Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Lighten Up! Go Mirrorless!
Mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera systems are a fraction of the size and weight of most DSLRs, and they can produce top-level images. What’s not to love?
Each manufacturer of mirrorless cameras offers a line of lenses for those cameras. These lines are somewhat limited compared to the lens lines offered for the same manufacturer's DSLRs (except the Pentax K-01, which uses the same lenses as Pentax DSLRs). Most manufacturers offer at least one flat "pancake" lens, which makes the camera pocketable as long as it's a big pocket. The bottom line is that the smaller the sensor, the smaller the system. But even the largest mirrorless systems are considerably smaller and lighter than the smallest DSLR systems. Note that all Micro Four Thirds System cameras (Olympus and Panasonic, currently) can use all Micro Four Thirds lenses regardless of manufacturer. See the accompanying chart for a list of what's available.
To supplement their mirrorless lens lines, some manufacturers offer adapters that let you use their DSLR lenses on their mirrorless bodies. Because mirrorless cameras have such short flange-back distances (the distance from the lens mount to the image sensor), you can use any lens for which an adapter can be found. If the camera's flange-back distance is too great for the lens, the lens won't focus out to infinity. If the camera's flange-back distance is too short for the lens, the lens will focus beyond infinity, which isn't as big a problem. Most adapters are of the proper thickness to produce the right flange-back distance for the lens when mounted on the camera for which the adapter was designed.
Olympus and Panasonic offer adapters that let you mount standard Four Thirds System lenses on Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras, in most cases retaining all camera features. Panasonic offers adapters to mount Leica M and R lenses on Micro Four Thirds cameras; Olympus has an adapter that lets you use Olympus OM film SLR lenses on the cameras.
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