Canon and Nikon are the only major players in the digital camera market. The rest of the market share goes to other companies such as Olympus, Minolta, Sony and Leica. Point-and-shoot cameras took the world by storm during the early years of the digital age. When it came to film cameras, there were the amateur film cameras on one side and professional Single Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras on the other with little in between. Suddenly, the higher end point-and-shoot cameras that had lousy viewfinders and a small LCD screen to line up the shot were allowing amateurs to take pro quality photos.
Digital then caught the eyes of pros, and professional digital SLRs (DSLRs) were being churned out by manufacturers. Since consumer demand is ever progressive, the latest thing in digital cameras is mirrorless. SLR type cameras have a mirror that reflects what the lens is seeing up through a prism into the viewfinder. When the shutter is pressed, the mirror flips out of the way of the film or digital sensor. The mechanical parts take up room making tiny cameras impossible.
Mirrorless versions dispense with the parts traditionally needed to see what the lens is seeing through the viewfinder. Although live view screens on the backs of cameras can serve a purpose, a true pro needs to compose shots through a viewfinder to get the best results. Mirrorless digital cameras let the photographer see what the lens is seeing through the viewfinder but at a cost.
Mirrorless cameras use an electronic viewfinder (EVF). An EVF may be better than the poor viewfinders on point-and-shoot cameras, but it cannot compare to the quality of a DSLR camera. Viewfinders are needed in bright sun. The best LCD screen on the back of any camera gets washed out in bright sunlight.
What really sets mirrorless digital cameras apart from point-and-shoot cameras is interchangeable lenses. Point-and-shoot cameras have fixed lenses. All DSLRs have interchangeable lenses. The ability to swap out a lens for one more appropriate to the photos being taken is the hallmark of pro photography. The mirrorless cameras are smaller and lighter than most DSLRs, filling the gap between the photographer who is earning a living with images and the advanced amateur who wants a smaller, stylish camera close by to take quality photos.