Definition of the 'Mirrorless Camera' Category

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by T N Args, Apr 2, 2015.

  1. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    ....or if not a definition, at least a description.

    Is the mere absence of a mirror the full definition of a mirrorless camera? That would mean that every digital camera in the world except DSLRs is a mirrorless. Every Canon ELPH or Powershot. Every Kodak Easyshare. Every rangie.

    Indeed, does it even have to be digital? Does an 8x10" view camera belong here? The old 6x6 TLRs? Do all fit into the category that is being described by the term 'mirrorless camera'?

    Welcome your thoughts and discussion. I have recently heard some comments on this topic that amazed me. I thought the term was well understood. Now I am not so sure.
     
  2. macro

    macro Mu-43 Regular

    150
    Jan 22, 2012
    When the term mirroless is mentioned in photography, I've never had an issue understanding what it meant. I don't plan on questioning it any time soon :)

    When I first wake up I prefer my house to be mirrorless as well.

    All the best and if they question what it means in a forum like this, then good luck to them :)

    Danny.
     
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  3. NoTan2

    NoTan2 Mu-43 Regular

    114
    Mar 16, 2014
    Newcastle NSW Australia
    Paul
    My "old 6x6 TLR" has a mirror - so perhaps not.

    Showing my age as well - we called it "two and a quarter square" when I bought it.

    For years I assumed that a mirrorless camera was a pathetic and misguided attempt to make a DSLR, well... without a mirror.

    But then I bought a couple of them.
     
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  4. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    I would like to see any use of the term 'mirrorless camera' before the Panasonic G1 in 2008.

    If it applies to every digital compact camera, the term should have been rife long before 2008.
     
  5. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Why? Terms change over time, and terms can change quickly over time when we're talking about a term introduced as a marketing point. I don't think when the term came into use makes much difference to anything.

    In my view the distinction between "reflex" and "mirrorless" makes sense only in the case of cameras in which the user views the scene through the taking lens. Rangefinder cameras are certainly "mirrorless" but there's no way to build a rangefinder camera with a mirror in the viewing/taking path. The term "rangefinder" identifies the significant feature of their construction. Twins lens reflex cameras can certainly justify the use of the "reflex" term because a mirror is used in the viewing path but that mirror is not in the taking path since image capture uses a different lens. Once again I don't think the term "mirrorless" makes a useful distinction there, and it doesn't with view cameras either.

    Actually I think it probably makes more sense to describe "mirrorless" cameras as "live view" and/or "electrical viewfinder" cameras, terms which describe the actual viewing path as "single lens reflex" or "twin lens reflex" describe the actual viewing path for those categories of cameras. It seems a little strange to me to identify a group of cameras by something which is missing from their viewing path rather than by what is actually in their viewing path.

    I also see no point to muddying the issue with questions of whether or not the term applies only to interchangeable lens cameras or to cameras with fixed lenses also. The term relates to the viewing and capturing path and whether or not the lens is fixed or interchangeable is irrelevant to that.

    I'd rather avoid the definition related problems of the "mirrorless" term and simply use a different term entirely.
     
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  6. ManofKent

    ManofKent Hopefully still learning

    789
    Dec 26, 2014
    Faversham, Kent, UK
    Richard
    The press (in the UK at least) tend to use the term Compact System Cameras rather than 'mirrorless'. When mirrorless is used then there is always an implied 'interchangeable lens digital' before camera
     
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  7. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    My partner always refers to it as my EVIL camera - Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens, it's good for a laugh and breaking the ice to make people relax as well (albeit in a nerdy way).

    She has a Sony NEX that she keeps in her hand bag - so compact system camera works pretty well for that situation too, there's no way you could fit a DSLR in there.
     
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  8. macro

    macro Mu-43 Regular

    150
    Jan 22, 2012
    Yep EVIL was one and MILC (in fact its still used) was another at the time, but mirrorless just stuck and that was that. There were a few others kicking around, but we have it all sorted now days.

    Danny.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2015
  9. MadMarco

    MadMarco Mu-43 Veteran

    298
    Oct 30, 2014
    Guildford, England
    I always think of it as a compaction on MILC; so the term mirrorless to me would be a camera that has no mirror (duh), but also has interchangeable lenses.
     
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  10. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    The unfortunate misunderstanding of the ignorant or ill informed is that because it's "compact" it must have one of those tiny sensors, unlike a DSLR. Especially when 4/3's went to Micro 4/3's. I think that was unfortunate naming there & was really telling the world it really is a tiny system, but perhaps they could change it to Mirrorless Four Thirds. ;) :D
     
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  11. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    The term MILC (Mirrorless ILC) was common for a while, but then the ILC part got dropped. I still think most of us mean MILC when we describe a camera as mirrorless. Language drift is inevitable and fairly rapid in the internet age. I also think that the companies may not like expensive compacts like the LX100 being described as P&S.
     
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  12. Ian.

    Ian. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2013
    Munich
    Ian
    They'll be calling "compact" cameras "point and shoot" next.
     
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  13. Andym72

    Andym72 Mu-43 Veteran

    330
    Mar 4, 2013
    Reading, UK
    I never liked the term Mirrorless. As David said, defining a product by what it *doesn't* have is a marketing nonsense. Especially when, for years, the marketing message about what made SLRs special compared to compact cameras was partly the big sensor and partly the through the lens optical viewfinder. Which is only possible because the camera HAS a mirror!

    I much prefer Compact System Camera. It is a marketing message that focuses on the positives (smaller, lighter, interchangeable lenses), without getting bogged down with implementation details (does it have a viewfinder).

    But if you'd want me to define CSC/Mirrorless, I'd say:

    "An Interchangeable Lens Camera, with through the lens viewing that is electronic and not optical, and has no mirror box".

    So yeah, Electronic View Interchangeable Lens is accurate, but calling any product EVIL is a marketeers nightmare, unless it's some sort of BDSM apparatus ;-)
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2015
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  14. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Nov 7, 2010
    I think Olympus, for example, just refers to their m4/3s cameras as "interchangeable lens cameras". And that is really what is key to consumers. They need to know they can and should buy more lenses. The rest only really applies to us enthusiast knuckleheads who know and understand the details, and are apparently pedantic enough to really care.
     
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  15. eteless

    eteless Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2014
    I for one welcome our new EVIL overlords.
     
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  16. Ian.

    Ian. Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2013
    Munich
    Ian
    Hail Ants!
    EVIL only works if you want to differentiate between a PEN and an OM-D. (In Olympus terms)

    A PEN would be No-EVIL. I suppose.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2015
  17. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    I think Olympus call all their 4/3 sensor cameras "compact system cameras", which they then split into "Micro Four Thirds interchangeable lens system camera" and "Four Thirds interchangeable lens system camera".
     
  18. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    When Panasonic introduced the G1 and gave birth to this type of camera, they called it in their press release "World’s First Full-time Live View Digital Interchangeable Lens Camera".

    The press release went on to describe it as "an innovative mirror-less structure". This is probably the first use of the term mirrorless. The press release also mentions the "adoption of electronic Full-time Live View Finder instead of conventional optical viewfinder". The absence of an optical viewfinder is a key feature.

    From the above, to me it is clear that the term mirrorless is short for 'mirrorless DSLR'. Not 'a mirrorless camera', i.e. not any old thing without a mirror.
     
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  19. ManofKent

    ManofKent Hopefully still learning

    789
    Dec 26, 2014
    Faversham, Kent, UK
    Richard
    The big question is what happens if we mount a visoflex unit to front :hiding:
     
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  20. gr6825

    gr6825 Mu-43 Veteran

    277
    Oct 10, 2012
    I thought the defining feature of the MILC or EVIL camera is the compact size (due to small sensor and lack of mirror). So isn't it appropriate to talk about what it "doesn't have" (i.e. bulk)? This is not unusual in the marketing world. Food and beverage products often advertise low amounts of sugar or calories.

    I'm not sure what the "positive" marketing campaign would look like. Except for size, how is M43 superior to larger cameras?