Mirrorless Camera LCD

You wouldn't expect a mirrorless camera LCD screen to be quite so complicated.

After all, its main purpose is to sit on the back of the camera and show you the pictures that you are about to take (or the ones you just took).

This is NOT rocket science - but it sure can seem like it once you start reading a manufacturer's press release about their "new and improved SUPER high-rez tilt-shift LCD".

More Dots...Better

Once you start reading about mirrorless digital SLR cameras, you quickly realize there are a LOT of different units of measurement: megapixels, millimeters, dots per inch, etc.

When it comes to LCD screens, the number to pay attention to is called - simply - dots.

For example, one camera's LCD screen may be made up of 230,000 dots while another has 920,00 dots. The good news here for the befuddled camera consumer is that more dots are better.

LCDs that include more dots display images that are crisper and have better color reproduction.

If you intend to spend a lot of time checking your photos on the LCD screen - and there aren't a lot of people who don't - then a brighter, clearer, more colorful LCD is definitely a good thing.

Flexible LCDs

In the early days of digital cameras, the LCD screens on the back were fixed in place.

With mirrorless cameras, you've actually got three options when it comes to the flexibility of your LCD:

  1. Fixed in place
  2. Flip - the LCD flips out from the camera body for easier high and low angle shots
  3. Flip and Twist - the LCD can be rotated and flipped to be viewed from all angles

The type of LCD that appeals to you depends a lot on your shooting style. If you take lots of pictures of subjects that are low to the ground, then having a flexible LCD prevents you from constantly getting your knees dirty.

If you enjoy taking pictures at concerts, then you'll enjoy the ability to hold the camera way over your head while still being able to see the screen.

However, if you often take pictures of landscapes or portraits at eye level, then having an LCD screen that spins and rotates isn't all that useful.

AMOLED Displays

Just to throw you for a loop, some screens on the back of mirrorless cameras aren't LCDs at all. Instead, they are AMOLED displays.

AMOLED is the short-and-sweet acronym for Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode (now THAT'S a mouthful).

Now, you don't have to get a crash course in electrical engineering to understand the finer points of an AMOLED display or how it differs from a regular LCD. The differences are pretty straightforward:

  • AMOLED displays use less battery power than conventional LCDs
  • AMOLEDs are clearer than LCDs, but only in normal ambient light
  • AMOLEDs are harder to see in direct sunlight

So an AMOLED screen is better in some respects than an LCD, but suffers from reduced visibility in bright sunlight. After all, you weren't just planning to use your camera indoors and on overcast days right?

AMOLED technology is still fairly new, and progress is being made to make the screens brighter when in full sunlight - depending on the how the technology advances, these could either become obsolete or commonplace.

Bottom Line

When comparing two mirrorless cameras, try to find the number of dots in the LCD: the more dots, the clearer and more colorful the image.

If you're fond of taking pictures from all sorts of odd angles, or even if you want to take self portraits without having to shoot "blind" then consider a camera with a flexible LCD screen.

Only consider an AMOLED display if you want cutting-edge technology. Since this is new technology, there are still some clarity issues that need to be resolved.

Camera Comparison

Fixed LCDFlip LCDFlip and Twist LCDAMOLED