The eternal question, ‘What camera should I buy?’ became more complicated with the fairly recent emergence of a new breed of cameras promising to fill a gap in the market. Previously it was a fairly simple decision – you bought a DSLR if you were most concerned about image quality, operational speed and taking control of what the camera did, or you bought one of the various sub-types of small-sensored compact camera if you prioritized pocketability, ease-of-use, price or zoom range. There were some attempts to bridge the gap – superzoom compacts and high-end enthusiast models often offered extensive manual controls – but there was no real middle ground.
That middle ground is where you’ll find Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras. These cameras take the large sensor and interchangeable lenses that help DSLRs produce such good images, and combine them with the technologies that underpin compact cameras – providing a shooting experience that will be nice and familiar to compact camera users. (Read more HERE.)
Some advice before deciding to go mirrorless (or not):
- What lenses will you be using? Never consider the purchase of a camera body first and the lenses as an afterthought. Think about what you intend to do with the camera and decide on camera + lens combinations.
- Once you have potential camera and lens combinations, try them out before you buy. How comfortable are they? How easy and practical would it be to do the things you plan to do. (Read more HERE.)
PROS of Mirrorless cameras
- Small and lightweight.
- You can pack more lenses in a small bag for travel.
- Less intimidating to people you photograph, especially when doing street photography.
- Ability to accept and use adaptors to fit just about any lens, including those from your DSLR.
- The sensors in many of them rival DSLR APS-C sensors, and in the case of the Sony A7R they might even have the edge.
CONS of Mirrorless cameras
- They are some that are less expensive than the full sized DSLRs, but in some cases they are more expensive. You pay for compactness.
- They CAN be slower to focus, so shooting moving subjects is more challenging.
- The electronic viewfinder – this is a bane of many DSLR owners who are used to seeing through an optical one.
- Because of the point above, they can be battery hogs.
Is it for me?
If you are going from a point and shoot camera and looking to upgrade but don’t foresee yourself learning to use a DSLR in manual mode, a mirrorless camera might be a good next step for you, especially if you want to be able to manually adjust things to suit your artistic style.
IF you are currently shooting with a DSLR and looking for something more portable to add you your camera bag, a mirrorless camera and the available lenses may be a good and fun choice to expand your current gear. Think about what you intend to shoot with it in correlation with the pros and cons above before you jump in.
If you are looking to replace your DSLR, keep an eye on the market, but don’t jump in yet. The mirrorless camera technology just hasn’t caught up with the tried and true DSLR tech. This is especially true for photographers who frequently photograph kids or sports. Unfortunately, the auto-focus just isn’t going to meet your needs. (Read more HERE.)