As far as I can tell, consumer interchangeable-lens cameras are all categorized as single-lens reflex, rangefinder, or mirrorless. I feel like I never see these classifications used, though, for fixed-lens cameras like the Leica Q, Sony RX1, or Fujifilm X100T. Are all such cameras mirrorless or do some of them use a mirror and prism?

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Are all fixed-lens cameras mirrorless?

No. At least Olympus E-10 is DSLR (the mirror does not flip though, it is somewhat similar to SLT). There may be more examples from film era, dunno.

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  • Yes, a good few film-era examples from Olympus. When most manufacturers were producing interchangeable-lens autofocus SLRs, Olympus mostly opted for a non-interchangeable-lens reflex design which they termed "ZLR" - Zoom Lens Reflex. – osullic Mar 14 '16 at 21:20
  • There were a number of 'pellicle mirror' SLR's which had a fixed mirror, including the EOS 1N RS and the Nikon F2 HS. These mirrors were partially reflecting, so some of the light went up to the viewfinder and the rest went to the film. Advantages were that when motor driven these cameras had very high frame rates, and no vibration from mirror slap. Disadvantage was that the light hitting the film was attenuated by 1/3- the portion that was redirected to the viewfinder. Search for Pellicle mirror on Wikipedia for a comprehensive discussion. – BobT Mar 15 '16 at 1:47

Another example of no.

The dual lens cameras have a mirror. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twin-lens_reflex_camera

Not to expose the film, but they have one, and normally they have fixed lenses.

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Probably all fixed lens cameras are mirrorless. The purpose of reflex viewing (the mirror) is for the viewfinder to be able show exact view of multiple lenses. Today, the digital sensor can also show it.

My opinion is if they don't say Reflex, they are assumed mirrorless. We used to never need that distinction. :)

Twin lens reflex (Rolliflex or Yashica type) are fixed lenses, and are mirrorless in the film path, but the viewfinder second lens uses a fixed mirror. I would call that mirrorless. :)

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    A rangefinder is similar - there is no mirror in the path of the light that goes from subject to media at any time. There is a mirror, but that is for determining parallax for focus adjustments. – user13451 Mar 14 '16 at 18:51
  • Mamiya produced (popular but large and heavy) interchangeable-lens TLRs. – osullic Mar 14 '16 at 21:24
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    Reflex means there's a mirror in the viewing system, so it's surely an oxymoron to claim a TLR to be "mirrorless". I always think it's a bit silly anyway to try to pigeonhole older cameras into "mirrorless" or not - what's the point? At one point, Hasselblad marketing were printing nonsense that the SWA from 1954 was the first mirrorless Hasselblad. – osullic Mar 14 '16 at 21:34

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