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February 23, 2013

Mirrorless Cameras: A Reflection

Mirrorless CameraOne of the main ways that compact cameras have snuck their way into high – end photography is through the mirror-less  system. Great examples of this are the Sony Alpha Nex 7, and the Olympus E-PL3, and many companies have jumped aboard to create quite a few interchangeable lens standards, such as Sony’s E-mount and the micro four-thirds. This is due to the fact that these devices make great frames to build kits around. Although the sensors are generally smaller than that of DSLRs, the simplification of the internal optics means that they can be smaller, cheaper, and have quality lenses built into shorter form factors. Imagine pulling a thick-as-a-cup-coaster lens out of your shirt pocket, rather than unpacking an entire bag full of goods to get a picture.

Price Difference

A simpler camera is a cheaper camera, and one of the huge advantages of mirror-less systems is that they are generally priced in a different market from full frame SLRs. While you cannot surpass a full frame device without the same build quality and complexity, some of the more robust kits can achieve most of the result at a fraction of the cost. So while quality and performance may not reign supreme, these cameras give the widespread versatility of a matured interchangeable lens market. To prove this, there exists an adapter for Sony E-mount devices such as the Alpha Nex 7, that allows their Alpha class DSLR lenses to fit on even these tiny cameras.


Products that are so characteristically different will come with their own problems, caused by the nature of the design. Among these flaws are the use of contrast autofocus and lack of an optical viewfinder. Although not necessarily less accurate, contrast AF is a bit slower than other methods, and with that comes all the according headaches. And without an optical viewfinder, it can be hard to see in real time what a picture will look like. Manufacturers intend that LCDs function as an alternate viewfinder, which can work in some situations but does not fit into others, all while producing a greater drain on the battery. Both of these downfalls have been built up over time, and technology is bringing these systems up to speed. Electronic viewfinders are getting better, some of them even seamlessly applying live view to a photo. Contrast Autofocus has also seen advancements that bring it close in performance to more conventional phase detection systems.

Mirror-less cameras have blown up in the past couple of years, and they are rapidly evolving into viable staples in the photography spectrum. There is still a path to travel before the system has matured to the point that DSLRs have, but when they do, there will be a perfect market for those looking for a step above point-and-shoot, but unable to afford the investment of SLR photography.

Bill Green is an engineering student and freelancer for where you can find an in-depth review of the Olympus E-PL3 camera and reviews of other mirrorless camera models.

About the Author

Blogger, Programmer, Zombie Survivalist Expert, Girl Gamer, Pianist, Super Geek, the Epitome of Awesome. Saying the things your mind tells you not to.


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