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What is a Mirrorless Camera?

Lesson 2 from: Powerful Portraits using Mirrorless Cameras

Miguel Quiles

What is a Mirrorless Camera?

Lesson 2 from: Powerful Portraits using Mirrorless Cameras

Miguel Quiles

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Lesson Info

2. What is a Mirrorless Camera?


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


What is a Mirrorless Camera?


Mirrorless Camera Advantages


Mirrorless Compatibility


Live Shoot: Mirrorless vs. DSLR


Live Shoot: A7R II, A6300 & A7ii


Compare Mirrorless & DSLR Images


Posing Techniques Overview


Lesson Info

What is a Mirrorless Camera?

Before we get too far into this, the class is called Powerful Portraits Using Mirrorless Cameras. And the very common question that I get from a lot of people that shoot with a DSLR is, you know, I hear this whole like mirrorless camera thing being thrown around, what the heck is a mirrorless camera? Why is that difference from a DSLR or any other camera that I'm actually familiar with? In order to really help you to understand what a mirrorless camera is, I thought it would be appropriate to explain to you how cameras work in general over the past kajillion years that cameras have been available. That way you can understand how the technology actually differs from the stuff that you may be currently using right now. So in order to understand it, we'll first start with how does a film camera work, right? That was like the original, like when I started back in the late '90s. I might be dating myself a little bit, but after I graduated from high school, I decided that I wanted to work in...

a camera store. At the time, film was the dominant thing, so I got a film camera. I got a film SLR camera, and the way that it works is actually quite simple. You have your camera and your lens, the light comes in through the lens and there's a mirror on the inside of that camera that basically is bouncing that reflection into a pentaprism, which is where your eyepiece is. And it kind of flips the image so that you can see it right side up when you look through the optical viewfinder on the back of your camera. So when you have the camera up to your face, you're actually looking at the pentaprism that is reflecting the image from a mirror. When you push the button to take a photograph, the mirror actually pops up, the shutter opens, and it exposes the film to the light that's coming in through the lens. That is being burned onto the film, shutter closes, mirror pops back down, you have your photograph. So that's how film cameras technically and mechanically, how they work. So you fast forward to a DSLR camera. A DSLR is basically, and at least this is kind of how I feel about a DSLR, they basically took what people were already comfortable with, with an SLR camera. And they basically made one small modification to where instead of you having film, you have a digital sensor that is actually reading the image. It works very much the same way, the light's coming in through the lens, it hits a mirror, that gets bounced up into a pentaprism that flips it right-side up, so when you look through the optical viewfinder on the back of the camera, you're seeing the image right-side up. You push the button to take the photo, the mirror pops up, shutter opens, exposes the sensor, shutter closes. You have your image saved onto your memory card. Now what you're viewing when you look through the optical viewfinder is the image as it is being seen through the lens. So the light that's coming in through that, that's what you're seeing, it's through the lens. Let's take a look at how mirrorless cameras work, because they're very similar yet extremely different at the same time. So you still have the same concept where the light's coming in through the lens, but as the name suggests, there is no mirror. The sensor is completely exposed on the mirrorless camera. So what happens? Because if you just have a sensor and you don't have a mirror, you can't actually see the image, right? So what they do, is they have what's called an electronic viewfinder. DSLRs have an optical viewfinder, which is just a regular glass that you're looking through, mirrorless cameras have an electronic viewfinder. It's very different for people when they hold up a mirrorless camera to their face, because the eyepiece has a little TV on the inside. You're actually seeing a little TV, with all of the information, and it gives you a lot of power. Because what's happening, is you're viewing the image not as it's coming in through the lens, you're actually viewing it on the actual image sensor so you're able to see the image before you push the button. Think about this, back in the film days, and I remember these days like it was just yesterday, you'd take a photograph, you filled it up, it was 24 frames, you'd spend like eight or nine bucks or whatever it was, for a roll of film. You'd go to your local store to get your film processed, they process the film, eight, ten bucks, whatever it is to get it back in an hour. Then you'd look at your photos and you hopefully got some good keepers. Sometimes the ones that weren't good, they'd buy it back, they'd give you a discount on processing the roll, and you call it a day. But you had to take the photo, get it processed, and then you get to see it. When the DSLR came out, it basically killed that because you didn't have to wait for it. You took the photo and what did you do? You would chimp. Everybody knows what chimping is, right? Where you take the photograph, and then you look down at your camera, and then you take the photograph again to make sure your settings are correct. And you look down at your camera and you evaluate the photo. So what these mirrorless cameras allow you to do is something very different. Because where you had the chimp to see if you had the right settings and then change your settings, you can actually do what I like to call pre-chimping, where you have the camera up to your face and because you have an electronic viewfinder, you can actually see what the depth of field is gonna look like at an f/1.8, or an f/3, or f/8, or whatever. You can actually see that setting inside of the viewfinder before you take the photo. If I change my white balance from daylight, to tungsten, to anything else, I can see what that looks like before I push the shutter. If I change my shutter speed, once again, all of the different changes, I can see them in the electronic viewfinder before I push the button. It is honestly, to me, it's like cheating because where everybody with a DSLR has to take a photo and evaluate, I don't have to do that. I can keep the camera up to my face and you're gonna see that. Once we actually get to the shooting segment, you guys will see that I can sit there, have the camera up to my face, and dial in all my changes, and have a really powerful interaction with the person that I'm photographing. There's no break in communication, we can continue to talk. And I'm really sitting there trying to dial in my settings, but you would never know because I'm not having to look down and break that flow. Does that make sense? I have to break that communication with them to worry about the technical side of taking the photo. It basically takes that off the table so you can focus on your artistry. So it's very, very fun.

Class Materials

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Miguel's Exposure X2 Alien Skin Presets

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Gear List

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

I want to commend you for hosting Miguel Quiles. He is beyond competent and knowledgeable. Light is Light, but It is encouraging to see incredible minority photographers on your platform and to see diversity in the presenters. It is inspirational for minorities to see themselves on the center stage. I sincerely thank you for that. I am buying this course although I am not a mirrorless shooter because of my support of Miguel and the quality of his instruction of which benefits all photographers. He is a great addition to the Creative Live Family of Presenters that I have supported as well. Kudos Creative Live!

Danae Khan Jones

Wow! As a Newb and someone looking to get into portrait/studio photography, this course was perfect and comprehensive. SO MUCH GOOD CONTENT. Miguel is so approachable about questions, positive, and thorough in his explanations. This course broke down the gear and technical side very well. I recommend going to a class live. It was a great experience with food and beautiful facilities. The facility has a positive vibe and really encouraged me to be creative. Thank you for the experience and knowledge!


WOW!!! I LOVED THIS CLASS!!! I learned so much. He made lighting soooo simple, I finally understood. I liked the way he explained the why of his camera settings and how to overcome ambient light. he explained and made everything simple!!! I liked the way he talked about connecting with your clients. I am so happy I purchased this class. I finally understood lighting What a great teacher!! Thank you!!

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