Photographers know too well that your camera becomes an extension of you. It is therefore important what tool we use to execute our vision. For some, brands are important, for others a collection of top notch cameras. Lately, the talk of mirrorless camera vs DSLR has dominated forums, where many are considering making the switch. Why? You’ll find out in this article.

Early beginnings

The optimal choice of equipment has been a DSLR for decades for professional photographers. Things took on a new route when Panasonic released the world’s first mirrorless camera in 2008. The Lumix G1 truly changed everything.

The pros and cons have been hanging in the year for a decade. Mirrorless cameras don’t have an optical viewfinder and there have been concerns about image quality in this time span. The lens ranges for mirrorless cameras are limiting, but at what cost?


Key difference between a mirrorless camera vs DSLR

A DSLR camera uses a complex mirror system to reflect light into the viewfinder, and a mirrorless camera doesn’t have this mechanism which means the light entering from the lens goes right to the imaging sensor. There are no reflections of light with a mirrorless, the system rides on electronic viewfinders.

You can visualize how the mechanism works in the following image. As you can tell, this key difference is what makes mirrorless cameras much lighter and not as bulky as a DSLR.


In a sense, mirrorless cameras took away that extra step. It might come as a surprise, but the difference didn’t result in compromising in quality. Mirrorless cameras and DSLRs produce the exact same quality images.

Nikon is diving into the full frame mirrorless market

Nikon has recently announced that they are developing their first mirrorless camera to be released later this year. With Nikon investing into this technology, you really question whether this is where photography is heading – lighter, more compact and easy to carry cameras.

7 key differences between mirrorless cameras and DSLRs

1. Autofocus – DSLRs have always been known to be superior in terms of autofocus, but with mirrorless models like Sony a7R III and Sony A6300 have caught up with unparalleled autofocus speeds. The only thing DSLRs excel at in this respect is shooting fast moving objects.

2. Image preview – DSLRs show you exactly what you’re photographing, while a mirrorless camera shows you a preview on screen. If you’re shooting in daylight, you won’t notice a difference between a mirrorless camera and a DSLR. It is in low light situations that previews in a mirrorless camera may become grainy. For challenging lighting conditions, DSLR wins here.

3. Video shooting – The more well known marks of mirrorless cameras come with superior autofocus compared to DSLRs and therefore provide better results for filmmakers. DLSRs blur when trying to focus because they have to use a slower contrast-detection focus method.

4. Shooting speed – The shutter speeds in both cameras is very cast, although mirrorless cameras have the upper hand. The lack of a mirror makes your job of taking a picture easier. This simplified mechanism allows one to shoot more photos per second with higher shutter speeds.

5. Battery life – We’re getting to the good stuff because this question bothers many photographers. DSLRs, hands down, have a much longer battery life because it doesn’t need to use up energy on the electronic viewfinder the way a mirrorless camera does. Interestingly, the two cameras use up just as much battery if you’re shooting with the screen preview with a DSLR.

6. Lenses – DSLRs have such a variety of choice of lenses that mirrorless cameras simply can’t stand up to them in this respect. However, we’ve reached a point where manufacturers are investing into a wide range of lenses for mirrorless cameras which means this gap will be filled very soon.

7. Size and weight – As previously mentioned, the great lure of mirrorless cameras is that they’re more compact, much lighter and are therefore more convenient when out on the go. DSLRs tend to be bulky and require that extra effort to pack up accessories, lenses and the body.


Lots has changed over the past 10 years. Major brands are jumping on this bandwagon with new mirrorless cameras challenging DSLRs. Manufacturers have become more concerned with minimizing the differences between them to to make mirrorless cameras capable of a wider range of lenses.

In this debate of mirrorless cameras vs DSLRs, mirrorless cameras take the pedestal due to being lighter, more compact and better for shooting video. Their downside is fewer lens choices and other accessories. DSLRs continue to shine because of the lens selection, ability to perform in low light. Of course, due to the main mechanism, they are bulkier and more complex.

The question that should occupy you now is this: have mirrorless cameras come far enough to be legitimate rivals to DSLRs? In 2018, it’s clear that the pros of mirrorless cameras are surely and steadily creeping up on the wide range of bulky DSLRs. Will you make the switch? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and let’s settle this debate.

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