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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mirrorless Systems For You

How to build a mirrorless system as your primary outfit for nature photography

Labels: CamerasD-SLRsGear
The external monitors can be hard to see in bright sunlight, and holding the camera at arm's length with a long lens attached creates stability problems. To provide convenient, eye-level, DSLR-style shooting, more than two-thirds of today's mirrorless cameras either provide a built-in electronic viewfinder or offer a clip-on one as an optional accessory. Such an eye-level finder is nice for shooting in bright light and essential for handheld long-lens work.

All current mirrorless interchangeable-lens models can record full HD (1080) video, as can most current DSLRs. The main point here is that you probably won't have your DSLR with you at all times, but a little mirrorless model can be your constant companion, keeping you ready to capture magic moments in still and full HD form. Some mirrorless cameras accept an external stereo microphone for better sound with no camera noises recorded.

The Rest Of The System
All current mirrorless models are powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, and come with a battery and charger. Because mirrorless cameras are always in Live View mode, and often have smaller batteries than DSLRs to keep size down, they don't get as many shots per charge as DSLRs. So it's important to buy and carry some spare batteries when you take a mirrorless camera into the field. As with DSLRs, it's also a good idea to carry extra memory cards; current mirrorless models all use SD/SDHC/SDXC cards, and Sony NEX cameras also take Sony Memory Stick PRO Duo and PRO-HG Duo media. If you intend to shoot video or RAW still images, it's wise to get the fastest cards available, with a large capacity, because HD video and high-megapixel RAW files take up lots of space.

Most mirrorless cameras have built-in, pop-up flash units, and the few that don't come with a tiny dedicated unit. Some offer small flash units designed to complement the system, and many of those from the DSLR manufacturers can use the same external flash units as the company's DSLRs. Some mirrorless models provide wireless TTL flash with multiple units—ideal for macrophotography and lighting nearby night subjects in star-trail shots.

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 are splashproof (as are some, but not all, of their lenses), and underwater housings are available for the OM-D E-M5 and Nikon's 1 series (J1/J2/V1/V2) and standard 10-30mm zoom—handy if you like to shoot in rainy conditions (or underwater, in the case of the Nikons). Underwater housings are also available for some of Olympus' PEN mirrorless models, including the new E-PL5.

Samsung's NX20, NX210 and NX1000, and Sony's NEX-6 and NEX-5R have built-in WiFi, and you can add it to Olympus mirrorless models via the optional PENPAL unit. This allows wireless transfer of your images from camera to computer or the Internet—useful at your WiFi-compatible motel after a day of shooting in the field while on a multiday road trip.

Most systems offer either wired or wireless remote control, handy to minimize shake in tripod work and for firing the camera from afar to capture elusive critters.

Fujifilm offers handgrips for the X-Pro1 and X-E1, and Panasonic has a battery grip for the new GH3. These provide more comfortable shooting, and in the case of the Panasonic, more battery life. Canon, Nikon and Pentax offer geotagging GPS units for their mirrorless cameras.


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