I’ve sung the virtues of owning a mirrorless camera before with the major delight being that they are much smaller and lighter than digital SLR cameras, without sacrificing photographic quality. Traditional SLRs (single lens reflex) cameras, whether digital or analog, use a system of mirrors to provide the photographer with a view through the lens so that they can see the precise framing of the photo. The photographer is actually looking through the lens prior to hitting the shutter button.
When the shutter button is pressed, those mirrors flip up out of the way, which allows the sensor (or film) to now be able to “see” through the lens. After the sensor/film has been exposed for the chosen shutter speed, the mirrors flip back down and the photographer can see through the lens again. As you can imagine, the mirrors and the mechanical hinge that flips the mirrors up and down weigh a lot.
With these new, smaller cameras, there are no mirrors and of course no mechanical hinge. Instead of an optical viewfinder as on an SLR, the viewfinder is actually a tiny little digital screen that displays exactly what the sensor sees. Not only has the weight of the mirrors and hinge been removed, the volume required to flip that mirror out of the way has been eliminated.
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