Up until a few years ago, if you wanted professional-quality photo equipment, you had to work within Canon or Nikon’s ecosystem. While there were other manufacturers, these two companies had some of the oldest pedigrees in the industry. But now the field has expanded with multiple manufacturers making excellent cameras, such as Fuji, Olympus and Sony.

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With these leaps in technology, there may be features you never knew you had on your consumer camera. Consider the following four examples:

Flange Distance

Outside of Canon and Nikon, there isn’t much development into the DSLR camera body style, seeing as most new cameras developed by other manufacturers are mirrorless. For example, Sony removes the mirror from its cameras to let the lenses get closer to the sensor, making the body smaller and lighter.

What you may not know is that as long as you space the lens correctly from the sensor you can use any lens. Both the Micro Four Thirds and Sony E-Mount have flange distances under 20mm, which means you can put lenses designed for other systems onto these bodies with a special spacer. You can use this feature to easily switch between systems or if you buy vintage lenses that give a gritty or unique look that modern lenses don’t have.

Silent Mode

Mirrorless cameras still have a shutter that makes some noise when you take an image. If you need to take a picture during a quiet moment, these cameras have a quiet mode. In addition, many modern cameras have a completely silent mode that uses an electronic shutter.

There is a twofold advantage of electronic shutters. First, the complete silence allows you to take photos in a church or other quiet place where the slap of a shutter would be unwanted and rude to the ceremony. The other major advantage is that you can get faster shutter speeds than a mechanical shutter. Some electronic shutters go up to 1/32000 of second, while mechanical shutters typically max out at 1/4000 of a sec for consumer cameras and 1/8000 of a second for professional cameras. These faster shutter speeds let you capture images at extremely wide apertures to keep the high-quality bokeh of your fast lenses.

Focus Peaking

Even though the autofocus on today’s cameras are superb, sometimes you need to use manual focus, such as when you’re shooting a video and the autofocus gets confused or if you have picked up vintage manual lenses.

Focus peaking is a focusing tool that allows for autofocus accuracy with manual focus lenses. The tool looks for areas of high contrast and highlights this area so you can see when your image is focused. Combined with a 1:1 magnification, getting critical focus is easy, even with wide aperture manual lenses.

Wi-Fi

Onboard Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other connectivity has been a major trend for the latest generation of cameras. While these seemed trivial a few years ago, Wi-Fi standards have improved in their speed and signal quality, making them more useful. For instance, you can use your camera’s onboard Wi-Fi to transfer pictures to your computer or your phone. With the explosion of social media platforms like Instagram, being able to capture images on your high-quality camera and then post them directly to Instagram is a great way to let others see your photography.

~ Jiro