DSLRs vs Mirrorless Cameras


With all the buzz about which camera is more effective between mirrorless and DSLR cameras, the marketplace has become somewhat of a minefield for camera buyers, making it much harder to choose which type of camera to invest in. Before purchasing either of the cameras, it is best to consider what their differences are.

DSLRs vs mirrorless cameras

What Are DSLR Cameras?

Digital Single Lens Reflex camera, also known as DSLR, is one of the most popular professional camera. Reflex basically means a mirror which reflects images from the camera lens onto the screen that allows you to view live optical images through the prism to compose and focus. On exposure, the mirror instantly flips out of the way so that the light can get to the image sensor to take a picture. DSLR cameras generally offer the longest battery life, great performance, and autofocus speed, however, they're usually heavier and bigger than the mirrorless cameras.

What Are Mirrorless Cameras?

Mirrorless cameras are a wide range of smaller new cameras which have DSLR-sized image sensors, and usually, have interchangeable lenses. They are lighter and smaller because they do not have reflex mirrors, thus the name "mirrorless." They also do not have glass screens, prisms or Fresnel lenses. Instead, they use a rear electronic viewfinder or LCD screen to show you electronic images directly from the image sensor, prior to taking the picture.

Size and Weight

One of the main differences between DSLRs and mirrorless cameras is their size and weight. Since mirrorless cameras do not have to flip up mirror mechanism, and the light reflecting prism, they're typically much lighter and much smaller as compared to the DSLR cameras which have much larger bodies. Mirrorless cameras are not only smaller and lighter, but they are also quieter; this means that photographers can virtually take pictures and shoot videos unnoticed which are great for wildlife, street, and wedding photographers.

sizes for camera


When it comes to lenses, DSLR cameras have a much wider range of lenses. Nevertheless, the mirrorless cameras aren't that far behind. For instance, Sony, Olympus, and Panasonic have a range of lenses that are dedicated to the mirrorless cameras. Also, because of mirrorless cameras short focal range distance, the lenses which have a large focal range may be used if coupled with a good, compatible adapter. 

lens for mirrorless camera


DSLR cameras use an optical viewfinder for previewing images. The optical viewfinder usually shows exactly what the camera is going to capture. On the other hand, mirrorless cameras use an electronic viewfinder (abbreviated as, EVF) to preview the images. The EVF provides a real-time electronic rendering of what you'd see through the optical viewfinder. With mirrorless cameras, you will get to see in real time, the effects that some things such as ISO and aperture adjustments will have on the pictures/images before pressing the shutter button. The major advantage of the electronic viewfinders is they display much more information than the optical viewfinder. They can even simulate the digital images the camera is going to capture.


Most professional photographers used to prefer using DSLR cameras when shooting video. DSLR cameras were the 1st cameras to offer professional quality HD, full HD video, along with a wide range of camera lenses, and many other accessories; and professional photographers tend to prefer systems which have a solid, and long term support. However, today, the ability to shoot videos is a standard feature on all cameras. Mirrorless cameras tend to be an ideal option for people who are looking for accurate and fast focusing in video mode. In comparison, few DSLR cameras are equipped with the means (that is, on sensor phase detection points), to challenge the mirrorless cameras in this area. Most DSLRs cannot use the phase detection with mirror up when recording videos, so they've to use the less accurate, slower, contrast detection focus method; this leads to a blurry look in the middle of videos when the camera begins hunting for proper focus. Moreover, while both DSLR and mirrorless cameras are capable of broadcasting HD video, the newer 4K HD is currently more likely to be present in the mirrorless cameras. 

Image Quality

Today, both mirrorless and DSLR cameras are capable of taking high-quality pictures, with similar amounts of graininess and resolutions. However, a while back, DSLR cameras were considered to have much better image quality because of their larger sensors (APS-C or Full Frame) while the mirrorless camera's small image sensors used to mean much lower quality (since they could not capture just as much light). Today, even small Micro Four 3rds size sensors have advanced to the extent that they deliver high-quality images. Manufacturers of cameras have learned how to suppress noise and produce much more sensitive chips. Furthermore, numerous mirrorless camera makers, like Sony and Samsung, now use the APS-C sensor found in most DSLR cameras. 


Autofocusing is one area where the mirrorless cameras used to lag behind, however, that difference is quickly shrinking. Today, there are numerous mirrorless cameras which boast a comparable autofocus speed to the DSLRs. The DSLRs used to enjoy the advantage here since they utilize a technology known as phase detection, that quickly measures convergence of 2 beams of light. The mirrorless systems were restricted to the technology known as contrast detection; that uses image sensors to detect the highest contrast that coincides with the focus; contrast detection technology is much slower, especially when there's low light, as compared to phase detection. Today, the newer mirrorless systems even use a hybrid focus method, by combining contrast and phase detection. 

autofocus point focus

Battery life

Generally, DSLR cameras offer much longer battery life, since they can shoot without using the electronic viewfinder or LCD screen which consumes lots of power. However, they both have a similar battery life in case you use an LCD screen to preview and view the captured images. 

battery for mirrorless cameras


Choosing a camera, mainly boils down to one's needs and personal preference. You should make your decision based on the type of camera which offers you the features which best suit your shooting style. The best way of deciding is trying out both of them to see which camera best suits your needs.

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