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Mirrorless VS SLR Cameras

Photo by Jim Richardson
© Jim Richardson

Mirrorless VS SLR cameras. The choice is yours.

A major revolution in camera technology has happened. Dumb name! Great Advance!

mirrorless-logo-rgb.jpgThe word “mirrorless” implies that you are getting “less” with your new camera. That is not the truth. For years SLR cameras were the standard design for advanced cameras for amateurs and professionals. That was true in the mechanical age of 35mm film cameras.

The arrival of digital picture making allowed camera makers an opportunity to reinvent camera design. The mirrorless revolution was started by companies who brought a new way of thinking. The pioneers of mirrorless cameras are Olympus, Panasonic, Sony and FujiFilm. The early mirrorless models allowed SLR owners to point out shortcomings. But as electronic design, LCD and old screens and sensor design improved most all objections vanished.

© Jim Richardson

Now in 2018 Nikon and Canon have added professional grade mirrorless cameras into their product selection. Nikon calls their introduction “Mirrorless Reinvented”. Canon and Nikon have now endorsed the many advantages of mirrorless cameras.

Yes, there are a few situations where classic SLR cameras still prevail. For some sports and high-speed action situations, some photographers favor the professional DSLR models like Nikon D850, D5, Canon EOS 1 and 5D Mark II.

© Jim Richardson

Sony A6000 Mirrorless Camera  Sony A6300 Mirrorless Camera  Sony A7 III Mirrorless Camera  Canon EOS R Mirrorless Camera 

For most of us the advantages of mirrorless win.

Here are a few of the common improvements:

  1. Cameras are likely to be smaller and weigh less.
  2. Quieter in use, the bouncing mirror sound is gone.
  3. Eliminating the mirror allows more pictures to be taken per second.
  4. Produce better videos.
  5. Electronic viewfinders make subject viewing & framing easier in low light.
  6. Live histogram allows easier exposure control.
  7. Mirrorless allows autofocus in video.
  8. Facial recognition technology allows controlled focus on most important subject.
  9. More and spread out autofocus points make sharp photos easier when your subject is not in the middle of the frame.
  10. Macro close-up photography is simplified by continuous live view.

Many of us at Wolfe’s consider benefit number 11 the most valuable. The truly continuous electronic viewfinder allows for accurate adjustment of exposure. You get to see the exact lighting before you take a photo. Tom Tweddell, one of Wolfe’s photo educators calls this benefit the “Magic Button”. Accurate exposure preview really benefits picture making. FujiFilm mirrorless cameras include a simple top mounted twist dial that makes using this feature so simple!

© Jim Richardson

Fujifilm X-T100 Mirrorless Camera  Fujifilm X-T20 Mirrorless Camera  Fujifilm X-T3 Mirrorless Camera  Fujifilm X-T3 Mirrorless Camera 

Lenses for Mirrorless Cameras

A common buzz phrase these days is “Native Glass” or “Native optics”. These phrases identify that the camera lens was specifically made to work on a brand and model of camera. For many years this was a primary reason to select a Canon or Nikon SLR camera. These companies offered the most complete selection of focal lengths and apertures.

When mirrorless cameras arrived, many new optical design options became possible. Lenses of f1.2, f1.1 and even f0.95 add to the photographer’s tool set. By combining these “fast” low light lenses with newer image sensors, photos can be made in a far greater range of light conditions. These “fast” lenses allow for very selective focus where your subject is critically sharp while the “bokeh” of these lenses create amazingly soft-focus backgrounds.

© Jim Richardson

Olympus OM_D E-M10 II Mirrorless Camera  Olympus OM_D E-M10 III Mirrorless Camera  Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mirrorless Camera  Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mirrorless Camera 

What about lens mount adapters and what works?

From the beginning of mirrorless cameras, adapters were available to use older lenses on newer cameras. Some adapters worked well and frankly some not so well. Some adapters allowed for autofocus and automatic exposure control, others did not. Today there are over 60 native glass lenses for Sony Alpha cameras. FujiFilm, Olympus, and Panasonic have 20 to over native glass choices available.

Every time a new system is created the number of “native glass” lenses is limited. Nikon Z and Canon R lenses have been announced. Only a few options will be quickly available. It will be three to five years before these companies catch up to the number of options Sony offers. Nikon and Canon owners with current SLR style lenses can use them on the new mirrorless cameras with mount adapters.

© Jim Richardson

Panasonic Lumix G7 Mirrorless Camera  Panasonic Lumix GX85 Mirrorless Camera  Panasonic Lumix G9 Mirrorless Camera  Nikon Z7 Mirrorless Camera 

If you own a Canon or Nikon SLR and a variety of lenses, their new mirrorless cameras may be perfect for you. If you have just one or two lenses, you can consider a trade-in for a different brand of mirrorless camera. The people here at Wolfe’s can review the lenses you own and offer the best options when selecting your new camera.

Bottomline: Most of the team here at Wolfe’s believes that in a few years almost all cameras will be “mirrorless”. A few SLR cameras will remain for specific special applications. If your current camera is five years old or more, there are many reasons to get a new camera. Making better photos in a wide range of situations are the primary reasons. Wireless connected cameras now allow you to share photos via phone and internet easily. Take better quality pictures in low light settings. Come check out the new cameras. Mirrorless cameras do not have to be expensive. Wolfe’s offers good options from under $500.

National Geographic Photographer, Jim Richardson shoots with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Mirrorless Digital Camera because of the compact size making it easy to travel with.

© Jim Richardson

Here are some of our favorite Mirrorless Cameras