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Are You Ready to Switch to a Mirrorless Camera?

You may have heard the buzz about mirrorless cameras but wondered, what is that exactly?

What is a mirrorless camera?

Image by stratman² (2 many pix!)

In an SLR there is a mirror that reflects the light coming through the lens, up into a prism on top of the camera, and through the eyepiece for you to see exactly what the lens is seeing. Sort of like a periscope (see photo right).

When you press the shutter button to take a photo, the mirror flips up out of the way, the aperture in your lens opens, and the shutter that's behind the mirror opens to allow light to hit the sensor at the very back of the camera. This all happens in an instant and that click-clack noise you hear when you take a photo is the mirror flipping up and down each time.

This is why DSLR bodies are made as deep as they are, they need to accommodate the mirror inside and its movement during the exposure.

Mirrorless cameras have no mirrors
In the new mirrorless cameras – as you may have guessed by the name – there is no mirror.

When you look into the viewfinder you're not seeing exactly what the lens see, but an approximation in electronic form called an electronic viewfinder (EVF). When they first came on the market mirrorless cameras were not up to standard for most shooters, even advanced amateurs – as they had some issues including: a long shutter lag time, slow focus, lower image quality, and the electronic viewfinders weren't so great.

They've come a long way with this technology and most of those issues have been addressed and handled well but the top manufactures in the mirrorless camera market. I've been wanting to jump in for some time and I'm excited to say I just picked up the Fuji X-T1 and am taking it on both of my upcoming photo tours to Nicaragua and Cuba!

Photo taken with my handy dandy iPhone!
Photo taken with my handy dandy iPhone!

Why I decided to get a mirrorless camera

There were several reasons but the biggest being weight.

My Canon 5D MarkIII with the standard 24-105mm f/4 lens is heavy.

Really heavy!

That combination weighs a whopping 1.6kg (3.5lbs), while the new Fuji rig with 18-135mm lens tips the scales at only 930g (just over two pounds!). That's almost half of the weight, and when I factor in the other two lenses I also bought and am taking – my bag has been downsized significantly. If you're a traveler and like to take lots of lenses with you – then you'll know what I'm talking about here!

Another reason is that the X-T1 actually looks less professional.
When traveling that can be an advantage in that people you might want to photograph aren't as intimidated by your “big” camera and lens and don't automatically assume you're going to sell it or put them all over the internet making money from their image.

So it actually makes it easier to approach people cause you look like just another tourist.

Even if you have a Canon Rebel or entry level Nikon or another brand – any of the larger size DSLRs have the same effect, people make the leap and assume you're a pro even if you are not. As a fringe benefit you also won't be as big of a target for thieves who are looking for the big ticket items.

I'm anxious to get it out in the field and give it a go. I wanted to share two videos with you that might help you decide if mirrorless is for you or not, maybe even this little Fuji. I chose this model because it most reminds me of my old film cameras with dials and knobs, not hidden menus. If you like the digital menus then the Sony NEX line might be more to your liking. Do some research and see which fits your needs best, I did and landed on the Fuji.

Fuji X-T1 review by Digital Rev TV

The host of this channel, Kai, seriously cracks me up. Be for warned he does say “sh*t” in this one so don't watch if you have sensitive ears. I find his sense of humor is great and yet the information is still valid and useful. Check it out:

The great mirrorless autofocus shootout by The Camera Store

In this second video the guys at the Camera Store in Calgary, Canada put four mirrorless cameras to the test in the area of autofocus. If fast focus is on your list of “must have” features he does three tests and ranks them in order based on that criteria so you'll find this really helpful. The cameras covered are:

  • Panasonic GH4 – $1697 $1497 USD body only (four thirds sensor)
  • Fuji X-T1 – $1299 $1198 USD body only (APS-C sensor)
  • Sony A6000 – only $698 USD body only (APS-C sensor)
  • Olympus E-M1 – $1299 USD body only (micro four thirds sensor, the smallest of this bunch)

What is the Best Digital Camera?

If you want help deciding on which is the best digital camera for you, I wrote an article that walks you through the decision process with 8 questions you need to ask yourself first.

Read: How to Choose the Best Digital Camera for You

What do you think?

So what are your thoughts on this? If you have an DSLR now is this idea of a smaller camera with the same power appealing to you? Or if you are using a point and shoot are you considering upgrading and going mirrorless?

Before making any decisions though, read my article on How to Choose the Best Digital Camera for You. It'll likely help with you ask yourself some questions before deciding.

Share your thoughts on where you're at in the comments below. If you've already invested in a mirrorless camera tell us which one and why you chose that one?


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