There is a buzz of mirrorless cameras these days. Many people have already sold their DSLRs and shifted to mirrorless cameras (Just because everyone is doing it). Are you too confused? What to know how mirrored DSLRs vs mirrorless cameras compare? What factors to consider if before selecting the right fit for you.
Let’s discuss all this before you throw your old trusted system and accept the new change.
What Is The Difference Between These Two?
If you are an amateur or professional photographer then you already know the difference. Old DSLRs have a mirror in between the lens and the sensor. This mirror directs the scene through the lens to the viewfinder. When you click the shutter button, this mirror lifts up and lets the light fall on the sensor to capture the picture.
On the contrary, as the name suggests, there is no mirror between the lens and the sensor in mirrorless cameras. The viewfinder is electronic. That means the image in the viewfinder (or on the back screen) is formed electronically based on the image formed on the sensor. In short, they use the live view.
That’s the main difference between these two. However, this main difference has caused various pros and cons for both of them.
Let’s compare them on various other aspects and see who is the winner in each aspect.
DSLRs are in the market since before your (or even your father’s) birth. Even when SLRs went digital, the basic mechanism didn’t change much. The film was replaced by the sensor and controls got a little more sophisticated. In short, DSLRs have a solid history to back their success.
Mirrorless technology is comparatively new. Though I am not saying it hasn’t evolved it is still in its early stages.
Hence, DSLRs win here.
Since the viewfinder in DSLR shows the image reflected from the mirror, you get a realistic feel of the frame. There is no lag to the human eye.
In the case of mirrorless cameras, the viewfinder shows an electronic image formed on the sensor. There is a slight delay and that irritates some people (like me). Also, in the low light condition, the preview will be a little grainy.
Though I personally like the optical view, it depends on a personal choice. It’s a tie for this point
DSLR autofocus is based on the phase-detection autofocus method. It involves tracking the subject from two different angles. It also calculates the distance of the subject and it is extremely fast.
On the contrary, mirrorless cameras use contrast-detection autofocus method. It doesn’t calculate the distance of the subject and hence the autofocus is not as fast as DSLRs
Though mirrorless cameras now have found the answer to this and this gap is closing, still DSLRs are marginal faster when it comes to autofocus.
Size & Weight
Due to the mirror system, DSLRs are heavy and bulky.
Mirrorless cameras boast about their compact size and weight. Of course, as a human being, you can easily lift up even the heaviest DSLRs but ask any wedding photographer, especially an Indian Wedding Photographer how easy it is to lift 20-25 pounds for over 8-10 hrs every day 🙂 Your back and shoulders will thank you if you shift to mirrorless.
On the contrary, because of the smaller size, the controls on the camera get smaller too. The touchscreen gets even smaller compared to the DSLRs. Most of the camera controls are stuffed in the menu on a touch screen. A person with larger hands will find it difficult to use these controls. Not to mention how difficult it gets if you try to change the controls with moist hands.
In spite of the limitations mentioned above, I believe that this point goes to mirrorless cameras.
DSLRs don’t really need to use a lot of power. In fact, old mechanical film DSLRs could be operated outdoors without using the battery. Modern DSLRs have electronic communication between lens and the camera and also use very little battery for the LCD screen. A standard basic DSLR battery can easily get you frames in the upper three digits. Sometimes, they can cross the four digits too. The best pro cameras can get up to 4000 frames with larger batteries.
With mirrorless cameras, the display is electronic. Either the LCD or viewfinder display is always on. In short, the battery is draining when the camera is on whether you are using it or not. 400-500 frames are the max one can get per charge in most of the mirrorless cameras. The best of the best battery of mirrorless cameras cannot get you even closer to the basic battery of DSLRs.
And because of the smaller size of the mirrorless cameras, the batteries cannot get bigger either.
DSLRs wins hands down here.
One can choose countless lenses for DSLRs. There are many different types of lenses developed for DSLRs over the last 40-50 years.
Mirrorless cameras on the other hand have very few native lenses available for them. They are currently using most of the lenses of the DSLRs using the adapters.
Though DSLRs clearly win here because of the headstart they got, mirrorless cameras are not suffering because of the lack of lenses. They are piggybacking on the DSLRs technology and giving great results.
I believe that there should be a tie here.
Traditionally DSLRs were not meant to shoot videos. When they moved from film to digital, still not much effort was put in incorporating the video recording capabilities in them.
The primary purpose of DSLRs was always to get still frames. A few years ago, that changed. With Nikon D90 and Canon 5D MK II getting HD video functionality incorporated, DSLRs started recording videos too.
Nowadays DSLRs offer 4k videos too. Many Hollywood and Bollywood movies are shot on DSLRs.
Mirrorless cameras are better here. Mirrorless camera makers have had years to develop on-sensor autofocus systems superior to those in DSLRs, and this is where most of the video development effort seems to be concentrated. Some mirrorless cameras capture 4k videos in 50-60fps for smooth 2x slow motion.
Mirrorless cameras win here.
New models of DSLRs are still being launched. While both mirrored and mirrorless cameras are not cheap by any standards, mirrorless cameras are slightly expensive than DSLRs.
DSLRs win here.
So Which One Should I Go For??
Did I confuse you further? I didn’t mean to do that 🙂 Unfortunately, there is no straight answer here. It is not purely black and white or binary to answer this question. Let me make it easier by discussing various scenarios here.
Scenario 1: You are just starting & have money
You can invest in mirrorless cameras.
Scenario 2: You are an established photographer
If you are established and already have your entire setup with DSLRs, I would suggest don’t make a move yet. Wait for another 5 years and see how the mirrorless industry evolves. Once your existing brand stops manufacturing the mirrored cameras you can make a shift
Scenario 3: You are an established cinematographer with DSLRs
It is your personal choice but I will recommend you to shift to mirrorless cameras
Scenario 4: You have DSLRs and feel pain in your back & shoulder because of the weight
You should have moved to mirrorless before reading this post 🙂
Mirrorless cameras are the future. The top DSLR brands like Nikon and Canon are investing heavily in mirrorless. Eventually, everything will become mirrorless but ask yourself a question, Do I need to move right away?
What do you feel about my analysis of DSLR vs mirrored cameras? I would like to know in the comments