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-   -   Help me understand mirrorless (https://forums.steves-digicams.com/what-camera-should-i-buy-80/help-me-understand-mirrorless-199835/)

Scottyent Jun 22, 2012 8:14 AM

Help me understand mirrorless
 
Hey all....well in the hunt to find an affordable entry level DSLR, I have finally stumbled upon mirrorless compact cameras. I am having a hard time getting my head around exactly where they fit on the quality spectrum. I mean...some people say they will replace DSLRs, and that they can produce as good of quality as entry level DSLR cameas. However, it seems they are also pretty new, and there isn't really a completely developed system that is the clear winner as of now.

As far as quality, does it fall somewhere in the 'bridge' camera range? Does it really reach DSLR levels?

They still need a lens system, but are they able to be interchanged with any body, regardless of brand?

I found the Olympus E-PL1:
http://www.amazon.com/Olympus-E-PL1-...le+lens+camera

which is much cheaper than purchasing lets say a Canon Rebel T1i.

Is the image quality good enough that it is worth investing in? Do you guys think that mirrorless will overtake DSLRs in the very near future?

Scottyent Jun 22, 2012 8:21 AM

http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-EV-NX1...rds=mirrorless

this one also looks great, even better!

ramcewan Jun 22, 2012 9:07 AM

Scottyent - Mirror-less cameras (with the exception of the Nikon 1 series) use DSLR sensors, either a four thirds sensor as in the case of the micro four thirds cameras from Olympus and Panasonic, or APS-C sensors in the case of Sony and Samsung. The IQ from these cameras is therefore the same as entry level DSLRs.

The main difference between a DSLR and a mirror-less camera is the lack of a physical mirror to support an optical view finder. DSLRs have this mirror system which means when you look through the viewfinder you are looking through the lens, when you take a picture the mirror flips up and the sensor is exposed. This is basically the way film SLRs worked and is just a digital version of the design. A mirror-less camera has no such moving mirror, instead you look through an electronic viewfinder, the display of which is usually shown on a LCD screen on the camera (although top end cameras include a second electronic viewfinder and Pen cameras support an add on one).

Not having a mirror allows the camera to be made smaller while retaining image quality.

The downside is that auto-focus, especially continuous autofocus is not as good on mirror-less cameras, because of the way autofocus is implemented on these cameras.

Like buying a DSLR when you buy a mirror-less camera you are buying into a system. Some systems are more developed than others and some share lenses. Samsung and Sony both have their own lens mount, and therefore can only be used with Samsung and Sony lenses. Olympus Pen series and now the OM-D series use a mount called micro four thirds (MFT) which is also used by Panasonic, this makes lenses interchangeable between the two. Further additional third party lenses are being made for micro four thirds and Sony. MFT has the most developed dedicated lens line at this time.

On those two choices:

The Olympus E-PL1 is a older camera now, still good but the improvements in screen quality in the later Olympus Pen cameras is worth the extra money (look at the E-PM1 or the E-PL2).

The Samsung is a great deal but you will be limited in lens choices. They also don't have the image quality of the other camera makers.

TCav Jun 22, 2012 9:15 AM

There are two components of a camera that are essential to making an image:
  • The Lens
  • The Sensor
Everything else is to help you get the image.

Bigger sensors help in ways that smaller sensors can't:
  • All other things being equal, larger sensors produce less image noise
  • All other things being equal, larger sensors produce more shallow depths of field
The range, quality and capability of the lenses available for a body should determine which body you should get. It's easier to make good lenses for smaller sensors, but the difference between a 4/3 sensor and an APS-C sensor doesn't help much there.

One of the nice things about Mirrorelss cameras is that the distance from the lens mount to the image sensor is smaller. A problem with adapting a lens made with one mount to a body with another mount has always been overcoming the differences in that distance. Since, in mirrorless cameras, that distance is much smaller than is typical, many different lenses can be adapted to mirrorless bodies. While that solves the problem of focus, it doesn't do anything to adapt a lens with one autofocus mechanism to a body with another, so that will almost always require manual focus. In addition rarely does anything to support the autoexposure system of a lens to the autofocus system of a different body. So, unless you've already got some really spectacular old lenses, you shouldn't select a mirrorless camera with the intention of getting lenses that you'll need to adapt to it.

So, as is so often the case, you should select an interchangeable lens camera based on the lenses that are available for it natively.

One last difference between mirrorless cameras and dSLRs is the autofocus systems used. The mirrors in dSLRs don't just reflect light from the lightpath to the viewfinder, they also reflect light to the phase detect autofocus system. Phase detect AF systems are more accurate and precise than the contrast detection AF systems that mirrorless cameras (in fact, all other cameras) use, especially for fast moving subjects.

So, while mirrorless cameras are much more capable than lesser cameras, there are things that dSLRs are better suited for. If any of those are the kinds of things you're interested in, you shouldn't consider mirrorless cameras.

Scottyent Jun 22, 2012 9:38 AM

Thanks for the replies! That was really thorough (especially ramcewan!) and I now believe I understand the mirrorless solution. One thing I really dislike about it is the lack of a viewfinder. I find that really disconcerting, it must feel extremely weird getting ready to take a great shot, but holding the camera in front of your face and looking at the screen!

As I understand, the Samsung would be a bad choice due to lens availability. Seems not to be a camera family to buy into due to the lack of lenses and overall quality of them.

I think all this has served to put me back on looking at DSLRs and possibly bridge cameras. If I had plenty of money (or really, just enough money), I would buy a Canon T1i as a beginner, and move on. However, the fact that I really want to spend my money on the best possible option has me evaluating every option, and it is pretty exhausting! There is certainly a plus or minus to everything, and the money fluctuates greatly based on lenses that you want etc. As a base, I think I would prefer the Canon T1i body and collect maybe one or two extra lenses over the next few years, but tight money right now makes that a less appealing option than it shuold.

Thanks again everyone, still waiting at least a month before making the purchase!

TCav Jun 22, 2012 9:44 AM

What do you want to shoot?

Scottyent Jun 22, 2012 9:57 AM

Well, I would use it around town, while traveling, portraits and landscapes and whatever else strikes me as worth photographing! I want it to be able to have great shots of everywhere I travel, and the people I travel with, but also to take it out on photography only runs where I just search for the right picture and try to get creative as possible. To give you a good idea, here is a few pics that my friend just posted up of our recent trip. I took a lot of pictures with his Pentax, and that is what originally lit my fire for getting my own. He edited them afterwards, but for all I know some of those photos are mine. Anyway, I loved shooting that type of landscape and scenery, but I also want to take photos of people in my life to have fantastic portraits to look back on later!

http://500px.com/DanielHeinenberg/st...y-at-the-beach

TCav Jun 22, 2012 10:40 AM

First, since your friend already has a Pentax, there's a lot to be said for getting one too. You can share lenses and accessories, and you have a source when you have a problem.

Second, there's nothing in what you say you want to shoot that would suggest to me that you should have one model over another or one brand over another. If you're comfortable with your friend's Pentax, that's probably as much as you can ask for.

Scottyent Jun 22, 2012 10:59 AM

Yeah, that certainly seems like a reasonable thing to do. I guess I will wait until I'm back in the states in a few months, and peruse lots of camera shops (driving from NY to Florida and back, so I assume I will have a lot of opportunity), and see if I can find a good used Pentax!

Thanks for the advice TCav

ramcewan Jun 22, 2012 11:57 AM

Scottyent - I agree with TCav's assessment. If you have a friend who already has a system and would be willing to loan lenses accessories to you that makes a big difference.

That said I don't see anything in what you want to shoot that precludes you from going mirror-less. As TCav pointed out (and I mentioned in passing) the mirror-less autofocus system is not as good as that on a DSLR for action photos. Otherwise though there is alot to be said for the size and feel of mirror-less especially for travel.

On the view finder, many people, myself included, use an Olympus VF-2 electronic view finder with our cameras to give us the option of holding it up to our eyes, it is also helpful in bright light when even the best LCDs fail. Some of the Panasonic cameras have one built in as well.

Also agree with TCav that a big advantage of mirror-less is the ability to use adapted legacy 35mm manual focus lenses. I find it is a great way to get a whole bunch of quality lenses at a fraction of what a modern lens would cost and experiment with different focal lengths either not available natively on mirror less or just plain more than I want to spend. It's not something I usually mention to new comers looking to choose a system though.

Finally I will recommend that since you are going to be in NY you plan a few hours in NYC to go to the B&H superstore to check cameras out.

TCav Jun 22, 2012 12:25 PM

Since you'll be in NYC, there are lots of excellent camera stores to browse through. I would caution you, however, that buying a camera in NYC can be expensive. The total Sales Tax rate in NYC is 8.875%.

Also, buying a used dSLR, or any high end camera, is risky. There's no way to know how much use and abuse a camera has recieved. Adorama has some factory refurbished cameras with 90 day factory warranties, but they don't currently have any refurbished Pentax cameras.

Scottyent Jun 23, 2012 8:37 AM

ramcewan, I will definitely stop at that store! I was trying to remember the name of it because I read it in another post recently.

I read in an Amazon review that the electronic viewfinder was really expensive? I don't want to have to pay that extra cash for something that I have always just taken for part of a camera. But I don't know, we will see!

The one thing that gives me pause is that I will probably be living where I currently am for maybe....one more year. So though it will be nice to have that friend and his lenses available for a year, it won't be a long term source of sharing equipment. However, a year is a long time, and I know I could get tons of great shots during that time, and have saved enough money to get the lenses I like.

I am at the point where I have decided that I will be going for a DSLR. The only thing that will sway me is if I go into...lets say B&H, and I can take a mirrorless camera for a test drive, use an electronic view finder, and the quality is really great....and the whole thing is cheaper than a DSLR. Then maybe I will go that route!

I recently spoke to a friend of mine that let me borrow his Canon D40x about 2 years ago for a photoshoot of some of my friends together, and that was when I was first blown away by the quality.....and I now see that most other new cameras blow THAT away....so I feel much better in knowing that virtually any recent DSLR will be good enough for me. And who knows, maybe I will find a good deal on a mirrorless and the picture quality will be just as great!

Thanks again guys! The next step is to try them all out when I first get to america, then once I find the one that feels and looks right to me, start hunting for deals!

TCav Jun 23, 2012 9:04 AM

If you'll be in Adorama (and a stone's throw from B&H) you'll be where the deals are (except for the 8.875% sales tax, of course.)

tizeye Jun 23, 2012 4:50 PM

I think that Canon D40x was a Nikon.;)

Canon's models end in a "D" where Nikon's start with a "D". Canon did make a 40d, and Nikon did make a D40x, with the "x" being an interum model, adding features to the original D40 that were then incorporated into the D60 which was further advanced to the current day D3200. While Nikon's were entry level, Canon's 40d was an intermediate level ultimately evolving to today's 60d.

Concerning the Pentax, your best chance to try it out is at the 2 New York stores. Their retailer network isn't that strong and may have trouble locating it in other cities. The major "big box" chains like Best Buy and Ritz Camera don't carry them. They almost universally concentrate on Canon, Nikon, and Sony DSLR's. Even my 2 local camera stores, where I could buy darkroom chemicals and Leica cameras...don't carry Pentax. And I may (or may not) be at you Florida destination, but it is tourist central.

ramcewan Jun 24, 2012 3:43 PM

shop in NY, buy online ship to Delaware or West Virginia (no sales tax) and pick it up on the way to FL

edit: usually a hotel will allow you to ship something to yourself when you stay with them. I used to have a gig doing conferences and we'd always ship the projector/materials to the hotel and pick it up from the front desk when we got there, much easier than flying with it.

TCav Jun 24, 2012 7:00 PM

Neither Adorama nor B&H collect sales tax for any destination outside NY State or the NYC metro area.

tizeye Jun 24, 2012 9:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TCav (Post 1308100)
Neither Adorama nor B&H collect sales tax for any destination outside NY State or the NYC metro area.

Would almost pay to have a PO box over in NJ or CT, particurally now that the Post Office lets you convert the PO box to the street address of the Post Office.

Scottyent Jun 25, 2012 6:47 AM

Oops! You are right, it was a NIKON D40x, I guess I had Canon on the brain when typing that photo. I was certainly thinking of doing that, looking in the NYC stores, then buying it and having it shipped elsewhere (thanks for the tip about the hotels TCav!)

We will see what happens. I am still on the road of saving the money, and hopefully have enough to get a decent model by the time I'm in America!

tizeye Jun 25, 2012 6:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TCav (Post 1308100)
Neither Adorama nor B&H collect sales tax for any destination outside NY State or the NYC metro area.

TCav...you may need to clarify since he is physically going into the store.

While Adorama, B&H, and others do not charge sales tax on items purchased and delevered out of State, the purchase typically originates as a mailorder. Usually when going in the store, since the point of sale was there, sales tax is charged. Is the tax waived if physically purchased in the store, but don't take delivery there, rather giving mailaway instructions? Or where you saying, go back to the hotel (or free wifi spot) and order what you decided on in the scouting trip to the store.

TCav Jun 25, 2012 8:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ramcewan (Post 1308079)
shop in NY, buy online ship to Delaware or West Virginia (no sales tax) ...

Quote:

Originally Posted by TCav (Post 1308100)
Neither Adorama nor B&H collect sales tax for any destination outside NY State or the NYC metro area.

Quote:

Originally Posted by tizeye (Post 1308155)
TCav...you may need to clarify since he is physically going into the store.

My comment was a follow-up to ramcewan's comment to have the purchase delivered to Delaware or West Virginia, because they had no sales tax. Since Adorama and B&H don't collect sales tax on any purchase shipped outside NY State or the NYC Metro area, it didn't have to go to Delaware or West Virginia to avoid paying sales tax.

ramcewan Jun 25, 2012 10:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TCav (Post 1308157)
My comment was a follow-up to ramcewan's comment to have the purchase delivered to Delaware or West Virginia, because they had no sales tax. Since Adorama and B&H don't collect sales tax on any purchase shipped outside NY State or the NYC Metro area, it didn't have to go to Delaware or West Virginia to avoid paying sales tax.

technically many states that have a sales tax will ask for you to remit it for internet orders, in MA this is called a "use tax", I would never recommend that a person does not comply with the tax code applicable to them ;-) therefore I just mentioned those two states as they don't have a sales tax and were on the way ...

TCav Jun 25, 2012 12:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ramcewan (Post 1308193)
technically many states that have a sales tax will ask for you to remit it for internet orders, in MA this is called a "use tax", I would never recommend that a person does not comply with the tax code applicable to them ;-) therefore I just mentioned those two states as they don't have a sales tax and were on the way ...

Absolutely. I was just clarifying the context of my earlier response for tizeye.

tizeye Jun 25, 2012 4:40 PM

I agree with both of you. use tax applies to the residents of the State who receive mail order from another State. However, the OP appears to be an international tourist visiting and not a resident of any State subject to their use tax. Use tax ONLY applies to the residents of the State and is essentially calling sales tax by another name since they can't collect sales tax on interstate commerce.

The only reason I was seeking a clarification, in the event you are aware of something that I am not. It is my understanding that you cant physically walk into a store and purchase something and give them instructions to mail it outside NY and withhold taxes. Ironically, you can do that overseas where they will withhold VAT is shipped direct back to the States (or elsewhere). The OP may be use to that model and anticipate it with a rude surprise.

Perhaps there is some NY law that allows it, but I doubt it.

TCav Jun 25, 2012 4:51 PM

Sales tax applies when and where the retail purchase occurs, so, no, sales tax can not be deferred to some other time or place.

A major difference between a "Sales" Tax and a "Value-Added" Tax is that a sales tax is only applied one, at the time of the retail sale, while value-added taxes can be applied one after another as an item changes hands.

Scottyent Jun 27, 2012 5:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tizeye (Post 1308249)
However, the OP appears to be an international tourist visiting and not a resident of any State subject to their use tax.


Well, my parents house is in NY, so I technically can claim residence there. I'm not sure whether you thought I was actually foreign, which either means my English isn't great or you believe I am highly educated and fluent!

Either way, I am an American, living in Germany at the moment! :o

tizeye Jun 27, 2012 7:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Scottyent (Post 1307895)

Thanks again guys! The next step is to try them all out when I first get to america, then once I find the one that feels and looks right to me, start hunting for deals!

No, just sounded like a tourist traveling from NY to FL. Unfortunately your mother lives in NY or could have shipped to her, but would be subject to NY tax. If you are living in Europe, that is your residence while remaining a US Citizen. It is like my daughter living in Switzerland. After graduating from college in NY she "moved back home" changing driver's license and voter reg to FL so her foreign earnings wouldn't be subject to NY's State Income Tax (that Florida doesnt have) and she had an address for her US mail. If you are in Germany through the military, then it is whatever you have declaired as your home of record. While you are in Germany, if you have the time, may want to get a head start and physically check out the cameras you are considering - either in the military BX or on the economy, or both if applicable. As far as 'hunting for deals' they are pretty much price controlled with sales dictated by the manufacturer aand the same price everywhere. Lower prices than everywhere elseusually means it is gray market and won't be covered under the US Warranty.

Koolpc Jun 28, 2012 5:43 AM

Canon dont do mirrorless at the moment though


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