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Learn More About Mirrorless Camera Lenses

Choosing a mirrorless camera can be a daunting task with lots of options, from sensor size, to video capabilities, to lens systems, and more. We will cover them all, and give you the information you need. Buying your new camera should be an exciting experience, so let this guide help you make an informed decision.

Mirrorless Camera Lenses Systems

What differentiates mirrorless camera lenses from other camera systems is the fact that they have interchangeable lenses. This makes a world of difference, and if you’ve never had an interchangeable-lens camera, you will be quite surprised by how it will change your photography.

Compact point-and-shoot cameras have a built-in lens that typically gives you an optical zoom with a variable aperture and small sensor. What this means is that while you might have the ability to shoot both wide and telephoto zoom lengths, you don’t have as much control over selective focus or shallow-depth-of-field techniques. Selective focus, often accentuated by pronounced bokeh, is one of the first things that people notice about photos taken with larger sensor, interchangeable-lens cameras, because now you have the option to shoot with a long zoom lens with an f/2.8 aperture, or a prime portrait lens with an f/1.4 aperture.

A good thing about mirrorless cameras is that because there is no mirror inside the camera in front of the sensor, their design allows for a very short focal flange distance, or the distance between the lens mount and the plane of the sensor. Because of this short distance, lenses that have a large focal flange length can be used on mirrorless cameras when you have a compatible adapter. This means that, in addition to a wide selection of mirrorless-dedicated lenses, most SLR lenses can also fit onto your mirrorless camera as well. This is important to know if you have a bunch of old lenses lying around or are making the switch from a DSLR to mirrorless; chances are there are adapters to fit your lenses to your new camera. Of course, you should always check compatibility before making any purchases.

Maybe you don’t have any lenses from other cameras, or you want to sell them all and forget about adapters. In that case, there is certainly no shortage of great lenses designed specifically for mirrorless cameras. Due to increasing attention to mirrorless systems, manufacturers have invested a great deal into providing a wide variety of lenses, from fast prime lenses to wide-to-tele zoom lenses. Whatever you are looking for in a lens, chances are you can find it in a mirrorless line.

Focal Length

This is the most important factor to consider when choosing between mirrorless lenses. For those unfamiliar with the word, it refers to your lens's "zoom level." These are the values on your lens that are expressed in millimeters (example: 35mm, 100mm, 300mm). Set focal lengths (for example, 14mm) and variable focal lengths are available (24-70mm). Your viewing angle is influenced by the focal length. A wide viewing angle is possible with a short focal length (example: 11mm) (Ex: 300mm).

We usually separate the focal lengths into 3 groups:

  • Wide angle / Ultra wide angle
  • Standard / transtandard focal lengths
  • Telephoto lenses

The problem (in a sense) is that the focal length often refers to a full-frame camera, and therefore to the size of a precise sensor. There are three types of sensors available for mirrorless cameras: Micro 4/3, APS-C, and full-frame, each with its own dimension. A full-frame sensor is half the size of a Micro 4/3 sensor. An APS-C sensor is 1.5 times smaller than a full-frame sensor.

Maximum Aperture

This is the second most important parameter when choosing your mirrorless lens. We might say that it is the ability of your optics to “collect light to enter into the lens”. This is the number behind the “f/” on your lens. Remember that the smaller the number (Ex f/1.2), the larger the aperture, and inversely, the larger the number (f/16), the smaller the aperture. You get used to it after a while, don’t worry.

Having a large maximum aperture allows you to take pictures faster (faster response time), to help your shots in low light conditions, and to blur your backgrounds to isolate a subject (reduce the depth of field).

The apertures can be fixed (Ex: f/2) or sliding (Ex: f/4-5,6). In the latter, your maximum aperture will be varied by the focal length. For instance, with my Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 at 70mm, I can open at f/4, and at 300mm, I am only able to open at f/5.6.

For mirrorless lenses, a nuance must also be specified according to the size of the sensor. It is not possible to compare an aperture of f/2.8 on a Full frame sensor to one on a micro 4/3 sensor that is half as small (diagonally). The result will not be the same. To compare the things that can be compared, you will need to compare a 35mm f/1.4 (APS-C) lens with a 50mm f/2 Full-Frame lens to get about the same result.

Another example for a similar result is to compare a 12mm f/1.4 mFT lens with a 24mm f/2.8 on a Full Frame sensor. You will notice that the diagonal of an mFT sensor is half as small in size as a Full Frame sensor. The equivalent focal length is therefore doubled to obtain a similar angle of view between the two sensor sizes. Regarding the maximum aperture (and therefore the depth of field), the surface of an mFT sensor is 4 times smaller than a full frame sensor, hence the difference of 2 stops. There is therefore a quasi-equivalence between an aperture of f/1.4 on mFT and an aperture of f/2.8 on Full Frame.

Stabilization

Another aspect to consider when making your decision is the lens's stabilization. In low-light situations and when using long focal lengths, where a faster shutter speed is ideally required, a stabilized lens helps to reduce motion blur. Keep in mind that stabilized lenses are usually more costly and heavier than non-stabilized lenses. Almost every brand has an acronym that serves as a reminder of the stabilization.

Which Lens should I get for this type of photo...

I wouldn't assume that you can perfectly categorize all lenses and their uses, but certain lenses and their associated characteristics would be much more fitting for some photographic activities. All, once again, is based on the size of your sensor.

  • For landscapes or architecture: Even though it is possible to take pictures of this kind with a telephoto lens, it is usually preferred to use a wide-angle or ultra-wide-angle lens. The following focal lengths are often used:
  • Micro 4/3: 7-14mm,
  • APS-C: 10-17mm
  • Full Frame: B14-20mm
  • For portrait photography: fixed focal lengths are often preferred, depending on whether you want to shoot tight or distant portraits. It mostly uses focal length around:
  • Micro 4/3: 35-50mm
  • APS-C: 50-100mm
  • Full Frame: 100-135mm

How much does a Mirrorless Lens Cost?

Available at a wide range of prices and different brands as Sony, Fujifilm, and others, Moment offers Mirrorless Camera Lenses starting at $399.95 and up. Whatever the camera, remember that in general, the larger the lens opens (smaller “f/”) the more expensive, heavy, and cumbersome it will be.

Which Mirrorless Lens is best for you?

Photographers, whether you're an entry-level creator or a professional who's not sure which lens would fit best for you and your projects, or if you need recommendations for lens filters or accessories brands that will help you achieve the image results you need, please contact our Gear Guides Team hello@shopmoment.com. We'll pair you with a guide based on your background and needs, and we'll find the right Lens for you.