5 Things You Should Know About Mirrorless Cameras

Get ready, because mirrorless cameras are the next big thing for photography. If you haven’t heard about this technology, this post is for you!

Over the next few years, we may see mirrorless cameras take up more of the market that DSLRs currently dominate and more and more professional photographers choosing to work on a mirrorless system. Fuji and Sony have proven that the technology is a worthy competitor to DSLRs and rumor has it the other big camera companies are working to catch up.

Here are some of the top things you should know about mirrorless digital cameras.

Mirrorless Cameras still make a high quality image. Fuji X100s

Size

Current mirrorless cameras are smaller, lighter and more compact than their DSLR counterparts. This is due in part to the smaller sensors that most of them are using (although Sony is using a full-frame sensor in their a7) and in part to the fact there is no mirror moving around for the shutter. With fewer moving parts, you can fit more technology in a smaller package. This makes them easier to travel with and less obtrusive for street photography or any other situation where a subject may get nervous about a large DSLR system. Many mirrorless cameras look like point-and-shoot cameras. The lenses for the smaller sensor cameras can also be a little smaller, which helps when moving equipment around.

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Lenses

Ready to move to a mirrorless system? Hold up. Unless you have a Sony, you will need to purchase all new lenses or a converter for the old ones. Canon and Nikon’s mirrorless systems require a specific lens mount or a converter for EF or F-mount lenses. Fuji developed a new line of lenses for their mirrorless cameras, but you can also use Canon or Nikon lenses with a converter. Sony has fewer lenses to choose from, but any of them should now work with the full-frame a7. The technology is changing so quickly that it is difficult for photographers to know what to invest in. No Canon user wants to buy all new lenses for a Fuji system if Canon releases a full-frame mirrorless camera in the next year.

Great color from a Fuji X100s

Shutter

A huge advantage to mirrorless cameras is silent operation. Without the focal plane shutter operating, they can be used without obstruction. No more of the click, click, click sound. This is great for wedding photographers, photojournalists and street photographers, where blending in is an important part of the job.

Some mirrorless cameras, like the Fuji X100 use a leaf shutter. Currently, DSLRs are limited by shutter speed if you are using flash. Most DSLRs can only shoot as fast as 1/250 second while using a flash. Without a traditional focal plane shutter, mirrorless cameras allow 1/1000 second (sometimes faster) shutter speeds while using a flash. Faster shutter speeds open up all new possibilities for lighting. For example, if you are lighting an outdoor portrait and have metered the shot to be 1/250 second at f/5.6 with your DSLR, you can take the same shot at 1/1000 second at f/2.8. Since shutter speed doesn’t change the intensity of your flash, but aperture does, your wider aperture means the flash is four times as powerful. Of course, you need to make sure to use a hardwired flash trigger, or check to see if your wireless triggers can handle that kind of speed.

Viewfinders

When using a DSLR, you are literally looking, via a mirror, through whichever lens you have on the body. Mirrorless cameras use either optical viewfinders or electronic viewfinders, which are a little different. The optical viewfinder is typically above and to the left of the lens, so it isn’t exactly the same as the photo you are taking. It gets you close, but not exact. To fix this, many mirrorless cameras use electronic viewfinders. This is similar to using LiveView on a DSLR, only in addition to the LCD screen, you can see the image through the viewfinder.

There are enough advantages to outweigh the disadvantages for many professionals to move to mirrorless systems for their work. I’m almost there, but waiting to see what 2015 brings before making any purchases.

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