Best Mirrorless Cameras
What is a Mirrorless Camera
A mirrorless digital camera is yet another step from inexpensive cameras towards the realm of professional photographer equipment and exciting pictures you can take with this equipment. The first significant difference between mirrorless cameras from snapshot cameras is advanced high-resolution image sensors used, which are comparable in terms of performance with those of entry-level digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras. The second distinguishing feature is the design that allows changing lenses on such digital cameras. Also as the name suggests mirrorless cameras are not equipped with systems of mirrors and optical viewfinders.
In addition, digital mirrorless cameras are more ergonomic and boast a “hot shoe” feature, which is a special port that enables connection of auxiliary equipment: microphone, speedlight, viewfinder, etc. These features really enable you to make photos that are superior quality-wise to those taken with point and shoot cameras, especially when using an appropriate lens on a mirrorless camera.
In what follows is the examination of the parameters and features, which you should closely regard when choosing a mirrorless digital camera.If you happen to be looking for a compact camera, which offers an advanced zooming, we suggest reading our digital point-and-shoot cameras and bridge cameras reviews.
What Features to Compare
To put it simple after you activate a digital camera shutter it is a camera image sensor that forms a resulting image by getting exposed to the light flux that went through the camera lens, in these conditions the image quality is defined to a large extent by the image sensor size. It so happened that image sensors for mirrorless cameras may differ in size by a fraction of a millimeter, thus it was decided to classify these sensors as APS-C for convenience. Thence the presence of this abbreviation in certain camera specifications suggests that the image sensor of the camera has a size within the range from 21.5 x 14.4 mm to 23.5 x 15.6 mm, which far exceeds the average size of an image sensor of a point and shoot camera that in its turn is limited to 1/2.3” or 6.2 x 4.6 mm as a rule.
Another image quality-relating point of mirrorless cameras we advise you to clarify is the sensitivity to light (measured according to an ISO standard) or the exposure index. This sensitivity to light is expressed in an electric signal level generated on a sensor output in response to its absorbing a certain portion of light. Usually, a camera is designed so that its parameters for interpreting the sensor data values into a color space (sRGB) values are fixed, and several different sensitivity selections are accommodated by varying the sensor's electric signal gain in the analog domain, prior to its digitalization. However, there are mirrorless camera designs that provide at least some of exposure index (sensitivity) value choices by adjusting the sensor's signal gain in the digital domain. With that the modern mirrorless digital cameras support a range of light sensitivity values conforming to a corresponding ISO standard. The difference between the sensitivity values is that, for example, selecting an ISO 6400 mode results in a much brighter image than an ISO 400. However, the brighter image obtained will have its downsides, such as image grainy artifacts (so-called “noise”). All in all, you have to keep in mind that the bigger the upper sensitivity value supported by the camera the better overall image quality you’ll get for high-sensitivity ISO regulated modes. In other words, a mirrorless digital camera with a maximum exposure index of 51200 has a better ability to suppress image noise in general than a competing device with 25600 maximum exposure index. While the sensitivity is closely connected with the imaging and image sensor used the sensor size governs a resulting picture and footage resolution in an even more strict way. Whence the difference in resolution of still images taken may not be that obvious the difference in resolution of video footages shot with different sensors is much more conspicuous. Some mirrorless digital camera models are capable of shooting at the Ultra HD (4K) resolution, which uses four times as many pixels as conventional Full HD format. That is why we recommend the owners of 4K TVs and displays to look toward 4K cameras.
As we already mentioned the mirrorless camera design allows for lens interchange, thus the lens itself is of a great importance as it directly influences both quality and the overall composition of a picture. Speaking of lenses, one of the key parameters is its focal length, which determines the maximal and minimal distance from the closer lens to an image sensor. Tersely speaking focal length represents zooming capability, since adjusting a focal length, in essence, leads to the adjustment of subject magnification. Today the majority of mirrorless digital cameras produced are equipped with 18-55 mm lenses, which is considered most versatile and suitable for the vast majority of amateurs. After you get more or less familiarized with using your mirrorless camera you can proceed in experimenting with interchangeable lenses intended for certain tasks.
The next important aspect of a mirrorless digital camera we would like to point to is a camera diaphragm. The size of a diaphragm aperture determines the light flux, which an image sensor is exposed to. This size is classified as the “f” value. Please notice that the lesser the f value is the bigger portion of light the sensor is exposed to. Therefore, for example, a lens with f/4-5.6 diaphragm lets through less light than a lens with the f/3.5-5.6 diaphragm. Another plus of interchangeable lenses is that they permit you to focus your camera manually. With this feature, you are free to focus on any object among those you pointed your lens at without the need of waiting for an autofocus to trigger. An interchangeable lens also provides such a beneficial feature as a built-in image stabilization technology (optical stabilization), which is intended to compensate for a camera vertical and horizontal trembling using a special dedicated lens group.
Convenience and Additional Features
The most prominent of these features is probably the ability to attach additional accessories provided by the implementation of a so-called hot shoe. This special port allows for hooking up a digital viewfinder, an advanced flashlight or an additional stereo microphone with an improved background noise suppression. Taken all round this port enables a significant extension and improvement of functionality of your mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Another feature that greatly facilitates a camera use is a tilting display. A tilting display is really a must for taking pictures of your favorite performing musicians onstage because lifting your camera up, lowering it or taking pictures of flowers, pets or different insects is easily achievable without squatting or jumping. Complementary to hardware features many entry-level mirrorless cameras offer various software features, such as additional shooting modes, special image filters, and wireless technologies. Wireless technologies support provides quick files transfer to any compatible smart device as well as remote camera control using a specialized application after installing it on a tablet PC or a smartphone.
Fujifilm X-Pro2 Body Professional
Fujifilm X-Pro2 Body Professional
Pictures From the Past
The Fujifilm Japanese company founded in 1934 is the largest photographic supplies manufacturer in the world. The main proof of the company's manufacturing really good products are the rewards the company has been receiving from the TIPA Association for 20 years. In addition to film cameras, the company produces digital cameras, one of which is featured in our review.
For our examination, we chose the Fujifilm X-Pro2 professional-level mirrorless camera. The main advantage this mirrorless camera offers is the new X-Trans CMOS III image sensor of APS-C format. This upgraded sensor has an increased pixel resolution compared to its predecessors and an improved maximum sensitivity conforming to ISO 12800 (can be increased up to 51200 by software means). Such potent hardware on the board enables this mirrorless camera to take very clean and clear pictures, even in low-light conditions. The advanced X Pro processor is used for processing your photos, which contrary to a standard version processes data about four times faster. What Fuji engineers can be proud of is the ACROS mode, which was implemented as a result of decades-long products manufacture and research in the sphere of photographic film production. This mode allows for a simulation of using a standard photo film instead of a digital sensor, achieving smooth color transitions and blending, high-level black and beautiful image texture as well as taking high-quality monochrome pictures. This was made possible thanks to the implementation of a special algorithm that retains more visual details of shadowed regions of an image and enables dividing gray regions into separate shades of gray with almost infinitely small increments. While on the subject of "film" photos, we think that applying a grain effect to photos will also be to your liking. Thus when photographing some vintage things you found in the attic you can render the pictures more authentic and 70s film camera-made redux.
Now let us take a look at the focusing performance of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 mirrorless camera. The predecessors of this camera by the Fujifilm offered 49 focus points, whereas the X-Pro2 mirrorless interchangeable lens camera supports 77 focus points even with 8 frames per second in continuous shooting (burst mode). Bravo, Fuji! Thus, with the entire frame refocusing the subject on each of 8 shots will always be clearly captured even in the motion. You may have noticed that there is no lens in the supply package, and it is not without a reason ... It is obvious that after choosing a camera of this level, you will definitely need an individually chosen good lens with a focal length that suits your personal needs.
Use It Any Way You Wish
Talking about the distinguishing features of this mirrorless digital camera by Fuji, the first that comes to mind is the Hybrid Multi Viewfinder. The unique design enables you to use the lever at the camera front for switching between the three modes of the viewfinder operation. When the first mode is selected, the viewfinder operates just like its conventional electronic counterparts displaying the image on the LCD; in the second mode the viewfinder directly displays an image projected from the lens but with the ability to display additional information, such as shutter speed, diaphragm or ISO. With the third mode, when focusing on the subject the eyepiece shows a magnified part of the future picture, in order to permit you to make the most accurate shots. In a nutshell, using such an advanced viewfinder raises a picture quality bar to a higher level. Moreover, we discovered a second memory card slot on this Fuji mirrorless camera and figured out its purpose. The main function the manufacturer endowed this secondary memory card with is backing up your photos. The second function is a data backing storage, which activates after the space of the memory card in the first slot runs out. Eventually, the third option is to use the secondary slot memory card as a separate storage either for your photos or videos. In our opinion, the third option seemed the most rational. Indeed, you can use the first slot for a fast memory card compliant with UHS-II standard, to which you will save only high-resolution video footages, while the second slot can be occupied by an average-speed memory card for saving the photos only. Anyway, given all those options it is for you to decide. We also think that the overall camera design and manufacture are also worthy of praise. The magnesium alloy casing that protects the internals against dust and moisture alone is a big plus. Though the manufacturer decided to go further and equipped the X-Pro2 mirrorless digital camera with more than 60 seals to ensure its shock and weather protection. To evaluate the potential of this mirrorless camera fully, you should know that the camera is Wi-Fi-enabled, which not only makes a data exchange faster and easier but also enables a remote camera control. To use the remote camera control all you need to do is install the dedicated application on a smartphone or tablet PC firmware application. Please, use the link below for downloading the application.
After examining the Fujifilm X-Pro2 model we consider it arguably one of the most interesting mirrorless cameras on the market. The incredibly handy viewfinder combined with the new sensor and powerful processor will allow you to greatly improve your photos. Add a very convenient operation and you will get a very simple and prompt picture taking process.
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Sony Alpha a6000 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens
Sony Alpha a6000 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens
Stop the Moment
The Sony Corporation is a world-famous manufacturer of various products. The company produces TVs, different audio systems, gaming consoles, smartphones as well as photo- and video equipment. Back in 2010, the company made a decision to launch the production of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. The devices of the “NEX” series by Sony refer to this category, after some time the reference to this class of devices was changed to the “a” prefix before a model number. And one of those models we are going to review today.
We narrowed our search to the a6000 model equipped with a 24.3 Megapixel sensor, which is the APS-C format-sized. One of the most beneficial features of this Sony mirrorless camera is a lightning-fast auto focusing owing to 179-point focal plane phase-detection. Therefore practically all the objects that fall within the camera lens field of view will be in the camera’s crosshairs. Even more, the optical system of this mirrorless camera is not called 4D Focus for no reason as it is capable of tracking the subject not only in the three dimensions that constitute the space but also in the fourth one - time. Which is to say the camera system tries to predict the next subject position and evaluate the direction of its movement. This functionality turns out to be especially useful for a continuous shooting, in which the Sony Alpha a6000 mirrorless camera provides an impressive 11 frames per second, which beats even some DSLR cameras in this regard. It is fair to say such high performance would be beyond the reach without the blazing-fast BIONZ X™ processor. Not only this processor can immediately respond to all system actions but also improve the quality of pictures taken by suppressing digital noise and reducing visual artifacts.
Where Is the Flashlight?
We were interested not only in the functionality this mirrorless camera had to offer but also in the convenience of its use and peculiar features. One of these peculiarities is, for example, the flashlight or rather its seamless integration into the case of the Alpha a6000. It is only after pressing a dedicated button the flashlight emerges from the upper part of this Sony mirrorless camera, before that the flashlight remains concealed and you may have no idea it is there. The next perk is the OLED Tru Finder™. However, despite how incredible it may sound, the screen accommodates 100% of the frame space with a viewing angle of 33° - thanks to the OLED panel display. Another pleasant surprise is the autofocus activation on bringing the eyepiece to your eye. So, whenever you notice something interesting and worth photographing you simply need to take a look through the eyepiece for the camera to focus on the subject. This feature is implemented with the use of the optical sensor placed near the eyepiece. Upon the triggering of the viewfinder with the optical sensor, the display turns off. In the conclusion let us take a look at the controls in general: in addition to the conveniently arranged DSLR camera-style control buttons the Alpha a6000 offers customizable buttons for even more comfort.
While the controls do a good work in helping you to operate the camera the Wi-Fi and NFC wireless functionality greatly facilitate your media transfer to a smartphone or a PC. Ultimately, you can use the full potential of the supported wireless technologies to control this Sony mirrorless camera remotely by installing the specialized application on a smartphone or a tablet PC. See the links below for the application download and detailed information on useful camera accessories.
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Olympus E-PL7 16MP with 3-Inch LCD
Olympus E-PL7 16MP with 3-Inch LCD
Excellence In Autofocusing
It is almost 100 years for customers to enjoy the company’s high-quality products, which include optical and photo equipment. Since 2013, the Olympus company has been producing mirrorless camera models, which differ from the DSLR ones by smaller weight, size or even focusing speed.
Today we have one of these cameras for our review – the Olympus E-PL7. Olympus mirrorless cameras are built around an image sensor that is smaller than the ones conforming to APS-C format. However, if you concern yourself with a topic of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras you will soon learn that the sensor size mostly determines a final image resolution more often than not a regular user is unable to see the difference between photos taken with various-size sensors. On top of that, the Live MOS sensor is accompanied by the high-performance True Pic VII processor, which greatly reduces digital noise at high ISO settings and makes use of the Fine Detail technology for suppressing moire effect and chromatic aberrations. Among the key features of this Olympus mirrorless camera is the support of 81 focusing points that cover the image frame and “catch” a subject almost immediately. While this feature has become a standard recently the 3-Axis In-Body Image Stabilization system is rarely seen in such cameras. This sophisticated system makes it possible to use any compatible lens regardless of any lens stabilization-related features. Add the 8 frames per second continuous shooting mode and the support of Full HD image resolution to be sure to seize an important moment in any circumstances.
What About a Selfie?
Gone are those days when photo equipment was bulky and looked clumsy with this mirrorless camera model being a living proof. It is encased in a very pleasant to touch metal case with nice plastic inserts imitating a leather on the front. In general, the design makes the camera look like one of the models produced in the 70s, which is very eye-catching. If to take into account all the small details of the camera design, for example, the “leather” lens dismount button we can say that the company definitely walked by the “A good dress is a card of invitation” rule.
Now let us check the extra features of this mirrorless camera as we have already examined its innards. These features make a steady impression of the camera being oriented towards young people with a tiltable display as a proof. As it turns out, when the display is tilted 180° down the Selfie mode is activated automatically as well as the proprietary feature intended for getting smoother skin tones in the picture. As you might have noticed, the E-PL7 16MP mirrorless digital camera has neither a flashlight nor a viewfinder attached. However, you do not have to worry about it as the flashlight is included and can be connected to a “hot shoe” port at any time, and an external viewfinder, which is much less in demand is not included but can be purchased separately.
All in all, we had had a good time with this camera with an unconventional design, which can seamlessly blend with your appearance and cloth and can be carried around in a small bag or a pocket.
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Canon EOS M3 EF-M 18-55mm Image Stabilization
Canon EOS M3 EF-M 18-55mm Image Stabilization
From an Amateur…
The Canon company was founded in 1937 and it took 50 years (1987) to launch its first DSLR camera Canon EOS 650. For many years a single-lens reflex system was an inalienable attribute of the professional-grade cameras produced by the company and it was not until 2012 that Canon management took a decision to launch the EOS M line of mirrorless cameras. One of these devices we are going to focus on in this review.
The EOS M3 mirrorless camera is equipped with an APS-C image sensor with a 24.2 Megapixel general resolution. The highest light sensitivity level supported by the sensor conforms to ISO 12800, though it can be increased to 25600 to prevent you from missing an important shot even in poor lighting. In case you are striving for even more quality shots, the continuous shooting in RAW format at 4.2 frames per second will help you succeed. While this frame rate is not the highest one in comparison to other modern mirrorless cameras it proved to be sufficient for the most amateur users. The EOS M3 is known for its improved focusing with the Hybrid CMOS AF III system comprising 49 sensors distributed along the frame. These improvements allow for increasing the focusing speed more than 6 times in comparison to the camera predecessors. It is notable that the Hybrid CMOS AF III system performs in full even when you make a video footage contouring a subject with red lines, which is very convenient especially in a bright light that may make the display hard-to-read. The optical zoom of this Canon mirrorless camera is realized with a standard lens with 18-55 mm focus length, which is probably a happy middle ground for amateur photographers enabling them to take both expressive portrait photos and stunning landscape pictures. Any way, if you feel the included lens doesn't perform good enough, you can purchase another lens model compatible with the lens mount of the EF-M.
...to a Professional
Those who do not like to use an eyepiece when taking pictures will be pleased as this mirrorless camera by Canon has none. But do not take it wrong – the choice of such a design has not in any way impaired the functionality of the EOS M3 while the price of the device lowered. The use of a viewfinder with an eyepiece is still provided for, thus can be used after purchasing separately if you wish. However, the first thing we noticed about the camera exterior is the Exposure Compensation Dial, which is conveniently placed on the camera upper side. This dial facilitates the exposure adjustment dramatically when taking stills, thereby making this model compete with much higher priced DSLR cameras of a professional tier and evidencing about the company engineers taking the model development seriously. Continuing the controls examination it is worth noting that there is a tiltable touch screen at your service. With that, tilting the display down was not that impressive but the ability to tilt it 180° upward was very much to our liking. This feature opens the door to a world of exciting self-portrait photographs or selfies, the quality of which is far beyond the reach of any smartphone camera.
Talking about the shooting modes, this EOS M3 mirrorless camera has to offer a couple of interesting modes – Creative Assist and Creative Filters mode along with the manual one for shooting video footages. Using one of these creative modes you can select among the predefined effects on the fly to finalize the images and omit their further post processing on a PC. The manual video shooting mode enables you to adjust the exposure, diaphragm or ISO light sensitivity settings in real time to improve the quality of shooting. Concerning the video shooting with this mirrorless digital camera the Canon engineers took a holistic approach to ensuring a good quality of footages by means of making it possible for a user not only to achieve a high-quality video but also a decent sound quality by connecting an external mic to the Canon EOS M3 via the 3.5 mm mini jack.
To conclude, we came across the Canon camera, which is capable of taking high-quality stills and even shooting videos when being held at almost any angle to a user, including the angles for selfies. The camera is suitable for both beginners and professionals, with the intelligent focusing system as an assistant for amateurs and the advanced settings for professionals to adjust an image quality on the fly.
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Samsung NX500 Wireless Smart 4K
Samsung NX500 Wireless Smart 4K
It’s Time to Replace Your Current TV With a New One
Samsung Electronics is one of the largest electronic devices manufacturing companies in the world, the company is a part of Samsung Group. The company releases such products as smartphones and tablet PCs, audio and video equipment, household appliances, PC parts and many other things. However, the company also snatched an opportunity to take a significant share of mirrorless cameras market. One of such devices by Samsung we chose for our today’s review.
We focused our attention on the NX500 camera, which is equipped with 28.2 Megapixel APS-C image sensor. The proprietary BSI technology providing the backlighting of the sensor makes all the difference. Owing to such implementation the sensor of this Samsung mirrorless camera has a light sensitivity reaching the ISO 51200 value, which is above the average for the class and enables the camera to take high-quality pictures even in low-light environments. The high speed of operation of the NX500 mirrorless camera is backed by the in-house Samsung DRIMe 5s processor, which is complemented by the NX AF System III in establishing a superfast focusing thus preventing you from missing a good shot. To squeeze even more from every second of your camera use experience, the company engineers empowered the device with a burst mode operating at up to 9 frames per second. So now, when you have your child trampolining or a dog spinning around and trying to snap its tail around do not hesitate to point your camera at them and activate the continuous shooting. After you’ve done with the shooting you can pick the best image among the 9! Of course, the capabilities of this camera are not limited to stills only and you can also shoot visually arresting video footages. To speak precisely, the supported 4К (Ultra HD) video recording format contains two times the pixels in one frame than the standard Full HD and offers the 3840х2160 picture resolution. Consequently, even when watching the footages you recorded with this mirrorless camera on a conventional Full HD TV or a monitor you will definitely notice the superiority of the NX500-recorded videos to standard Full HD ones. Indeed watching your camera footages on a full-fledged 4K panel is another pair of shoes as it will bring you more joy and much better experience! In fairness, it must be said that this Samsung mirrorless camera is capable of recording even in Full 4K (4096х2160p) but such footages will unlikely be playable on the most 4K TVs because these devices usually support the Ultra HD only.
To Become One of Them
After getting familiar with the general camera features we proceeded to its peculiarities. We believe that the very capability to create Time-Lapse video clips with the NX500 camera turns out to be its major distinguishing feature. When set in the corresponding mode, the camera takes pictures with an interval ranging from 1 second to 24 hours with a further conversion into an Ultra HD video footage. Thus, you can create amazing videos of sunrises and sunsets, of stars movement along the starry sky and many more things - you are limited only by your imagination. You should keep in mind that any features similar to this fabulous one are rarely offered even in the best mirrorless cameras for video, which makes you one among the lucky few.
As for the other modes of this device, there is the Samsung Auto Shot mode at your service, which operation is based on a special algorithm and provides a subject tracking to make its photos only in the most suitable moments. Needless to say that this mode will be indispensable at any sports event, at which every second counts.
We added the Super AMOLED touch screen to the list of additional convenience features worth your attention. The Samsung company uses this display technology for its smartphones. With the display design providing for the display 180° upwards tilting, this mirrorless camera can take pictures of the sky without lifting up your head as well as creative selfies against the background of picturesque landscapes or architectural masterpieces. Probably you have noticed the absence of a flashlight on the NX500 model; it is because the flashlight connects to the hot shoe port. As the result, you can use the entire functionality of the camera in a daylight benefitting from the compact size and the weight smaller than those of the models with a built-in flashlight. In addition, the available Bluetooth and NFC wireless connectivity makes it possible to transfer any file from the camera to a PC or a smartphone in a quick and easy way. With the Wi-Fi connection and the Samsung Camera Manager application you can remotely control this mirrorless camera from your smartphone or a tablet PC.
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