SLR autofocus has been around since 1985 with the Minolta 7000, and the latest phase-detect systems are amazing in terms of accuracy, tracking efficiency, low-light performance, speed and general usability. It’s fair to say that contrast-detect mirrorless AF lagged behind to start with, but has caught up quickly and many cameras have a hybrid phase/contrast-detect systems. Mirrorless also brought along features not seen on DSLRs, including focus bracketing, focus stacking and face/eye detection. For video, face detect with tracking is a great feature. The latest mirrorless AF innovation is animal detect and subject detect in the Olympus OM-D E-M1X, Nikon Z 6/7 and Panasonic S series. AF in mirrorless also has the plus point of wide coverage with a great many AF points regularly spaced across a large part of the frame
EVF v OVF People don’t make camera- buying decisions based on just one feature – or do they? If there is one feature that divides opinion, it is likely to be the viewfinder. DSLRs, with their pentaprisms and reflex mirrors, have optical viewfinders (OVF), while mirrorless models have electronic viewfinders (EVF) – exceptions include the FujifilmX-Pro range and Leica M models. The two finder types essentially do the same job but the users’ experience is different. That certainly was the case with early EVFs. Panning the camera smeared the image, the view lacked contrast and could be grainy, the resolution was low, and fine detail lacked crispness and definition. There’s also the need for power, which had an impact on shooting capacity. The latest mirrorless models, though, are amazing and the drawbacks of earlier EVFs have almost been negated. Look though the EVFs of the FujifilmX-T4 and Nikon Z 7 (which both have a 3.69m dot resolution) and the Sony AR7 IV, with its 5.76m dot resolution, and it is impossible not to be impressed. But the two types are still different. Many DSLR diehards will tell you that an OVF gives a connection with the subject. On the other hand, EVF users love the live exposure/white- balance preview and histogram showing what you are getting before taking the shot. BELOW The latest EVFs are very impressive, giving a contrasty, detail-packed image with no smearing during panning. This is the optical construction of the Nikon Z 7’s EVF, which boasts a 3.69m dot resolution
ABOVE The latest mirrorless cameras are blessed with great features. The Olympus OM-D E-M1X for example, has Tracking Subject mode with options for cars, bikes and planes, and Target Mode settings that let users set up their focusing pattern from the camera’s 121 AF points
and touch AF/touch AF shooting, too. DSLRs are catching up on some of these benefits – focus bracketing, for example – but some aspects don’t suit the reflex mirror design. Focus area, for example, is limited in optical viewfinder use,
because of the piggyback mirror. DSLRs in live viewmode do have wide-zone AF, but focusing on older models with contrast-detect is much slower and less sensitive, although newer models are noticeably better.
Unless you use live view all the time, a DSLR will comfortably give you more shots per battery charge than a mirrorless camera. With an EVF as well as a monitor to power, a mirrorless camera’s, often smaller,
battery has a lot on its plate. If you’re a heavy shooter, a spare battery or two on a day’s shoot is essential. A few of the most recent cameras of both types are USB rechargeable from a powerbank.
About video DSLRs and mirrorless both offer video shooting. If video is an important feature for you, then taking the mirrorless route is the best option, with 4K as well as Full HD available on many models and better handling. As well as, often, more sure-footed autofocusing and in-body image stabilisation for superior results when handholding. DSLRs are evolving though, with models like the Nikon D780 with hybrid phase-detect/contrast-detect AF, and the Canon EOS 90D with Dual Pixel CMOS AF, face and eye detect tracking, and touchscreen AF. ABOVE The Sigma fp is the world’s smallest, highly specified full-frame hybrid camera and is proving a very popular camera for video use. It doesn’t have in-body image stabilisation andAF is contrast-detect only, but it’s ruggedly built
ABOVE Of course, we’re not comparing like with like, but these two Canons share the same 32.5-megapixel sensor. The EOS 90D DSLR gives 1300 shots and the EOSM6 Mark II manages 305
Lens support We’ll be digging into lens systems in greater depth in the next issue of Photography News issue 78, out from 16 June. The long and the short of it is that DSLR systems have the advantage when it comes to the sheer numbers of lenses available. This is not just with new lenses, but also of the millions of legacy lenses out there already. That said, mirrorless cameras do have one huge benefit. Their thinner bodies means that adapters are available to fit existing lenses and maintain infinity focus, and there’s a huge range of marque and third-party adapters to enable this. How much automation and aperture control is possible depends on the adapter/mount pairing. When their mirrorless systems were announced, Canon and Nikon offered adapters to allow their existing DSLR lenses to be used with full autofocus and exposure control.
ABOVE The Nikon D850 DSLR is significantly bigger than the mirrorless Z 7, but you can see the smaller camera has the wider-diameter lens mount. The Nikon F-mount has been around for 60 years and the inner diameter measures 47mmwhile the Zmount is 55mm (the largest full-frame mount around). This gives lens designers more options and users more benefits
Issue 77 | Photography News 9
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