Often you struggle to decide which the best camera type is. A couple of years ago, there were only 2 types of cameras; DSLR and Point & Shoots .While DSLRs were a great help to professional photographers with great image quality and manual controls, they were very bulky and hard to operate. On the other hand, Point & Shoot cameras offered portability and ease of use on the expense of reduced image quality. Although the image quality of compact cameras is increasing rapidly, it will never catch up with the DSLR cameras. Image sensor is the biggest factor that affects the image quality and just for a comparison, compact point and shoot cameras have sensor sizes one twelfth compared to the DSLRs. If a normal user wanted better image quality than the compact cameras, they had no choice to either use complex (and bulky) DSLR cameras or some Prosumer Bridge cameras which were not a perfect solution for the problem. Then Mirrorless Cameras came and truly filled a large gap between portability of a compact camera and image quality of the DSLR camera.
What are Mirrorless Cameras?
MILC (Mirror-less Interchangeable Lens Camera) are the cameras which have large image sensors similar to DSLRs as well as an ability to use interchangeable lenses. But the difference is, there are no optical viewfinders and mirrors (or prism) which make these cameras as portable as the compact point and shoot cameras. This helps them in producing high quality images along with an easy to use experience similar to point and shoot cameras. Overall, this results in a camera with much smaller dimensions yet high image quality similar to DSLRs and an easy to use interface similar to compact cameras. This offers the ‘point and shoot’ audience an option to get huge upgrade in image quality without the need to change their shooting behaviour.
Advantage of Mirrorless Cameras
Better Image Quality Than Point And Shoot Cameras – Due to increased image sensor size, the overall image quality, speed of operation and depth-of-field gets a huge impact.
Portable – These cameras are specifically designed to reduce weight of the whole system with removed optical viewfinder and bulky mirrors. These cameras weigh much lesser than the traditional DSLR cameras and about the same weight as a compact camera. This saves space and effort of people to carry around the camera so they would tend to carry these cameras with them more times and shoot with it rather than their smartphones which have been a trend as of late. Even their lenses are smaller in size and shape compared to their DSLR counterparts.
Better Autofocus Videos Than DSLR Cameras – Most of the DSLRs were designed specifically to click stills rather than record videos so they can’t record as good videos in autofocus mode. On the other hand, most mirrorless cameras have ability to record full HD videos with accurate full continuous autofocus mode.
Disadvantages of Mirrorless Cameras
Slow Autofocus Speed & Slow Tracking Of Moving Objects – The mirrorless cameras still can’t compete with the continuous or predictive autofocus on multiple points speed offered by the DSLRs. But there is not much problem in autofocus performance when focussing on a single point at a time. Also, these cameras cannot accurately track objects which are moving towards or away from the camera compared to the DSLRs. So they are not perfect for sports/fast action photography and events where kids are playing.
Bad Focus In Low Light – These mirrorless cameras cannot focus accurately in low light and most of the cameras don’t click the shots unless they are in focus. Mostly, there will be missed attempts to click shots or shots taken in low light situations will be out of focus. It gets even worse when light decreases and subjects start moving.
Slower Burst Mode – The burst mode in most of the mirrorless cameras is slower than traditional DSLR cameras.
Short Battery Life – Most of the mirrorless cameras are small in size so logically, batteries used in them are of smaller capacities compared to the DSLR cameras. Also, due to lack of optical viewfinder, the LCD screen always needs to be switched on which decreases the battery life significantly. The mirrorless cameras do not give “charge once and work whole day” kind of performance as most of the DSLR cameras do.
Lack Of Lenses – As MILCs have been out for just about 3 years, there is no single standard for mounting the lenses and there are very less range of available lenses for them compared to DSLRs. Sony offers 6 lenses to be used by its NEX cameras and Samsung have slightly more choices for their NX cameras. As time passes the range will increase though. The mirrorless type of Nikon cameras in India is Nikon 1 V1 and Nikon 1 J1 which are compatible with Nikon 1 Mount lenses. There are 5 options for Nikon 1 Mount lenses and are in process of releasing 8 more lenses.
Usages Scenarios of Mirrorless Cameras
Secondary Device for Professional Photographers – These cameras are substantially smaller than every DSLR ever made and this does not only give advantage in weight but also in space used. Professional photographers will be more than happy to carry them around with their primary DLSR. It can be a viable as a secondary camera for serious shutterbugs when their primary camera’s battery goes kaput on a long work day. Also, during plenty of events, using a large professional DSLR will freak out people around you and these mirrorless cameras will be a better choice in such situations. Overall, it is better and less pricey than carrying 2 full DSLR cameras around every day.
Best Camera For Wannabe Photographers – Most of the mirrorless cameras come with a small ‘pancake’ prime lens with them. They are often fixed focal length lenses with the right combination of price, aperture and focal length. This can be a great encouragement for the amateurs to really jump in with serious photography.
Better Image Quality & Ease Of Use To Normal People – Normal people don’t tend to lift the cameras towards their eyes and use the optical viewfinders. They are much more comfortable with using an LCD screen to click photographs and record videos. Less price, smaller size and familiar usage model will encourage normal people to use them which will offer better image quality than the compact point and shoot cameras.