A word more commonly associated with dead zombies, clowns, Darth Vader, politicians.
And now there has been a lot of buzz with EVIL cameras. It’s even spelled out in all caps E-V-I-L.
A camera that’s hateful, malicious, despicable, loathsome?
None of that sort of course.
So what is an EVIL Camera?
EVIL stands for Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lens. I guess “ILEV Cameras” just doesn’t have that ring to it.
Traditional optical viewfinders are those glass windows that you peer through on a compact, rangefinder cameras, DSLRs. Light passes through a series of lenses and/or mirrors and prisms to your eye. One peers through a viewfinder to frame a shot.
An electronic viewfinder (“EV”) works differently. Instead of directing light from the lens all the way to your eye, the lens directs light on to the camera’s imaging sensor. The imaging sensor’s data is then converted for meaningful display on an LCD screen, allowing you to see what the camera sees. If you’ve worked with a consumer video camera or compact digital cameras with an LCD display at the back from the past 10 years, then you’ve already worked with an electronic viewfinder equipped device.
Interchangeable Lens (IL) is also nothing new. Film-based cameras dating back decades had them. With the popularity of affordable DSLRs, people have been using interchangeable lenses more than ever. And for good reason, since having interchangeable lenses lets one pick a lens that’s most appropriate for the job. Shooting landscapes? Use a wide-angle lens. Wildlife? Switch to a super-telephoto.
At this point, we’re talking about two things, EV and IL, that are old stuff. The magic happens when you put EV and IL together, and get EVIL.
The problem with compact digital cameras is that their image quality is poor and prone to noise when shooting in dark conditions. This is because their image sensor is small in order to fit into a small camera body. Therein lies their main appeal, compact digicams are small. They can be slipped into a pocket ready for any situation and not be noticeable.
A modern Digital SLR will have better image quality compared to compact digicams by virtue of a bigger image sensor. You can also fit different lenses to a DSLR to fit different shooting situations. Unfortunately, even the smallest DSLR on the market now as this writing, the Olympus E-420, is still significantly bulky. There are times when one desires a lighter and smaller camera, or when one is being discreet as a DSLR can be attention-grabbing in a very bad way.
EVIL cameras combine the best features of compact digicams and DSLRs.
The EV part eliminates the mirror and prism assembly that eats up space in a DSLR (that hump on top of a DSLR houses the prism), cutting down on the size and weigh while retaining a DSLR-sized image sensor for high quality pictures. The IL part allows lens changes to suit the conditions.
The result is a camera that’s small and light, yet still capable of taking DSLR-quality pictures. Couple that with a selection of new lenses designed specifically for EVIL cameras, and you have a very flexible and portable photography system.
Here are’s a list of the main pros and cons of an EVIL camera.
- Images as good as many DSLRs
- Relatively lighter than DSLRs
- Smaller than DSLRs
- Lenses can be changed for shooting flexibility
- Slower shooting speed than DSLRs
- Electronic Viewfinder eats up battery power
- Current prices can even be higher than entry-level DSLRs.
Olympus and Panasonic came out with the first mainstream EVIL cameras, the Panasonic GF-1 and the Olympus E-P1, based on their jointly-developed Micro 4/3 (Four-Thirds) lens mount. These cameras have proven to be wildly popular, even if they can cost more than an entry-level DSLR. Olympus has recently come out with two more EVIL cameras, the E-P2 and a stripped-down E-PL1.
Seeing the opportunity in the market, Sony has come out with its NEX3 and NEX5 cameras based on Sony lenses. With Sony’s name recognition and consumer loyalty, their EVIL cameras are set to be bestsellers as well.
Now that Sony has jumped in the fray after seeing how popular the Panasonic and Olympus offerings are, will the big ones, Canon and Nikon, follow in their EVIL footsteps?