At Fisher Studios, we always try to keep at the forefront of technology and that is why we are using one of the latest Canon EOS Mirrorless Cameras, the R5. This allows us to deliver the highest quality images possible to our clients and maintain the cutting-edge presentation that we pride ourselves on.  Mirrorless cameras are becoming more ubiquitous in our sector, and for good reason. There are many major advantages to mirrorless, some of which we explore here.

Images from the Canon website

Quiet and silent shooting

The mirror in a 35mm Single Lens Reflex Camera (SLR) is a noisy thing. In a fraction of a second, it needs to flip up out of the way to allow the photo to be taken and then return to its original place (it reflexes!) for every photo. It does this so quickly that the photographer barely notices the brief black-out. However, speed is rarely achieved without a pay-back in noise (think F1!).

Without a mirror “flapping about”, the mirrorless camera can be incredibly stealthy, and even despite the sound of the shutter, offers a significantly more discrete experience than mirrored cameras. The R5 even offers a truly ‘silent’ mode, however like all mirrorless cameras, this mode is susceptible to interference / banding when used alongside many modern artificial lights.

Determining exposure

We need to go back a bit to appreciate just how revolutionary the mirrorless system is with regards to exposure.

Traditionally photographers used light meters to analyse a scene and decide how bright it was and, therefore, what the exposure needed to be. Light meters were hand-held devices that the photographer would either point at the subject to measure the light reflected, or simply hold out to measure the amount of light landing on the subject. (Before light meters, you had to guess or know what the exposure would be or simply experiment.)

The information provided by the light meter would then enable the photographer to set the camera’s exposure (shutter speed and aperture). So it wasn’t long before cameras began to incorporate built-in light meters for convenience, and develop mechanisms for automating the process of setting the camera’s exposure as a consequence of the light meter’s reading.

The beauty of the ‘mirrored’ SLR cameras developed in the mid 20th Century was that you could look through the same lens that was about to take the photo. But so too, could the light meter see the precise scene if placed in the prism viewfinder. As systems started becoming smarter, they could incorporate a number of sensors, say five exposure sensors covering five areas. Eg. the central area, then four quadrants of the image, while making a computerised estimate of what your exposure should be based on evaluating those five areas. At the time this was considered state-of-the-art!

What mirrorless does is utilise the power of the chip or CCD incorporated into digital cameras to do away with the need for a light meter at all.  Developers of digital cameras realised that the CCD chip was capable of so much more than just recording the image. It could analyse the image and therefore be used to decide on the exposure. The CCD can deliver millions of pixels of data because it can read every single pixel.

But as if that wasn’t extraordinary enough, enter the miniature high resolution screen in the viewfinder that replaces the need for a mirror entirely because it’s providing a real time representation of what the camera’s CCD is recording, complete with a real time representation of the exposure! Who needs a light meter telling us what it ‘thinks’ the exposure should be, when we can simply see it for ourselves!?

Autofocus & the Miracle of Mirrorless

Arguably the biggest advantage of a mirrorless camera is with regards to its accuracy of autofocus.

Since the camera is now able to utilise the huge amount of data from the CCD in real time, it can be analysing the image at pixel level. Earlier we mentioned the five-point exposure system in camera. At the time, there used to be similarly few focus points, perhaps one in the centre of the field, and a couple either side.

As technology improved, the focus sensors started expanding to the point where you had 90 focus points in the viewfinder. When mirrorless came along and cameras were no longer limited by these primitive focus sensors housed in the prism, they could now unleash the potential of the CCD, and suddenly you have around 5940 autofocus positions in the R5.

It is a huge leap from a limited system to a virtually unlimited system, where you can position your focus sensor anywhere and gain the ability to track and follow things seamlessly. This is where the camera can start analyzing the photograph to the point where it can recognize a human face. It can see what it detects to be two eyes, a nose, and a mouth, and therefore if the computer in the camera is clever enough to be able to sense that what it is looking at is a face, it can then pinpoint the eye and know exactly what it’s focusing on.

It can even tell the difference between a person and an animal. It means that every shot has a pin sharp focus for every single frame, making a critical difference to the client in terms of the number of high quality shots we can deliver to them.