THEMAGICOF MIRRORLESS We’ve had single-lens reflex cameras for over 70 years, and they will carry on for many years to come, but there’s no denying the inexorable rise of themirrorlessmarvel. It’s here where we kick off the Photography News Summer Festival of Photography
ABOVE High-quality lenses and good camera technique will help you achieve detail-packed pictures, irrespective of camera type. This shot was taken on a full-frame Nikon D780, which is a DSLR Picture quality
THE SAD FACT is that the camera market is in decline and has been for the past decade. However, with sales into the millions, there is still plenty of money to be made for some, with seriously large brands out there pitching for market share. And in the interchangeable lens camera market,
the newcomer mirrorless type is right up there scrapping with the classic DSLR. Depending on which sector of the market you look at, you could even say this upstart is now the dominant force. That is some going when you consider that the first mirrorless camera – which was the Micro Four
Thirds Panasonic Lumix G1 – was only launched in late 2008. So why has mirrorless picked up so quickly and what gives it such appeal among photographers compared to the DSLR? Over these pages, we’re going to take a look at the pros and cons of mirrorless.
Both mirrorless and DSLR cameras are capable of very high picture quality, so this is not a consideration if you are looking at which camera type to buy. Of course, there are performance differences frommodel to model,
with format size and sensor type key to ultimate quality. So larger sensors will outperform smaller sensors, especially at higher ISO settings, but differences are only evident when files are printed very large.
Shooting speed Not having to move a reflex mirror out of the way before an exposure is made helps mirrorless cameras to shoot lots of frames at high speed and quietly (even silently). The Olympus OM-D E-M1 can do 60fps with full Raws, but this is with the silent electronic shutter and without AF tracking – it’s 18fps with AF tracking. But the DSLR designers have been working hard on this and if you look at Canon’s flagship, the EOS-1D X Mark III, this can race along at 16fps with AE/AF tracking and 20fps in live view. Nikon’s new D6 shoots at 14fps Of course, we’re are not talking comparable products, but it shows how mirrorless technology has brought new features to the party, overtaking what DSLRs were capable of at the time. However DSLRs, especially at the top end of the market, are now catching up.
Mirrorless cameras can be smaller and lighter than their same format DSLR rivals. One format, Micro Four Thirds, adopted by Olympus and Panasonic, does not have a DSLR rival, and here the saving in bulk with cameras and lenses is undeniable. With APS-C and full-frame, the size and weight benefits are less clear-cut. For example, the full-frame Panasonic Lumix S series rivals its DSLR counterparts. Canon and Nikon are the only brands with mirrorless and DSLR products of the same format. The full-frame Canon EOS R with the RF 24-70mm f/2.8 weighs 1560g, whereas Size and weight
the EOS 5D Mark IV and EF 24- 70mm f/2.8 is 1700g – a weight saving equivalent to six AA cells. A Nikon Z 7 with a Z 24-70mm f/2.8 weighs 1480g and that compares well against the D850 with the AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8, which is 2075g, so here the benefit is more clear. Lighter and more compact cameras have benefits, especially for travel work, but many photographers prefer large, heavier models. Larger controls and bigger bodies are easier to grip, and heavier cameras can help shooting stability. However, some mirrorless models do have optional power/handgrips if you want to bulk up the body.
ABOVE If you’re a budding action/sport shooter with no system commitments, a big budget and broad shoulders, choosing between the two camera types might not be so straightforward
Keeping your image steady Five-axis in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) is currently the province of mirrorless cameras. Being able to work in five axes (vertical, horizontal, pitch, yaw and roll) not only efficiently deals with camera shake for stills, but gives smoother, more watchable handheld video. Models such as the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III offer 7EV benefit with standard Micro Four Thirds lenses and 7.5EV with IS-sync lenses. DSLRs use lens-based image stabiliser systems. Canon has IS and Nikon has VR, and they have around 3 to 4EV benefit depending on the lens. Brands Sigma and Tamron also have lens-based systems, called OS and VC, respectively. The downside of a lens-based system is that not every lens features it. If it is offered, it makes for a bigger, more expensive lens. Typically, an IBIS system will work with all lenses, although the benefit might vary.
TOP LEFT The new FujifilmX-T4 is anAPS-C format camera with the option of a battery grip, which not only greatly enhances shooting capacity, but makes the body larger, which some users might prefer TOP RIGHT Panasonic’s camera designers took the no-compromise approach when designing its full-frame Lumix S series, so the cameras and lenses are comparable to DSLR in terms of bulk
ABOVE The Nikon Z 6 has an in-body image stabiliser and you can see its howwell it works here, with an exposure of 0.4sec at f/4 using the 70mm end of a 24-70mm zoom
8 Photography News | Issue 77
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