DSLR vs Mirrorless camera: what are the differences?

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Do you want to buy a new camera for your travels and can’t decide between a DSLR and a Mirrorless camera? Both options are great, and each has advantages, so how do you choose one?

Well, in this article we’ll see the pros and cons of both DSLR and Mirrorless cameras and we’ll help you decide which one is best for you. Because, at the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference. The technical differences are less and less apparent as time goes and camera makers release new models that have similar features.

DSLR and Mirrorless cameras still have some differences and in this article, we will see the main ones and help you decide which type is the best one for your needs.

Let’s see the main differences between the two cameras:

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Reflex Mirror

Canon 60D

A digital single-lens reflex camera, or DSLR, has a mirror inside the camera body that reflects light coming in through the lens into the viewfinder. When the user clicks the shutter, the mirror flips, and the digital sensor absorbs the light and captures the image.

A couple of great examples of DSLR cameras are the Nikon D850 and the Canon EOS 90D. The price is on the higher end but they are worth it.

A mirrorless camera, as the name anticipates, lacks the mirror. This means that there is no way to preview the image through a viewfinder, and the light passes through the lens directly into the image sensor. As a result, the mirrorless camera is smaller and lighter compared to a DSLR.

The smaller body is what inspired many photographers to switch to a Mirrorless camera, although many others consider the larger body of a DSLR a good feature and find it easier to carry and use.

Check out the Sony A7 III and the Panasonic GH5 if you’re looking for a new mirrorless camera.

Price

credit card

The price range is pretty similar for both DSLR and Mirrorless cameras. Both have beginner models that have a starting price of around $500 and a high-end price of $2.000 and up.

Keep in mind that beginner and intermediate cameras come with an included lens that can be used in a variety of situations, while the higher-end models have only the “body” of the camera so you need to buy the lens apart.

Lenses and accessories

hand with camera lens

DSLR cameras have a clear advantage here, due to the wider selection of lenses and accessories. DSLRs have been around for much longer, so if you buy a DSLR you have a large selection of lenses from a number of manufacturers.

Mirrorless cameras, on the other hand, have a much smaller selection of lenses and accessories. The offering is limited at the moment, but it is steadily growing as more companies release new models.

Battery life

camera battery

Generally, DSLR cameras have a longer battery life, as they don’t need to provide a live view on an electronic viewfinder or on a screen. Furthermore, mirrorless cameras are smaller, so they have less space and use smaller batteries.

Image quality

Image quality

The image quality is equally great for both DSLR and mirrorless cameras. They are both capable of high-quality images, with similar resolution.

Video quality

video camera

In the case of video quality, Mirrorless cameras have an advantage since they have on-chip phase-detection focus sensors. A lot of DSLR cameras are still unable to use phase detection with the mirror flipped up while recording video, so they use the slower contrast-detection focus method. Both camera types have several models that offer 4K video resolution.

Shooting speed

hummingbird

Both camera types have a fast shooting speed but, apart the high-end DSLRs, mirrorless perform a bit better. They don’t have a mirror so taking image after image is easier, and some of them have an electronic shutter so they are able to shoot more quickly.

Autofocus speed

auto focus

Autofocus speed used to be an advantage of DSLR cameras because they quickly measure the convergence of two beams of light using phase detection. Mirrorless cameras use contrast detection, which is slower than phase detection, to detect the highest contrast which coincides with focus.

Now, almost all mirrorless cameras have both phase detection and contrast detection built into the image sensor. So, the distinction isn’t very noticeable.

Preview images

The DSLR cameras show you, through the optical viewfinder, exactly what the camera will capture. While with a mirrorless camera you see a digital preview of the image on a screen. Some mirrorless cameras have an electronic viewfinder that acts as a DSLR’s optical viewfinder.

The advantage of the digital preview is that you can see what the final image will look like before you take the picture. But it won’t perform well in low lighting or with fast moving objects. If you shoot frequently in low lighting, a DSLR is a better option for you.

Let’s sum up the DSLR and Mirrorless cameras pros and cons:

DSLR camera pros

  • Longer battery life
  • Presence of optical viewfinders
  • Faster autofocus
  • Larger library of lenses and accessories

DSLR camera cons

  • Heavier & bulkier (although for some this is a positive feature)
  • Expensive high-end models
  • Slower continuous shooting speed

Mirrorless camera pros

  • Electronic viewfinder with an accurate preview
  • Smaller and lighter
  • Less expensive
  • Fast continuous shooting
  • Better video quality

Mirrorless camera cons

  • Shorter battery life
  • A smaller collection of lenses and accessories
  • Absence of a viewfinder in some models
  • Electronic viewfinder’s delay

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