Mirrorless vs. DSLR: What’s the Best Camera?

freelance photographerDSLRs and mirrorless cameras, often known as a mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras, or MILCs, are 2 popular types of digital cameras. Basically, the biggest difference between a mirrorless cameras and DSLR models is the camera reflex finder. This is essentially the camera’s viewfinder system, what the photographer looks through to compose and focus the picture. In a reflex finder system, a mirror is placed behind the lens. The mirror reflects the light passing through the lens to a focusing screen, which is usually made of ground glass. When a photographer wants to take a photo, the mirror moves out of the way for exposure allowing the light to hit the sensor. DSLR models use single-lens reflex finders, with one lens for both viewing and taking a picture.

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Mirrorless cameras, in contrast, do not have this mirror system. Subsequently, the lenses can be placed closer to the camera. This basically means high-quality lenses do not need to be as big as they are in DSLR models, which means that the cameras themselves and the lenses are much smaller and much more discreet.

Both mirrorless cameras (MILCs) and DSLR cameras tend to be pretty high-end and sophisticated, yielding high-quality photos. So if you’re an aspiring photographer you might be wondering which model is better. If you’re thinking about upgrading from a simple point-and-shoot, it is important to take an in-depth look at the pros and con of both MILCs and DSLRs.

DSLR Camera Pros

When a photographer looks into the viewfinder of a DSLR camera, they can say exactly what is going to be captured. This is a huge advantage, as with MILCs photographers have to rely on ‘live’ LCD screens at the back of the camera or electronic viewfinders to capture the image, so what you are seeing isn’t always necessarily what you are shooting.

Speed is also a huge advantage of DSLR cameras. They focus quickly, even in low lighting, making it easy to capture fast moving subjects. They also allow for fast zooming. Lastly, DSLR cameras have simply been on the market for much longer. This means that there are more lenses and more cameras equipment specifically designed for DSLRs.

Mirrorless Camera Pros

The most obvious advantage of mirrorless cameras is their small size. In fact, many models aren’t much larger than traditional point-and-shoot models. Because they are smaller, they are much more discreet than a DSLR. If you are trying to capture candid shots, carrying a small MILC is much easier than wielding a DSLR with a huge lens. And because lenses are much smaller, it is easier to bring numerous different lenses along on a photo shoot. In addition, compared to DSLR cameras, MILCs have fewer moving parts. This makes them much sturdier and a bit less prone to damage. MILCs are also quieter upon shutter activation, as there is no moving mirror.

DSLR Camera Cons

There’s no getting around it— DSLRs are bulky. The primary disadvantage of DSLR cameras is their size. They are much heavier than MILCs cameras and hard to carry discretely. Lenses are also big, so carrying around a bunch of different lenses isn’t always a feasible possibility. DSLRs can also be a bit complicated to learn because of all of their different buttons and features. It is probably a good idea to invest in a training course, such as this guide to easy DSLR for beginners.

Mirrorless Camera Cons

MILCs are pretty new players on the professional camera scene. While the technology behind them has improved in recent years, it just isn’t as established as DSLR technology. And because they are new, prices are still pretty high. Though they have been dropping recently, especially with Nikon’s recent release of their first mirrorless camera, they are still high.

When it comes to MILCs, there are several limitations in regards to lenses. MILC lense choices are much more limited, though this is certainly improving. Lenses also tend to be quite expensive so if you are on a limited budget, an MILC might not be the best option.

As previously mentioned, MILC photographers have to rely on ‘live’ LCD screens at the back of the camera or electronic viewfinders to capture the image. Though this isn’t a huge issue, it can affect accuracy— what you are seeing isn’t always necessarily what you are shooting.

Also keep in mind that MILCs have a slower focus speed. This means that you could potentially run into some issues when trying to capture a fast moving shot, such as if you are shooting a sporting event or a trying to capture a moving subject. In situations where a millisecond can make a substantial difference in your shots, MILCs simply are not a good option.

So, What’s the Best Choice?

When it comes to choosing cameras, there isn’t really a best choice between DSLRs and MILCs. Rather, each model presents advantages and disadvantages. When it comes to image quality there is no doubt that there are many things that a DSLR does better than a MILC, for example, speed and accuracy. That being said there are also things that a MILC does better, including pre exposure confirmation and manual focusing. Of course, MILCs’ compact size also make them much easier to transport and much more discreet than DSLRs. Really, the best choice boils down to an individual preference. You need to understand your own preferences and your own needs in order to make a choice.

Lastly, it is worth pointing out here that in addition to a great camera, you also need a sharp eye and great editing skills to produce excellent photographs. If you haven’t already, you might consider taking a course to hone your photography skills. Check out this great course on photocomposition. Remember, editing is also important. You might want to consider taking this Photoshop training course.