Mirrorless Cameras

A modernization of the DSLR is to remove the mirror and its components (optical viewfinder, phase detect autofocus system, etc.) and perform the functions those components provided using the imaging sensor and the color LCD (sometimes supplemented with an electronic viewfinder, or EVF). 

Removing the mirror box allows you to put the lens mount closer to the sensor (requires redesigning lenses, though), making for a smaller camera in depth. Quite a few other components that need critical alignment in manufacturing are also removed, making assembly quicker and less expensive. The down side is that using the image sensor to perform exposure and focus and using the color LCD or EVF to display what the camera is seeing consumes more power, produces more heat, and is (at least for the time being) lower in some aspects of performance, such as focus speed. These trade offs make mirrorless cameras (also called Interchangeable Lens Cameras [ILC] or Interchangeable Lens Systems [ILS]) good at competing with entry-level DSLRs, but not as capable as high-end DSLRs.

Here’s the short version of what’s currently available:

  • Canon EOS M — APS-sized 18mp and 24mp sensors, EVF and no EVF options, EOS M mount
  • Fujifilm XF — APS-sized X-Trans 16mp and 24mp sensors, OVF, EVF, and no EVF options, Fujifilm XF mount
  • Leica M — Full frame 18-24mp sensors, OVF, Leica M-mount
  • Leica SL — Full frame 24mp sensor, EVF, Leica L mount
  • Leica T — APS-sized 16mp sensor, EVF option, Leica L mount
  • Nikon 1 — 1” 14mp, 18mp, and 20mp sensors, EVF and no EVF options, Nikon CX mount
  • Olympus — m4/3 16mp and 20mp sensors, EVF and no EVF options, m4/3 mount
  • Panasonic — m4/3 16mp and 20mp sensors, EVF and no EVF options, m4/3 mount
  • Pentax Q — 1/1.7” 12mp sensors, no EVF option at present, Q mount
  • Samsung NX — APS-sized 20mp and 28mp sensors, EVF and no EVF options, NX mount
  • Samsung Mini — 1” 20mp sensor, no EVF option, NX Mini mount
  • Sigma sd — APS-C or APS-H sized sensor, EVF, Sigma SA mount
  • Sony Alpha E — APS-sized 16mp and 24mp sensors, EVF and no EVF options, E-mount
  • Sony Alpha FE — Full frame 12mp, 24mp, and 42mp sensors, EVF, FE-mount

The Mirrorless Camera Timeline (links are to my reviews)

  • Sep 2006: Leica M8
  • Sep 2008: Leica M8.2
  • Sep 2008: Panasonic G1
  • Mar 2009: Panasonic GH-1
  • Jun 2009: Olympus E-P1
  • Sep 2009: Panasonic GF-1, Leica M9
  • Nov 2009: Olympus E-P2, Ricoh GXR
  • Jan 2010: Samsung NX10
  • Feb 2010: Olympus E-PL1
  • Mar 2010: Panasonic G10, Panasonic G2
  • May 2010: Sony NEX-3, Sony NEX-5
  • Jun 2010: Samsung NX5
  • Sep 2010: Panasonic GH-2, Samsung NX100
  • Nov 2010: Panasonic GF-2
  • Dec 2010: Samsung NX11
  • Jan 2011: Olympus E-PL2
  • May 2011: Panasonic G3
  • Jun 2011: Olympus E-PM1, Olympus E-PL3, Olympus E-P3, Panasonic GF-3, Pentax Q, Sony NEX-3C, Leica M9P
  • Aug 2011: Sony NEX-5N, Sony NEX-7
  • Sep 2011: Nikon J1, V1, Samsung NX200
  • Nov 2011: Panasonic GX1
  • Jan 2012: Fujifilm X-Pro1
  • Feb 2012: Olympus OM-D E-M5
  • Apr 2012: Panasonic GF5, Samsung NX-20, Samsung NX-210, Samsung NX-1000
  • May 2012: Sony NEX-F3, Leica M-Monchorom
  • Jul 2012: Canon EOS M
  • Aug 2012: Nikon J2, Sony NEX-5R
  • Sept 2012: Fujifilm X-E1, Leica M10, Olympus E-PM2, Olympus E-PL5, Panasonic GH3, Pentax Q10, Sony NEX-6
  • Oct 2012: Nikon V2
  • Jan 2013: Nikon S1, J3
  • April 2013: Panasonic GF6, G6
  • May 2013: Samsung NX2000, Olympus E-P5, Olympus E-PL6
  • June 2013: Pentax Q7, Samsung Galaxy NX, Fujifilm X-M1, Fujifilm X-A1
  • August 2013: Panasonic GX7, Sony A3000, Sony NEX-5T
  • September 2013: Olympus OM-D E-M1, Nikon AW1
  • October 2013: Sony A7, A7r, Fujifilm X-E2, Panasonic GM1
  • January 2014: Fujifilm X-T1, Olympus OM-D E-M10, Sony A5000, Samsung NX30
  • February 2014: Panasonic GH4
  • March 2014: Nikon V3, Samsung NX mini Smart, Sony A6000
  • April 2014: Sony A7s, Nikon J4, Leica T (Type 701)
  • May 2014: Samsung NX3000, Nikon S2
  • August 2014: Pentax Q-S1, Olympus E-PL7, Sony A5100, Leica M-P Type 240
  • September 2014: Samsung NX-1, Panasonic GM5
  • January 2015: Fujifilm X-A2, Olympus E-M5II, Panasonic GF7
  • February 2015: Canon EOS M3, EOS M10
  • March 2015: Samsung NX500
  • April 2015: Nikon 1 J5
  • May 2015: Fujifilm X-T10, Panasonic G7
  • June 2015: Sony A7rII
  • July 2015: Panasonic GX8
  • August 2015: Fujifilm X-T1 IR, Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II, Panasonic GH4R
  • September 2015: DJI Zenmuse (drone), Sony A7sII
  • October 2015: Leica SL
  • November 2015: Leica M (Type 262)
  • January 2016: Fujifilm X-Pro2, Fujifilm X-E2s
  • February 2016: Olympus Pen-F, Sigma sd Quattro, sd Quattro H, Sony A6300
  • April 2016: Panasonic GX80, Panasonic GX85, Leica M-D
  • July 2016: Fujifilm X-T2
  • August 2016: Fujifilm X-A3
  • September 2016: Canon EOS M5, Panasonic G80/85, Olympus E-PL8, YI M1 (also development announcements: Panasonic GH5, Olympus E-M1 II, and Fujifilm GXF medium format)
  • October 2016: Sony A6500

In addition to the still cameras, six companies have made video cousins to the mirrorless cameras (i.e. video cameras that use specific mirrorless lens mounts; mostly m4/3 but some Sony E):

  • Blackmagic Cinema Camera MFT (2012), Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera (2013), Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera (2015), Blackmagic Ursa (2015), Blackmagic Studio (2015)
  • DJI Zenmuse (drone) (2015)
  • JVC GY-LSX2 (2014), GW-SPLS1 (2014), GY-LS300 (2014)
  • Panasonic AG-AF100/101 (2010)
  • Sony NEX-VG10 (2010), NEX-VG20 (2011), NEX-VG30 (2012), NEX-VG900 (2012), EA50EH (2012), FS100U (2010), FS700 (2012), FS700R (2014), PXW-FS7 (2014), 4K XDCAM Super 35 (2014)
  • Z-Cam E1 (2015), C1 (2016)

Sub-sections in the Camera section:

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