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To Mirror or Not to Mirror…

…That is the question.

Last summer, I carried six camera lenses, one DSLR body, a Lumix point-and-shoot and an iPhone camera through Laos and Indonesia.  While we were on our honeymoon.  Poor hubby! Depending on the scene, one to all three systems would come out of my bag for a shot.  Do I really want to add another camera class to the mix?

The class of cameras I’m referring to is the mirrorless camera which was first introduced in 2008 when Panasonic launched their first micro four thirds camera.  These cameras are intended to combine some of the best aspects of point-and-shoot cameras with DSLR cameras, offering a larger sensor than point and shoots while being housed in a much smaller form factor than DSLRs.

I won’t dive deep into the technical distinctions of these cameras although I am glad that camera companies are rethinking the design of cameras now that we are firmly settled into the digital era of photography.  My curiosity surrounding mirrorless cameras comes more from a practitioner’s standpoint.  As I mentioned earlier, do I really need another camera class?

You see, I don’t think that buying a mirrorless camera is just one simple transaction.  To fully take advantage of its capabilities, I’d want to get at least a couple of distinct lenses rather than an all-in-one zoom.  Once I have a few lenses, I’m most likely locked into the system and given that this is a relatively new technology, I’m not sure that I want to be beholden to any one particular camera brand.  Granted adaptors abound for making these lenses interchangeable, I’m not convinced that mirrorless cameras are worth the investment quite yet.  One feature of note, however, is the Sweep Panorama on Sony’s NEX systems.  The feature allows the user to pan a scene to capture a panoramic shot.  The camera stitches the images pretty instantly and a stitched image is available from the memory card without any additional manipulation necessary.  The final image resolution is ~15MP, much smaller than the gigantor panoramas produced by Photoshop’s stitching.  This feature alone almost makes me want to buy one of Sony’s NEX cameras.  Almost.

Nikon is expected to announce their first mirrorless camera system before the year’s end.  Since I do think that Nikon and Canon are the only two companies that make “serious” cameras, I am interested to see what they have in store.  That said, I really do wish they’d stop monkeying around and release a new FX already.  Once they do, I think my next camera investment will have to be a full frame camera because that’s the direction I wish to take with my continuing education in photography.  My love for low light / natural light photography is aching for some full size sensor action.  The mirrorless camera just feels like it is way too redundant.   Perhaps I’ll be singing a different tune in five years.  For now, I’ll just stick to my point-and-shoot and iPhone, thank-you-very-much!

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