Mirrorless camera is the present craze in photography and much research is being in progress to make it meet the best of both worlds (compactness of a point and shoot and interchangeable lenses and image-quality of a DSLR).
It all got started by Olympus and Panasonic as the four thirds system and now what you see is in the micro four thirds, which are smaller versions of the same thing.
What is a mirror-less digital camera?
So called mirror-less cameras are relatively compact ones; provided with interchangeable lens and have medium sized sensors. They feature sensors that are much larger than point and shoot cameras but are not as large as dslr cameras. They can deliver image quality almost matching those of the entry level DSLRs. Most of them have electronic viewfinder systems and some have even a range finder window built in.
They are also known as ‘Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens cameras’ or simply ‘EVIL cameras’! or The mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera 'MILC' cameras. They use comparatively smaller lenses than DSLRs (major manufacturers like Canon have introduced an adapter that makes their entire range of lenses compatible with ‘evil’.
Most of the newer developments in the camera industry are focused in the mirror-less segment. Recently Sony has come into this market with interchangeable lenses and medium sized sensor, Nikon’s launch had interchangeable lens but with a small sensor, Fuji has just introduced an interchangeable lens, hybrid range finder camera. So to say EVIL is the in thing!
How does it work?
In the mirror-less camera, light coming in through the lens goes straight to the image sensor, just as it does in the point and shoots. The image sensor then sends information to the back of the camera so that it could be viewed on the LCD Screen as well as in an electronic viewfinder.
What are its advantages?
They meet the best of both worlds; are compact and Light-weight; a plus point for the foot-loose!
The ability to change lenses is one of the biggest advantages of a mirror less camera over a point and shoot.
Better Image Quality
The larger sized sensor in the mirrorless camera enables a better image quality than small sized sensors of point and shoot. The image quality of mirrorless cameras is almost comparable to that delivered by entry level DSLR camera.
Better Low Light Performance
Mirrorless cameras perform far better than point and shoots in Low light situations that require the use of high ISO, due to their larger sensor size.
Ability to Zoom the Viewfinder View
The digital viewfinder display could be zoomed to have a closer look at the subject, to check focus etc. On at least this aspect the evil has an upper hand over DSLR!
Ability to look through viewfinder while shooting video
One of the major drawbacks of shooting video with DSLR cameras is that one cannot look through the viewfinder and is compelled to use the LCD instead (in dslr cameras the mirror stays up when shooting video thereby blocking light reaching the viewfinder). But in case of mirror-less cameras you could shoot video looking through the viewfinder.
More Control over Depth of Field
A mirror-less camera with its larger sensor and ability to use interchangeable lenses allows precise control over depth of field in your pictures.
Just like DSLR s, Mirrorless cameras offer full manual control over many variables like aperture, shutter-speed, ISO and white balance.
Disadvantages of Mirrorless Camera
Quality of EVF
The efficiency of mirror-less cameras revolves around the quality of its viewfinder, because a big part of the shooting experience is how well we can see what’s going on. Manufactures have recently come up with million pixel plus viewfinders, yet it is hard to work with in noticeably contrasting situations.
Mirror-less cameras cost nearly as much as the entry level DSLR cameras, much more than the point and shoots.
Battery Life and Noise
Unlike the DSLR cameras, the sensor, processor and the Electronic Viewfinder in the mirror-less camera is always turned on, thus consuming more battery power and also heating up which could create noise (interference with image quality).
There is a tiny time lag with the Electronic Viewfinder; and makers are on hot pursuit to minimize it.