Mirrorless, The Right Choice?

Before purchasing a new digital camera, follow the guidelines below to best match your purpose and budget:

  1. Clarify your intent with the camera.
    • Action/wild life photography
    • portraits/landscape photography
    • video and photo
    • artistic
    • educational/learning
  2. Set a budget.
    • Digital cameras can range from $100 to $10,000 and above prices.
    • The most expensive isn’t always better or necessary.
    • account for accessories and lenses for the camera in the budget (generally the camera body and lenses are sold separately).
  3. Research camera types, models, and manufacturers.

 

General Guidelines

Mirrrorless or DSLR? although mirrroless camera technology is catching up and surpassing many aspects of the DSLR, certain subjects are still better captured with the DSLR. For example, in the event of action, sports, and wild life photography, DSLR is still superior due to the better continuous focus and telephoto lenses. However, in the event of video capture and cinematography, mirrorless cameras are in the forefront with 4k HD quality and 60 fps. Eventually, the mirrorless may come to replace the DSLR market but for now, if you are satisfied with your current DSLR, put yourself on hold for a new camera purchase.

Guest blog- Digital touch up

Dear readers,

Guest blogger Alabaster Scarf is the author of Kontrollers & Kobolds: a blog introducing the elements of tabletop gaming. Alabaster Scarf is an aspiring concept artist knowledgeable in fields of tabletop games, video games, and visual art. In this blog post, Alabaster Scarf shares information about several digital photo editing tools:

 

Hello, readers. I’m happy to join you all.

Modern day photography has become more complex than in the past. What’s done after the shoot is just as important as what happens during and before. Computers have brought us new ways to experience and improve art with raster editing tools like Photoshop, and though not everyone chooses to touch-up their work, it is an industry standard, and it pays off in droves to know how to do it. There are numerous resources on how to do this, but I’m going to go through some of the basic tools of the trade, which are fairly common across most programs.

-The Blend Tool

-Dodge/Burn

-Color Correction

The blend tool and its compatriots are the ones to use when removing blemishes, trouble spots, and the like in your photo. The first, blend, is just like it sounds. It takes the area you use it over and smudges it all together. It’s very useful, but using it comes with a price. Most digital images taken with a camera will have some level of pixellation, even when you’ve used some manner of depixellation tool. Using blend, or smudge, will often affect this pixellation in some way, often blending it, as well. This makes it somewhat easy to spot with a keen eye, so either use it cautiously, or create an unblended layer on top and turn its opacity low. Another way to touch up a photo, at least with Photoshop, is the clone stamp or brush, which samples an area of your chosing and uses that as a sort of template for brushstrokes for you to paint with. There are other tools to use for these things, as well, so feel free to experiment around.

The dodge and burn tools go hand-in-hand, mostly because they work as opposites. The dodge tool tends to highlight or brighten an area it’s used on, while the burn tool darkens. If you want to increase a particular shadow’s apparent depth or intensity, or if you want to enhance a gleaming highlight on, say, a car, then these are the tools to go to. Like the blend tool, they can smudge a bit here and there, but it’s worth it to get the effect you desire. Just be sure not to go overboard. When it comes to retouching, subtlety is key. Less is more, as they say. Use too much, and everything will look unnatural. But the more you use these tools, the more uses you’ll find with them.

Ah, color correction. I’m not going to claim why; perhaps it’s engrained in our genes or it’s cultural, but we tend to react on an emotional level to color. The ‘temperature’ of a piece can be affected by the use of cool or warm colors, and many people feel a work is more ‘alive’ if the colors are fuller and more intense. To take advantage of this, after everything else, you should take a look at color correction when finishing a photo. You’re going to want to be well-versed in the use of the color wheel to use this, but the results are spectacular and almost immediate. The most common, and easy, tool to use is the hue/saturation/brightness option common to almost all raster programs. They include sliders for the three options. Hue affects the dominant color of the piece, and is often used to balance out complimentary and contrasting colors, or to affect the coolness or warmth of a work. Saturation affects the intensity of the color; how vibrant and deep it is. Finally, brightness affects how light or dark the whole picture will look. Using this tool will take effort, but just trust yourself and go for what seems to make the most sense for what you want your finished work to look like. Levels and Curves work much the same way, but each being more detailed and refined than the last. They offer even more control over what’s happening to the colors and values in the picture, but require even more care.

There’s more to learn with whatever tool you use to touch-up your photography as you learn, and hopefully you’ll have as much fun using them as with taking the photos themselves. As always, practice , practice, practice, and explore new options, even if they seem daunting. The more you push your own boundaries, the more your work will improve.

 

Visit Alabaster Scarf’s blog Kontrollers & Kobolds to learn about tabletop gaming.

About the author:

Alabaster Scarf

He’s a gamer who cut his teeth with Donkey Kong Country way back in 1994 and never really stopped. An aspiring concept artist, he has quite a ways to go, but he has lots of supportive people behind him. He decided to try tabletop gaming two and a half years ago and got lumped with some people playing the Pathfinder RPG. Every week, he and his friends gather to game for hours upon hours while they fling insults at each other and talk about anime… and occasionally roleplay and fight a monster or two!

Digital Camera market share

The infographic shows overall decline in digital camera market. In the span of two to three years from 2012-2014, DSLRs steadily kept there share of market while the mirrorless cameras  slightly gained its share of the market. The most noticeable decline can be viewed from the fixed lens cameras (compact cameras and premium fixed lens camera). The loss of share by the fixed lens cameras in the market and overall decline in the digital camera market could be attributed to emergence of higher quality cameras in smartphones.

 

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Footnote

Infographic data from CIPA statistics and Mirrorless Rumours.

Interview – Dave Stock Photography

Dave Stock is a professional photographer who started in action photography working for Sports Illustrated, NFL Properties, and AT&T among others. Dave Stock has over 40 years of experience as a professional photographer and currently the Owner of Dave Stock Photography specializing in youth sports photography. Dave has taken time to talk about the mirrorless cameras within the photography industry.

Introduction:

Interview:

Q: What were your experiences like starting out as an analog film photographer?

Dave: I started in 1970 and back then, no one even talked about the possibility of digital photography. That came along in the late 80s it was Sony that first came out with the Mavica camera. and when that came out the big question in the industry was: “is this for real? is this a gimmick? will there ever be a professional application for digital photography?” and the consensus at the time was no way, no way anything will ever replace film. Of course, we were proved wrong.

Q: How did you get into digital photography?

 Dave: Like all the other photographers, I was skeptical of the technology, the first [digital] cameras were poor. By film standards, the film blew away the initial digital images that we saw because the [digital image sensors] had very small sensors probably capturing 1 mb file and of course it’s just not mb that counts but the nature of the processing of the analog to digital signals and algorithms that are used also effect the quality.

Dave: So initially, [digital cameras] were no comparison, we saw it as an amateur thing. But, Kodak was involved from the very beginning, they were the pioneers of the [digital camera] technology, they were working with Sony and Kodak aimed their product towards the amateur market. Kodak came up with photo CD where you can take pictures, capture it digitally and you are given a CD with five levels of resolution for each image. The professionals scoffed at [photo CD] but each [digital] camera got better and things got to the point where… I believe it was 1996 that we said you know what… these digital cameras that are now being sold by Canon and Kodak costing roughly $28,000; I had lease payment for my first [digital] camera that was $450 a month that was turning out 2 mb files. Up to a 5×7 or 8×10 the [digital photos] were similar in quality to film however, if you blew it up beyond that, clearly no comparison. In the next five or six years the digital camera not only met standards of film but clearly surpassed it.

Q: The DSLR systems are at its peak in the production life cycle; do you agree that the DSLR systems are outdated due to the mirrorless camera systems?

Dave: Yes. Looking back historically, there has been several kinds of major revolutions in photography over my lifetime. About the time I was born, back in 1956, there was a transition to single lens reflex cameras or SLRs, the cameras that for the last twenty years have been the only thing on the horizon for professional [photographers] at least in the 35 mm format. The cameras before than were called the rangefinders or view cameras; cameras that used rolls or sheets of film but did not have a mirror inside the camera. Then, they came up with the idea of putting a mirror inside the [camera] so you can look at your image through a viewfinder instead of having to look at the back of the brown glass. The whole pentaprism that took the light path and bounced it around became the key to the design of that camera. Everything else was built around the foundation of the pentaprism (Single lens reflex camera). Then those camera became the standard (Single lense reflex camera) right until very recently. Recently, a group of four manufacturers: Sony, Olympus, Samsung, and Panasonic roughly 10 years ago, I don’t know exactly because at the time I couldn’t care less. I thought this had nothing to do with me, I’m a Canon guy, and if I ever change [manufacturer] it’ll be back to Nikon. I started as Nikon and then Canon. In my world, the world of sports photography, there are only two companies: Canon and Nikon; except for Hassleblad for big cover shots.

Dave: Anyways, [the four manufacturers (Sony, Olympus, Samsung, and Panasonic)] came up with this idea: they figured out how to make a camera without a mirror. The way to get around without having a mirror is instead of an optical viewfinder where the light ray bounces around through mirrors and pieces of glass, we are going to capture the image at the subject plane on a sensor and send that image electronically to a very small TV screen which is the viewfinder and [the viewfinder] is going to have million pixel units, nice and sharp, and you are going to think like you are looking through a DSLR. The initial models were not every sharp and looked poor, the resolution was low, there was a delay from the time the image hit your senor to the time [the image] went to the eye piece and had lag issues. The image would lag behind as you would pan left and right; but, [the manufacturers] have made massive technological strides, particularly last couple of years. Now the models I have been using, specifically the Panasonic GH4, are incredible; I forget that I am looking at a TV screen, it looks like I am looking through the camera except in many ways it’s better.

Q: In your professional opinion, what is the best use for the mirrorless camera system? Portrait photography? Sports photography? Wedding photography?

Dave: From the very beginning, [the manufacturers] did not target sports photographers because the Achilles heels of these [mirrorless camera] up to this day is the ability to follow and capture fast moving action with the kind of lenses that we sports photographers like to use. What [the manufacturers] did see as a immediate market was the wedding and portrait people that includes people doing senior portraits, people doing family portraits, and of course weddings. And what [the manufacturers] saw was that these [mirrorless] cameras are uniquely suited to capture video.

Dave: So one of the things that happened in the last five or six years was that Canon, Nikon, and other companies have enabled their cameras to capture videos at 30 frames per second and record it so that the photographer can get more utility out of their camera. But, the first ones in video standards were not high quaility and certainly wasn’t very user friendly. The preson who does video for a living did not like these cameras; until Canon revolutionized the

in thier 5D mkII and 5d mkIII cameras which have been widely adopted by people who are cinematographers. To used that, [Canon] adapted the cameras for cinemetography by changing lenses and adding various accesssories like mics and recording devices to make [the camera] into a legitimate tool for creating video. Then the mirrorless camera manufacturers have taken it a step further because, the mirror gets in the way of the video: every time the mirror goes up and down, it creates noise and you don’t want to record that [noise] when you are shooting a video. So, that’s where mirrorless shines, and people who made [the mirrorless] were conceptually creating a video camera that can do stills; instead of what Canon and Nikon are doing: creating still cameras that can capture video. So, it’s a paradigm shift and with the shift came the shift in marketing focus.

Q: In the next ten years, do you see mirrorless camera system replacing DSLR system in the market?

Dave: If I had to rely on only my experience and what I know, that question is too big for me and I would say “I don’t know could be.” But, because I have been studying [the mirrorless camera] from the standpoint of not just a user but someone who is evolving into a good will ambassador for Panasonic, who is working with me on my speaking engagements, [Panasonic] has been very generous to me and supplied me some products and basically allowing me to learn about [the mirrorless camera], because I would not have given a chance otherwise, and that’s not a tribute to intelligence, judgment, or visionary abilities at all. I was going to miss the boat on [mirrorless camera] and [Panasonic] helped me see the light. If I look at the information available online, reading the true experts who are the industry analysts who track these [technology], there seems to be a consensus that [mirrrorless camera] is in fact the way it’s going in the future and the DSLR is on its way out because [DSLR] is big, it’s heavy, it’s noisy, it’s expensive, and there are so many design limitations built into having to have the mirror inside [the camera] that the manufacturers who are doing the mirrorless, even Canon and Nikon, they see that it’s a lot easier to make the lens for the mirrorless camera because the sensor is smaller, the lens can be smaller, and that there are a lot of reasons why [mirrroless camera] is the future.

The Mirrorless Advantage

The DSLR cameras are digital cameras containing mirror components of a traditional film camera merged with a digital sensor1. The mirror components in a DSLR limits the camera’s digital functions and keeps the camera body bulky and heavy. In contrast, mirrorless cameras are digital cameras without the mirror components limiting the digital prospects of the camera2. The lack of mirrors in the mirrorless camera boosts the camera’s mobility, video capture, and overall quality of the digital imaging experience.

dslr_diagram

mirrorless_diagram

Mirrorless Advantage:

 Size/Mobility: The absence of mirror components in the mirrorless camera decreases the size and weight of the camera allowing for increased mobility. On average, mirrorless cameras are 15% smaller in dimension and 50% lighter than DSLRs just in the camera body. The mirrorless lenses are also significantly lighter and smaller while maintaining the same quality with the DSLR counterparts. For example, the DSLR Canon EOS 7D’s dimensions are 148.2mm (w)x 110.7mm (h) x 73.5mm (D) and weigh 860g3 while the mirrorless Olympus OM-D E-M1’s dimensions are 130.4mm (w)× 93.5mm (h) × 63.1mm (D) and weigh 497g4 ;the Olympus OM-D E-M1 is about 15% smaller and 70% lighter.

Shutter: The lack of moving mirrors in the camera reduces shutter noise and allows the camera to achieve higher frames per second in still photos.

  • Mechanical and electronic shutter.
  • Less or no shutter noise when taking photos.
  • Faster fps.

Elctronic/Live Viewfinder: Due to the lack of mirror components in the mirrorless camera, optical viewfinders are no longer possible. However, with the electronic/live viewfinder, the photographer can immediately see the results of their image before taking the photo including: white balance, contrast, and composition of the image. The electronic view finder is same as having as LCD live view screen inside the viewfinder.

  • Faster autofocus
  • Customizable information overlay (histogram, exposure, white balance, and etc.)
  • Digital zoom
  • Full frame preview

Video Capture: Once again, the absence of mirror componenets in the mirrorless camera removes the limitations of the digital imaging techniques allowing for enhanced video capture.

  • Micro Four Thirds image sensors of mirrorless cameras were designed with video capture in mind.
  • 60fps 4k video capture
  • Mirrorless cameras such as the Panasonic Lumix DMC GH4 provide more support and accessories for video capture.
  • The electronic shutter can achieve faster shutter speeds and allow for methods such as time lapse videos without degrading the shutter.
  • Superior autofocus while capturing video.

 

Mirrorless Disadvantage:

Battery Life: Because the mirrorless cameras must provide power to the electronic/live viewfinder and the LCD preview screen, the mirrorless cameras require more battery power compared to the DSLRs.

Electronic/Live Viewfinder Lag: The electronic nature of the viewfinder causes a slight lag in displaying images compared to the mechanical optical viewfinders.

Subject Tracking: Mirrorless cameras, coupled with lag from the electronic/live viewfinder,  lack focus when tracking fast moving subjects such as sports players and fast moving vehicles. Currently, mirrorless cameras are not optimal for high-speed photography such as sports photography. However, with hybrid focus and new high-speed subject tracking systems in development, subject tracking features are improving on the mirrorless cameras.

Lens Accessories: Due to the age of the mirrorless camera technology, the mirrorless cameras have low options in camera lenses.

 


Footnotes

1. Hirsch, Robert. (2008). Image Capture: Cameras, Lenses, and Scanners. In Light and Lens: Photography In The Digital Age (pp. 61-113). Oxford, UK: Elsevier Inc.
2. Panasonic UK(2014). How Mirrorless Camera (DSLM) Works, Panasonic UK.
3. Canon U.S.A(2014). EOS 7D Specifications. Canon U.S.A
4. Olympus Imaging America Inc. (2014). OM-D E-M1 Specs. Olympus Imaging America Inc.

What do you call it?

Panasonic released the first mirrorless interchangeable lens camera system, Lumix G1, in August, 20081 . In the span of six years from the first mirrorless camera’s release, manufacturers such as Olympus, Fujifilm, and Sony also released their own versions of the mirrorless camera. The mirrorless camera, named due to the lack of mirror within the camera (as opposed to the traditional single lens reflex cameras with pentaprism), are categorized under several different names:

  • Mirrorless system camera
  • Mirrorless Interchangeable lens  camera (MILC)
  • Digital Single Lens Mirrorless (DSLM)
  • Interchangeable lens camera (ILC)
  • Compact system camera (CSC)

The various names of the mirrorless camera is due to the individual manufactures and retailers categorizing the mirrorless camera under different names. For example, Panasonic’s product page uses all four above names to categorize their mirrorless camera; Olympus’s product page categorize their mirrorless camera under interchangeable lens camera; and the retailer site B&H’s product page categorize the mirrorless camera under mirrorless system cameras. Although the various names are all viable and identify key features of the mirrorless camera, the various names only serve to confuse the consumer when shopping for a new camera. Therefore, in this blog, I will identify the mirrorless interchangeable lens camera systems as mirrorless camera.

 


 Footnotes

1. Joinson, Simon; Rehm, Lars; Askey, Phil; Butler, Richard (January, 2009) Panasonic Lumix G1 Review, DPReview

Introduction

Dear readers,

The mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (MILC) is a type of digital camera with customizable settings and interchangeable lens comparable to the digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR). The DSLR is a combination of analog and digital technology utilizing pentaprism and digital sensor to capture and produce high quality digital images. In contrast, the MILC is a new technology in interchangeable lens camera systems which omit the pentaprism and relies solely on the digital sensor.

The DSLR is the current standard of digital system camera known and sought out by amateurs and professionals because of the DSLR’s high image quality and its customizable functions. However, the MILC systems are new products with potential to replace the current standards in photography: Compared to the DSLR systems, the MILC systems are cheaper, smaller, and, lighter while providing comparable image quality to the DSLR.

Before deciding on a new camera purchase, consider the following:

  • What kind of pictures do I want to take?
  • Do I want to take videos?
  • How much do I want to spend?
  • Do I need a DSLR?

This blog will:

  • Compare and contrast the DSLR and MILC systems
  • Explain the capabilities of MILC in photography and film
  • Provide insights to professional usage of the MILC systems.

Sincerly,

MILCSystem