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Even if you only fancy yourself an “amateur” photographer, take note: digital cameras just got a whole lot sexier. Not to mention lighter, more compact, less expensive, and with much better quality than most DSLR varieties on the market. I’m talking about mirrorless cameras and here’s why you’re going to want one.

Retro Sexy

First up, if you’re tired of the boring black box casing of most DSLRs, listen up. The latest batch of mirrorless cameras — particularly from Fujifilm and Olympus — offers retro cool styling. The compact size only adds to the vintage feel. If you’re looking to complete the image (literally), tack on an old school leather camera strap and toss your whole kit into a vintage messenger bag.

Lighter and Tighter

DSLR cameras take incredible photos. But their bulk means many travelers opt to leave theirs at home (and rely instead on — oh, no — their smartphone) or pack the camera in their backpack where it stays for the duration of their vacation because it’s a hassle to dig out every time the perfect photo op crops up. The size — or lack of it — of mirrorless cameras is the real win for travelers. With fewer electronics and internal guts to enclose, the modern crop of mirrorless cameras is lighter and more compact. They’re typically half the weight and size of traditional DSLRs, meaning they’re more comfortable to hold and take up less space in your luggage or backpack. Plus, without that hulking DSLR hogging your pack’s interior, you have more room for additional lenses, backup batteries, and other essentials.

Sony a7r Mirrorless Digital Camera
Discretion Advised

Unlike “planned” photography (like weddings), travel photography often relies on being discreet. The sheer size of most DSLR cameras isn’t conducive to street photography. Most “average” strangers you encounter in your travels don’t take kindly to a three-pound camera-lens combo shoved in their face. They tense up; they get nervous; they feel too “put on the spot.” The compact size of new mirrorless cameras means photographers can be inconspicuous or, at the very least, far less obtrusive. This makes for easier, better, and more photos.

Better, Faster, Stronger

Nikon and Canon have long been the top dogs in the digital camera market. But one-time also-rans like Fujifilm, Panasonic, Sony, and Olympus have wisely shifted gears to focus on better mirrorless systems. They’re building upon tried-and-true DSLR technology, plus engineering amazing new features into current and next generation mirrorless cameras. Sony’s alpha line, for example, boasts the sharpest, quickest autofocus of any camera on the market. Plus, the same full digital sensors that provide DSLRs with their top-notch image quality can now be found in most of their mirrorless counterparts.

The Bottom Line

The current generation of mirrorless cameras is a better, faster, lighter, more stylish alternative to today’s bulky DSLRs. Unless you’re a serious photographer with ultra-niche requirements (like 600mm telephoto lenses and the like), the best bet for your next digital camera is to go mirrorless.

About the Author

Photographer. Lover of bourbon and the great outdoors. Traveling the world since 2008. He's camped with Bedouins in the Jordanian desert, tracked African wild dogs in South Africa, and survived a near-miss shark attack while diving in Mexico.

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