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 available:

  • Canon EOS M — APS-sized 18mp sensors, no EVF option at present, EOS M mount
  • Fujifilm XF — APS-sized X-Trans 16mp 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” 14-20mp sensors, EVF and no EVF options, Nikon CX mount
  • Olympus — m4/3 16mp sensors, EVF and no EVF options, m4/3 mount
  • Panasonic — m4/3 16mp 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 20-28mp sensors, EVF and no EVF options, NX mount
  • Samsung Mini — 1” 20mp sensor, no EVF option, NX Mini mount
  • Sony Alpha E — APS-sized 16-24mp sensors, EVF and no EVF options, E-mount
  • Sony Alpha FE — Full frame 12-42mp sensors, EVF, FE-mount

The Mirrorless Camera Timeline (links are to my reviews)

In addition to the still cameras, four companies—BlackMagic, JVC, Panasonic, and Sony—have made video cousins to the mirrorless cameras (i.e. video cameras that use mirrorless lens mounts):

  • Blackmagic Cinema Camera MFT (2012), Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera (2013), Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera (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)

Sub-sections in the Camera section:

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