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Mirrorless Cameras

The time has come for me to consider buying a new camera. That time eventually comes for everyone if you’re shooting in digital. Camera models have a specific number of shots it will take before they won’t work anymore. For many dSLR cameras the number is in the hundred-thousands. To be sure, that translates into a long time, but if you use your camera a lot, that time will pass by quickly.

I have started looking around for a new camera and  I’ve narrowed down my decision to the new Canon D5 Mark II, which is pricey and the less expensive mirrorless camera, the Sony Alpha NEX-5.

The mirrorless cameras are the latest cameras to replace the dSLRs.

The Sony NEX-5 is one of newest camera models on the market, one of a few mirrorless cameras that is becoming very popular. The mirrorless cameras have large sensors and interchangeble lenses at an affordable cost (starting at $ 600). Currently referred to as mirrorless Micro Four Thirds cameras, they’re smaller than dSLRs, take high quality images and don’t have mirrors. They also have smaller lenses because the flange-back distance is half the length of that in a dSLR because there are no mirrors.

Today, Panasonic, Olympus, Sony and Samsung make the cameras. So far, Canon and Nikon have opted out, choosing not to produce similar models, although it is rumored that Nikon has one in the works. Models other than the Sony Alpha NEX-5 are the Panasonic Lumix DMC G10, Olympus PEN E-PL2 (new in 2011) and the Samsung NX10.

The Samsung NX10 is tough competition for the Sony Alpha NEX-5 because of the four models it is these two that have the largest sensors and the highest megapixel count. I’m considering the Sony because I have always liked the brand.

I am a bit skeptable about buying a mirrorless camera because the aspect ratio of the images are different that that of the dSLR. The mirrorless cameras are referred to as Micro Four-Thirds cameras because their sensor size aspect ratio is 4:3, the same as most point-and-shoot model cameras as opposed to most dSLR cameras whose sensor ratios are 3:2. The aspect ratio of the sensor determines the shape of your actural image.

Image cropped to match dSLR proportion. Image by Matthew Bamberg

Image with mirrorless camera proportions. Image by Matthew Bamberg

The standard size aspect ratio, which is based on dSLR camera models (and 35 mm film) for most books and magazines is a 3:2, the ratio in which pictures fit on many book and magazine pages. In order to get an image from a mirrorless camera that size, you have to crop it so that the ratio goes from 9X6.75 (a standard 4X3 ratio) to 9X6. This ratio is also important when you either print your entire image or put it on the web. Most of the time the crop works out; however, sometimes it changes the image significantly. Figure the top image shows the 4:3 aspect ratio and the bottom image shows the crop that was made takes away a significant part of the sky.

The new mirrorless cameras will give entry dSLR models a run for their money. Currently many more dSLR models are sold than mirrorless models; that, however, is likely to change, that is, unless Canon and Nikon come up with a mirrorless model with a sensor that has the same aspect ratios as the dSLRs.

[via Photography Tips » Equipment & Reviews]

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