One of the most significant developments in digital photography has been the introduction of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. By removing the mirror and optical viewfinder, manufacturers are able to make their cameras smaller, without compromising ergonomics, performance and, in most cases, image quality.
Composing photos on a mirrorless camera is different from a DSLR in that you use the camera's LCD (or electronic viewfinder, if the camera offers it). Instead of using a traditional phase detection system like a DSLR, mirrorless cameras use their imaging sensors to handle focusing. Focusing speeds on the latest cameras often meet or exceed those of DSLRs.
While the mirrorless market started off very slowly, there's now a wide selection of cameras available from all of the major manufacturers. In this article, we'll be covering the midrange models, which have list prices ranging from $749 to $1399 with a kit lens. They include:
- Olympus E-M5
- Fujifilm X-E2
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6
- Sony Alpha NEX-6
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7
- Samsung NX300
- Sony Alpha NEX-5T
Since the range in pricing is so great, we believe there are two groups of people who may be considering cameras in this class. One group wants a more compact, secondary camera in addition to their DSLR, but want more direct control than less expensive mirrorless models offer. The other is the photographer for whom this will be their only camera - someone who wants DSLR image quality and control without the additional size or weight.
On the following pages you'll get a quick summary of each camera, and what we liked (or didn't like) about them).