The mirrorless camera format is approaching its 10th birthday this year. So we’re examining a few of the features and functions you may not be fully aware of when you use yours for the first time.
Create an all-silent mode
One of the great advantages of many mirrorless cameras, like the Sony a7R II
from Beachcamera.com, over DSLRs is that they can be set to shoot silently. This makes them easier to use when you need to be discreet. This is largely due to the fact that they can use electronic shutters rather than mechanical ones to capture the image. It’s also because there is no mirror swinging up and down. It’s not just the shutter you need to think about though. The AF-assist lamp, focus-confirmation beeps and operational sounds should all be taken into account. It’s a pain to have to constantly set each of these each time you want to shoot discreetly. Consider saving these under a custom setting for easy recall. That way, whenever a moment presents itself and you want to shoot on the sly, all you might need to do is to twist your camera’s mode dial.
Customize your function menu
Touchscreens are more common on mirrorless cameras than on DSLRs. Their smaller size means there’s typically less space to put physical, customizable controls. This places greater reliance on the menu system itself. It makes sense to set this up as conveniently as possible. Quick, or function, menus, which bring up commonly used settings at the press of a button, are now a standard part of a camera’s features set. The settings that are common to one user, however, may not necessarily be the case for another. For this reason, manufacturers will typically let you change the settings within these menus so that you can eliminate those you don’t use very often and replace them with your favorites. Some cameras, such as those within Fujifilm’s X series
, go a step further by letting you save different sets of Quick menu options. You can flick between these depending on what it is you're shooting. So, you can save one set of shooting options for everyday shooting, one for video, one for tripod-based shooting and so on.
Make use of the video features
Many users prefer mirrorless cameras for hybrid and video shooting. Sony’s current APS-C lineup are compact 4K monsters like the Sony Alpha a6000
If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to make the jump to 4K. Mirrorless models have continued to impress with pro-level features. Focus peaking, a feature that highlights the in-focus parts of an image to assist with manual focusing, is standard on most current Sony
, and Fuji mirrorless
offerings. It helps greatly with video, but also has its uses for still photos. Zebra stripes, or zebra patterning, is another option you’ll want to look for on your camera’s menu. In order to make it easier to expose your image, the feature highlights the most highly exposed areas of your image. Adjusting the sensitivity makes it even more useful. 100 percent indicates the highlighted areas are overexposed. While 70-80 percent highlights ideal skin tone exposure. Grading your footage can give it a distinct cinematic feel. But to get the most out of it you’ll want to shoot with a flatter picture profile. Sony cameras
support a variety of professional “log video” or “flat footage” modes like Slog2 and Slog3. While Panasonic
offers Cine-D and Cine-V support, plus vlog via firmware updates. Learning to use these settings correctly will result in footage you never thought possible from such a small camera.
Now get out there, and let your mirrorless camera help you fall in love with photography all over again!