The debate has been raging for a little while as the mirrorless segment gains popularity. Obviously, if camera manufactures could create a camera that has all the good things that makes SLR’s awesome and no new negative points, we would all dump our dslr cameras in favor of the smaller mirrorless camera. But it is never that simple is it.
So, let’s take a look at what makes the dslr such a great platform to work with in the first place. The single lens reflex camera is a fairly mature set of tools. It has been around since the 50s; almost every photography company has had a least a few SLR cameras as part of their portfolio. The SLR comes in many different sizes from large format camera to the small format 35mm to digital. The SLR has been battle proven over the years it is a great combination of portability and capability. Since almost every manufacturer creates the SLR as a modular system it is inherently adaptable to almost any shooting requirements. One of the biggest advantages of the SLR is that when you are shooting you are viewing through the lens that takes the image, so basically what you see is what you get. That gets to the heart why the modern SLR has become the gold standard for pros and enthusiast, fast accurate auto focus. Modern SLR cameras have a phase detection auto focus system built in to the mirror that sits inside the camera. Phase detection auto focus is the fastest and most accurate auto focus currently on the market, especially in low light. Other focus systems just can’t compete with the phase detection. As time goes on, I am sure that the contrast based focus methods will continue to get faster, and at some point may become as fast as phase detection. And that is really the main point here, for pros and serious amateurs (especially ones working with children animals, brides or any other fast moving dynamic subject) will not be willing to give up speed and accuracy to save a few pounds of gear.
There are a few photographers out there that have switched to a mirrorless system, but I doubt there are any child photographer or wildlife photographers that would consider such a move yet. I picked up a Canon EOS M last week. It is a remarkable little camera. The high ISO performance is on par with my full frame 6d, in fact the over all image quality is right up there with the 6d, but this camera is tiny. It looks like a run of the mill P&S camera. I can fit it in my pocket. There is tremendous creative potential in this tiny little package.
One of my favorite activities is exploring the natural world. Hiking camping, that kind of thing. One o the challenges I have always struggled with is making images on the trail. I often found myself in a position where I found something that I wanted to make an image of, but it just wasn’t worth stopping and unpacking to get to the camera set up the tripod. I just wanted to snap a quick picture and the big SLR with multiple lenses was overkill – that is the niche the mirrorless segment fills for me. The mirrorless camera segment is also a great camera for scouting new locations. Often I will hear about a waterfall or some great overlook, and after hiking 5 miles (carrying 30+ pounds of bulky hard to carrying gear) to get to the location there is n water flowing that day or the view is underwhelming. Carrying a much smaller camera that can still make outstanding images would be much preferable.
This camera is all about expectations. If you are expecting to replace your dSLR for demanding portrait work or wildlife photography, you will probably end up being very disappointed. If you are looking for a lightweight alternative when focus speed and ergonomics are not very important then the Canon EOS M will fill that need very nicely, indeed.