Choosing the right mirrorless camera and some models to consider

WHAT IS A MIRRORLESS CAMERA

You might have heard the term “mirrorless cameras” all the time. But do you really know what it is?

Mirrorless cameras usually refer to interchangeable lens cameras that do not have a pentaprism with a mirror shutter mechanism found in DSLR cameras. As such, the “mirrorless” moniker. 

The pentaprism and the mirror shutter mechanism is an historical relic from the film era, where the mirror shutter is flipped to allow light to enter and hit the film. But with digital technology, such a mechanism is obsolete. 

Mirrorless cameras are usually smaller and lighter than DSLR cameras as their bulk is reduced by the lack of the mirror shutter mechanism. They tend to be faster in autofocusing (AF) during video recording for the same reason.

CHOOSING YOUR MIRRORLESS CAMERA

Photography is as subjective as your philosophy textbook. A person’s dream camera can be another person’s total garbage. So, you really want to look at what you really need when you are choosing a mirrorless camera. 

First and foremost, you might want to evaluate your own photography experience level. Are you a primary smartphone camera shooter looking for an upgrade? Or are you a serious photography hobbyist with a DSLR and a few lenses seeking to switch to mirrorless camera? 

If you are unhappy with your smartphone camera and wanted a better camera, you probably might want to get an entry-level mirrorless camera to get you started. 

Models to consider if you are a beginner include the Olympus Pen E-PL7, Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF7, Fujifilm X-A2 and the Sony α5000. 

These models are usually cheaper - at less than $1,000. So your initial investment is not going to be as hefty. In the event that you felt these cameras are not for you, you are not going to feel the financial pinch.

If you are happy with these cameras, you can slowly upgrade to the higher-end models. Some mid-range mirrorless cameras to consider include the likes of Olympus OM-D E-M5 II, Fujifilm X-T10 and Sony α6000. 

However, there are flagship mirrorless camera models that can be as expensive as DSLR cameras. If not, more expensive in some cases. 

And that brings us to the serious hobbyists or professional photographers who already have one or two DSLR bodies looking to “downsize” their cameras. 

In the not-too-distant past, mirrorless cameras are thought to be small and houses only small image sensors, such as Micro Four Thirds. 

However, recently we have seen DSLR-grade image sensors, such as APS-C and even full-frame, being used on mirrorless cameras. The bigger the image sensor, the better the image quality as it can capture more details. 

And for the serious enthusiasts and professional photographers who want the best image quality that mirrorless cameras can offer, you will be looking at the likes of the APS-C Fujifilm X-Pro2 and the full-frame Sony α7R II. 

These high-end mirrorless cameras offer superb image quality along with great build and handling. These cameras also offer more dedicated and customisable buttons that only serious photographers would be able to appreciate. On the downside, these flagship models can be very expensive. For example, the Sony α7R II will set you back over $4,000 for body alone.

As any photographers will understand, you do not just buy an interchangeable lens camera (ILC). When you buy an ILC, you are buying into an entire eco-system of lenses, flashes and other accessories. The same applies to the mirrorless cameras. 

For example, if you already have a Canon EOS DSLR, you probably have a few EOS EF lenses lying around. So when you opt for a smaller mirrorless camera, you will want to look at Canon’s mirrorless cameras, such as EOS M3 or EOS M10. You just need to buy an adapter to use your EOS EF lenses on the M3 or M10, which uses EF-M lenses. 

But if you are using a Nikon DSLR and you want to switch to Sony’s Sony α7R II, you will have to start from scratch. 

On the flip side, chances are you will be selling away your current DSLR camera and its accompanying lens arsenal to fund the switch. So, it might not be that painful financially as well.