Disclosure: Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site. Please help support Studiopsis and buy from B&H and Amazon. It won’t cost you anything extra.
Not all of us want a bulky, professional camera, though we would love our cameras to take the best photos. Mirrorless cameras are a good option for such users. Find out which models give the best image quality, are underpriced and provide lots of features.
- 1 What are Compact System Cameras?
- 2 Compact Camera Features
- 3 Technology Behind Compact System Cameras
- 4 Modern Design
- 5 Sony Alpha a5100 (Best Beginner Mirrorless Camera)
- 6 Samsung NX1 (Best Enthusiast Mirrorless Camera)
- 7 Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II (M5 MII) (Best Mirrorless Camera for Video)
- 8 Sony Alpha a7 II (Best Pro Mirrorless Camera)
- 9 Features to Look for?
- 10 You Might Also Like:
What are Compact System Cameras?
Mirrorless cameras (at times also referred to as compact system cameras) are compact than a DSLR, allow you to change lenses, and have larger sensor (compared to entry level cameras) for much better picture quality.
And how are these made compact in size?
By removing the traditional reflex mirror system found inside SLR cameras and replacing it with an electric shutter system. And that is why these are also known as “mirrorless” or “mirrorless system cameras”!
Compact Camera Features
Here are top reasons why you should use compact digital cameras:
- Large Sensor
- Replaceable Lens
- Intuitive interfaces
- LCD touchscreens (on some models)
- Variety of picture/movie modes and presets
- Very compact and portable
- Stylish and trendy
- Easy to operate with auto functions
- Good quality pictures
- Enough megapixels to enlarge your photos
All these mean it’s easier than ever before to capture stunning photos and HD videos with these gadgets.
Technology Behind Compact System Cameras
These are part point-and-shoot, part digital SLR, but still provide you with several advanced features, a larger sensor, and interchangeable lenses (these are the things that make a DSLR so desirable).
The technology that drives these cameras varies from brand to brand. For example:
- Panasonic Lumix G Series and Olympus PEN cameras use the Micro Four Thirds format
- Sony NEX, Nikon 1 System and other cameras use their own proprietary technology.
Style and ease-of-use are the two other factors that make this category of cameras quite popular.
Modern design, combined with several color options (you don’t find lot of color options with DSLRs), make the Sony NEX, Panasonic Lumix G-Series, Nikon 1 System, and Olympus PEN digital cameras look much more stylish and desirable (even by many woman photographers).
Checkout the reviews of these best Mirrorless Cameras that lets you take fantastic pictures but are somewhat manageable in size.
Sony Alpha a5100 (Best Beginner Mirrorless Camera)
When you think small, you think Sonly Alpha a5100. This tiny mirrorless camera is all of 4.3 x 2.5 x 1.4 inches in size and 7.9 ounces in weight. It comes with a DSLR-size APS-C sensor. Compared to its previous predecessors like the Sony APS-C sensor, Bionz X image processor and a6000, the a5100 shoots a bit slower, at 6 fps, compared to 11 fps. But when it comes to the cost, it beats the other DSLRs like the Nikon D3300 in this category. Where the a5100 lacks is in the optical viewfinder, however its 3-inch LCD touch screen that flips up 180 degrees for selfies, just about makes up for the lack of it.
Samsung NX1 (Best Enthusiast Mirrorless Camera)
You may mistake the Samsung NX1 to be a DSLR at one look but it is a mirrorless camera with great features such as- the ability to shoot up to 15 fps, with continuous autofocus and auto exposure, its APS-C sensor which is the largest back-illuminated sensor (BIS) which works great in low light situations, its ability to shoot beautiful video in both the Ultra HD format and the slightly larger 4K format used in professional cinema etc. This camera is great to work with even for professionals provided Samsung expands its selection of high-end lenses. The only drawback maybe is that the new H.265 format is a bit difficult to work with.
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II (M5 MII) (Best Mirrorless Camera for Video)
Olympus was feeling a little left out with the advent of better video quality in smart phones. No wonder that they came up with an amazing five-axis image-stabilization system in the M5 MII that allows you to capture steady video even while walking around. Seems unbelievable, but its true. Olympus didn’t just stop there, they also offer video that has fine and attractive color. It comes with one of the best auto white balance capabilities, which works well for people who are not a fan of the typical ‘orangey’ look during indoor shoots. It is also water resistant which makes it flexible to use in any condition. It is portable, tiny, easy to carry around and an absolute joy to shoot with.
Sony Alpha a7 II (Best Pro Mirrorless Camera)
Sony A7 II is all that you can ask for in a camera. It is petite, easy to carry and fits most bags, user friendly with its customizable buttons and knobs for easy and quick access to all your favorite controls, it is also the world’s first full-frame mirrorless camera to carry in-body 5-axis image stabilization
The pictures clicked from the A7 II are bright, clear, less grainy despite high ISO and technologically savvy because you can just hook it up to your smartphone or computer with a wire and transfer all the pics in a jiffy.
Features to Look for?
Here are important features that you should look at when buying mirrorless / compact system cameras?
There is no doubt that users are asking for a lot more features in these products nowadays. So obviously the product needs to give the best image quality, and needs to be underpriced with lots of features.
Image Sensor and Megapixels
Bigger is always better – at least in the case of the image sensor of a camera.
In the case of compact / point-and-shoot cameras however (in this price range at least), the sensor size is almost identical (about 1/2.3 inch) across most of the models. So that means, one less factor for you to consider.
It is preferable however, that you choose one that has a backlit image sensor (BSI-CMOS), or at the least a CMOS sensor instead of CCD image sensor. The backlit image sensor allows you to you to take better photos (to some extent) in low light.
As far as the Megapixels are concerned are concerned, anything in the range 10-12MP or above is good. You do get compact cameras with much higher Megapixels as well.
Aperture & Focal Length
Lower values for both these parameters are preferable.
A lower value on aperture will help you get sharper images.
Lower focal length will help capture wider landscape pictures.
Usually, in this category of digital cameras, most cameras will come with an effective minimum focal length of 28mm. For aperture, the average value is around F3.0. Again, these values are only indicators and this is what you will find in most point-and-shoot cameras.
Zoom can be important depending on what type of photos you want to click. And by zoom, we mean optical zoom. Most of these cameras have an optical zoom of at least 4X to 6X. The more expensive cameras can have much higher zoom.
You have a choice of going in for cameras that can work with Lithium-Ion batteries, as well as the ones that can operate with normal batteries. Both have their own pros and cons. Lithium-Ion batteries are good, but are of little use if you’re not going to be near a charging point. However, they are more economical and allows for more shots on a single charge.