There’s a new camera category in town. It’s EVIL, and it’s going to kick your DSLR’s ass. EVIL stands for Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens, and is our favorite acronym for cameras like the Olympus Pen, the Lumix GF1 and the Samsung NX10. These small, mirrorless, finderless cameras can fit in a pocket and outperform bulky DSLRs. Here’s why your next camera will probably be EVIL.
DSLRs are bulky. Their design comes from the film days when the only way to see the exact image that would hit the film was to divert the light coming through the lens with a mirror and send it to a viewfinder. This mirror meant the body needed to be deep, and the lenses — further away from the film than those in a mirrorless rangefinder — were also bigger.
Now we can see what the sensor sees either on a screen, or through an electronic finder. With the mirror gone, the body can be a lot smaller, just like a compact digicam. This means you can carry it with you everywhere, fit it in a jacket pocket and be ready for *that* picture, wherever you are.
They Take Great Pictures
The trick with the new EVIL cams is that they have large sensors. In the case of the Samsung NX10, this sensor is the same size as you’d find in a DSLR, and the others use the Micro Four Thirds format, a sensor which is half the size of a 35mm frame, but a lot bigger than the pinkie-nail-sized sensor in a typical compact. This gives the high image quality and low-light sensitivity of a DSLR. And because they have large sensors, the depth of field is shallower, and you can throw a distracting background out of focus.
For most people, that is more than good enough.
You Can Change Lenses
Let’s be honest. If you’re not a pro, you probably bought your fancy DSLR, fixed on the kit zoom lens, and that was it. You probably spend 90 percent, if not all of your time, shooting with this on your camera.
With an EVIL camera, you can do this too. It’s more likely though, given the tiny pocket-sized lenses for these cameras, that you will actually carry them with you. Better still, with an adapter you can use all your current DSLR lenses on the newer, smaller body.
Compacts have lost out to DSLRs by being slow. Slow to power up, slow to zoom and slow to actually respond to your trigger finger. EVIL cameras have fixed this, and are as responsive as any entry-level DSLR. Watch out which model you go for, though. The current generation still has some trouble focusing as fast as a bigger camera, although some models, like the Panasonic GF1, have this nailed.
They Don’t Scream “Look at Me”
With a smaller camera, you can blend in. With an EVIL camera, you can blend in and still get great shots. This combination of size and quality was the reason the Leica M series was the camera of choice for both street shooters and war reporters, from Henri Cartier Bresson to Sebastião Salgado. And because there is no mirror to flip, they’re quiet, too.
As a new category, the EVIL is still relatively expensive, and you’ll pay as much for a body and lens as you would for a prosumer level DSLR. For many, even pros, the size difference alone is enough to justify this. For everyone else, you could wait until the likes of Canon and Nikon inevitably enter this sector. Then prices will start to fall, and things will get really interesting.
Unless you have a specific use that these cameras can’t meet, or you need the very highest level of performance only a Canon 1D or Nikon D3 can bring, you have no reason to buy a DSLR. Instead, consider being EVIL. You might like it.