For as long as most photographers have been taking pictures with SLR cameras the process has been familiar, whether they were shooting film or the newer all digital cameras: Push the button and the mirror would flip up out of the way, the shutter would fire, then the mirror would drop back into place allowing you to once again see through the viewfinder. That second of blackness after pushing the button has been there as long as most of have been in the business.That’s about to change with the advent of a new breed of mirrorless cameras. Not long ago “mirrorless” meant either a small sight lens on one side of the camera or using the LCD screen on the back to frame the shot. Now comes the trend of TTL electronic viewfinders that may someday do away with flip-up mirrors all together.The missing mirror assembly gives manufacturers the ability to make smaller cameras that still sport a big chip behind good glass without a complicated mechanical mechanism for moving the mirror. The new mirrorless cameras are smaller, lighter, faster and still take amazing pictures.
One of the new upstarts is the Olympus Pen E-P3, sporting one of the new micro 4/3’s chips that Olympus jointly developed with Panasonic. The E-P3 is smaller, lighter and faster than its big brother DSLR cousins, but is handicapped by the $899 price point, which puts in the same price range as the Canon T3i.
The Sony Alpha NEX-C3 sports an APS-C chip behind interchangeable glass on a small frame camera. At $600, the Sony hits the sweets spot between portability and price. You get all the advantages of the smaller frame, electronic viewfinder, at price point that’s below the intro level DSLRs from Canon and Nikon.