We've had a couple questions lately about an emerging class of cameras, referenced by the term "EVIL" (Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lens). While the questions themselves have not all been particularly bad, they have garnered a lot of comments and not many useful answers.


As there seems to be a stigma with the "EVIL" name, and the class itself has not really been named in the industry, It might be good for us to choose a different way of referencing the class. What name would you choose?

Also, what should the tag be?

  • Note that the sentence in the Wikipedia article you link to supporting your "not really been named" claim is uncited, so I'm skeptical. – Reid Aug 3 '10 at 22:37
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    @Reid: The wikipedia article doesn't cite anything, but my personal experience is certainly that there are lots of different names being used all over the place. The set of answers also suggest that different people have different names in their own minds so far. – Hamish Downer Aug 4 '10 at 23:38
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    I'm not sure we really need a citation that there's no consensus; we can see that right in this question. – ex-ms Aug 11 '10 at 20:47
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    The EVIL moniker is just plain silly on many levels. It will die off. People who like these so-called "EVIL" cameras despise the name. Only those DSLR folks who look down on mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras tend to call them that. – GeneQ Aug 12 '10 at 13:08
  • @GeneQ I love the cameras, and the name amuses me enormously. I admit I'm more fond of puns and significantly less serious than the typical camera aficionado, though. – ex-ms Aug 12 '10 at 20:32

PC Pro used the term "SLD" (Single Lens Direct View) when they reviewed Sony's NEX-5. Perhaps we need to wait for a de-facto term to establish itself -- we can always retag later on if required...

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    No worse than the other acronyms, but I'd suggest that until it appears in mainstream camera media (vs. computer media), it's perhaps a bit early to settle on it as a standard. – ex-ms Aug 4 '10 at 18:51
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    SLD is certainly the best term. It covers not only those without mirrors like the Micro Four-Thirds formats but also those with mirrors like the Sony SLT-series. It also does not commit to a size, like other terms proposed here. – Itai Oct 25 '10 at 4:11


is the best term I've seen so far for them. Can't remember where I first came across the term, but a google search for that term returns plenty of results.

It is quite long of course.

I note the wikipedia page has the slightly longer "Mirrorless interchangeable lens camera" as it's title currently. [milc] could then be the tag if we wanted a shorter tag.

I don't really like [evil] as not all these cameras have an electronic viewfinder - although I think most have an optional add-on electronic viewfinder for extra money. And I don't really think of the screen on the back as an electronic viewfinder.

I guess this field will evolve, and in the long term we'll use whatever becomes the generally accepted term for these cameras is. Tag synonyms should help in the short term.

  • But all of them do have an electronic viewfinder -- it just might be the big LCD, not necessarily a small traditional viewfinder-like thing. – Reid Aug 5 '10 at 0:23
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    @Reid: Some of them have optical non-ttl viewfinders. – jrista Aug 12 '10 at 5:15
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    Obviously, don't call anything EVIL but I'd also avoid nailing yourself into a corder by putting the 'compact' term in there. It won't be too long before you will need to look for another term. The prototype replacement for the A700 shown at Photokina this year, for example, was certainly not compact and it was not an SLR either. – Itai Oct 25 '10 at 4:14

I am not sure that EVIL is necessarily "the" term that describes all of these types of cameras. The two questions linked seem to have less to do with electronic viewfinders and more to do with the sensor-to-lens distance. Based on the linked wikipedia page, some of these cameras have an electronic viewfinder, but not all of them do. It seems like the fundamental design of this "new class" of camera is the fact that they are mirrorless, lacking the extra bulk required by an SLR mirror/pentaprism design to redirect the view TTL:

Micros primarily use a rear LCD display for arm-level shooting, but some also feature an electronic viewfinder (EVF) for eye-level shooting, or an optical viewfinder that is not TTL (as in a rangefinder), which hence suffers from parallax, particularly at short distances.

This quote seems to indicate a better name for these types of cameras is "micro", or possibly SLD (single-lens digital), rather than EVIL. EVIL would be a subclass of the Micro/SLD class.

  • I agree for the most part, but I'm not sure that SLD works for the whole range since many are interchangeable lens systems. – chills42 Aug 5 '10 at 13:01
  • @chills42 I wouldn't worry about it: SLR = single lens reflex. – ex-ms Aug 11 '10 at 18:04
  • the quote doesn't seem compelling to me; it describes point/shoots as adequately as EVIL - plenty have optical viewfinders, there have been some (lousy) EVFs as well. In any case, I'd prefer to take our cues from the photography press/community over other sources. – ex-ms Aug 11 '10 at 18:11
  • My problem with using EVIL, even if the press uses it, is that it is an inaccurate term, and it is incorrect to use it to identify every camera of this format. Not all of these Micro 4/3 cameras use an electronic viewfinder. We have the potential to become a source of authority in the Photographic community...better to become a source of valid information than just continuing to propagate the incorrect use of a term. – jrista Aug 11 '10 at 22:46

A Term Will Emerge - We Should Follow

The industry and the wider community will certainly come up with an accepted term sooner or later. When such a term is clear, we should use it. Until then, I don't think we gain much by trying to come up with our own term.

Until then, if everyone understands EVIL then perhaps we should use that.
(For the record: I personally like MILC [Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera]. The idea of milk also brings overtones of a "baby" camera, but I am reading too much into it!).

  • A term has emerged, it just takes a while to propagate. SLD which, depending who you ask, stands for Single Lens Display / Direct View / Digital is it. MILC excluded Sony SLT cameras with have a translucent mirror, which caused them to be sometimes classified as SLRs, which they are not. – Itai Jan 21 '11 at 14:28
  • If that's the case, then I don't think we should be discussing it - just use SLD, and other terms will fade away from the site naturally. – AJ Finch Jan 21 '11 at 14:50

I think about those as mirrorless-something. Possibly [mirrorless-slr] (inaccurate, as there's no mirror :), or [mirrorless-ilc] (interchangeble-lens camera).


Evil is the term that's emerging; I see it everywhere. We need to serve the needs of readers, and they will be familiar with it, so let's use it. I vote to keep the tag.


I'll go for Mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, pronounced "Micro" for short. Micro alludes to the Olympus' Micro Four Thirds specification which created this new category.

Wikipedia, with citation, says that the term "EVIL camera" is an alternative and less-precise term for Micro. The EVIL term was "coined by Charlie Davis in August 2007, then popularized via a October 2007 posting on DPReview, repeated on a Wired blog."

May I suggest that the tag be called micro.

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