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Explanation Needed: How Does a Mirrorless Camera Work? How Is Different From a DSLR Camera?


As the new month has come upon us, its time for a newly written episode of "Explanation Needed." Let us venture into the world of digital photography and focus our attention on the Mirrorless camera. What exactly is the mirrorless camera?  How does it differentiate itself from the DSLR camera? But first, lets grasp and understand the whole concept of  the mirrorless camera and get a good understanding on how it operates.

Shiny light enters the lens without relecting onto a mirror, straight to the sensor

Shiny light enters the lens without relecting onto a mirror, straight to the sensor

The one defining feature with mirrorless cameras is it doesn't require any reflex mirror, which is a critical component of any DSLR camera. The mirror in a DSLR reflects the light onto the sensor with the image displayed on the optical viewfinder, with a mirrorless camera, the image sensor is exposed to direct light. The digital preview of the captured image is on the rear LCD screen or electronic viewfinder ( EVF).  Always keep in mind, the sensor in a mirrorless camera receives direct light without it being reflected from a mirror.

Observe the mirror box inside the DSLR camera, look real closely.

Observe the mirror box inside the DSLR camera, look real closely.

The term "mirrorless" really didn't get used until the mirrorless digital cameras came with interchangeable lenses, much like what you have with DSLR.  The point and shoot camera we all purchased during the early days of digital photography also minuses a reflex mirror inside, which technically constitutes as being a mirrorless camera. 

Regarding the actual physical design, the difference is size, the DSLR camera uses a bulky mirror box, while the mirrorless option doesn't, thus being much thinner. 


Like the DSLR, the mirrorless camera can be fitted with a myriad of lens thanks in part to a bayonet-style mount that allows anyone to attach different types of lens. Each camera manufacturer has its version mount, disallowing anyone from using it on any mirrorless camera. However, several third party manufacturers will produce lenses for those mounts. The key features in all mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras are flange-back distance; this is space between the actual lens mount and sensor, which is much smaller on a DSLR. Making it possible to attach a wide variety of lenses.

 The differences between mirrorless and DSLR, the ability to auto focus is far more significant with a mirrorless camera, but that all depends on the actual manufacturer and which lenses is used with the camera. Battery power is where the mirrorless camera will fall short, mainly because constant usage of live view or EVF, causing the battery too drain much faster than DSLR. However, video caption on mirrorless cameras is impeccable. With DSLR's video mode must be set to live view, thus using the rear LCD screen rather than the optical viewfinder, this, of course, will impact the battery power, rendering viewfinder useless. The viewfinder with a mirrorless camera can still be in full use while in video mode.

There is no clear advantage in using a Mirroless cameras or DSLR, sure, you have much clearer video with the latter, but shorter battery life, it all comes down personal preference. Mirrorless camera, particularly the compact models are the obvious choice for photo hobbyist, but the trade off is you get minimal battery power.



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