Discontinued Mirrorless Systems
Mirrorless cameras each fit in a system that decides its sensor-size and lenses compatibility. For general information on mirrorless cameras, start with Step 1 of this mirrorless guide. In part 3 of Step 3 - this page - discontinued mirrorless platforms are described in detail. For currently developed systems, start at Part 1. Systems below all had their unique character yet were discontinued for one reason or another and there is no replacement for any particular one.
Pentax introduced a K-mount mirrorless camera, the Pentax K-01
Pentax K-01 which was discontinued within 2 years, in 2014. No new models followed as Ricoh acquired Pentax and focused its limited resources onto a handful of DSLRs and a couple of compact cameras. The K-mount remains in use among both APS-C and Full-Frame DSLRs with a few lenses announced each year but very few original designs. Most are refreshed Pentax models or disguised Tamron lenses.
Rather than aim for existing customers to upgrade from models they are already happy with, Pentax went for a completely different market with the launch of their K-01. Pentaxians were therefore shocked when they saw a camera not designed for practicality and ergonomics but rather for its unusual modern look.
The K-01 offers a paired-down feature set from Pentax entry-level DSLRs of the last decade. It cannot be used at eye-level though since there is no EVF nor provision to add one. The body is neither weather-sealed nor freezeproof.
The K-mount is one of the oldest mounts still in use. It is compatible with the entire legacy and current lineup of Pentax K-mount lenses, plus all K-mount lenses from third-party manufacturers. While Pentax has one of the smallest lineups among DSLR makers, this gives them the largest lens lineup among mirrorless cameras.
Pentax makes lenses from 10mm fisheye to 560mm rectilinear and most are designed with APS-C coverage. This makes them more compact than most other lenses designed for SLR cameras. Pentax is famous for its ultra-high quality Limited lenses and very slim pancake lenses. Sigma produces fisheye lenses down to 4.5 and rectilinear ones down to 8mm in Pentax K-mount.
Given the fast market-growth of mirrorless cameras, people highly anticipated the biggest two camera makers to join in. Nikon did so first as they unveiled the unique 1 system. Its CX format defines a 1" sensor with a 3:2 aspect-ratio and a 2.7X crop-factor.
The 2.7X crop-factor puts the Nikon 1 system right between compact cameras and Micro Four-Thirds in terms of image quality. This was certainly a deliberate choice to avoid cannibalizing sales of Nikon's lucrative DSLR lineup. The CX format offers a notable advantage over typical fixed-lens cameras while not approaching the image quality of DSLRs, although it is now used in nearly all Premium Compacts.
At the same time, Nikon directly addressed the biggest criticism of mirrorless cameras at the time by being firstFuji pioneered this on fixed-lens cameras but has yet to use in on mirrorless ones. with a focal-plane Phase-Detect autofocus system. With the launch of their first two mirrorless cameras, Nikon claimed to have achieved the fastest autofocus speeds of any camera.
Nikon produces a number of mirrorless cameras, split along 4 series. A built-in 1.5 megapixels EVF with Eye-Start sensor appears on the high-end series uses both an electronic and a mechanical shutter. Two entry-level series consist of cameras with an all-electronic shutter and differ mostly in terms of design. An intermediate waterproof mirrorless, the AW1 reviewed here
Nikon 1 AW1, stands alone and is the only waterproof interchangeable lens digital camera ever made.
The electronic shutter available on all models lets these cameras shoot extremely quietly and fast. Continuous drive speeds up to 60 FPS are available at full-resolution or 15 FPS with continuous autofocus. Video capture up to 400 FPS is also possible at reduced resolutions.
The latest 1 V3
Nikon 1 V3 has the most direct controls with a proper mode-dial plus triple control-dials. Other 1-series cameras have full manual-controls too, they just take longer to use. Even so, the user-interface of Nikon 1 cameras is not designed for people who use manual-controls extensively.
Nikon 1 cameras are comparable in size to Micro Four-Thirds models and thus have no size advantage against competitors with larger sensors. The same is true of Nikon 1 lenses, discussed next. There is certainly room to make them smaller, so usability may be the issue. The last camera of this system was announced 5 years ago and all 1-system cameras are marked as Archived on the Nikon website.
Nikon offers a growing number of 1-mount lenses. Most of those are variable aperture zooms with built-in image stabilization. The lineup includes four prime lenses and an ultra-zoom in mechanical and power-zoom versions.
All lenses are rectilinear and together they cover a 6.7 - 300mm range, equivalent to 18 - 810mm which is very impressive. There are no macro or other specialty lenses. Two lenses are waterproof to a depth of 10m, just like the Nikon 1 AW1. Only with those two lenses can the AW1 be used underwater, but it supports all other 1-series lenses for over-land use.
Nikon offers a mount adapter to use F-mount lenses with a 2.7X crop-factor. This adds coverage at the long end and allows for better normal-to-telephoto lenses to be used. Given how different the 1-system is from others, it is unsurprising that no third-party produces Nikon 1 lenses.
Pentax introduced the Q system shortly after being acquired by Ricoh. This mirrorless system is based around a new fully-electronic Q-mount. The first generation used a 1/2.3" sensor which has been upgraded to a slightly larger 1/1.7" one. These are the smallest sensor-sizes among mirrorless systems, similar to most ultra-compact or compact digital cameras.
Having the smallest sensor allows Pentax to make very small cameras and lenses. With that comes low image-quality which Pentax emphasized by creating poorly corrected lenses aimed at people fond of that look. This is a market with limited appeal and Pentax quietly stopped producing such cameras and lenses.
There is a single series of Q-mount cameras, consisting of the Q7
Pentax Q7 and the Q-S1
Pentax Q-S1. Both of these offer built-in image-stabilization and a decent number of external controls to encourage experimentation. These cameras are positively tiny and not much bigger than a compact, even with an attached lens.
There are a handful of Q-mount lenses, all made by Pentax. Given the niche market of the Q system, no third-party maker produces any compatible lenses. Pentax however does make a K-mount adapter. However, with a 5.6X crop-factor, K-mount lenses become mostly telephoto ones.
Rather than being specified with a difficult-to-understand focal-length, Q lenses are simply given numbered names such as 05 Toy Lens Telephoto
Pentax Q 05 Toy Lens Telephoto. Lenses are mostly plastic and some labelled Toy to set expectations.
Proceed to Step 4, Mirrorless Camera Buying, for advice and considerations before buying a mirrorless.
New Cameras & Lenses
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Venus Laowa 15mm F/4.5 Zero-D ShiftCanon EF Mount Prime Lens
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