Quick Guide On How To Pick Your First Mirrorless Interchangeable Camera System

According to Samsung, mirrorless interchangeable cameras (MILC) are the future. Samsung, and many experts also predict that the sales of MILC cameras will eventually surpass digital SLR cameras. Today, they are not less than a dozen MILC cameras and 30-40 lenses available.

Basically, MILC system camera has a larger sensor equal to those in digital SLR camera but it does not has mirror and optical viewfinder like DSLR cameras. Therefore, milc camera has considerable less bulk and weight.

However, you might be confused on which MILC system is the best for your needs and experience. Just like DSLR camera system, choosing the best suited MILC system is very important to enhance your photography experience.

Up to date, there are three major systems to consider. The first one is micro four thirds system which include Panasonic and Olympus. The second one is Samsung NX system and the last one is Sony NEX system.

I would suggest Panasonic if you want the most responsive cameras with tones of lenses in their arsenal.

Panasonic micro four thirds system cameras is famous for its auto focus performance which almost equal to beginner digital SLR camera.

Panasonic offers two kinds of design. The first one has built-in electronic viewfinder and DSLR like grip. This kind is like a mini DSLR. For example: Panasonic G1, G2, GH1 and GH2. The second version is more compact due to no EVF and DSLR like grip. It looks like enlarged compact camera. For example: Panasonic GF1. The overall design is geared towards function rather than aesthetic appeal.

So far, Panasonic has the best lens collection and some of them are very high quality such as Panasonic Leica 45mm f/2.8 macro lens. Because Panasonic belongs to micro four thirds system, it can use Olympus m43 lenses too or if you use appropriate adapter, you can use other manufacturers and old legacy lens from film era as well.

I would suggest Olympus if you want to be unique and fashionable

Olympus is the second company to release MILC camera after Panasonic. Unlike Panasonic, Olympus does care on aesthetic. For example, Olympus PEN E-P1 is a very nice looking camera. Its design derived from vintage camera from film era.

Olympus has unique feature which is built-in sensor image stabilization which will work with any lenses mounted on it. As a result, Olympus lens is considerably smaller than other lenses which employ lens-based image stabilization. Fixed focal length lenses will also get benefit from this technology.

Like Panasonic, Olympus also belongs to micro four thirds system, so you can use the lens interchangeably with Panasonic or other lenses that have micro four thirds mount.

However, the downside of Olympus is on auto focus and general performance. It starts up time and auto focus system is twice slower than other MILC camera system. In addition, some of their cameras including E-P1, E-P2 do not have built-in flash and all of their current camera do not have built-in electronic viewfinder. (Olympus might plan to release one next year).

I would suggest Samsung NX if you love great interface, handling and control

Samsung is a relative new comer in MILC system, but it is very ambitious to bring the best MILC system to the market. Generally, Samsung camera performance is almost equal to Panasonic cameras, and it employs larger sensor than micro four thirds system (Olympus and Panasonic). Therefore, it has slight advantage in low light photography and dynamic range.

So far, Samsung has two designs. NX10, their first camera, has built-in electronic viewfinder and the newer NX100 does not has it. The design is modern and simple.

What unique about Samsung NX system is their lenses. Some of the new ones has i-Function features, which you can use focus ring on lens to change various setting such as ISO, WB, etc.

NX system interface is nicely designed with great looking graphic and typography. It is great especially for beginners.

There is no considerable downside to this system other than they don’t have many lenses available yet. But they seem to be very enthusiastic about this system and will launch five more lenses next year.

I would suggest Sony NEX if you are point of shoot shooters and love to be in style

Sony NEX is famous because it is the smallest MILC cameras in the market, yet it has large sensor equal to those of DSLR cameras. Like most Sony products, its design is stylist and relative high quality. For example, it lenses are made from aluminum case instead of plastic. Performance wise, Sony NEX system is only a tad slower than Panasonic system.

Sony NEX system is very friendly to beginners. Its interface is made as simple as possible. If you are used to point of shoot camera and have little or no knowledge about photography, learning how to operate Sony NEX will be a piece of cake.

However, if you are experienced photographers, you might be a bit disappointed with the interface. It takes many button presses until you can set the camera according to your will.

Like Samsung NX, Sony NEX system is very new, so lens collection is somewhat limited in 2010. But due to good sales outlook of NEX system, we can expect more lenses from Sony in the new future.

I hope this article could give you an idea on which system is the best for you. Happy shooting!

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