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Exploring mirrorless cameras

From: The Practicing Photographer

Video: Exploring mirrorless cameras

I love shooting with my SLR. Nowadays I can get a lot of that in a point and shoot camera.

Exploring mirrorless cameras

I love shooting with my SLR. In fact, in general I just love shooting with SLRs. But boy, sometimes I hate carrying them around. They're really heavy and they make your neck and your shoulder hurt. That's why I have a point and shoot camera that I really like. But man, sometimes it makes me really miss my SLR. So is this it? I can either go into pain to get good photos or give up capability? No. That's not it. Hi, I'm Ben Long and on this week's Practicing Photographer we're going to look at a type of camera that sits between these two extremes. It may be a type of camera you've never seen before, but it's definitely something you should know about.

So why do I like my SLR? Well, first off, I like the image quality. That should always be the deciding factor in any camera choice. My SLR gives me incredible low light, high ISO performance. It gives me the ability to shoot very shallow depth of field. Having a nice, big sensor really can make all the difference. I also like that I can remove the lens. This gives me incredible flexibility, both creatively and for solving certain technical problems. And I like the experience of shooting with the SLR. I like the bright, clear view finder that really shows me what I'm going to get.

I like the performance, the ability to shoot quickly. And I like the control layout that gives me all of the control that I need very, very quickly. Nowadays I can get a lot of that in a point and shoot camera. This is a Sony RX100. It's got a fairly big image sensor. It does great in low light. ISO 1600 in the dark Is a completely practical thing with this camera. It's nosier than the SLR and in general image quality is a tiny bit lower. Well, maybe more than a tiny bit. The image quality is lower than on a SLR. But it's small, it's easy to carry, and it's very full-featured. I have a full set of manual controls.

I can shoot raw. I can get all of the things that I want. Except for the interchangeable lenses, the bright, clear view finder and some of the flexibility that I get with an SLR. There is a new class of camera that has come along in the last few years and that is something called a mirrorless camera. It started when Panasonic, Olympus and a couple of other companies got together and created the Micro Four Thirds consortium. This was a specification for a type of camera that lacks a mirror, an SLR of course has a mirror behind the lens that makes the viewfinder work, a Micro Four Thirds camera has interchangeable lenses just like an SLR but there is no mirror in here.

Because there's no mirror the camera can be made much, much smaller. And lenses can be made smaller as well. The downside is I no longer get that optical viewfinder. Instead, I have only live view or an electronic viewfinder. And apparently difficulty getting the lens on, that's me, that's not the camera. But, I've got a full range of features. I've got shooting modes, I've got a nice large sensor, not as big as what you'll find on an SLR but still plenty big, so I've got very good low light performance. I can shoot video, I've got a range of lenses to choose from.

In fact, if you have a Micro Four Thirds camera, you can use any micro four thirds lens no matter who makes it, so I can easily stick a. an Olympus lens on this Panasonic camera. There are also now, gobs of adapters for attaching any other kind of lens to your Micro Four Thirds camera. This, in fact, is an old Canon manual 50 millimeter lens, with an actual aperture ring on it, that has been fitted to work with this camera. That's really great for shooting video, having that aperture control. There are now a number of mirrorless camera standards that are being developed.

Here's another one. This is a Fuji. This is their X-E1. It's part of their X mount series of cameras. Again, it's got. Interchangeable lenses. This actually has a bigger sensor than Micro Four Thirds. This has a sensor that's the size of a piece of aps film. That's the same size that you would find in a Canon Rebel or one of the mid-range Nikon cameras. So a nice, big sensor, still all of my. Full manual controls, great image quality.

But check this out. It's much smaller than my SLR, and it's much lighter weight. Because the sensor is smaller, and because there is no mirror in there. Which means they can get the lens closer to the sensor. Lenses can be made very small. This is an 18 to 55. Millimeter lens so that's roughly 28 to 70 or so. Compare that to the 24 to 105 millimeter lens on my SLR. Yes this is a longer range, but still the difference in size is enormous.

I can pack a mess of these lenses in a bag along with the camera, and have a bag that weighs less. Than my SLR with just one or two lenses. So what am I giving up if I go to this? Is it really can I junk my SLR and stop going to the chiropractor because I have these lighter cameras? Yeah, depending on what you want to shoot. Image quality out of these cameras can be. Fantastic, every bit as good as an SLR. This camera shoots very well at 6400 ISO in low light. Image quality is spectacular. Because the sensor is smaller, I cannot get shallow depth or I cannot get depth of field that's as shallow as what I could get off of an SLR.

So if you're picky about that sort of thing. You are giving that up. When selection for certain systems is lower than you might have on your SLR right now, the Micro Four Thirds lens selection is vast, the Fuji X-System is still getting off the ground so it's pretty small. And finally, I don't have on this camera, an actual optical view finder. It's live view all the time. And if I'm not using the, the LCD screen on the back, then I'm using an electronic viewfinder here, like you used to have on a camcorder. And I definitely find that to be a lesser shooting experience than working with the bright clear viewfinder on an SLR.

Nevertheless, the size and weight savings are fantastic. I am shooting with this almost as much as with my SLR. In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb here, and perhaps make myself look stupid in the future, and give a little prediction. Point and shoot cameras are already on the way out. People are using their cell phones instead of their point and shoot cameras. And I think the dominance of the SLR is going to wane, because of this class of mirrorless cameras. And a lot of professional shooters are giving up their 5Ds, and other high end SLRs, and switching to high quality, smaller, mirrorless systems, because they're so light and easy to carry.

If you are interested in doing that, then I would recommend. The following exercises before you go camera shopping. Check the lens system or the lens selection that is available for the camera you are considering. Because the lens selection is smaller than what you might be used to on your SLR, then you need to make sure that the type of lens you're used to shooting with is available for the system that you want to. Buy. And you need to make sure that the quality that you're used to is available for those particular lenses. That's going to mean some research on the web. Downloading some images. But it's also going to mean some practice with your SLR.

It may be you can't get the exact focal length range in a zoom lens for a Fuji X-System camera that you've got on your SLR. It may be that you. can only get particular focal lengths as prime lenses. So, it's possible to kind of simulate that shooting experience on your SLR. Figure out what lenses are available. And try to simulate those focal length ranges on your SLR. Go out shooting for a day with that limitation in mind, and see if it works for you. If you feel like you can. Manage with the focal length ranges that, and the aperture ranges that are possible in the system that you're looking at.

Then it's time to get your hand on a camera and give it some practice. So check these out. If this is a new thing to you, this is an area that I really recommend exploring because this is a great alternative to both point and shoots and SLR's.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for The Practicing Photographer
The Practicing Photographer

75 video lessons · 46398 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 6m 25s
    1. Getting your project out into the world
      6m 25s
  2. 1m 35s
    1. Introducing The Practicing Photographer
      1m 35s
  3. 7h 16m
    1. Choosing a camera
      5m 27s
    2. Looking at light as a subject
      2m 22s
    3. Using a small reflector to add fill light
      5m 45s
    4. Editing photo metadata with PhotosInfo Pro for iPad
      6m 30s
    5. Let your lens reshape you
      7m 26s
    6. Compositing street photography images with Photoshop
      7m 44s
    7. Expand your filter options with step-up and step-down rings
      3m 56s
    8. Shooting without a memory card
      3m 6s
    9. Give yourself a year-long assignment
      5m 28s
    10. Working with reflections
      1m 26s
    11. Exploring mirrorless cameras
      7m 25s
    12. Batch processing photos with the Adobe Image Processor
      7m 30s
    13. Limiting yourself to a fixed-focal-length lens
      2m 13s
    14. Creating tiny worlds: Shooting technique
      4m 15s
    15. Creating tiny worlds: Post-processing techniques
      11m 41s
    16. Shooting macro shots on an iPhone
      3m 18s
    17. Using a tripod
      3m 33s
    18. Wildlife and staying present
      5m 58s
    19. Batch exposure adjustments on raw files
      6m 52s
    20. Why Shoot Polaroid
      11m 12s
    21. Seizing an opportunity
      4m 4s
    22. Four photographers do a light-as-subject exercise
      12m 24s
    23. Shooting macro bug photos with a reversed lens
      4m 54s
    24. Varnishing a photo for a painterly effect
      13m 36s
    25. Shooting wildlife
      7m 24s
    26. Discussion on how to shoot architecture
      12m 27s
    27. Using a lens hood
      4m 48s
    28. Working with themes
      2m 48s
    29. Setting up an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    30. Processing an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    31. Two perspectives on travel photography
      12m 28s
    32. Scanning Photos
      5m 37s
    33. Photo assignment: shooting an egg
      3m 13s
    34. Reviewing the egg shot images
      6m 47s
    35. Shooting in your own backyard
      4m 38s
    36. Jpeg iPad import process
      3m 17s
    37. Shooting a product shot in open shade
      9m 34s
    38. Reviewing the product shot images
      4m 5s
    39. Warming up
      3m 26s
    40. Taking a panning action shot
      10m 17s
    41. Scanning polaroid negatives and processing in Photoshop
      8m 17s
    42. Shooting a silhouette
      3m 9s
    43. Going with an ultra-light gear configuration
      5m 29s
    44. Working with masks and calculations in Photoshop
      12m 38s
    45. Working with flash for macro photography
      4m 55s
    46. Colorizing a black and white photo in Photoshop
      5m 10s
    47. Using duct tape and zip ties in the field
      4m 14s
    48. When the on camera flash is casting a shadow
      3m 4s
    49. Using Lightroom on the road
      6m 28s
    50. Listening to your camera to get good exposure
      2m 20s
    51. Shooting a successful self portrait with a phone
      7m 18s
    52. Switching to Lightroom from another application
      9m 48s
    53. Photographing animals in wildlife refuges
      6m 41s
    54. Shooting level
      2m 42s
    55. Photoshop and Automator
      8m 54s
    56. Shooting when the light is flat
      3m 23s
    57. Discussing the business of stock photography
      9m 48s
    58. Shooting tethered to a monitor
      3m 21s
    59. Making a 360 degree panorama on the iPhone
      4m 45s
    60. Understanding the three flash setup
      3m 34s
    61. Shooting a three flash portrait
      4m 6s
    62. Understanding the differences with third party lenses
      4m 43s
    63. Understanding why files look different on depending on device
      5m 25s
    64. Working with a geotagging app on the iPhone
      4m 43s
    65. Using high speed flash sync to dim ambient light
      7m 29s
    66. Using your iPad as a second monitor
      5m 46s
    67. Understanding exposure with a leaf shutter camera
      3m 28s
    68. Photography practice through mimicry
      8m 8s
    69. Canon wireless flash with built in radio control
      5m 59s
    70. Posing and shooting pairs of people
      5m 35s
    71. Shooting with a shape in mind
      3m 15s
    72. Shooting tethered to a laptop
      4m 40s
    73. Softboxes vs. umbrellas
      2m 55s

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