The ongoing debate on whether one should use a DSLR camera or a mirrorless camera seems like a never-ending topic.
Some have switched from DSLR cameras to mirrorless cameras, while others still prefer using a DSLR.
There are a lot of myths that mirrorless cameras are apparently better than the DSLR camera in every aspect, which is not true.
In this article, we will cover the basic difference between a DSLR camera and a mirrorless camera and which one should be preferred.
In this article, we are going to delve into what exactly is a DSLR and what is a mirrorless camera, its disadvantages, and advantages.
We’re going to look at what makes each of them special and we’re also going to touch on what has been quite an exponential rise for mirrorless cameras over the last couple of years.
What is a DSLR and how does it work?
DSLR stands for ‘digital single lens reflex’. DSLR cameras use traditional optical viewfinders.
They allow the user to see the image as it is projected by light reflecting off the subject matter coming in through the lens of the camera.
This camera has a lens attached to the front of it. Light would enter through that lens, hit the mirror that’s sitting right at the back of that mirror, which reflects light up into the pentaprism.
The pentaprism flips the image the right way up and allows us as the user to look through the viewfinder at the back into the pentaprism and thereby seeing exactly what the camera sees.
Once the shutter button is released, the mirror flips out of the way, exposing the digital sensor that sits behind it and allowing the sensor to capture light and expose an image.
Advantages and disadvantages of a DSLR:
- Battery Life: DSLRs have pretty impressive battery life. Even the entry-level units and the most basic DSLR out there will happily rattle off between 600 – 1000 shots per battery charge.
- Good grip: DSLR grip feels better for long shooting hours.
- Lenses: The add-on lenses are easily available for DSLR cameras.
- Real-time feedback of viewfinders.
- Amount of information displayed on the screen: The information, like aperture, shutter speed, ISO light meters, and autofocus, are displayed within the optical viewfinder. Everything else that the user sees is just the light reflected into the camera through the lens and that is what the user views.
- Size: DSLR require the mirror assembly to be in there, and they also require pentaprism to allow for the optical viewfinder to function, thus making the size of the DSLR comparatively larger both in size and well weight to that of a Mirrorless camera.
- Autofocus: In a DSLR because there’s a mirror in the sensor’s way, and so we cannot accomplish the autofocusing on the sensor itself. So all DSLR have a little separate sensor that autofocuses the lens. Unfortunately, it is not always accurate.
- Video Shooting: Not good with autofocus when it comes to shooting live videos.
Best entry-level DSLR camera:
- Nikon D3500
- Canon EOS Rebel T8i / Canon EOS 850D
- Canon E0S Rebel SL3/ 250D/ 200D Mark II
- DSLR vs Point and Shoot Camera – What is the best choice for YOU?
- Best Low Light Cameras in India
- 7 Best DSLR Cameras for Beginners
What is a Mirrorless Camera, and how does it work?
The mirrorless camera looks very similar to the DSLR, but there is one critical difference, a mirrorless camera has no mirror within its assembly.
So while clicking an image from a mirrorless camera, what happens is light enters through the lens, falls onto the digital sensor that is permanently exposed to the light and the image is then digitally displayed within the viewfinder or onto the screen at the back.
This allows the user to then see what the camera sees when the shutter on these cameras is released.
The digital image is then captured, exposed, and saved onto the memory card.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Mirrorless Camera:
Digital viewfinders: They operate on a completely different principle.
The information is captured by the sensor, which is continuously exposed to light, and the key advantage is that the user can see pretty much every single setting that is applying to the camera represented within the digital viewfinder.
The user can see live view exposure. It allows the user to see exactly whether the image is overexposed or underexposed.
By looking at the image as opposed to reading the light meter, it is done by the camera applying post-processing to the image as the information is captured by the sensor before it is displayed in the viewfinder.
It is very handy, but it goes, and the user can view any effects that are being applied to that image before actually clicking it.
Autofocus: Faster and more accurate autofocus.
Easy for newcomers: These cameras let the newcomers understand the settings better because of the digital viewfinders.
Size: Mirrorless cameras are significantly smaller and have lesser weight.
Autofocus: Most mirrorless cameras use phase detection to get the autofocus to the point where it’s reasonably accurate and quick to the point.
It then switches over to contrast to fine-tune the autofocus.
This gives the critical accuracy and speed that the user wants for the autofocus.
Video Shooting: Ideal for live video shooting. It’s discussed later in the article the reason we should prefer mirrorless cameras over DSLRs when it comes to shooting videos.
- Not good grip: Although the mirrorless cameras are portable and handy, most of them do not provide a good grip for long shooting hours.
- Lenses: The add-on lenses are not prominently available and are comparatively expensive.
- Battery Life: Most mirrorless cameras provide users between 300- 450 shots per battery charge. The user might have to carry a couple of extra batteries for longer, short periods.
Best entry-level Mirrorless camera:
- Fujifilm X-T200
- Olympus X-T200
- Panasonic Lumix GX9
Mirrorless Camera vs DSLR for video:
The intelligent hybrid autofocus system helps a lot in enhancing the video shooting experience.
The mirrorless camera picks out the subject in the scene that is to be filmed extremely accurately and without the user having to manually focus or even really pick out focus points within the frame.
This becomes extremely handy. Manufacturers seem to be focusing their development on mirrorless cameras when it comes to specific video shooting.
They are available in 4k, 60 frames a second. There’s no reason why a DSLR camera cannot do the same.
It’s just that the manufacturers seem to focus all of their R&D into mirrorless cameras and as it stands right now, if you’re going to be shooting a lot of videos, mirrorless cameras have a clear advantage.
Are DSLRs dead?
The advantages that mirrorless cameras have over DSLR do not mean that the DSLRs are dead.
There are a lot of new DSLRs coming out incorporating a lot of that hybrid Gorillaz technology.
If you look at some recent units that came out like the Canon 90 D, the Canon 1dx Mach 3, and the Nikon D70, they really go for that hybrid shooting experience where when the user shoot through the optical viewfinder it functions purely as a traditional DSLR.
But then when the user locks the bird up and goes into the live view shooting modes, is incorporating a lot of mirrorless technology into the DSLR framework.
It really tells something about what’s happening in the industry right now.
Yes, mirrorless cameras are on a massive rise and over recent years we’ve seen them.
For example, Sony has become the largest seller of full-frame cameras, and they only manufacture mirrorless units that undo any DSLRs but at the same time DSLRs are definitely not dead, and they have a place.
Camera manufacturers are going to continue putting effort into DSLRs but definitely, that effort is skewed towards mirrorless cameras as they clearly see that as the future.
Which camera should I buy, DSLR or Mirrorless?
At a purely technical level, looking at the technology available within these systems right now, as things stand, it is clear that mirrorless cameras are definitely superior to DSLR, but there is a little bit more to it and that comes in with personal preference.
If you pick up a DSLR, it’s chunkier, bigger, heavier, for the most part, they are a little bit better to hold, and they definitely perform better when you have a big telephoto lens attached to the front of them.
That doesn’t mean that mirrorless cameras can’t do the same. It’s just a DSLR that is a little bit more comfortable in that scenario.
At the same time, there’s also a lot of users out there who prefer optical viewfinders and will not swap them for a digital viewfinder for anything.
If that’s what you want, then that’s what you need to go for.
Mirrorless Camera vs DSLR vs Point and Shoot Camera Comparison:
|Beginners||A good choice for having a good camera on a budget for personal use.||A better choice than Point Shoot when it comes to professional photography for beginners.||Often a better choice than DSLR and point shoot|
|Video||Do not have autofocus and one cannot focus on a single object in the frame.||Has autofocus and one can focus on a single object in the frame. Not ideal for live videos.||Has autofocus and one can focus on a single object in the frame. Ideal for live videos.|
|Astrophotography||Not an ideal choice for astrophotography since its lens is irreplaceable.||Good for astrophotography when a good zooming lens is attached to it. Also the autofocus speed is slower than the mirrorless cameras.||Ideal for astrophotography since the lens with good zooming power are lighter in weight as compared to DSLR with similar image quality with greater autofocus speed.|
|Autofocus||Does not have autofocus.||Have autofocus for images.||Have autofocus for both images and videos.|
|Wildlife||Not an ideal choice for wildlife since its lens is irreplaceable.||Good for wildlife when a good zooming lens is attached to it. Also the autofocus speed is slower than the mirrorless cameras.||Ideal for wildlife since the lens with good zooming power are lighter in weight as compared to DSLR with similar image quality with greater autofocus speed.|
|Portraits||Does not have autofocus and so the entire image is sharp.||Has autofocus and better choice than point and shoot cameras.||Autofocus is accurate and faster than that of DSLRs.|
|Image Sharpness||The entire image is sharp.||Finds the sharpest point of the image and is a better choice than the point and shoot cameras.||Finds the sharpest point of the image faster than DSLRs and is a better choice than the DSLRs.|
Frequently Asked Questions:
Which camera is better, mirrorless or DSLR?
As discussed in the article, they both have their advantages and disadvantages. It also depends on one’s choice of which camera they should prefer. But speaking of the current scenario, the camera industry is focusing more on mirrorless cameras to enhance their features and quality.
Do professional photographers use mirrorless cameras?
Professional photographers use both DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. It depends on one’s preference.
Are mirrorless cameras easier to use than DSLR?
Yes, mirrorless cameras are easier to use than DSLRs. The mirrorless cameras let the user understand the settings better because of the digital viewfinders.
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