Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras (MILC), also known as Compact Interchangeable Lens Cameras (CILC) have been heating up in the photography world this last year. If you’re not familiar with mirrorless cameras, they’re designed to combine the best features of DSLR and compact point-and-shoot cameras. They offer the convenience of a smaller size closer to a point-and-shoot, but offer higher quality photos with bigger sensors, interchangeable lens and flashes that point-and-shoot cameras don’t. With mirrorless cameras priced in between the two standard categories, it opens up a new world for casual photographers wanting to step up their game and for serious DSLR photographers wanting a more portable option. Let’s take a quick look at three hot new releases in the growing compact, mirrorless camera category.
Samsung jumped into the mirrorless category with their NX series and the NX1000 shown here is their latest entry model, which brings modern features with styling to match. Following Samsung’s huge effort to streamline all their electronic devices, it includes WiFi and mobile app integration. This lets you easily share through social media and sync with your computer, Android devices and Samsung Smart TVs. You may expect a full touchscreen on the back with its modern style, but you’ll find physical buttons, d-pad and wheel, still favored by most photographers. One unique function to the NX line is the iFn button found only on their NX lenses. Pressing this button opens up a menu on your screen showing key settings like ISO, shutter speed, white balance and more, but lets you control it with the traditional focus ring on the lens.
In its slim body you’ll find their big 20-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor found in the bigger, more expensive NX models and DSLRs. A includes a small external flash and a 20-50mm zoom lens. A total of 8 NX lenses are available, along with a range or other accessories like an electronic viewfinder, GPS module and more flashes. The NX1000 is smaller and in the lower priced end ($600) of its category, but offers strong performance and all the latest wireless and social features, making it an all-round choice, perfect for more casual photographers. Besides the white model shown here, it’s also available in black and pink.
Fujifilm premium, retro-themed X series introduced the X-Pro1 to the lineup this summer. Like with the rest of the X series, the newest member brings the highest quality in design, build and technology in its category, but with by far the highest price tag at $1,700 for just the body. This is set to appeal to the camera connoisseur who loves the retro-styling or an old rangefinder, but in a compact body stuffed with new tech. This crowd will also enjoy the hybrid viewfinder (LCD and optical) and the option to attach adapters to allow other brand lenses like Leica’s iconic M9, Nikon and others. The X line is still young, so they have only a few, but high-end lenses that will run you $600 and up. So if you already have a collection of nice lenses, a lens adapter could be a great option for you. For more appeal to the old-school crowd it includes more traditional controls with a shutter wheel, exposure compensation wheel and aperture ring on the lens. A quick settings menu is controlled by the Q button and third small wheel. Inside you’ll find a 16-megapixel X-Trans CMOS APS-C sensor powering it, which is custom to this model.
So if you’re excited to get a premium, mirrorless camera and splash out on pricey, high-end lenses and accessories, you’ll going to definitely enjoy this classy new toy. Some will say you might as well buy a full DSLR, but that just wouldn’t be as cool as this thing. And hey, don’t forget you getting luxury quality and styling without paying around $6-$8,000 for a Leica M9 setup. Only black is offered, so no funky colors as of yet. I wonder if this model gains a strong following and goes for some custom limited editions like its role model the Leica M9?
An upgrade to last year’s NEX-5N, Sony’s new NEX-5R follows the same successful formula. What it adds is new WiFi and iPhone/Android apps, letting you sync and share with your computer, smartphone, tablet and social media networks. The sleek body looks about the same as last years and also includes the standard 18-55mm lens. Again the 16.1-megapixel APS-C sensor is used, which is also found in their DSLRs.
Opposed to going full touch screen or full traditional controls, Sony went for both, letting you control menu functions with a LCD, but makes sure you’re ready for action with the physical buttons. And with the touch LCD, you’ll notice it can flip over to use and view from the front, separating it from the mirrorless camera pack. This model uses a hybrid-focus system, giving it strong still image and video recording. Besides the standard free syncing and sharing apps, Sony is growing their own app ecosystem, with more free and paid apps, such as the free Photo Retouch and Smart Remote Control and the paid Bracket Pro and Multi Frame.
Hope you enjoyed this preview of three hot new mirrorless cameras. There is a lot more to each example shown here than we could cover and more mirrorless models from each brand, so make sure to check them each out individually. Do you own or have experience with a modern compact, mirrorless camera? Please share your opinion with us in the comments!
Liz is a life-long photography student and blogger for social photography site ViewBug.com, where you can compete in photo contests and share your shots with their growing community.