Which Mirrorless Camera for Most Natural Pictures?

Posted Jun. 5th, 2014 by Daniel J. Cox

I’ve lived in the southwestern U.S. for over 45 years now. I can say with some certainty that when I look at a digital photo of any of the many landscape views of deserts, mountains and seashores in the region that I can point to those that look the most natural, i.e., those that seem to capture the most natural quality of the place without it looking “cameraish”.

I recently googled around for “camera which takes most natural pictures” hoping to find some suggestions as to a brand or model that would satisfy my curiosity. I did not get any results which answered this for me outright and perhaps my query was a bit simplistic.

I have read about mirrorless cameras and they seem somewhat to address this but nothing that I can say ‘Bingo’ about.

So, I put my question to you with your expertise: Which camera(s) take the most natural images or technically what should I pay the most attention to in terms of getting such photos? When all is said and done my needs are simple, I want to look at the image and feel as near exactly what I felt when I was there. As if an ‘essence’ had been recorded rather than just a ‘photo’. I’ve taken and seen such pictures in the past yet they seem to be by a chance confluence of natural and technical elements.

I hope that my expression of this has not been vague but I’m sure many photographers in their own way know what I’m saying.

Thank You

Daniel V.

Which Mirrorless Camera for Most Natural Pictures is a question from Daniel V.

Daniel, all the Mirrorless cameras being produced today will provide very natural looking images if that’s what you want. If you have seen images that have turned you off due to the images looking, in your word, “cameraish” I would say that is most likely do to over aggressive post processing of the digital file. It’s your own personal interpretation through software that either changes the perception or not. I prefer a journalistic representation of the my images which is why I use Apple’s Aperture. I don’t create images in the computer therefore I don’t even personally own Photoshop. All digital files are more or less true and accurate. It’s what the photographer has done after capture that can change reality

One of the advantages of today’s smaller mirrorless cameras is their compact size and lack of weight. This allows you to travel further and easier whether in the wilds of the Canadian Rockies or on the streets of Serrento, Italy. Additionally, being smaller, they are less intimidating, in particular to the people I photograph during my travels. My current personal favorite mirrorless camera system is the Panasonic Lumix line of cameras. They are easy to use right out of the box, have tremendous color rendition, and have been extremely durable and reliable. You can see more on my discussions about mirrorless cameras by following this link: http://naturalexposures.com/?s=lumix. Hope this helps and thanks for stopping by.

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There are 2 comments on this post…
  1. ScottOn Jul. 29th, 2014

    @Daniel V. – I hope this might address what I interpret you are asking for, with some assistance from your comment above and what Daniel C. has put in his blog reply to your original question.

    I’ve used only a few different cameras over the last 20 years and I think that they all appear to be able to capture competent, even awesomely inspiring, photos. As you’ve noted in your comment, most of photography is in the eye (of both the photographer AND the viewer) and timing/location. Obviously, though, the camera can’t specifically help with the latter.

    With the increase in sophistication of the newest DSLR cameras, in many brands, it is getting almost impossible to tap into that sophistication. To make photography approachable for most people, point and shoots are simplified to the point where they lack the ability for truly controlled (manual, etc.) photography. That is why DSLRs are still so popular and, at least in the interchangeable lens mirrorless segment, still growing significantly (excuse me, but most in this segment are equivalent to a DSLR in my mind).

    The one thing that has me the MOST excited about photography in the last few years is my Panasonic GH3. I specifically mention it because of what it does for me, as a photographer and videographer (hobbyist in both). Even though it is “fully featured”, with many (most/all?) of the features that would be wanted by all but the highest end professionals, what amazes me about the GH3 (and I’m sure the GH4) is how approachable the camera is. Not only does it make most of the features I use constantly right at my fingertips through its great menu system, button/wheel layout, and folding touch screen, it’s customizability (as good or better than any other camera I’ve seen or heard about) allows me to have exactly what I need at hand when the moment comes for me to grab that perfect picture.

    Ok, I won’t try to imply I get perfect (or even good) pictures all the time. However, especially as relatively rarely as I get out to take “serious” pictures, if I put in even a little bit of time planning and re-familiarizing myself with the camera, I can get the results I’m looking for from the camera with surprisingly little effort. If I were someone who was using it daily or even weekly, I would expect it would become second nature in no time.

    So, what is my point? Since almost all cameras at this level (interchangeable lens) take approximately equivalent pictures (with their own “style”), it is, perhaps, that “right” camera is going to be the one that makes it easiest for you to take the pictures (or video) you want when you want to take them. The rest and, quite frankly, the hardest/most important part is timing/location and having “the eye”, and those can be mostly addressed by planning.

    One other point I’d like to make. Get a camera that takes the most detailed pictures you can get (as opposed to most “sharpened”, go Panasonic! :-D. You can always “soften” a picture for a specific purpose, if you want, but you can NEVER get back detail that was either never captured or lost due to in-camera processing. This is, IMO, even more important in landscape/cityscape/architectural photography.

  2. Daniel V.On Jun. 5th, 2014

    Thank you for the prompt response to my email. 🙂

    I agree that with most cameras produced nowadays what you see at the location is what you get in the image. Of course, this has much to do with advances made and the obvious differences say between a 2 megapixel phone camera and the higher megapixels of a regular camera. But even the most equipped cameras whether the results be print or digital can only capture the natural look of whatever is photographed proportionate to the registering of the camera’s film or sensor. Obviously this isn’t news for those even relatively interested in photography. So, sometimes a judicious modification is useful.

    For example, an acquaintance of mine who lives in London, UK, showed me an image she took in the vicinity of St. James Park. It was taken at sunset so right away there was the issue of shadows. With the slightest modifications of levels and backlight I was able to give the foreground (the most shadowed part in this instance) more presence in detail. When seeing the modified image she said that indeed it was nearer to what she actually saw in person.

    Another person, a long-time friend who has been interested in photography for some time now was also pleasantly surprised when I modified a photo he took in a wildlife preserve he and I have visited on occasion when he’s visited here from Los Angeles. He said it looked as near as could be to when actually being there. In fact, one the photos is of me looking at the terrain and when I saw it I was amazed at how faithfully it registered the nuances of the scene to the point that one of these days I’m going to go to a professional photo lab and see if they can reproduce in print anything approximating the essence of it. If anyone is interested in seeing the image then let me know and I will ask his permission to show it in a link.

    I was pleasantly surprised about your mention of the Lumix cameras. A few years back another acquaintance from California visited me (I live in Nevada) and she had recently purchased a second-hand Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3. I was simply amazed at the clarity and the zoom feature from such a small camera. I’m not savvy on ‘point-and-shoots’ but that Lumix certainly combined ease with wonderful results. I can also show a few of those in a link if anyone is interested.

    All in all, I think that the ‘perfect photo’ is like so many things in life a matter of right time-right place, and in this case, right camera. Perhaps that is what makes the special photos all the more special.

    Once again thanks for you response and as the saying goes, “May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back, May the sun shine warm upon your face, The rains fall soft upon your fields…” And if possible, the right camera to get the moment for posterity. 😀

    Daniel V.

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