Single lens reflex cameras have served us very well, but digital mirrorless cameras make creative photography so much easier. For example, there have been a few occasions when I’ve picked up a mirrorless camera in manual exposure mode and I’ve looked in the electronic viewfinder to see a dramatical overexposed or underexposed image. But I’ve liked what I’ve seen and taken the shot.
I’m pretty sure that if I’d looked at the same scene through the optical viewfinder of a DSLR, I would’ve adjusted the exposure settings until the meter was happy and then taken the shot. On a good day, I might’ve subsequently experimented a little with the exposure settings, but on most occasions, I probably wouldn’t.
I think seeing an image as it will be captured makes it far easier to be creative. I certainly find myself playing with exposure more these days.
Of course, it’s not just exposure that you get to see in an EVF. The impact of parameters such as white balance, aspect ratio and picture style or film simulation mode can all be previewed. Yes, all of these features can be adjusted post-capture, especially if you shoot raw files. But previewing the image with all the settings applied allows you to take them into account and improve the composition.
If you switch from the usual 3:2 format to 1:1 or 16:9, for instance, you may want to take a few steps to one side or the other to get everything in alignment. However, if you leave your aspect ratio decision to the image-processing stage, you don’t have the chance to take those steps.
It can also be hard to assess how a scene will look in black and white. But in monochrome mode, a mirrorless camera lets you see in black and white in the viewfinder. It means you can see if your intended subject stands out as you hope it will from its background or if it’s completely lost.
Granted a DSLR will show you a monochrome or cropped image in live view mode, but that means composing on the screen. This can be okay sometimes, but looking in a viewfinder lets you really concentrate on the image. It cuts out all the surrounding distractions.
It’s interesting how the electronic viewfinder, which was once seen as a weakness of mirrorless cameras has become a strength in many situations.