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The main doubt one can have about mirrorless is, I think that they do not provide ttl viewfinder. Is this a big disadvantage? In what way is it worst (or best) than classical reflex system?

What are the others advantages and disadvantages of a mirrorless compared to a reflex?

Have mirrorless a chance to replace reflex (at least for non pros) in the future?

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The speculative part of this is covered by Are DSLRs a dying breed, making now the time to switch to a mirrorless camera system?. Let's focus this one on the straightforward, technical or practical aspects. –  mattdm Apr 17 '12 at 11:18

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

Advantages/Disadvantages of electronic viewfinders have been discussed in another question for completeness:

  • Optical TTL viewfinders are pretty much as sharp as the lens (with small losses for the focus screen and prism). Electronic viewfinders have fixed resolution, which is currently lower than OVFs.
  • OVFs update in realtime, EVFs have a fixed latency and refresh rate (time taken to process the image, number of updates per second).
  • Coverage of OVFs is often less than 100%, eyepoint & dioptre adjustments are limited as is the apparent size and brightness of the viewfinder.
  • Electronic viewfinders have the ability to preview colour balance and depth of field (without darkening the image), zoom the image, apply gain for night shots as well as the potential of overlaying a limitless amount of metadata (gridlines, live histogram etc.).

The principal advantages of an SLR (or SLT) system are

  • Ability to have TTL viewfinder! (see above)
  • Ability to direct light to phase detect AF sensor.

The disadvantages are:

  • Size / weight
  • Shorter backfocus distance, allows more compact wideangles, as well as mounting of a wide range of legacy lenses.
  • Increased reliability (fewer moving parts).
  • Noise / Mirror slap (causes motion blur)
  • Shooting speed (no need to move the mirror).

Once EVFs match the resolution and refresh rate reaches the level where it is not noticeable is reduced the advantage of SLR systems slips away rapidly. Currently phase detect AF is superior to contrast detect for locking onto and tacking moving targets, but CD AF is getting better and manufacturers are working on including PD sensors in the main pixel array.

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The main doubt one can have about mirrorless is, I think that they do not provide ttl viewfinder. Is this a big disadvantage?

Mirrorless cameras can offer TTL viewfinders, they're just electronic (i.e., using a small video display), rather than optical. But since you're seeing data directly from the sensor, rather than via a different lightpath, framing is more accurate, there can be data overlays that don't rely on a built-in LCD overlay, and innovative features such as focus peaking and exposure simulation can come into play--features that can't be done with an optical viewfinder. You are, however, dependent on the quality, FoV, refresh rate, and eye relief of the video display, and it certainly isn't as direct a view of what's in front of you as an optical viewfinder has.

What are the others advantages and disadvantages of a mirrorless compared to a reflex?

Bulk and weight are the main areas where mirrorless can beat SLRs for convenience, and are the main tradeoff. If you use a system with a smaller sensor (e.g., micro four-thirds vs. APS-C), the lenses can also be more compact. I used to lug a 20 lb bag of Canon gear around. I can haul five lenses and a body in micro four-thirds in a much smaller bag weighing 5 lbs (2 lbs of which is the bag itself). There's also a much larger variety of body styles and features to choose from on the mirrorless side of the fence, since a variety of makers are pursuing different types of cameras, while dSLRs are much more similar to each other. The only really limited feature on the mirrorless side of the fence is full-frame. There are a lot more choices for full frame on the SLR side of the fence.

The disadvantages of mirrorless typically have to do with 3rd party support/offerings (e.g., you're not going to find cheap TTL flash radio triggers for mirrorless cameras), lens selections (mirrorless digital cameras are young (the Olympus EP-1 first came out in 2009) and the manufacturers haven't had decades to build out the lens selections while dSLRs can leverage film-era offerings), and tracking autofocus speed and performance.

The two types of cameras, however, tend to be roughly on a par when it comes to image quality and cost--neither really beats the other for this.

Have mirrorless a chance to replace reflex (at least for non pros) in the future?

It already has. For pros.

See:

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