British Museum taken with a DSLR

Mirrorless, Micro 4/3 What Does It All Mean?

When it comes to buying a camera these days you have a lot of choice – DSLR, Mirrorless, Compact, then they ask do you want APS-C, Micro Four Thirds or Full Frame?

At this point you start to wonder if they’re speaking English?

I don’t blame you it can be confusing, but don’t worry I can sort this out right now for you!

Last time, we looked at DSLR’s and you can check that our here: What is a DSLR and why do you need one?

This time we are going to look at Mirrorless cameras:

What is Mirrorless

Mirrorless as it suggests is talking about what the camera hasn’t got!

It has no mirror (strange way to name a camera I know but….)?

To try and keep it simple, in a DSLR the image comes through the lens and ends up upside down (remember the old fashioned cameras when you stuck your head under black cloth) so to turn it the right way up a DSLR has a mirror and a pentaprism, so when you look through the viewfinder the image is the right way up (think back to Physics lessons……).

The mirror and pentaprism add a lot to the bulk and weight in a DSLR.

A Mirrorless camera has… you’ve guessed it – the mirror and pentaprism removed, therefore getting rid of a lot of weight and space in the camera. So Mirrorless cameras are a lot smaller and lighter than a DSLR (including the lenses) but still have a lot of the features and abilities of DSLR’s.

There are 3 types of Mirrorless cameras: APS-C, Micro 4/3 and Full Frame


APS-C has the same size sensor as most entry level and some mid range DSLR’s eg 1200d, 700d, 70d, 7d mk II, while being considerably smaller. They have a cropped sensor which means they’re smaller than a Full Frame sensor, in other words because of a smaller field of view it’s like you’re zoomed in already!

Micro Four Thirds

Panasonic and Olympus collaborated to create the Mirco 4/3 system. Micro Four Thirds or MFT  is a pretty bizarre name for a camera don’t you think? In fact the name goes back to the size of very old video tubes I believe, but also refers to the image and the sensor size. Basically the sensor size is smaller than an APS-C but larger than a compact camera. You have tons of lenses you can use with the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) system. In fact as long as there’s an adapter for it you can use pretty much anything?

Full Frame

Now Full Frame Mirrorless cameras are fairly new. Full Frame is the same size as the old 35mm film and is the largest of the mirrorless sensors. Therefore the best quality and also the most expensive… The size and weight difference between a Mirrorless full frame and a DSLR full frame camera is huge.

Have you noticed the recurring theme?

These cameras have all the same controls as a DSLR, but they are a lot smaller and lighter than a DSLR. And in some cases have even more features than a DSLR. So if size and weight is a consideration for you then you may be interested by these cameras…

I’m sorry, I’m a self confessed gadget geek! I love looking at all the different cameras on the market at the moment. But I still go with what I said on how to choose a camera. If you’ve got a choice of similar spec cameras but don’t know which one to get, go with what feels best in your hand. And try before you buy.

Ooh and let me know what you get……. 🙂


P.S. note: I’m just explaining what these different types of camera are, not which one you should buy!


Comments 2

  1. Pingback: What is a DSLR and Why Do You Need One?

  2. Pingback: Compact Cameras are they worth looking at anymore?

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