Having carried DSLRs for years that somehow weighed me down at times, made me really scout for a compact camera that can still deliver DSLR-like quality for the ordinary days that I wish to bring one. It really took me a while finding one. I almost got a Sigma DP2, but I didn’t… glad I waited a little longer. Not until Panasonic & Olympus launched the revolutionary format called the Micro Four Thirds (click here to know more about Micro Four Thirds). In the year 2010, May to be exact, I got my first micro 4/3 camera… the Panasonic Lumix GF1. It took me around a year or so to finally embrace the system.
Here are some thoughts about this…
1. Mirrorless cameras as the name suggest, don’t have the mirror box assembly. Hence mirrorless cameras can be smaller and more compact. The mirror box assembly have hindered DSLRs to be built smaller. The smallest DSLR are still big. Now, with the mirrorless cameras – size is an advantage. Everything is smaller, the body, the lenses, the charger, the battery and even the tripod.
2. I tried to bring a Nikon DSLR everyday, but I find it a hassle at times. I always retreated it back to where it was safer at home. But, with a micro 4/3 camera, I bring it everyday, literally… overkill? nah… It gives me a (false, LOL!) sense of security, that I can bring a very competent camera everyday and when I need to shoot something, I can. It’s liberating!
3. For travel, it’s heaven sent! For the first time I carted along a tripod for travel, since I can use a compact and lightweight tripod, whereas if I opted to use a Nikon DSLR, it also meant a heavier and sturdier tripod to boot. Hence, I can say the quality output has in fact improved, because this time around I was able to bring a steady support like a tripod.
4. The mirrorless interchangeable lens camera market is emerging… revolutionizing the camera industry. A lot of players in this field — with different formats and systems – the Micro 4/3 format, APS-C sized sensors from Sony NEX and the recently-announced Fuji X Pro 1, the Nikon 1 CX format and the Pentax Q mount. Why Micro 4/3? Well, for me it’s the right size – it seats comfortably in the middle in between the compact cameras and the APS-C sized DSLRs. And being the pioneers of this mirrorless system, it has already established a decent line-up of lenses. The APS-C sized mirrorless cameras don’t have a clear advantage of size and compactness because the sensor are already APS-C sized to start with, the lenses have to be bigger. On the other end, the smaller sensors of Nikon and Pentax I believe compromised too much nearing the sensor size of compact cameras. (And yes, I’m a loyal Nikon DSLR fan, but this time around, I’m not keen on the Nikon 1, we’ll have to wait and see how Nikon will follow up and augment the Nikon 1 system.)
5. These mirrorless cameras have their disadvantages such the lack of a real viewfinder and the slower continuous AF tracking among others. I still cannot substitute these to the DSLR for professional shoots.
6. I’m more stealthy in street photography, it doesn’t grab attention. Security-wise, it’s safer. I get to have more keepers because my camera and lens isn’t intimidating to the subjects.
7. I believe the mirrorless cameras will play a huge role in the camera of tomorrow. Are they the future?
Photographer’s note: F/11, 6 sec, ISO 160, Panasonic G3, Pasasonic 7-14mm 4, Marumi tripod
Photographer’s note: F/4, 1/40, ISO 3200, Panasonic G3, Panasonic 7-14mm 4
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