Shooting manual


TPF Noob!
Dec 25, 2015
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Can one shoot in Manual, or even take RAW photos, with a mirror-less camera? I am a dslr owner and have often wondered about these middle-ground cameras that offer more than a point and shoot but seem a step below a dslr. I am also wondering if you can change lenses with them.
Every mirrorless camera I know if can shoot in manual, shoot in Raw, and change lenses. They are designed to be equal to DSLRs, not a step below. Most have ASP-C sensors, although a few are full frame. There is no difference in image quality from a DSLR, the biggest difference in using them is that they have an electronic viewfinder, which is a slightly different experience and drains the battery faster.
I think the current mirrorless cameras from Canon & Nikon are somewhat below DSLR, but they would be happy top kill of the genre. My own mirrorless cameras are all older models but make good replacements for DSLRs, for most subject types. Currently my DSLR works better for motorsport & airshows (fast action with longer lenses) the latest models probably aren't so far behind there. Having both available I think I've shot roughly equal amounts with each in the last year.
As the technology improves I rather suspect that mirrorless will take over completely in a ~10 years time.

For the record my Mirrorless are better on manual than my DSLR. Longer shutter speeds available, magnified EVF for focusing, and via adapters can take a much wider range of lenses.
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Not only can my mirrorless camera shoot in full Manual but it has Program mode too. And my mirrorless camera lenses have actual f/stops -- really -- on the lens.

Thanks for the responses. This helps my understanding. I did a quick google and the mirrorless are a fairly new thing than? All I really knew of was the point and shoot verses the DSLR. Isn't there a middle ground camera that shoots in manual and even RAW but does not change lenses. Kind of like a step up from a point and shoot but not quite a DSLR?
I think some of the better compact cameras can have RAW & Manual modes, I've certainly got at least one that does manual.
For intermediate cameras you'll generally be after a bridge camera. SLR like shape but fixed lenses (usually with high zoom factors).

Mirrorless cameras have been around since Panasonic brought out the G1 (2009?). They've gone by a collection of terms in the intervening years with mirrorless lately being the one that's aught on. previous terms include EVIL (electronic veiwfinder, interchangable lens), CSC (Compact systems camera), DSLM (digital single lens mirrorless)...
Thanks for the responses. This helps my understanding. I did a quick google and the mirrorless are a fairly new thing than? All I really knew of was the point and shoot verses the DSLR. Isn't there a middle ground camera that shoots in manual and even RAW but does not change lenses. Kind of like a step up from a point and shoot but not quite a DSLR?

Yes, I believe you are thinking of bridge cameras: Best Bridge Camera of 2015 - What Digital Camera

These are not the same as mirrorless cameras: 10 best mirrorless cameras of 2015
While Point & Shoots and Bridge cameras are mirrorless, they are not an Interchangeable Lenses Camera (ILC). There are mirrorless cameras which have similar features and capabilities as a dSLR. Look at Panasonic, Olympus, Samsung and Fuji (just to name some of the top mirrorless brands). I shoot 100% in RAW and 95% in Manual. I have FF dSLR's, but I prefer my Fuji XT1, APS-C, mirrorless over my Canon 1Ds, FF, dSLR.

Some recent examples of Mirrorless/RAW/Manual with the Fuji XT1 @ ISO 3200.

From a theatrical production of Godspell:






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Nice! I am learning alot here, thanks for all the responses.
Thanks for the responses. This helps my understanding. I did a quick google and the mirrorless are a fairly new thing than? All I really knew of was the point and shoot verses the DSLR. Isn't there a middle ground camera that shoots in manual and even RAW but does not change lenses. Kind of like a step up from a point and shoot but not quite a DSLR?
There's essentially
- Point & Shoot
- Compact
- Bridge
- 1 inch, MFT, APC-S & FF Mirrorless interchangeable (and non-interchangeable) lenses

In addition to my DSLR I have a compact (non-interchangeable lens) that shots RAW and has full Manual controls, and a bright EVF. A Nikon P7800. It's a different in handling than my dslr but once you get used to it's operating features it's pretty nice for a pocketable camera.
Some advantages of mirrorless are: generally a smaller footprint (a mirror box takes up a lot of real estate), much quieter (no loud mirror slap sound), less movining parts to break/maintain (a mirror box and optical conveyance are not as robust as a non-moving Electronic Viewfinder, EVF), the EVF can be adjusted to automatically compensate for ambient light levels (so if you're shooting in the dark the EVF will auto-gain for easier focusing/framing, great for shoot in a studio environment using flash), or the EVF can reflect your exposure and you can instantly see if you're over or under exposed without referencing the light meter. With mirrorless you can find an adapter for practically every lens ever made and use it manually on mirrorless, (some adapters will allow the photog to use a newer lens in auto modes). These newer mirrorless systems are designed from the ground-up to work with and compliment new electronic components and sensors (as opposed to older dSLR's which evolved from SLR's and inherited much of the SLR legency which may be good or bad ... Which may work well with newer sensors/electronics or not).

Some disadvantages are: The Auto Focus System, while lightening fast, isn't as good as a dSLR for tracking moving subjects. The better mirrorless systems, Sony, Oly, Pany, Fuji are relatively new and haven't nearly the shear amount of lenses and accessories of the established dSLR manufacturers of Nikon and Canon. But how many lenses do you really need? (As opposed to want ... Lol.). But, these smaller mirrorless manufacturers are pumping out new lenses and expanding their systems.). I believe that unlike dSLR systems, most/all mirrorless manufacturers only sell one format/sensor size camera. Sony makes FF mirrorless only, Fuji makes APS-C mirrorless only, Oly and Pany only make MFT mirrorless.
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Sony makes FF mirrorless only

Sony does indeed make apsc mirrorless, they actually started with those before full frame. All of the NEX cameras are apsc as well as the newer ones like the a6000. Those are some really great images you have there by the way Gary.

To the OP, one way to think about mirrorless is in the very name...mirror-less. The modern crop of mirrorless cameras like the A7 series and the Fuji are really just 'mirrorless' DSLR's. They can do much or all of what DSLR's do just without the mirror and with an EVF instead, thus the mirrorless moniker. I like to think of mirrorless cameras (MC's) as just an evolution of the DSLR. But most manufacturers have chosen to do away with the traditional shape that the DSLR has evolved into and have come out with a bewildering array of form factors, some sleek and modern and some very retro.

Now one thing to remember, as others have said, is even though MC's are evolutions of DSLR's sometimes the autofocus isn't as good as top of the line DSLR's. That's because the DSLR (and the SLR on which it is based) has had over 30 years of research and development put into its autofocus mirrorbox system. MC's have only been focusing off the sensor for a few short years in comparison. Of course the DSLR will have a current advantage here, at least for the time being and really in more of the high end models. But for all intents and purposes the mirrorbox is pretty much at the end of its life as far as development goes, whereas on sensor focusing technology has lots and lots of development ahead of it. So AF for MC's will eventually catch up to the top of the line DSLR's and most likely surpass them. The problem is going to be in the refresh rate of the EVF. There may be a wall there imparted by physics that an EVF cant over come when trying to AF on fast moving targets. Not from an AF perspective so much as a 'what can I see in the EVF' perspective. Time will tell.

Another huge advantage of most MC's is the ability to use almost any lens out there. My Sony a7 is for me little more than a 24mp digital back for every lens ever made, especially since I only shoot old legacy lenses. This wont work for everyone in all situations, but it suits my photography just fine. Please feel free to view my a7 folder on flickr for examples of what can be achieved with vintage glass.


As far as I'm concerned those images are in no way inferior to what can be captured with a DSLR, and actually many of them could not have been done with a lot of DSLR's since the lenses I used would have issues when you attempt to adapt them to cameras with mirrors due to the larger flange/focal distance required for the mirrorbox assembly.

Mirrorless cameras currently have many great offerings to choose from and the market is growing all the time. I hope in 2016 we will finally see some serious mirrorless cameras from Canon and Nikon, as well as (possibly) a medium format MC from Fuji. At the end of the day it doesn't really matter what you shoot with as long as your images are coming out the way you want and you are pleased with the results. Your artistic vision and skill as a photographer will factor far more into the final image then whether the camera you have has a mirror or not. MC or DSLR...plenty of great choices either way. Hope this helped.
I echo everything f/otographer stated. I did miss the disadvantage of EVF updates. But since my first mirrorless camera, a Panasonic GF1 to Olympus EM5 and EM1 to Fuji XP1 to Fuji EX2 to Fuji XT1 ... Every generation of newer mirrorless the AF and EVF gets better and better. The future is mirrorless.
Some high-end mirrorless cameras do outperform low-end dslrs. However, I don't see any sign that mirrorless will take over dslrs. The good thing about the dslrs even though, these are bulky is the ergonomic designed. These feel comfortable to hold and easier to adjust the shutter speed and aperture. Who knows, someday I may get a mirrorless camera because it is so lightweight and compact.
There are many fixed-lens cameras that include both Manual mode and the option to save Raw files.
I personally think that both are not really worth it with a small sensor—say, smaller than the 1" format (maybe down to the 2/3" format, too, with some newer models).
The cameras in this realm that you should be looking at are, in no particular order:
  • Sony RX100 series — Latest is IV, which most notably adds 4K video and faster autofocus on top of the already-excellent III model. The one before that, II, did not have the nifty and useful pop-up EVF that was introduced with III, so I’d suggest either IV or III. The zoom range on these cameras is modest, but it’s the very popular 24–70 mm equivalent range, which is useful in a lot of situations.
  • Panasonic LX100 — Has a slightly larger sensor than the RX100-series cameras, with a lens of a similar zoom range and maximum aperture. It also has a built-in EVF that doesn’t have to be popped-up to be used. It is physically bigger, though.
  • Panasonic FZ1000 — Perhaps the best option if you need a bigger zoom range, letting you capture more distant subjects. It has a 1" sensor, like the Sony.
  • Canon G9 X, G7 X, G5 X, G3 X, G1 X Mark II — All are considered very good cameras, and they’re all different from one another. Go into more detail about each one to find out. I recommend reading on the DPReview site.
  • Ricoh GR; Fujifilm X100 series — Both of these options are more specialized tools, as they don’t have zoom lenses. The Ricoh has a 28mm-equivalent lens, and the Fujifilm cameras (3—first came the X100, then they added an ‘S’, then they replaced the ‘S’ with a ‘T’) all have the same 35mm-equivalent lens. These have by far the biggest sensors of the bunch (APS-C), and coupled with fast lenses, they are technically the best for shooting in low light. But in general, and especially if you’re just starting out and don’t really know exactly what you need, I’d recommend not buying one of these.

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