Tuesday, January 31, 2012

All About Mirrorless

By Mike Stensvold Published in Mirrorless
Nikon is the latest camera maker to introduce a mirrorless system. The Nikon 1 series launched in 2011 with two models, the J1 and V1, built around a new CX-format sensor. Four lenses designed for the system accompany these new models, along with accessories like the Nikon 1 SB-N5 Speedlight.
Nikon is the latest camera maker to introduce a mirrorless system. The Nikon 1 series launched in 2011 with two models, the J1 and V1, built around a new CX-format sensor. Four lenses designed for the system accompany these new models, along with accessories like the Nikon 1 SB-N5 Speedlight.

THE SYSTEMS

Nikon. Nikon is the most recent manufacturer to enter the mirrorless market, with the J1 and V1 models. Each has a 10-megapixel, CX-format sensor and a new hybrid phase-detection/contrast-detect AF system that features phase-detection sensors right on the image sensor for faster autofocusing.

Major differences between the V1 and the J1 are that the former has a built-in, eye-level electronic viewfinder and a 3.0-inch, 921K-dot LCD monitor, while the J1 has a 460K-dot LCD and a flash in place of the eye-level EVF.

Four lenses were introduced with the cameras—three zooms with built-in Vibration Reduction (VR 10-30mm ƒ/3.5-5.6, VR 30-100mm ƒ/3.8-5.6 and VR 10-100mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 PD Zoom), plus a 10mm ƒ/2.8. System accessories include a wireless remote control, a geotagging GS unit, a stereo microphone and the SB-N5 flash unit for the V1.

Olympus was one of the first to debut a mirrorless camera, based on the Four Thirds sensor developed jointly with Panasonic. The Olympus PEN camera line's newest models join a robust system offering that includes 10 dedicated lenses and a variety of accessories.

Olympus. Olympus has produced seven PEN mirrorless, interchangeable-lens cameras, beginning with the E-P1, all featuring a "flat," compact-digital-camera-type design. There are three lines in the PEN family—the E-P, E-PL and E-PM—and the most recent models are the E-P3, E-PL3 and E-PM1.

The E-P3 is the top model, with a 3.0-inch, 614K-dot OLED touch-screen monitor—just touch the point in the image where you want the camera to focus, and it will quickly focus there and immediately make the shot. Besides 12.3-megapixel still images, the E-P3 can shoot 1920x1080 full HD video at 60i and 1280x720 at 60p, both in AVCHD format, plus 1280x720 at 30p and 640x480 at 30p in AVI Motion JPEG format, with CD-quality stereo sound.

The E-PL3 offers similar features and a tilting (but not touch-screen) LCD monitor in a smaller, lower-priced package. The E-PM1 is the smallest and lightest PEN model, with the same sensor and video capabilities as the other two new models, but with a fixed LED monitor.

Olympus currently offers 10 lenses for the PEN cameras, including a flat 17mm ƒ/2.8 "pancake" lens, which is so small that you can easily fit the camera in a coat pocket with the lens attached. There are also fisheye, wide-angle and macro lens converters, and because they're Micro Four Thirds cameras, the PEN models also can use all MFT lenses, including the 14 offered by Panasonic.

Accessories include the MAL-1 Close-up Spotlight/Macro Arm Light, optional electronic viewfinders and flash units, and even underwater housings for the E-PL1 and E-PL2.


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