Everyone is familiar with DSLR cameras. What they do, how they work and what quality pictures they take. We featured a tutorial on how to buy a Digital SLR camera, with all the information you need to know about the features and functionality of the DSLR. Now, we turn to another type of digital camera, one that is not as mainstream as DSLR or portable compacts (Point-And-Shoot). These are Mirrorless DSLR, and at first, they might seem like regular DSLR with some features missing, after reading this article, you will know all there is to know about Mirrorless DSLR.

mirrorless dslr

What does “Mirrorless DSLR” mean?

Well, the mane pretty much explains everything. A DSLR camera, as you know, uses a mirror system that lets you see in the viewfinder exactly what the lens “see”. This feature helps photographers catch breathtaking images in the blink of an eye. The rapid shutter speed helps them take photos of fast moving objects, focus fast and see the effect instantaneously. As opposed to compact cameras, which have slow shutter speeds and small sensors, DSLR and Mirrorless DSLR cameras are faster and shoot better quality pictures.


The difference between Mirrorless DSLR and Regular DSLR cameras is the fact that they do not have the mirror system that DSLR cameras have. This means that there is no viewfinder, and no inside mirrors. This reduces the dimensions of the camera to the size of compacts. The benefit is of course the reduced bulk but still maintaining the quality image that DSLRs have and the level of manual control and flexibility of mounting other lenses. Because there is no viewfinder, the image is shown on a LCD screen, and like Point-and-Shoot cameras, they can have automatic adjustments (for those who do not want to fiddle with manual settings).

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Of course, the manual control is present, this allows users to manually adjust their settings for getting the best shots possible. Also, the possibility to use interchangeable lenses makes the cameras more customizable and better suited for the different environments.

mirrorless-system

Why and How to Buy a Mirrorless DSLR?

That is a very simple question to answer. For vacation cameras, they are ideal. Featuring the quality of DSLR cameras in a smaller package, with automatic features like Point-and-Shoot, Mirrorless DSLR cameras are the ultimate transition cameras. They have the best of both worlds. Although, for professional photographers, sports photographers or nature photographers, the best solution still remains the old school DSLR because they need the viewfinder to see the adjustments in real time and capture those split second moments. The Mirrorless DSLR is aimed for those who enjoy quality pictures, but want to fit their camera in their pocket.

Pros and Cons

The advantages of Mirrorless DSLR are obvious:

  • Like DSLR, they have fast shutter speed
  • Fast autofocus
  • Compact design
  • It operates like a Point-and-Shoot
  • They offer DSLR-like image quality
  • Some offer pretty good Video Capability (HD video)
  • Like DSLR Cameras, Mirrorless cameras offer manual adjustments

Besides those advantages, they still have a few disadvantages:

  • No viewfinder
  • The electronic viewfinder (LCD screen) is not as good as the old school mirror. After all, the human eye is the best lense we know.
  • Not as great with action photography. Although it has a very fast shutter, again, the LCD screen limits the potential of the camera for shooting action photos.

Which is better for you?

mirrorless dslr camera

Well, if you are a professional photographer that likes to shoot pictures of flies fighting cats, or a lion catching pigeon in mid flight, then the only thing that would cut it for you is a DSLR camera. The speed of the shutter, the image quality and the level of manual adjustments are the features to look for in such instances. For the amateur photographer, that shoots some photos on vacation or the eventual landscape or portrait, the mirrorless design is the best choice. The picture quality and small package make it ideal for the traveling type.

Price

Because the price is a big issue with DSLR cameras, know that Mirrorless DSLR can be picked up for under $1000 and the image quality resembles top of the line DSLR counterparts. So, is it worth the extra money from a Point-and-Shoot? If you ask me, it’s a definite YES! The added picture quality and the fact that you can manually adjust the setting are great features and make it a great investment. I myself, prefer DSLR cameras, but they are bulky and for traveling and ease of use, mirrorless designs take the prize!  Entry level Mirrorless DSLR cameras can go for $300, which for me seems to be a great deal, especially for what they offer.

More tips on buying a Mirrorless DSLR

mirrorless camera dslr

When browsing for such a camera, take a look at the features it offers, and because of the design, it might seem cluded, so choose carefully. Buy one that offers the best access to all the features on the body and one that offers the best grip, you wouldn’t want to drop your $500 jewel. Look for something that “feels good”.

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Also, shoot some images and a video before buying, it will help you see the quality of the camera, especially on high ISO settings and in low light environments. Because these cameras have LCD screens instead of shutters, look at how well the screen renders images. As any LCD, in bright sunlight, the screen might be hard to see and your pictures might not turn as good as you’d wish.

Bottom Line

As I said before, Mirrorless DSLR cameras are the best transition cameras between normal DSLR and Point-and-Shoot cameras. They offer users the best set of advantages from each of the different types. Although not recommended for professional photographers, they offer the best balance of features for the occasional photographer and for those who want to take quality still images and videos.

Top Mirrorless DSLR Cameras

Of course, there are many examples of great mirrorless cameras, here are a few models under $1000 to get you started:

5. Olympus PEN E-PL3
4. Sony Alpha NEX-F3
3. Pentax K-01
2. Sony Alpha NEX-5N
1. Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3

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Author

I often wonder, where is technology heading? What do all of these advances mean for us and for our future? I sometimes miss the days when I didn’t know how to use a floppy disk, or how a computer CPU works, but now, until I find an answer to my questions, I’ll keep tracking these advances and show everything I find to those who share my interests.