By Yonatan Gordon
As any photographer knows, taking pictures is much more than capturing scenes into a photo. Much like a writer who with a pen and paper enters their readers into an sea of creativity; photography is an artform and the method of expression is the camera. With the invention of the “mirrorless” camera, manufacturers such as Canon are aiming their sights at a more compact way to capture the world.
Recently, Canon announced the forthcoming launch of their ‘mirrorless” camera EOS M. While mirrorless cameras have been around since 2004, the entry of one of the biggest camera manufacturers into this market segment, gives some prominence to an offering that might otherwise have been overlooked by professionals.
The most noticeable difference to mirrorless camera is that they are more compact. Traditional cameras use mirror-based viewfinders that reflect the image of the photographer’s eye. Instead, mirrorless cameras use digital viewfinders or go without them, allowing the body to be more compact. As stated in a recent Wall Street Journal article, “mirrorless cameras are growing in popularity as consumers look for digital cameras that shoot better pictures than conventional point-and-shoot models, but without the heft.“
The challenge is in convincing professionals that these cameras still produce high-quality pictures. Instead of reflecting the image to the photographer’s eye through mirrors, mirrorless cameras digitize the image. While this enables the camera to be smaller, what does this technological update mean for the world of photography?
Now that we appreciate some of the underlying principles behind this new version of cameras, let’s explore the Canon EOS M and like models from a deeper perspective.
ONE THING FROM ANOTHER
There are three ways to judge or give an estimation of the world–through being wise, perceptive or known. As we will explain, to take good pictures you need to be perceptive.
Perception (as understood from Rashi’s commentary, Deuteronomy 1:13) is the ability “to understand one thing from another.” Within this quality, there are two levels. The first level is the power of deduction: a person studies a general rule and is able to deduce the details from that rule. Only general measurements are given. This level sufficed for the artisans of the Tabernacle, who only received the general measurements and were able to deduce from them how to construct the details. The second, higher level of understanding is the ability to innovate new ideas from the knowledge gained through one’s study.
We can say then that the conceptual progression from mirrored to mirrorless cameras is like the progression from the lower to higher level of perception. With mirrors, the image I am now seeing is the result of a relay of mirrored images. There is some delay involved and hence, that which I am seeing now doesn’t exactly match what could be seen with one’s physical eyes. Like with the artisan who deduces one general principle to another, mirrors merely convey summarized glimpses of reality.
In the mirrorless model, however, the photographer gets to perceive the scene in a more direct fashion. Albeit by means of digital technology, at least the details are presented more closely in real-time.
We can now postulate that the reason why mirrorless cameras are so marketable is because of this real-time presentation of pictures. In order to feel myself capable to innovating new ideas, I need to first feel connected with the object of study. If I am only perceiving the scene as the result of mirrored relays, then who’s to say that I perceive the picture enough in order to innovate it?
This does not mean that all insight is instantaneous. Someone who is truly perceptive will also have a sense for proper timing. Like a friend who learns how to offer the right advice at the right moment; photographers first take the picture then develop the titles and captions later on.
The main thing is to feel ourselves connected to the particulars of the scene. As long as we think in terms of mirrored relays, then maybe we are only perceiving glimpses. But even for those who reach the higher level of perception, there is still a time delay involved. This is the counsel inherent in the perceptive to keep silent until the right moment arises. This is another way to understand our statement “one thing from another.” The “one thing” is your friend’s current situation, while “another thing” is the delayed, right moment to tell your friend this good advice.
At the lower level, we see only glimpses. The image is relayed by mirrors. The shutter opens and closes. There is some feeling of disconnect. At the higher level, I perpetually see myself connected to the object of my study.
If this is my friend, then I view him directly, without mirrors and in real time. Mirrorless cameras are both snap-and-shoot and provide high quality photographs. What they sometimes leave out from the marketing material is that even if the process of taking a photograph is made faster, the job of a photographer never ends. If anything, like a motion picture real, one quick picture leads to the next creating one continuous reel of experience.
Light travels at 299 792 458 m / s. The amount of time it takes to bounce through a pentaprism is not able to be perceived. The system which displays the light hitting your mirrorless sensor, being processed through a digital image processor, and being relayed to your viewing display, is many times longer.
To test this out, swing your camera left and right. No lag visible through and SLR. Definite lag in mirrorless (depending on the speed of your particular camera’s brains).
I have given up my DSLR for my mirrorless, but it’s merely because my mirrorless is so much more portable.
From a technical standpoint, you seem 100% correct, and this should have been so noted. But in these articles, we speak in terms of the underlying concepts behind the topic of study. From a marketing perspective, for instance, the idea or concept is what excites the public. So this is our focus. The fact that these cameras are thinner (without mirrors) supports the concept of a more direct perspective on reality as well. There is the bottom-up and top-down approach. Bottom-up says approach things from a technical perspective. Top-down is more about the idea or marketing behind the product. It is with the latter that we usually emphasize. But of course, it is better to have both. So your technically correct comments are very welcome! It is always better to try and blend both approaches where possible.
To explain a little further. The fact that mirrorless cameras take longer actually relates better to our time-delayed counselor. They appear to see the picture of their patient instantaneously. But in truth, the proper words of counsel are best delivered at the right time. Occasionally with considerable delay.
Image courtesy of Orion Marketing