Mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera

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Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark I.
Nikon Z7 introduced 2018

A mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (MILC) features a single, removable lens and uses a digital display system rather than an optical viewfinder. The word "mirrorless" indicates that the camera does not have an optical mirror or an optical viewfinder like a conventional single-lens reflex camera (SLR), but an electronic viewfinder which displays what the camera image sensor sees.[1]

In many mirrorless models, the mechanical shutter remains. Like an SLR, an interchangeable lens mirrorless camera accepts any of a series of interchangeable lenses compatible with the lens mount of that camera. A mirrorless interchangeable lens camera is an alternative to the digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR).

Most mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras have a sensor that is smaller than full-frame and thus require the application of a crop factor when comparing the field of view of cameras with different sensors. Full-frame mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras do not require the application of a crop factor. Some MILCs have larger than full-frame sensors.

Overview[edit]

Compared to DSLR cameras, mirrorless cameras are mechanically simpler and are often smaller, lighter, and quieter (since their electronic shutter is used) due to the elimination of the moving mirror and mechanical shutter[2]—additionally, the lack of a moving mirror reduces vibration that can result in blurred images in super telephoto lenses when using a slow shutter speed.

Until recently,[when?] mirrorless cameras were somewhat challenged to provide an electronic viewfinder with the clarity low-time-lag responsiveness of the optical viewfinders used on DSLRs (under strong sunlight or when photographing the sky at night).[3] The fact that the image from the lens is always projected onto the image sensor allows for features that are only available in DSLRs when their mirror is locked up into "live view" mode. This includes the ability to show a focus-peaking[4] display, zebra patterning, and face or eye tracking.[5] Moreover, the electronic viewfinder can provide live depth of field preview, can show a poorly-illuminated subject how it would look with correct exposure in real time,[6] and is easier to view the results of an exposure in bright sunlight.

With the latest phase-detect autofocus available on some mirrorless cameras, autofocus speed and accuracy (in some models) has been shown to be as good as DSLRs. But compared with DSLRs, MILCs have lower battery lifetime and smaller buffers (to save battery).[7] On-sensor auto-focus is free of the adjustment requirements of the indirect focusing system of the DSLR, and the latest MILCs can shoot with phase-detect autofocus at up to 20 frames per second using up to 693 focus points—a number exceeding what is available on any DSLR.[8] Using manual focus with an electronic viewfinder can be assisted by the ability to magnify the subject.

History[edit]

In 2013, mirrorless system cameras constituted about five percent of total camera shipments.[9] In 2015, they accounted for 26 percent of system camera sales outside of the Americas, and 16 percent within the United States.[10]

2004–2008. The first mirrorless camera commercially marketed was the Epson R-D1 (released in 2004), followed by the Leica M8. The Micro Four Thirds system, whose first camera was the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1, was released in Japan in October 2008.[11]

2009–2010. The Ricoh GXR (November 2009) had a radically different design. The mirrorless camera featured interchangeable lens units – a sealed unit of a lens and sensor, instead of a normal interchangeable lens.[12][13][14] This design was comparable to but distinct from MILCs, and received mixed reviews, primarily due to cost; As of 2017, the design has not been copied.

Following the introduction of the Micro Four Thirds system, several other cameras were released by Panasonic and Olympus, with the Olympus PEN E-P1 (announced June 2009) being the first mirrorless camera in a compact size (pocketable with a small lens). The Samsung NX10 (announced January 2010) was the first camera in this class not using the Micro Four Thirds system, instead utilizing a new, proprietary lens mount (Samsung NX-mount). The Sony Alpha NEX-3 and NEX-5 (announced May 14, 2010, and released in July 2010) saw Sony enter the market with a new, proprietary lens mount (the Sony E-mount), though the camera included LA-EA1 and LA-EA2 adapters for the legacy Minolta A-mount.

2011. In June 2011, Pentax announced the 'Q' mirrorless interchangeable lens camera and the 'Q-mount' lens system. The original Q series featured a smaller 1/2.3 inch 12.4 megapixel CMOS sensor.[15] The Q7, introduced in 2013, has a slightly larger 1/1.7 inch CMOS sensor with the same megapixel count.[16]

In September 2011, Nikon announced their Nikon 1 system which consists of the Nikon 1 J1 and Nikon 1 V1 cameras and lenses. The V1 features an electronic viewfinder.[17] The series includes high-speed mirrorless cameras which, according to Nikon, featured the world's fastest autofocus and the world's fastest continuous shooting speed (60 fps) among all cameras with interchangeable lenses including DSLRs.[18]

2012. The Fujifilm X-Pro1, announced in January 2012, was the first non-rangefinder mirrorless with a built-in optical viewfinder. Its hybrid viewfinder overlaid electronic information, including shifting frame-lines, to compensate for the parallax effect. Its 2016 successor, the X-Pro2, features an updated version of this viewfinder.

Beyond just consumer interest, mirrorless lens systems has created significant interest from camera manufacturers as a possible alternative to high-end camera manufacturing. Mirrorless cameras have fewer moving parts than DSLRs, and are more electronic, which is an advantage to electronic manufacturers (such as Panasonic, Samsung and Sony), while reducing the advantage that existing camera manufacturers have in precision mechanical engineering. Sony's entry level full frame mirrorless α7 II camera has a 24 megapixel 5 axis stabilised sensor but is more compact and lower in cost than any full frame sensor DSLR.

Canon was the last of the major manufacturer of DSLRs to announce their own mirrorless camera, announcing the Canon EOS M in 2012 with APS-C sensor and 18 mm registration distance similar to the one used by NEX.

In a longer-term Olympus decided that mirrorless may replace DSLRs entirely in some categories with Olympus America's DSLR product manager speculating that by 2012, Olympus DSLRs (the Olympus E system) may be mirrorless, though still using the Four Thirds System (not Micro Four Thirds).[19]

Panasonic UK's Lumix G product manager John Mitchell, speaking to the Press at the 2011 "Focus on Imaging" show in Birmingham, reported that Panasonic "G" camera market share was almost doubling each year, and that the UK Panasonic "G" captured over 11% of all interchangeable camera sales in the UK in 2010, and that the UK "CSC" sales made up 23% of the interchangeable lens market in the UK, and 40% in Japan.[20]

As of May 2010, the cost of interchangeable-lens camera is comparable to and somewhat higher than entry-level DSLRs, with costs between US$550 and $800, and significantly higher than the cost of high-end compact cameras.[citation needed]

Sony announced their 2011 sales statistics in September 2012, which showed that mirrorless lenses had 50% of the interchangeable lens market in Japan, 18% in Europe, and 23% worldwide. Since then, Nikon has entered the mirrorless market, amongst other new entries.

2013. Due to the downward trend of the world camera market, mirrorless camera sales suffered, but not as drastically and was compensated with increase by about 12 percent in the Japanese mirrorless camera market.[21] However, mirrorless cameras have taken longer to catch on in Europe and North America. According to Japanese photo industry sources, mirrorless made up only 11.2% of interchangeable-lens cameras shipped to Europe in the first nine months of 2013, and 10.5% of those shipped to the U.S. in the same period.[22] Also, an industry researcher determined that Mirrorless camera sales in the U.S. fell by about 20% in the three weeks leading up to December 14, 2013—which included the key Black Friday shopping week; in the same period, DSLR sales went up 1%.[22]

2015. 2015 sales statistics showed that overall camera sales have fallen to one third of those of 2010, due to compact cameras being substituted by camera-capable mobile phones. Within camera sales, ILCs have seen their market share increasing, with ILCs being 30% of overall camera sales, of which DSLRs were 77% and mirrorless cameras were 23%.[23] In the Americas in 2015, DSLR annual sales fell by 16% per annum, while mirrorless sales over the same 12-month period have increased by 17%.[24]. In Japan, mirrorless cameras outsold DSLRs during some parts of the year. In 2015, mirrorless-cameras accounted for 26 percent of interchangeable-lens camera sales outside the Americas, although a lesser share of 26 percent was in the U.S.[25]

2016. In late 2016, Olympus announced their OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera, a successor to the earlier and successful Mark I. The Mark II model retains a Micro Four Thirds image sensor of 17.3x13 mm and features a 20.4 megapixel resolution lens, representing a new generation of mirrorless cameras competitive with and in many respects superior to DSLR cameras.

2017. In early 2017, Sony announces the Alpha-9 mirrorless camera, offering 693 autofocus points, and 20 frame-per-second shooting. In October Sony announces the A7RIII, offering 10FPS shooting at 42 megapixels.

2018. In early 2018, Sony announced the A7III mirrorless camera, bringing the 693 autofocus points of the A9 at a much lower cost. In August, Nikon announced its new full-frame mirrorless Z 6 and Z 7 cameras, both using a new lens mount. Canon announced its first full-frame mirrorless model, the EOS R, and its own new lens mount the next month.

Systems comparison[edit]

System Notable models Lens mount Sensor size Stabilization Throat diameter Flange focal distance Focus system 35 mm equiv multiplier Release date
Canon EOS M Canon EOS M, EOS M2, EOS M3, EOS M10, EOS M5, EOS M6, EOS M100, EOS M50 Canon EF-M 22.3 × 14.9 mm APS-C Lens-based 47 mm 18 mm Hybrid Contrast-detection/Phase detection autofocus 1.6 October 2012[26][27]
Canon EOS R Canon EOS R Canon RF 36.0×24.0 mm Full-frame Lens-based 54 mm 20 mm Hybrid Contrast-detection/Phase detection autofocus 1.0 September 2018[28][29]
Fujifilm G Fujifilm GFX 50S Fujifilm G-mount 43.8 × 32.9 mm Medium format Lens-based ?? 26.7 mm Contrast-detection autofocus 0.79 January 2017[30]
Fujifilm XF Fujifilm X-Pro1, X-T1, X-A1, X-M1, X-E1, X-A2, X-A10, X-A3, X-A5, X-E2, X-E3, X-T10, X-T20, X-Pro2, X-T2, X-H1, X-T3 Fujifilm X-mount 23.6 × 15.6 mm (NEW X-T3 X-Trans 4, 26.1 mp) APS-C Lens-based

X-H1: Sensor-based (5-axis IBIS, 5.5 stops compensation)

44 mm 17.7 mm Hybrid Contrast-detection/Phase detection autofocus on X-H1, X-T1, X-T2, X-T3, X-Pro2, X-T10, X-T20, X-E2, X-E3, X-A5; Contrast-detection autofocus on other models 1.5 January 2012
Hasselblad XCD Hasselblad X1D Hasselblad XCD mount 43.8 × 32.9 mm Medium format none ?? 20 mm Contrast-detection autofocus 0.79 June 2016
Leica L Leica T, SL Leica L-mount 35.8×23.9 mm full-frame (SL)
23.6 × 15.7 mm APS-C (T)
Lens-based 51.6 mm 20 mm Contrast-detection autofocus 1.0 (SL), 1.5 (T) April 2014[31]
Leica M (rangefinder camera) Leica M8, M9, M9-P, M Monochrom, M-E, M; Epson R-D1, R-D1s, R-D1x, R-D1xG Leica M-mount 35.8×23.9 mm full-frame (M9, M9-P, M Monochrom, M-E, and M), 27×18 mm half-frame (M8), 23.7×15.6 mm pseudo–APS-C (R-D1) none 44 mm 27.80 mm Rangefinder 1.0 March 2004 (R-D1)
Micro Four Thirds system Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1, G10, G2, G3, GH1, GH2, GH3, GF1, GF2, GF3, GX1, GX7

Olympus PEN E-P1, E-P2, E-P3, E-PL1, E-PL2, E-PL3, E-PM1, OM-D E-M5, E-PL5, OM-D E-M1

Micro Four Thirds 17.3×12.98 mm 4/3 Lens-based (Panasonic); In body (Olympus)

Olympus EM-5 1st 5 axis stability system versus traditional 2 axis

~38 mm 20 mm Contrast-detection autofocus on most bodies; hybrid contrast-detection/phase detection autofocus on Olympus OM-D E-M1 2.0 October 2008 (G1)
Nikon 1[17] Nikon 1 J1, V1, J2, V2, J4, V3, J5 Nikon 1 mount 13.2 × 8.8 mm 1" Nikon CX Lens-based ?? 17 mm Hybrid Contrast-detection/Phase detection autofocus 2.7 October 2011
Nikon Z[32] Z 6, Z 7 Nikon Z-mount 35.9×23.9 mm full-frame Sensor-based, but can use both IBIS and lens-based stabilization at the same time 55 mm 16 mm Hybrid Contrast-detection/Phase detection autofocus 1.0 August 2018
Pentax K Pentax K-01 Pentax K mount 23.6 × 15.6 mm APS-C Sensor-based ?? 45.46 mm Contrast-detection autofocus 1.53 February 2012
Pentax Q Pentax Q, Q10, Q7, Q-S1 Q-mount 6.17×4.55 mm (1/2.3") for Q and Q10
7.44×5.58 mm (1/1.7") for Q7 and Q-S1
Sensor-based 38 mm[33] 9.2 mm[34] Contrast-detection autofocus 5.5 (appx), Q and Q10
4.6 (appx), Q7 and Q-S1
June 2011
Ricoh GXR Ricoh GXR Sealed interchangeable sensor lens unit system, and Leica M-mount Depends on each sealed interchangeable sensor lens unit: APS-C, 1/1.7", 1/2.3" depends Contrast-detection autofocus for sealed camera units, manual focus (display-assisted) for Leica M mount unit 1.5 November 2009
Samsung NX Samsung NX10, NX100, NX200, NX20, NX300, NX30, NX500, NX1 Samsung NX-mount 23.4 × 15.6 mm APS-C Lens-based 42 mm 25.5 mm Hybrid Contrast-detection/Phase detection autofocus 1.53 January 2010
Sigma SA Sigma SD Quattro, Sigma SD Quattro H Sigma SA-mount 26.7 × 17.9 mm APS-H (Quattro H)
23.4 x 15.5 mm APS-C (Quattro)
Lens-based ?? 44 mm Phase and contrast 1.35 (Quattro H)
1.54 (Quattro)
February 2016
Sony α NEX NEX-3, NEX-5, NEX-5N, NEX-6, NEX-7 (still cameras), NEX-VG10 (video camera) Sony E-mount 23.4 × 15.6 mm APS-C Lens-based 46.1 mm (1.815 inch) 18 mm Contrast-detection autofocus (earlier models), Phase and Contrast (newer models) 1.5 June 2010
Sony α ILCE α9, α7, α7R, α7S, α7 II, α7R II, α7S II, α7 III, α7R III, α6500, α6300, α6000, α5100, α5000, α3000 Sony E-mount 35.8×23.9 mm full-frame (α7 series and α9)
23.4 × 15.6 mm APS-C (αxx00)
Depends (Lens-based, although α7 series II and III, plus α9, have 5-axis IBIS and can use lens and IBIS at same time) 46.1 mm (1.815 inch) 18 mm Contrast-detection autofocus, Phase & Contrast (α7 series, α9, α6xxx) 1.0 (α7x and α9), 1.5 (αx000) October 2013

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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