Such is the rapid technological advances of recent years, in sensor manufacturing, viewfinders, stabilization systems, lenses and other areas, that it really becomes almost impossible to classify all this camera oversupply.
Literally, there is no longer the “best” or “worst” but only what suits you. The burden of choice has clearly shifted in the photographer’s hand, skills, insight, talent, and even in accordance with his subjects. The market investigation largely depends upon thin or subtle differences, from model to model, company to company.
That something extra that each proposal has to offer, usually is not associated with the given image quality that everyone can enjoy nowadays, with more or less trouble. This very same image quality mirrorless cameras offer for years now, but claiming their part of a significant market share, started from a completely different starting point. Yes, you guessed it correctly. Because they lack the mirror and pentaprism, they can be substantially smaller in dimensions, much lighter, much more discreet. Now, having spent more than 15 consecutive years working as a professional in travel reportage and landscape,
I can not imagine a better choice for hours of shooting, exhaustive walking, climbing, transportation, travel conditions where small equipment is crucial. Metal and well built “bodies”, with excellent protection against dust and moisture (and tilting screens that offer shooting from unusual angles), combine these external qualities with much quieter shutters that are equally important when the presence of the photographer must be discreet or even imperceptible. How much easier Street Photography has become with a mirrorless at hand. Even in ceremonies and customs, religious events and so much more, the photographer can be integrated much more quickly in the colorful human whole, without his work intervening at all in the course of events of life itself. Yes, I do not contradict that heavy and bulky DSLRs look more impressive and more “professional.”
I know that many photographers still keep them just because they are reluctant to proceed to the complete change of their equipment, only because it shows more “professional” in the eyes of the customer. I assume that very soon all this must change. To be honest, I find no other option. The progress of technology is such that professionals on one hand will leave behind the whole DSLR philosophy, and customers on the other hand will recognize that there is no qualitative difference in services, besides of course that of the “show”. So photographers will work more relaxed and easier, just having to “train” others to accept image itself as the first priority of assessment and costing, rather than the black box that produces the images…
Moving further on my simple analysis, the absence of a mirror and pentaprism gave way to the digital viewfinder, a technology that was required to do great improvement strides in recent years. Personally I did not experience any real difficulty in the transition from the optical point of view to digital, and the benefits of the second came very quickly to overcome its weaknesses. I recall how important and costly this feature was considered in SLR cameras (and certainly a full 100% coverage viewfinder still is rare), which today is lacking in the majority of new models up to a certain price level. Commonly, you had to pay handsomely for a camera with such coverage. On mirrorless, the picture quality of the latest generation viewfinders, has absolutely nothing to envy, with the additional advantage of checking the viewing parameters and the image itself, before the shoot.
The absence of significant moving parts that exist in DSLRs, paved the way to many other benefits, such as achieving really many frames per second at high image quality. It’s so easy now to enjoy 10, 12, 15 or more frames per second in top resolution of each model, something that you will have to pay at least five or six times more to have as a standard feature in a DSLR. And that’s not all. The speed, accompanied by “bodies”, buttons and selectors with very high customization capabilities to follow the way of each owner handles his gear, simply accompanies an excellent performance of these machines in all areas of auto focus, which from the beginning clearly seemed that soon would threaten one of the main commercial advantages of larger cameras.
The CSCs necessarily feature their autofocus all the time onto the sensor, some of them with Contrast AF mode, others with Phase Detection, and some with a combination of the aforementioned. So, especially in shooting situations using the LCD and Live View, they have an overwhelming advantage against most DSLRs that need to use much slower Contrast AF due to the position of the mirror. Without any doubt, these small and miraculous machines are already better in terms of recording and motion detection of moving objects during video shooting. Those who love these parameters, very clearly appreciated this feature, together with the highest quality and resolution. In addition, the high demand for 4K resolution (who knows until when), means more processing power, something that benefits many parameters such as many frames per second etc.
Certainly in the case that all of the above are considered as of minor importance among many professional photographers (myself included), the mirrorless cameras can now easily stand next to any competition, in all matters relating purely with still image quality. The available megapixels literally appeal to every taste, covering every possible range of applications, while the sensor sizes ranging from the clearly improved models of one inch, go through the Micro Four Thirds system, which now has proven its value, do one brave stop at the ever magical world of APS – C, where the technological developments are impressive, and end up in full frame size, with the image quality enjoyment that has no compromises whatsoever.
The sharpness, color fidelity, the absence of “noise” at high ISOs characterizes the majority of CSCs, and even at price categories that hardly anyone believes these days. The prints that one can achieve with a well shot file from a mirrorless, are beyond any professional dispute. Thus, all companies can provide sophisticated and comprehensive “ecosystems” of lenses (fixed focal length and zoom), for every possible application. The incorporated opticals are highly qualitative and can ideally accompany the high performance sensors. They have less volume and weight compared with those of DSLRs, and with their clearly smaller diameters they also reserve a pleasant surprise, in the face of spending less amounts of money for filters.
But where the mirrorless cameras really brought a small revolution, is the almost inexhaustible potential to use old lenses (vintage or not) forgotten in closets and drawers for decades. There is already a serious trend and demand for adapters to bring back to life all these great but forgotten opticals, without making any compromise, both in image quality (in terms of older products) and in areas of performance as the fast autofocus (for modern lenses of other companies or other sensor sizes).
Summarizing all of the above, before I invite you to a rich selection of images from my Photography and traveling I’ve made through these past few years, working exclusively with mirrorless cameras, I clarify again that I simply attempt to visualize the certification of all those mentioned before. Image quality, sharpness, accuracy in metering, true color fidelity, absence of “noise” at high sensitivities, rapid auto focus, regardless of subject, creative control and superior customization handling of each camera. Resistance to any harsh environment, discretion, low weight and dimensions. Therefore, without any hesitation, I will admit that yes, my favorite mirrorless equipment helped me redefine my photographic art and technique, with a new mood, boundless interest and, equally important, with such a low cost that I could hardly imagine a few years ago. Please enjoy your tour on my «Mirrorless Photography”…