Join Ben Long for an in-depth discussion in this video SLR and mirrorless design, part of Advanced Photography: Medium-Format Digital Cameras.
- This is a Canon EOS 7D digital SLR. It uses an APS-C size sensor, and is pretty typical of the size of a cropped sensor SLR. This is Fuji X-T2 mirrorless camera. It also uses an APS-C size sensor, but is obviously a smaller camera. Now I should say that there are smaller cropped sensor SLR's than this one, but this Canon is a fairly representative size, and none of the smaller SLR's are as small as this Fuji.
Again, both of these cameras have sensors that are the same size. The difference in the body size of these two cameras doesn't come from a change in sensor size, but rather from a change in the type of viewfinder that the cameras have. In an SLR, when you look through the viewfinder, you look through the same lens that exposes the image sensor. This means that you see the exact same framing that the sensor will see, as well as the effect of any filters that you might have on your lens. This is all possible because inside the camera is a mirror, which bounces light from the lens up into another series of mirrors, or sometimes a prism, and out through the viewfinder.
When you take a photo, that mirror is flipped up out of the way, so that the light can reach the image sensor. Now, this is a fantastic system that allows you to precisely visualize your final image. Something that's very hard to do with a rangefinder, or twin lens camera, where you don't look through the same lens that exposes the sensor or film. The problem is, that mirror takes up a lot of space. That's one reason that this camera is the size that it is. So, when we say mirrorless camera, we're referring to a camera that doesn't have a mirror parked in front of the image sensor.
If I take the lens off of this Fuji X-T2, you can see that there is no mirror in there, just the sensor. The viewfinder up here is electronic. It's basically a small live view monitor, which takes the image from the sensor, and shows it to me in realtime. Because no mirror is necessary, the camera can be made smaller than an SLR body. And, because there's no mirror in here, lenses can be designed to fit closer to the sensor, which means the lenses don't have to be as large, because they don't have to project as big of an imaging circle.
Now, in the small, get this back on here, in the small medium format world, we also have SLR and mirrorless cameras. A mirrorless medium format camera takes the same physical architecture as a mirrorless camera like this Fuji X-T2, or the Sony A7 series, or any micro four thirds camera, but builds up the camera around a medium format sensor. At the time of this shooting, there are two medium format, mirrorless cameras available. The Fuji GFX 50S, and the Hasselblad X1D.
Both cameras use the same sensor, manufactured by Sony, but they deliver very different images, due to customizations made by the manufacturers. The Hasselblad is more expensive, both the body and its lenses. And both cameras yield excellent images. However, because of their mirrorless designs, these cameras are much smaller and lighter than traditional medium format cameras. In fact, depending on the lenses you are considering, this Fuji might be lighter than a full frame SLR, and the Hassleblad definitely will be.
This means that these cameras are actually practical for landscape shooting, street shooting, and other field work. Something that has not always been true with larger medium format cameras. If I take the lens off of this Hasselblad, you can see that right inside, there's the sensor, and it's large. But because there is no mirror chamber and mirror, the camera itself is pretty small. Like a smaller mirrorless camera, this Fuji, and the Hasselblad, have electronic viewfinders.
In fact the viewfinder on the Fuji is removable, and can be swapped out with one that tilts up for waist level shooting. The Pentax 645D, or Z, uses a traditional SLR design, as well as the same sensor as both of the mirrorless cameras. But because of the mirror and mirror chamber, the Pentax is larger than either medium format mirrorless camera, but still smaller than medium format cameras that use a larger sensor. Take a look at the mirror that's in here. If I pop the lens off, just like on the SLR that we saw before, you can look right there into the mirror chamber, and it's a big mirror that's necessary to cover the entire sensor.
What's great about all three of these cameras, is that there should be nothing unfamiliar to you, if you've worked with either an SLR or a mirrorless camera. You've still got controls for aperture, shutter speed, auto focus, metering mode, white balance, exposure compensation, selecting an image format, all that stuff. There's no reason to be intimidated by these cameras, because they offer interfaces and controls like the cameras that you're already used to. This hasn't always been true with larger medium format cameras. If you use a Fuji mirrorless, then you'll feel especially comfortable with the GFX 50, as it mostly uses the same physical layout and interface as Fuji's APS size mirrorless cameras.
But with all three of these, you should find that you can simply pick them up and start shooting. This course is not intended as a tutorial on any of these cameras, and we mostly won't be speaking about any specific controls. The point of this course is to understand the advantages and disadvantages of this new category of camera, and to help you determine if a camera like this would benefit you in your own work.
- SLR and mirrorless design
- Focal length and aspect ratio
- Exploring camera options
- Workflow and tethering
- Shooting with small, medium-format cameras
- Dynamic range and medium format
- Medium format and commercial, architectural, and landscape photography
- Determining if you need a medium-format camera