choose to call it, a mirrorless camera is one that (wait for it) doesn't have a mirror/mirror box in the body. Shock. Horror. The purpose of a mirror/mirror box in a camera, of course, is to reflect light from the lens to an optical viewfinder.
Here's a basic breakdown of what you can expect with a mirrorless camera.
Mirrorless camera viewfinders will always be digital and generally there's an LCD display to look through instead. The pictured displayed is a live view of what the lens is experiencing on either the viewfinder or back screen. This mean the preview you are given will be exactly how the photo turns out once you load it up on a computer. Due to this entire part of the operation being digital, you'll find it also adapts better in low light settings.
Body + Sensor:
Portability is the key advantage here. Without the bulk of the mirror/mirror box, these cameras are more streamlined, smaller, and lighter. And with the right lenses, you'll never need more than a coat pocket to carry it around.
Without the bulk of a mirror fitting, there's more room to get fancy with the extras. Sensors, Wi-fi and NFC capabilities, touch screens, what have you... as you explore more and more with mirrorless cameras, you'll notice this trend of having impressive bonus features. This aspect of bonus features in addition to the solely digital display does mean that the battery of a mirrorless gets depleted fairly quicker.
Being able to house a larger imaging sensor given the free space is notably one of the greater pros for mirrorless camera. Yet another trend you'll notice through exploration of the mirrorless is how it certainly punches above its weight in terms of high-quality imaging. A good portion of the ones in the current market can definitely hold their own against a regular DSLR.
Like your regular DSLR, mirrorless cameras offers you the freedom of lens changes. So you effectively have your pick of the litter in terms of additional hardware to really suit the occasion.
Obviously with the lack of a need for mirrors in both the body as well as associated components, mirrorless lenses are also shorter, smaller, and lighter. But you can breathe easy, as this is not an indicator of any sacrifice. The quality is just as good. The same goes for the range of mirrorless lenses. There are just as many variations as regular DSLR lenses (though admittedly a lot less in gross quantity to pick from).
The reduced element of glass required in mirrorless lenses also contributes to a faster autofocus times. This opens a world of possibilities seldom found in regular DSLRs, like full-time continuous autofocus. A feature that has pretty great videography applications, and something the mirrorless has a remarkable edge over DSLRs.
By in large, mirrorless cameras function just as well as DSLRs with the added bonus of portability and true imaging. One should not underestimate these lil fellas. Downsides, however, include:
- heavier energy consumption (shorter battery life)
- less options with lenses (despite having the same range in variety)
- and though I personally don't believe this, there are many who don't take it as seriously as a DSLR (which is dumb but OK)
Mirrorless cameras earn the BH seal of approval.