Mirrorless cameras - Swimming against the tide - Redefining the blog

'First off it might be useful to define what a mirrorless camera is.  Mirrorless now seems to be the generic term for a class of camera that has often been called different things.

Compact system camera (CSC)

Mirrorless system camera (MSC) 

Digital single lens mirrorless (DSLM) 

Digital interchangeable-lens system camera

Electronic viewfinder with interchangeable lens (EVIL)

Fortunately, the general consensus is that mirrorless will do without the need for an acronym. (Phew!!) That term is used to differentiate these cameras from a DSLR which stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex. These cameras are digital versions of films SLR's and the name refers to the movable mirror housed in the top pentaprism of the camera that allows a view through the lens in the cameras viewfinder. 

Obviously, neither camera phones or compact point and shoot cameras have this mirror mechanism, but the photographic internet being what it is, we have a convenient term that means something different to it's literal meaning and is taken to refer to a selection of camera systems from different manufacturers.

These include:-

Panasonic G series (currently GH4 is top of the range) with a 4/3 size sensor. These cameras are called micro four thirds (m4/3) However mirrorless would also include the FZ1000 a fixed lens so-called 'bridge' camera and the LX-100 which is a souped up compact camera, again with a fixed lens, but with a larger modified 4/3 sensor such as in the G series. 

Olympus are Panasonic's partners in the m4/3 system and produced a series of small, retro styled cameras based on their old Olympus Pen film cameras. In addition to those Olympus are now making a film SLR type design called E-M... This refers back to both their film heritage and their 4/3 sensor DSLR's. Top of the range here is the E-M1. For both manufacturers  the current size of most m4/3 cameras is 16MP's. (megapixels)

Sony produced the NEX range of cameras which had an APS-C sized sensor (slightly bigger than m4/3) They have now changed this and are calling all their cameras Alpha. This includes the upgraded versions of the NEX range and somewhat confusingly their fixed mirror alternatives to DSLR's. (DSLT's) Latest model (in the mirrorless class is the 24MP a6000) They have also brought out a range of cameras with a sensor the same size as a 35mm film negative called again somewhat confusingly 'full-frame'. This is the (Alpha) FE range and includes the A7 (24MP) A7r (36MP) and A7s (12MP)..........................................................'

I started writing the above as part of a series of posts about various camera systems. I was going to do mirrorless, DSLR's, 'full-frame' etc. but as you can see I gave up.  I realised that trying to make sense of the photographic internets incorrect shorthand was difficult and probably not very useful. In this case it's difficult because most cameras sold are mirrorless. Since only DSLR's have a mirror, it is therefore very much the majority of cameras sold that are actually 'sans mirror'. I decided that any attempt by me to explain what a mirrorless camera means in terms of how that word is used would be confusing, because of the detailed attempt of explanation involved.

I also decided that this was not what I want to write about anyway and I was trying to be something I'm not and I began thinking that this blog was becoming something it was never intended to be. 

It was also when I was writing this that I realised that this material and the person who writes it (me) is constantly 'swimming against the tide' in terms of the perceptions of the photographic internet and likely to continue to do so. I've been thinking long and hard about this and as yet I haven't come to any decision as to what to do about it. I've been trying for a while to put together some kind of a more conventional review site / blog with regard to making it economically viable and while I've achieved some success towards that goal I am beginning to realise that for various reasons, it probably isn't going to work. And more to the point, it's becoming a chore and taking time away from what is my core work in terms of making me a living.

As an example of my less than organised way of attempting to take this blog to a different place. I was out on Wednesday and I planned to check out a lens. Outside the shop I decided I didn't want to do that and completely on a whim, went to the guitar shop next door and after playing it for a while bought the rather wonderful Gretsch semi-acoustic guitar you see pictured above. So any notion of planning ahead and 'buying for the blog' seems to have to take a back seat whenever I feel like it!

So why all this navel gazing? Well I've always thought it important that this blog should be written as a blog should be. It should be of the moment, written in a diary form and the posts should stand as they are without editing in hindsight to reveal what the blogger (me again) was thinking at the time. And it should also fulfil it's function as a part of the whole social network in attempting to write to a specific audience and form a long-distance relationship with them. I also believe that it should primarily attempt to be entertaining. That is what I've always tried to do in the past and some recent attempts on my part to expand my audience and make this blog 'earn it's keep' in terms of the time I spend on it, have felt alien to me. 

Now that goal of expanding the audience and financial independence may still be achieved, it may not, but I know that I really don't really want to change what I've been doing for years to actively pursue that goal, because I end up writing what I think I should rather than what I want to. I enjoy writing, that hasn't changed, but less so since I've been attempting to tailor the content to achieve that wider readership and I think I'm going to stop doing that. I'm probably going back to writing what I want, about what I want, when I want. And if people want to read it, that's fine, but if they don't that that's fine too.

In terms of how the whole thing looks, that won't change, because I like the new site very much and it's a much better 'shop window' for my work and what I want to say than the blogger template I've used for years. Though that will still continue as a source for the post headlines, since people still visit that on a regular basis. It takes a couple of minutes per post to keep that up to date so I see no reason to close it down.

As I've indicated I still haven't decided exactly how to proceed and in fact that may continue to be the case. I've always had this flexible attitude to what I write anyway and very little of what I do is planned or aimed at specific goals, even though I might like it to be. I'm an instinctive person and that's what should be reflected in this blog, if it's going to be honest and reflect what I do, what I think and how I earn my living. I won't claim to be unique because the photographic internet is so vast, but I've never encountered another full-time stock photographer who writes regularly in the blog format, though of course they may be many others. 

One thing I did think I might do was to start living up to my 'trade name'. Soundimageplus is a name I've been using for a long time and refers to the fact that I used to be a full-time musician and composer. Plus I've shot video, worked as a graphic designer and written articles for magazines and a few books. The music and writing is much less a part of my professional life than it was, but I am still doing it. In fact I've been doing a lot of recording recently, updating what I have for sale in terms of 'stock music'. So I thought that I might slip in a few music posts now and again. I haven't decided finally yet, but I am going to do a 'guitar porn' post about my newly acquired guitar. (Probably in the guise of some camera review!!!)

So there it is. And of course three months down the line (Or three weeks days? hours?) things might change again. But being predictably unpredictable is pretty much who and what I am and I thought I should take this 'time out' to return the Soundimageplus blog to what it's always been. The disorganised and chaotic ramblings of it's writer. (Guess who?) So long term readers should be ready for a return, in some shape of form, to the chaotic way I used to write and new readers should expect the unexpected. (Or not!!!)


As a full-time photographer I make my living from selling images on Stock Photography sites. Writing this blog and doing the comparison tests takes time away from that and earns me very little. If you find what you read here of interest, then you can help me to fund the gear I buy to review, by clicking on the adsense banners, donating and / or buying your gear from the affiliate links. You don't pay any extra, I get a small commission. 

Previously I was posting on the free, Blogger platform, but this site, with it's greatly increased functionality, costs me money and the more it expands, the more it will cost.  If I can get THE SOUNDIMAGEPLUS BLOG economically viable, then I will be able to review a lot more gear and extend and expand those reviews. Running a blog these days that competes with the best out there requires a lot of time and effort and is close to a full-time job. This means that I'm neglecting other work to put that time in. It is my intention to turn this into a much more comprehensive review and user experience site and I can only do that if I can get it to generate more income. 

This site, like much of the internet, has free content and like much of the internet is funded by advertising and donations. I realise that not everybody likes advertising, but without it many of our favourite sites would have to resort to charging for what they do. Google, Facebook and all the other social networks sites remain free because of that advertising. 

There is an interesting article on the BBC website HERE, which deals with many of the issues above.

Many Thanks

David Taylor-Hughes