Mirrorless Camera Buying Guide - Best Buy Canada

May 25, 2012

Buying Guide

Mirrorless cameras make it a breeze to take high quality photos like you were using a DSLR, but with a camera that offers the same size and shooting experience of a point and shoot. Now taking professional-looking photos is even easier for the everyday photographer.

Compact System Cameras

Mirrorless cameras take fantastic, high quality images that are often on par with entry-level DSLRs. They even support interchangeable lenses like DSLRs, which help enhance every scene so your pictures always look their best. In addition to these awesome features, these cameras also remain small and lightweight enough to take virtually anywhere.

If you’re thinking about upgrading from your point and shoot, you could be a mirrorless camera connoisseur. Read on to learn more about what these cameras are all about.

What is a Mirrorless Camera?

A mirrorless camera is the perfect hybrid of a DSLR’s advanced functionality and a point and shoot’s compact design.

These cameras are built with fewer complex parts than a DSLR, so they have room for a larger sensor than you might find in a point and shoot camera. This sensor is responsible for producing the high quality images you’d expect from a DSLR. With a larger sensor, you can produce pictures that retain their fine detail even when blown up to a poster-sized print. Mirrorless cameras are also designed so you can immediately see what your sensor sees right on the camera screen, offering you the same experience you’d get with a point and shoot.

Nikon J1

Like DSLRs you need a lens in order to use a mirrorless camera and since you have the ability to change the lens according to your needs, these cameras are sometimes called interchangeable lens cameras. Being able to use the lens that’s most appropriate for your subject gives you better picture quality than a point and shoot can offer. These cameras even have automatic and manual modes, so you have the option to let the camera do all the work or you can take control of the settings to really test your photography skills.

Mirrorless Cameras vs. DSLRs

With so many comparable features to DSLRs, why should you even consider a mirrorless camera? Well, there are a few key benefits that might make these little wonders the better choice for your lifestyle, especially if you’re looking for a compact digital camera.

Compact System Cameras vs. DSLR

Size

One of the biggest differences is size. Mirrorless cameras have a similar design, size, and weight to your average point and shoot camera. Even the lens is smaller – some nearly as flat as a pancake – which makes them very easy to slip in your bag and take anywhere.

Mirror and Image Sensor

DSLRs are able to produce superior images thanks to a large sensor that produces high quality photos with low noise and fine detail even in low lighting environments. These cameras also use a reflex mirror mechanism that essentially allows the viewfinder to see directly out of the lens. This is beneficial because it shows you the scene as it really is, so whatever you see through the viewfinder is exactly what your picture will look like.

Mirrorless cameras are designed without the mirror mechanism as they have a Live View electronic LCD screen on the back for composing and reviewing shots. With more space and less heft, they are also able to house large imaging sensors, giving them the power to take DSLR-quality photos that are clearer, richer, and much less grainy than your typical point and shoot.

Live View

Live View

As mentioned, DSLRs rely on mirrors and a viewfinder to compose shots. In contrast, mirrorless cameras use the internal imaging sensor to provide autofocus information and a live view of the shot before the shutter button is hit. This makes it easy to preview and compose your scene on the LCD screen – just like you’d do on a point and shoot.

You may also find that some mirrorless cameras offer both a viewfinder and a live view on the LCD screen, giving you the option to choose the viewing method you’re more comfortable with.

Interchangeable lenses

Just like a DSLR, mirrorless cameras have interchangeable lenses that can be used to take amazing photos no matter what or where your subject is. In keeping with their compact nature, these lenses also tend to be smaller than those associated with DSLRs. Some lenses are almost as flat as a pancake, lying nearly flush against the camera body, and have a fixed focal length.

Interchangeable lenses help give mirrorless cameras the power to take DSLR-quality pictures. The ability to change your lens to either wide angle or telephoto, for example, can help you achieve greater variety in your shots, so you can produce incredible photos of everything from expansive vistas to close ups of your kids.

Interchangeable Lens

Ease of Use

Since interchangeable lens cameras look and feel more like point and shoots, the learning curve needed to operate one is very low, especially if you already have experience using a digital camera. In addition to manual modes, mirrorless cameras are also packed with automatic settings that help you take great shots every time.

Features to Look For

Despite their lightweight design and simple controls, mirrorless cameras still pack a sizable punch with tons of great features that even professional photographers can get excited about.

Video Recording

Most mirrorless cameras not only produce high resolution photos, but high resolution videos too. You’ll usually have a number of shooting modes, formats, and video qualities to choose from that will help you record awesome home movies. Most cameras are capable of taking ultra crisp HD 720p or Full HD 1080p videos with crystal-clear audio recording.

The difference between 720p and 1080p becomes obvious when you put your video up on an HDTV or HD monitor with a screen size more than 32”. Put your 720p video on, sit close to the screen, and you’ll notice some noise and colour saturation. Do the same thing with your 1080p video and it will be much harder to see any flaws as the image quality should be razor sharp and bright.

Video Recording
Automatic and Manual Mode

Automatic and Manual Modes

Just like point and shoot cameras, mirrorless cameras offer plenty of simple automatic settings that help you create stunning pictures without breaking a sweat. But if you were hoping to get a camera that will test your photography skills, fret not. All mirrorless cameras have manual modes that let you adjust and control your camera’s settings to your exact specifications.

Accessories

Filters

Filters

Filters help enhance the clarity and colour of your photos while also protecting your lens from scratches and dust. There are different types of filters that do everything from block UV light to creating richer, deeper hues in the sky when you shoot outdoors. Keep a few filters handy when you’re shooting and when the moment calls for it, simply attach one to your lens and you’re ready to go.

Flashes and Lighting

Flashes and Lighting

A flash lets you alter existing light or add light where you don’t have enough of it. Illuminate the scene with a flash and you’ll be able to produce bright, clear shots even in low or no lighting, such as when you’re taking pictures outdoors and want to eliminate any unwanted shadows that might appear. The right camera lighting will make these dark areas much brighter.

Tripod

Tripods

Tripods screw onto the base of your interchangeable lens camera to help steady your shots and eliminate the blurriness caused by camera shakes. Tripods come in all shapes and sizes to suit your needs – from ones small enough to toss into your camera bag to one-legged monopods that get you ready to take the shot in an instant.

Ring Adapters

If you already own a DSLR camera and want to get a mirrorless camera to add to your arsenal, you’ll be happy to know that there are ring adapters you can use to attach your DSLR lenses to a mirrorless camera body. Keep in mind that compatibility will vary across models so it’s good to do a check before you buy an adapter.

Best Buy

Take the Next Step

Check out Best Buy’s huge selection of mirrorless cameras for all your needs. Whether you’re looking for a camera for everyday occasions or need something almost on par with a DSLR, Best Buy has the ideal camera for your needs, budget and skill level.

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