My Guide to Mirrorless Cameras

Do you have a DSLR but you never take it with you because it’s too big, heavy, and bulky?  Perhaps you’re tired of lugging around that big DSLR when you’re on vacation.  Maybe you’re getting to be too advanced in your photography for point and shoot to keep up with.  This is my guide for you to enter the mirrorless camera arena.  These are cameras that deliver good image quality and have features that at least grab my attention.  To get on this list, the camera must be able to shoot in RAW and have at least some manual controls.  Any camera marked with a * is a camera that I wouldn’t hesitate to buy.

Non-interchangeable lens, large sensor compacts

These cameras have a fixed lens, whether it be a fixed focal length or zoom, and have a larger than most point and shoots sized sensor.

Zooms

  • * Sony RX100mkII – Building on the already excellent RX100, the RX100MkII brings a hot shoe to the table along with improved low light capability.  It’s been called by several reviewers the best compact camera ever made.

Fixed Focal Length

  • * Sony RX1/RX1R – Current king of fixed lens cameras.  Full frame 24 MP sensor paired with a Zeiss 35mm f/2 Sonnar lens offers unmatched image quality, especially with the R model with its removal of the anti-aliasing filter.
  • * Fuji X100S – Linked in spirit to the fixed lens rangefinders of the past, these cameras have been called the “poor man’s Leica,” although I think it may have a leg up on Leicas if for no other reason than autofocus.  APS-C sensor with a 23mm f/2 lens, Fuji film emulation capable in camera, and fast, intuitive handling make this camera many a street photographer’s go to camera.
  • * Ricoh GR – Ricoh’s line of GR cameras are legendary in film and digital.  The APS-C sensor, 18.3mm f/2.8 lens gives a 28mm focal length, its compact size, and its silent mode make it a fantastic choice for street shooting.
  • Nikon Coolpix A
  • Canon G1 X

Interchangeable Lens Mirorless Cameras

  • * Sony NEX-6 – Sony’s NEX line of APS-C senor equipped cameras are my choice in mirrorless cameras.  The line has quite a range from the 3 series to the 7.  I currently shoot an NEX 5N with the electronic viewfinder and love it dearly.  Being able to adapt just about any lens to the system makes it very attractive to users with large lens collections.  If I were in the market for a new camera, I would probably buy the NEX-6 for its fantastic sensor and built in electronic viewfinder.
  • * Leica M – It’s a Leica.  Love it or hate it, it’s a legend.  With the introduction of video the M has crossed over from a pure rangefinder to something more.  Calling it a mirrorless camera is selling it a bit short.  Leica and Zeiss lenses in M mount are amazing and for those on a budget, the Voightlander lenses are nothing to sneeze at.  The sensors in these are full frame.  If black and white is your passion, check out the M Monochrome.
  • * Olympus m4/3 – If I weren’t already in love with the NEX system, I would buy into the micro four thirds (m4/3) world.  All of the manufacturers are turning out fantastic cameras, but Olympus’ Pen EP5 and OM-D are top of the line.  The m4/3 sensor may be a 2X crop, but that does nothing to inhibit the stunning image quality you can get with a camera equipped with one.
  • * Panasonic M4/3 – The Lumix G7 is the first camera from Panasonic since the GF1 that has made me sit up and take notice.  The styling of the camera is retro, yet modern.  I would love to try one out.
  • * Fuji X Series – The X Pro1 and X-E1 are beautiful cameras.  The lenses that Fuji has come out with are stunning.  The rangefinder like styling make these cameras stand out.  The image quality is top notch.  Don’t just think of them as interchangeable lens versions of the X-100S because they’re more than that.
  • Nikon 1 Series – Although these cameras have small sensors, the image quality is quite surprising.  Nikon has come out and said that the 1 series aren’t selling well and I have to wonder if that’s due to the perception of inferiority because of the small sensor size in these cameras.
  • Canon EOS M – I only mention this one because of its ability to use an adapter and use Canon autofocus lenses.  The camera seems to be in direct competition with Canon’s own SL1.  I don’t understand why Canon would do this except for lack of interest in the mirrorless market.

I hope that this is helpful to some people in deciding on what mirrorless system to invest in.  Thank you for reading!

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