Hi folks. As an avid photographer I want to talk  to you in this blog post about what is in my view the most exciting addition to the photography world in recent times; The Mirrorless Digital Camera!

Mirrorless Digital Cameras vs DSLRs

The Mirrorless Digital Camera is relatively recent innovation within the photography industry that has resulted in the price of professional quality camera and lens systems plummet. This is due to the reduction in size of the camera body and lens system afforded by the removal of the mirror that is a standard feature of the more established DSLR cameras, or Digital Single Lens Reflex camera.

In a DSLR, the light enters the camera through the lens and is reflected by the mirror that is set at 45 degrees. This reflects the light upto a pentaprism that is also set at 45 degrees and in turn reflects the light (and ultimately an image of what the camera can see) through the viewfinder and into the photographer's eye. This is known as an optical viewfinder. When the photographer presses the shutter release, the mirror is momentarily raised (usually for no more than a fraction of a second) so that the camera sensor can record the resulting image. This is the “reflex” referred to in the type name.

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The Mirrorless Digital Camera does away with the mirror and the pentaprism and instead digitally displays what the camera can see using an Electronic Viewfinder, (or EVF for short).  This allows for the camera body to be designed and built  to much smaller specifications and, in turn, requires a much smaller lens system to support it. As such, manufacturing costs are drastically reduced, allowing the forerunning Mirrorless Digital Camera companies (such as Fujifilm, Sony and Olympus) to invest their saving back into research and development. This has resulted in the improvement of camera sensor and lens system quality, which has seen the images quality produced by some Mirrorless Digital Cameras surpass that of their much more established DSLR counterparts. (You can learn more about different camera types HERE.)

Evolution of the Mirrorless Digital Camera

The advent of the Mirrorless Digital Camera has been something of a phenomenon, and has seen professionals and amateurs alike trading in their DSLR camera and lens kits in exchange for the lighter and more wieldy mirrorless options, without compromising the quality of their resulting images. The design and aesthetic of this new breed of camera has has taken its inspiration from evolved along the lines of the classic rangefinder cameras of the last century, such as Leica and Hasselblad. This retro styling has also proved to be huge attraction for photographers along with the reduced cost and increased image quality.

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With the big name DSLR manufacturers, such as Canon and Nikon sticking to the traditional SLR models, the new mirrorless model has been picked and run with by less established camera manufacturers, with Fujifilm and Sony proving to be the most popular and successful to date. They have both produced a number of models with the Fujifilm based around a “cropped” APS C sized sensor and Sony concentrating on the “full frame” 35mm option. Fujifilm has lead the way with the X-Pro1 (now superseded by the X-Pro2) and the X-T1 (now superseded by the X-T2). They have also produced scaled down versions of both cameras in the form of the X-E1 (now superseded by the X-E2) and the X-T10, (X-T20 still to be announced). Fujifilm have also produced some models with fixed, non-interchangeable lens system, such as X-100, X-100s and X-100t and amongst others. Sony have had most success with their Sony Alpha 7 series: the Alpha 7, 7r and 7rii, (all of which sport full frame sensors and require a larger lens system as a result.) They also have the a6000 and a5000 fixed lens models (amongst others).

Buying Second Hand

As the second and, in some case third, generation of these cameras are now available on the market, their predecessors can found online second hand for bargain prices (although the lenses to tend to hold their value as they are interchangeable with the newer models).I personally have seen some bargain used Mirrorless Digital Cameras for sale online. I find the auction websites, classified ads websites and second hand sales websites are the best to look at and compare prices. If buying a pre-used Mirrorless Digital Camera online, be sure to enquire about the condition and, in-particular, the shutter count. This will tell you how many photos have been taken with the camera and give you an idea of how much it has been used and what state you can expect the sensor to be in (as they have a limited life cycle). It can also be worth asking for the camera serial number so you can check that it hasn’t been stolen and what world region it was purchased in. Although highly unlikely, it may be worth enquiring if it is also still under warranty. Worth a try.

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I hope this brief overview and buying guide has been both insightful and helpful.

Speak soon!