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01-02-2017, 10:21 PM   #1
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Can Someone Explain...

... to me about the fascination with mirrorless cameras?

On one hand I read about "real pros" use cameras with full-frame sensors. Then I read about the revolution that is happening with mirrorless cameras with the smaller M43 sensor.

What I don't understand is this: if the full-frame is better than the APS-C size, why do I seem to be constantly reading that the coming (or arrived) thing is a camera with a smaller sensor? Why would an M43 give me a better image than my APS-C?

What am I missing?

01-02-2017, 10:32 PM   #2
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There are full frame mirrorless cameras too. Didn't Hasselblad just come out with a new one?

If I'm not mistaken, m43 has a greater crop factor so maybe wildlife photographers like the extra reach? I know my mom's PowerShot has a puny sensor, but it has a max focal length of like 1300mm!

M43 cameras are all interchangeable, so the lens selection and availability really opens up.

They're smaller too. So they're easier to carry around.

Last edited by FozzFoster; 01-02-2017 at 10:40 PM.
01-02-2017, 10:43 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by AggieDad Quote
What am I missing?
You are confusing arguments. The case for mirrorless is all about eliminating the bulk of the mirror box.
It allows for a smaller and lighter camera, compared to a SLR of the same format. It's main downside is
the lack of OVF. I expect mirrorless will eventually take over the bulk of SLR sales as EVF technology
improves, but that is still some years off for many photographers, (me included). There are mirrorless
cameras in all common formats: m43, APS-C, FF, MF.

Micro 4/3 is, as you mentioned, a smaller sensor than APS-C. It's main strength is small size, both in the
camera body and especially the lens mount. Because of the short flange focal distance, it is relatively easy
for manufacturers to bring fast glass to the format for attractive prices. Nonetheless, the format is ultimately
limited by it's smaller sensor.

All M43 cameras are mirrorless but not all mirrorless cameras are M43.
01-02-2017, 10:57 PM   #4
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As has already been said mirrorless is a condition not a sensor size. Hassleblad just released a 645 sensor medium format and the Pentax QS1 has a 1/1.7" sensor.

There are even some pros moving to m43 despite the advantages offered by larger sensors. What makes mirrieless attractive besides size? Some people like an electronic viewfinder because it can potentially show live exposure estimation. Some like the ability to not see the exposure and crank up the brightness of a dark scene to reliably focus in near darkness with manual focus lenses. Some enjoy adapting old lenses to these due to the typically short flange focal distances.

Mirrorless also tends to pay attention to the hotest newest trends - Wireless tilting screens high res video etc.

01-02-2017, 10:57 PM - 1 Like   #5
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Well, people will always swear up and down that whatever THEY want has to be the best... so how much stock can be put into those kind of statements is up for debate. Full frame has the mystique... it has nostalgia and also, just by being more expensive, will attract some who will take that to = "the best." The K-1 is great and so is the K-3/K-3 II.

Why might there be people singing the praises of the smaller sensor micro 4/3 system? Well, it is arguably the most developed mirrorless system with many options in camera bodies, lens quality and portability. Just as there is only a little difference between full frame and APS-C, there is very little difference between m43 and APS-C. And while we in Pentaxland have long enjoyed our in-body stabilization, the rest of the camera world is largely unfamiliar and when you've lived your life without much stabilization and then go and try one of the Olympus cameras made in the last few years, it is honestly shocking. The current Oly 5 axis stabilization is probably a little better than current Pentax tech, if I am being completely truthful (though we're talking pretty small differences.)

Also, as I am sure you are aware, people love the shallow depth of field from full frame... even when in actual cases the DOF is so shallow that it is almost to the detriment of the photo itself. With m4/3, you can get high-quality fast glass that will give you pleasing out of focus backgrounds as well, but by it's very nature of having a bit more depth, you end up with a portrait with the correct PLEASING amount in focus that a pro would shoot a full frame lens stopped down at, but wide open on the m4/3 lens (this might not be as important to people who already understand these things, but I think the average person will judge the photos as looking better.) Micro 4/3 is a serious system and really is still more than most people NEED. It is a great balance of portability and image quality.

Why care about mirrorless if you already have DSLR's? (or why I would personally still like to see a mirrorless Pentax?) Well, lots of people here can give you their reasons (for OR against) but mine is that I own a bunch of Takumar and M series lenses and even though the K-1 is decent at focus confirmation, there is NO substitute for a good EVF viewfinder for M.F. Modern EVFs will not be everyones cup of tea, but they are undeniably a game changer for manual focus lenses. So I'd love one just for that and that (currently is how I use my K-01 but would be nice to have a viewfinder.)

No matter what anyone says, no camera (system) these days is point-blank better than another. Different cameras will serve different purposes as they always have, But better images? Nah, still in the eye of the photographer more than the equipment!

Last edited by sunny16; 01-02-2017 at 11:09 PM.
01-02-2017, 11:38 PM   #6
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Honestly my current m43 is lower end but I may some day go m43 and FF rather than m43 and APSC because the gap is small between the two now and it may make sense to widen it rather than have two similar system capabilities.
01-03-2017, 12:31 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by AggieDad Quote
Can Someone Explain...
... to me about the fascination with mirrorless cameras?
Cut directly to the chase:

Because a DSLR shows you what the lens sees while a mirrorless shows you what the sensor sees and that makes all the difference with a digital camera.

For instance I am a RAW shooter. When shooting RAW I pretty much only worry about two things - composition and exposure (ETTR).
With my mirrorless I have an hgram display at the bottom of my viewfinder and a dedicated wheel for Ev adjustment.
Thus I can push the hgram around and put it exactly where I want it on the fly and in real time - fast, accurate and simple.

Case in point:
Extreme DR shot with a black cat next to a bright window. I had to sacrifice a few highlight pixels on the right in order to bring out shadow detail on the left..
With the mirroless this was quick easy and accurate and all accomplished within the few seconds that the cat sat still for me. Try that with my K5.

At the present state of tech DSLR may still have some advantages but not for long.


.

Last edited by wildman; 01-08-2017 at 10:04 PM.
01-03-2017, 01:39 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by AggieDad Quote
... to me about the fascination with mirrorless cameras?

What I don't understand is this: if the full-frame is better than the APS-C size, why do I seem to be constantly reading that the coming (or arrived) thing is a camera with a smaller sensor? Why would an M43 give me a better image than my APS-C?
About every two years, I go to a camera store and with an open mind to try out a highly rated mirrorless camera, and every time I am more impressed with improvements in the EVF quality and reduced lag, etc. Less than a week ago I picked up a Fujifilm XT-2 and was impressed with how far the technology has improved. For me, however, I still prefer the advantages of an optical SLR over the advantages of an electronic mirrorless.

I think there are a lot of folks out there that just donʻt want the size and bulk of a DSLR, whether they be tourists, or family snapshots, or outdoor enthusiasts. The mirrorless offers them something better than a cell phone, but not the commitment of a DSLR.

Sensor size is a different consideration as mentioned in previous posts. A lot of what is in the media is driven by marketing and hype. What is better is a matter of perspective and values.


Last edited by Alex645; 01-03-2017 at 01:46 AM.
01-03-2017, 02:17 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
As has already been said mirrorless is a condition not a sensor size. Hassleblad just released a 645 sensor medium format and the Pentax QS1 has a 1/1.7" sensor.

There are even some pros moving to m43 despite the advantages offered by larger sensors. What makes mirrieless attractive besides size? Some people like an electronic viewfinder because it can potentially show live exposure estimation. Some like the ability to not see the exposure and crank up the brightness of a dark scene to reliably focus in near darkness with manual focus lenses. Some enjoy adapting old lenses to these due to the typically short flange focal distances.

Mirrorless also tends to pay attention to the hotest newest trends - Wireless tilting screens high res video etc.
...while probably involuntary, defining having lost the mirror as a "condition" is hilarious!

@wildman with a DSLR you still have the option of using live view, if some sort of exposure preview is supported, yes?
01-03-2017, 02:54 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by LensBeginner Quote
...while probably involuntary, defining having lost the mirror as a "condition" is hilarious!

@wildman with a DSLR you still have the option of using live view, if some sort of exposure preview is supported, yes?
Of course. In M mode on my Pentaxes in fact, there's no way of turning that damned exposure preview off!

(Why would I want to do that? Because flash photography often calls for the ambient to be reduced or even eliminated)
01-03-2017, 03:16 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by tvdtvdtvd Quote
The case for mirrorless is all about eliminating the bulk of the mirror box.
... It's main downside is the lack of OVF.
I would say that's a "difference" rather than a "downside". I like both types of viewfinder for different reasons.

Sometimes an OVF is preferable, no doubt, and it feels a lot more natural. But, there are definitely situations where a good EVF works better. Shooting manual focus and manual aperture lenses is so much easier with an EVF - focusing is a dream due to in-viewfinder magnification and focus peaking, and you can shoot at whatever aperture you like and see the resulting depth of field as it will look in the final image - no DOF preview necessary. Plus, an EVF gives a very good approximation of exposure for the captured scene... not quite WYSIWYG, but much closer than you see through an OVF. There are other benefits too... being able to overlay things like a live histogram or horizon level in the EVF can be extremely helpful. Of course, you can do those things with Live View on a DSLR, but you have to hold the camera in a less-than-natural way. I tend not to use Live View for precisely that reason.

I believe Fujifilm has at least one model that combines an OVF and EVF in a hybrid unit. I've never tried that, but I'd like to... If they've managed to retain the benefits of both, that would be very powerful indeed.

Last edited by BigMackCam; 01-03-2017 at 03:22 AM.
01-03-2017, 03:58 AM   #12
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lots of good discussion here: well-balanced and thoughtful pro & con....

I am hoping to see a serious K-mount mirrorless effort by Ricoh/Pentax (oh, what the K-01 could have been by now) - and the two medium-format mirrorless bodies introduced in 2016 by Fuji and Hasselblad are very interesting...



nobody has mentioned the poor battery performance of mirrorless bodies, however.....
01-03-2017, 04:41 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by pepperberry farm Quote
nobody has mentioned the poor battery performance of mirrorless bodies, however.....
No, but you're absolutely right. With some mirrorless cameras, battery life is akin to a good compact rather than a DSLR. Unless I know I need to be ready for that unexpected shot (I realise that doesn't make much sense ), I tend to switch my A7II off in between each series of shots. And, more often than not, I shoot with the battery grip fitted. I haven't yet done a whole day's busy shooting with it, but when I do, I'll take the camera with grip (2 batteries fitted) and a couple of spares, just to be sure.
01-03-2017, 04:50 AM   #14
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The compactness of micro four thirds is somewhat illusory. To me they are nothing more or less than the inheritor of the rangefinder camera, but with the electronics giving them all the WYSIWYG benefits of an SLR. I saw some of the early Olympus bodies a while back and was briefly entranced - not least because they are about the size of a Pentax MX or their own ancestors the OM series*, and they have film-like knobs on - but some of the high-end Panasonics are not much smaller than an APS-C DSLR (if that), and to me that defeats the point. To me, Micro 4/3 only makes sense with wide to normal focal lengths in a compact lens package, with a longer zoom occasionally cribbed on.

I've seen one or two professionals on YouTube use them, but this is in the setting of significant amounts of studio lighting (either in studio or in the field with portable powerpacks); they can supply all the light they need or want, and that wipes out any disadvantage the smaller sensors have at high ISO or low light, while leaving them with all the advantages of pixels per square mm.

If I wasn't eyeball deep in Pentax (M42, K film and K digital), I'd seriously consider Olympus M4/3... but only as a travel and social-snapshots camera, not as the heart of a serious professional system.


* IMO the smaller sensor was designed to allow the EM series to be constructed around it as their spiritual successors, and capitalise on nostalgia for the OM's. Olympus may not have kept the same lens mount, but they certainly understand the importance of legacy.
01-03-2017, 05:30 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by AggieDad Quote
What I don't understand is this: if the full-frame is better than the APS-C size, why do I seem to be constantly reading that the coming (or arrived) thing is a camera with a smaller sensor? Why would an M43 give me a better image than my APS-C?

Well, as others in this thread have already noted, people tend to confuse sensor sizes and camera design principles. All things being equal, MFT will give you a slightly worse image than APS-C, particularly at high ISO, much the same as FF has a slight IQ advantage over APS-C. Whether this difference matters to you or strikes you as negligible will depend on your shooting preferences or, less rationally, on the size of your wallet. Personally, in order to see a compelling-enough IQ improvement over my current K-3 APS-C system, I would have to go MF, which, given my photo budget, is clearly out of the question.

As for mirrorless, I can see what people love about their EVFs, but this doesn't take away the charms of a well-implemented OVF for me. Nor do I see why I should change format if I did go mirrorless when Fujifilm has such an attractive APS-C system. For many photographers, even some pro wildlife photographers, APS-C remains a viable compromise between affordability, IQ, reach, and portability.

I kindly doubt that switching to mirrorless would make me a better photographer. All it would do would be compromising my current system and its photographic potential, and I don't see myself squandering limited resources on two parallel systems.
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