What is a Mirrorless Camera?

For a person who isn’t familiar with the world of compatible camera lenses, he or she might find it difficult to differentiate a mirrorless camera from a DSLR camera. With the awareness each brand creates about its own system, it’s often difficult trying to determine which is more suitable for oneself.

In this article, we have concisely explained every detail that would give you a better knowledge of a mirrorless camera

What is a mirrorless camera?

Sony Alpha a7S II Mirrorless Digital Camera

A mirrorless camera is any camera that does not need a reflex mirror. A reflex mirror is an integral part of a DSLR camera. The mirror in a DSLR camera reverses the light to the optical viewfinder. This optical viewfinder is not found in a mirrorless camera; rather the imaging sensor is always exposed to light which allows you to have an automated preview of your image either on the rear LCD screen or an electronic viewfinder (EVF). Mirrorless cameras are known as “mirrorless” while the DSLR cameras are referred as “mirrored.”

A lot of people became used to the term “mirrorless” during the invention of the mirrorless digital cameras with compatible lenses. Most cameras do not have a reflex mirror. Scientifically, a point-and-shoot is a mirrorless camera likewise a Leica rangefinder as well as older film models. The phrase “mirrorless” generally describes digital compatible lens cameras (ILCs) that have electronic viewfinders or those that do not have electronic viewfinders.

Mirrorless cameras are more significant than the DSLR cameras this is due to that the fact that the mirror box occupies a lot of space inside the camera asides that, mirrorless cameras can be made much smaller than the DSLR cameras. Beginners, ordinary photographers, and even professionals are very familiar with the mirrorless cameras.

Lots of Lenses

Mirrorless cameras make use of a bayonet-style mount for fastening different lenses. The various manufacturers have a different specific proprietary mount, making it impossible for any mirrorless lens to be used on any mirrorless camera. However, lenses for those mounts have been produced. An exception to this is the Micro Four Thirds. This mount is only used by Panasonic, Olympus and a few professional players like the drone maker DJI and the cinema camera manufacturer Blackmagic Design. You can use any Micro Four Thirds lens on a camera with the same mount despite the brand.

One interesting fact about mirrorless compatible lens cameras is that the distance between the lens mount and the sensor is much smaller than that of a DSLR camera. As a result, a variety of lenses from DSLR manufacturers can be attached using various adapters. Some companies like Fotodiox and Metabones sell lens adapters for mirrorless cameras that would allow you to use the newest Canon lenses to the oldest medium format lenses. This is an excellent benefit for photographers with existing caches of lenses.

Sensors, Autofocus, Video, and More

Sony Alpha a7S II Mirrorless Digital Camera

Mirrorless cameras can have the same size of sensors as the DSLR cameras. The same way that Canon and Nikon produce full-frame and crop sensors in their DSLR cameras, Sony also produces full-frame and crop sensors for mirrorless cameras. Some companies like Fujifilm do not only produce crop sensors but also medium-format sensors that are bigger than the whole frame. If a camera is small, that doesn’t mean that the mirrorless lenses would be small. For instance, a 300mm lens on a full-frame DSLR camera will be the same size on a full-frame mirrorless camera. We cannot explain the physics behind it. But smaller sensors formats can make do with smaller lenses. For instance, Micro Four Thirds has a crop factor of 2x compared to the whole frame. Therefore a 150mm lens would yield a 300mm full-frame equivalent field of view, but that won’t be bulky. Larger sensors produce better image quality.

The proficiency of the autofocus of mirrorless cameras varies greatly, and this is dependent on the manufacturers’ lenses being used with the cameras. It is tough to ascertain whether or not mirrorless cameras have an advantage over DSLRs in this area. Initially, they did not as they depended on a slower contrast-detection AF system, but this has been improved since recent times. DSLR cameras provide more dependable performance, especially when trying to capture moving objects or when there isn’t enough light.

Mirrorless cameras could outdo DSLR cameras in AF performance in the future, but one area where they may likely have issues is the battery life. Their batteries do not last as a result of the constant use of the sensors and the live LCD or EVF. Although, this could be improved on in recent times, but the robust battery lifespan of DSLR cameras is preferred by individual photographers, especially those covering sports or other live events.

In videos, mirrorless cameras have a more unobstructed view. When using the video mode, you must set the DSLR on live view, while using the rear LCD screen instead of the optical viewfinder. This, in turn, wipes out the battery’s life and subsequently, the viewer becomes worthless. Nevertheless, the electronic viewfinder in a mirrorless camera can also be used in the video mode. Sony and Panasonic are dedicated to building in high-end video features to their cameras.

Upgrades and Accessories

Sony Alpha a7S II Mirrorless Digital Camera

Although mirrorless cameras are more recent than the DSLR cameras, accessories and add-ons are not in short supply. A lot of mirrorless systems offers a wide selection of lenses. Most models have hot shoes for attaching external flashes; the high-end models support the vertical battery grips as in most DSLR cameras which helps improve ergonomics and extends the lifespan of the battery.

The DSLR cameras are a whole lot better for professional studio lighting although most lighting companies have updated their wireless transmitters to work with more brands. Mirrorless cameras are likely to strike a balance with the DSLR cameras when it comes to accessories shortly.

Wrapping it up

Mirrorless cameras are not better neither are they worse than the DSLR cameras. They are more preferably in some areas like videos and lacking in some other areas such as the lifespan of the battery. Finally, it boils down to what type of camera best fits your needs. The compact models of mirrorless cameras are mostly preferred by amateur photographers who aren’t interested in the lifespan of the battery and who want a camera, they can quickly take along with them. For professional photographs, it’s a deadlock.

You could check out some of our favorite cameras in our best mirrorless cameras list.

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