When Panasonic and Olympus invented this breed of mirror-less, interchangeable-lens camera in 2008, most digital SLR shooters yawned and went back to taking pictures.
Today, however, hybrids are the choice of many pros that need small, lightweight backup cameras; travel photographers; and people who specialize in street and documentary photography.
Of course, hybrids are also ideal for anyone who wants to upgrade from a point-and-shoot or smartphone camera and take better family and vacation photos. Speaking of taking better photos, you'll also want to grab my Essential Guides to Digital Photography in my store. They can help you become a pro photographer in no time.
Hybrid cameras are true digital creatures, unlike digital SLRs, which are basically 35mm film cameras with digital sensors. Learn more about buying a DSLR camera.
By removing the mirror, manufacturers are able to move the back of the lenses closer to the sensor and make the lenses smaller. There's also no need for an SLR's bulky internal prism. This allows camera makers to shrink the size of the camera body.
While hybrid camera makers were shrinking lenses and camera bodies, they were also increasing sensor sizes compared to point-and-shoot cameras. Add to that the ability to switch high-quality lenses and you can see why hybrid cameras sales are surging.
Consider a hybrid manufacturer's lens lineup along with the camera itself when you're comparison shopping. Like DSLRs, you're making a commitment to a system. Entry-level, intermediate and pro-level bodies are offered. As with DSLRs, hybrids also shoot great HD video.