Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

10 best mirrorless cameras of 2015

Mirrorless or CSC (compact system cameras) are the new thing, have to say I am not convinced, many of them don’t have a viewfinder or make do with a electronic viewfinder (ev). Proper cameras need a viewfinder. Just a little bias on my part, you make up your own mind but go and try one, handle it, take pictures before you splash the cash. The only remaining camera shop in Oxfordshire is T4 cameras in Witney

Tech Radar says In the old days, if you were serious about photography you bought a digital SLR. But now CSCs (compact system cameras) offer the advantages of a DSLR, including a big sensor, interchangeable lenses and advanced controls, but in a smaller, lighter body without the mirror mechanism – hency why they’re also called mirrorless cameras.

But mirrorless cameras (compact system cameras) come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Some look like DSLRs, some look like supersized compact cameras. Some have viewfinders and some don’t. The fact is that we’re all looking for slightly different things, so we’ve ranked the 10 best compact system cameras you can buy right now based not just on specs, handling and performance, but size, simplicity and value for money too.

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1. Olympus OM-D E-M10 II

The brilliant E-M10 II ticks boxes you probably didn’t even know about

Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Resolution: 16.1Mp | Viewfinder: EVF |Monitor: 3-inch tilting display, 1,037,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 8.5fps | Maximum video resolution: 1080p

£549.00 
Compact size, lenses too
Excellent viewfinder
Smaller sensor than some
Pricier than original E-M10

We loved the original E-M10 for its size, versatility and value for money, but the E-M10 II adds features that take it to another level. The old camera’s 3-axis image stabilization system has been uprated to the 5-axis system in Olympus’s more advanced OM-D cameras, the viewfinder resolution has been practically doubled and the continuous shooting speed, already impressive at 8fps, creeps up to 8.5fps. Some will criticise the smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor format (roughly half the area of APS-C) but the effect on image quality is minor and it means that the lenses are as compact and lightweight as the camera itself. It’s small, but it’s no toy – the E-M10 II is a properly powerful camera.

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Panasonic GX8

Panasonic’s flagship CSC has a brand new sensor, but it’s pricey

Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Resolution: 20.3MP | Viewfinder: Tilting EVF |Monitor: 3-inch tilting screen, 1,040,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 8fps | Maximum video resolution: 4K

£849.00 
New 20Mp sensor
Mag-alloy build, dust and splash-proof
Larger than the old GX7
Expensive at launch

Panasonic’s compact system camera range is pretty confusing. You might expect its DSLR-style G-series cameras to get the best and latest tech, but actually it’s the the box-shaped GX8 that’s the first to benefit from Panasonic’s new 20Mp Micro Four Thirds sensor – this has performed really well in our lab tests, putting it on the same level as a good DSLR. The GX8 also comes with 4K video and the ability to grab 8Mp stills from it (it’s like continuous shooting at 30fsp). The rear screen is tilting and so, unusually, is the electronic viewfinder eyepiece. It’s a very good camera, but the price is a sticking point, and the Sony A6000 (above) gives you more for your money.

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4. Fuji X-T1

Classic handling, beautiful images – the X-T1 doesn’t put a foot wrong

Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 16.3MP | Viewfinder: EVF | Monitor: 3-inch tilting display, 1,040,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 8fps |Maximum video resolution: 1080p

£849.00 
Classic controls
Rugged build
Advanced filters JPEG only
Expensive compared to X-T10

Not so long back the X-T1 was our favourite compact system camera, but things change quickly in the world of cameras, and it’s been pushed out of the top spot. Price has proved the X-T1’s main enemy – it’s a great camera, but the newer Fuji X-T10 is almost as great and much cheaper. The Olympus E-M10 II has come along with its brilliant blend of size, features and value, and competitive pricing means the Sony A7 II is now very good value for those who value performance above all else. The X-T1’s external manual controls for shutter speed, lens aperture and ISO setting are still a joy to use and we love the results from its X-Trans sensor, but its rivals are just getting stronger.

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