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By Jim Heid | Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Practicing Photographer: Is a mirrorless camera in your future?

Digital SLRs are versatile and deliver great image quality, but are big and heavy. Point-and-shoot cameras are compact, but their image quality and versatility are often lacking.

Welcome to an episode of “Goldilocks Buys a Camera”—isn’t there an option that’s just right?

For a growing number of photographers, the answer is a mirrorless camera. This up-and-coming category sits between point-and-shoots and digital SLRs, and Ben Long talks about it in this week’s installment of The Practicing Photographer.

pract photog week 10 mirrorless screen shot

The phrase “mirrorless camera” is a little misleading—after all, smart phones and point-and-shoots lack mirrors, too. But it’s an increasingly common way to describe the class of camera that occupies that middle ground between big DSLRs and compact point-and-shoots. Many mirrorless cameras, including those that use the Micro Four-Thirds format, accept interchangeable lenses—just like DSLRs. But lenses for mirrorless cams are lighter and more compact than their DSLR counterparts.

For traveling photographers, mirrorless cameras have advantages beyond their light weight and small size. For starters, they don’t look as valuable. Many mirrorless cams look like old-style rangefinder cameras, and they just don’t scream “steal me!” the way a DSLR does. Plus, their small size makes mirrorless cams less obtrusive and less intimidating to potential subjects. That’s great for stealthy candid photography and street portraiture.

I have to admit that I’m feeling the pull of the mirrorless camp. I love my DSLR, but there are many times when I wish I were carrying something lighter and more compact—but better than my iPhone.

What about you? Leave a comment below and let us know if you’re contemplating the mirrorless plunge. And if you already have, please let us know how you use it—and whether it has replaced your DSLR.

Learn more: • The Practicing Photographerseries at lynda.com • Ben Long’s courses at lynda.com • All Photography courses at lynda.com

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