New Breed of Digital Cameras

There’s a new movement in the digital camera market. We’re seeing an emergence of entirely new category of cameras that slots nicely in between pocket digital camera and the mid-grade DSLR. Until now choosing between a pocket sized digital camera and a dedicated DSLR meant dealing with trade-offs. But that is no longer the case.

Sony Alpha NEX5

These new type of cameras are known as “Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera” (MILC), “Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens” (EVIL), “Micros”, or “Hybrid Camera” among others. They are significantly smaller in size than the DSLR because they have less moving parts. Notably, the lack of the flipping mirror (hence the name ‘mirrorless’) which eliminates the need for number of other mechanical components that are found in SLR designs.

Samsung NX100

These hybrid/mirrorless cameras are just as small as a typical pocket sized digicam making them much more portable than DSLRs. Despite their small size these cameras have significantly larger sensors (some equal to that of the entry-level DSLR) capable of higher quality images. Also, one of the most appealing feature of the hybrid/mirrorless is the interchangeable lens which make them as flexible and capable as any consumer-level DSLR.

Due to the nature of their design, however, Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras have their drawbacks:
– They do not feature Through-The-Lens (TTL) optical viewfinder
– Focus speed is known to be slower than typical DSLRs
– Limited number of direct controls (i.e. dedicated buttons)
– Limited lens choices (at the moment)
– Sacrificed pocketability when longer lens is attached

Performance of the MILC is improving with every new product released by number of respectable manufacturers. Although the possibility of hybrid cameras replacing the DSLR entirely is unlikely, they’re becoming a worthy competition to an entry-level DSRL.

One thing that would make these Hybrid Cameras truly desirable to enthusiasts is if they can accept the line of lenses made for SLR. But that would never happen because it would be a marketing suicide for big sellers of SLRs and lenses like Canon and Nikon.

Olympus PEN

Lumix GF2

Pictures: Sony NEX5, Samsung NX100, Olympus PEN, Panasonic Lumix GF2

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