So you want to buy a mirrorless camera

Date:14 May 2013 Tags:, ,

As cellphones increasingly  ll the role of the carry-anywhere compact camera, mirrorless cameras offer photo enthusiasts a step up. They’re the same size as point-and-shoots but have larger sensors and interchangeable lenses. Because we believe the best way to understand a product is from the inside out, we opened up a Nikon 1 J1 to take a tour of the features that define the category. By Steve Rousseau 

Interchangeable-lens mirrorless cameras offer unparalleled shooting flexibility compared with even the most versatile
point-and-shoots. But each manufacturer has a proprietary lens mount, so when you buy a brand of camera, you’re also buying into that
company’s lens line-up. Although you can exploit any of Nikon’s and Canon’s SLR lenses, some capabilities – such
as autofocus – might not work.

While almost all mirrorless cameras include aperture, shutter speed, exposure and ISO controls, lower-end
cameras tend to bury these in menu screens. High-end ones put the controls in plain view in standard arrays of
SLRlike buttons and dials.

The best mirrorless cameras can shoot around 450 stills on a single charge. That’s not quite the all-day shooting
life span of a DSLR, but consider that each battery is smaller than a chicken nugget.

Although not all cameras support an in-body flash, most mirrorless cameras support some type of external option
through a “hot shoe”. They’re not as convenient as built-in flashes, but external flashes almost always make for
better photos by allowing you to bounce light off walls and ceilings to freeze motion without the harsh whites
produced by a direct flash.

Besides portability, the near-SLR-size image sensors are one of the main selling points of mirrorless cameras. At
13,2 x 8,8 mm, this Nikon’s CX sensor is almost 28 times larger than the iPhone’s. But even bigger sensors – such
as the APS-C, three times the size of the CX – capture more light data.

This chip dictates how fast a camera can process light data recorded by the sensor. The faster the processor,
the faster the shutterburst speed. High-end cameras can shoot as fast as 15 stills per second and record 1080p
video at 60 frames per second.

“Mirrorless” refers to the absence of the refl ex mirror found in SLRs that bounces the view through the lens
to a viewfinder. Ditching the mirror makes for a more compact frame, but it also means losing the viewfinder, so
photo composition must be done either through the LCD screen or a viewfinder accessory. Most screens in the category
measure about 7 to 8 cm. Some tilt for
shots from high or low angles, some swivel for easy self-portraits. A few are also touchscreens, with tap-tofocus

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