How to Start Using a Mirrorless Camera

Mirrorless Camera Sensor

The mirrorless camera was brought to market by Olympus and Panasonic in 2008.

By 2017, mirrorless models matched integrated cameras by value, and then DSLRs the following year. In 2021, however, data from PetaPixels shows that the integrated camera and DSLR markets have flatlined at around $36 million whereas the mirrorless segment has accelerated up to $350 million.

This shows us how rapidly mirrorless cameras are taking over the industry. If you still haven’t tried a mirrorless in 2023, you may fall behind. Not to worry, however! With our guide below, you’ll be using a mirrorless camera in no time.

Understanding mirrorless cameras

A mirrorless camera is a digital camera that has interchangeable lenses but, unlike a DSLR, doesn’t use a mirror to reflect the image into the viewfinder. This means that even a camera like the Canon R5 is a mirrorless camera because it works like a DSLR without a mirror. Even the Fujifilm X-Pro 3 with its rangefinder-style design is considered part of the mirrorless category, seeing as even old film-based rangefinders never relied on mirrors.

These tilted mirrors behind the lens originally reflected light into the camera’s viewfinder while using more mirrors to redirect the image to your eye. These used to be necessary because the imaging sensors of early DSLRs couldn’t provide a digital live view. Eventually, innovation of those chips improved until they could provide real-time views of a scene and handle the autofocus functionality.

Picking the right camera

The category for mirrorless cameras is broad, and photography enthusiasts will have no problem looking for a model that suits their needs.

For professional photographers who already understand the basics of camera work and are looking to give mirrorless a try, the Canon EOS R6 Mark II is a popular choice. That’s because its Canon-Log and HDR PQ options provide flexibility in grading footage while still maintaining a user-friendly feature set. Its high-performance CMOS sensor and DIGIC X image processor also allow users to go from photographing high-speed action sports to filming 4K cinematic videos with ease.

On the other hand, those new to the field can try a more entry-level mirrorless camera like the Canon EOS R10. Its dual control dials and dedicated AF joystick make it easy to try different techniques, and the articulating touchscreen is meant to provide a natural switch from smartphone shooting. Otherwise, those who are simply looking for a new and fascinating hobby can try out the earlier mentioned X-Pro 3, which is designed for shooters who have an affinity for analog cameras.

The X-Pro 3 has new film simulation modes and in-camera editing that make it easy to edit in-camera and share. Camera users interested in filmmaking can experiment nevertheless with YouTube Studio thanks to the easy import footage setting of many modern mirrorless cameras.

Practicing with the camera

Regardless of your level of expertise, it’s best to give yourself some time to experiment with the new tool and understand its different parts and modes. Shooting in Auto can give you a basic feel for the camera. However, shooting in aperture priority, shutter priority, or manual modes can give you the most control over the final look of the image and the composition.

Also, remember that the higher the ISO, the noisier your image gets. Try leaving the ISO as the last control adjusted for brightness and work on topics with nice, natural lighting where you can get the correct exposure by adjusting the aperture and shutter speed. You can move up to shooting in low light as you get more familiar with the controls.

Mirrorless camera sensors are more prone to dust because the sensors are more exposed. Whenever you’re done using your camera, don’t forget to properly clean your camera sensor with a disposable swab and cleaning solution. Always turn off the camera before removing the lens as well. With the proper care, your mirrorless camera could be a trusty, convenient partner for years.

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