10 differences between a Mirrorless vs DSLR

Whenever you are plan to buy a new camera or want to upgrade, one question that always creates a dilemma is to whether to go for Mirrorless or a DSLR?

It could be confusing but before you finally settle for your camera you must know the differences. Well, at the end of the day, both are cameras with an objective of helping you to get your best images.

Though mirrorless is often quoted a new technology, it would be interesting to note that the “mirrorless” technology existed for almost over a century in form of a Rangefinder camera.

The difference lies in the internal mechanism of the camera. The “Mirror” and the “Pentaprism” mechanism is what makes the DSLR bigger and bulkier compared to the Mirrorless. As the name suggests the “mirror” and the “Pentaprism” mechanism is not present in a Mirrorless camera. One of the simplest mirrorlesses is a Mobile phone with a built-in camera.

So, which camera should you choose – A Mirrorless or a DSLR?

DSLR & Mirrorless – Image source in.canon

Let’s explore 10 features that will help you decide:

  • Size and weight – Yes, as compared to a DSLR a Mirrorless camera is smaller and less bulky. But it may be noted the size of the “sensor” in a Mirrorless camera will determine the weight and size of the camera. We all know Crop Sensors (APS-C) based DSLRs are smaller and lighter than Full Frame DSLRs. Similarly, a Mirrorless camera having a “micro four thirds” sensor will be lighter and smaller than a Mirrorless camera having an APS-C sensor or a Full Frame sensor. If you are looking from the angle of portability, a Mirrorless will have an edge over a DSLR. However, as the bodies are smaller and lighter compared to a DSLR, it becomes difficult to use with a bigger lens (longer focal lengths).
  • Realtime image preview – A big advantage of Mirrorless is the ability to produce “live” images on the LCD. As you make changes in Shutter Speed, Aperture or ISO, the changes are reflected in real-time on the LCD even before you click the images. So you already know what would be the exact quality of your output (in terms of exposure). However, in a DSLR you may adjust the Shutter Speed, Aperture or ISO and get some hint using the inbuilt camera meter, you can re the output only after clicking the image. So, if the exposure was not perfect you may need to adjust the settings again. But it may be interesting to note, that DSLR cameras can also function like a Mirrorless with “Live preview” mode being tuned on. Technically you would own a DSLR combined with the “Live preview” capabilities of a Mirrorless.
  • Ease of use – A Mirrorless will have a lesser number of physical dials and controls as compared to a DSLR. Most of the functions will be available on the LCD touchscreen more like using the mobile phone camera. DLSRs are often equipped with custom function buttons that can be customized as per the requirement of the user.
  • Focus Area – One advantage of a Mirrorless camera is it offers a higher number of focus points than a DSLR. You can click almost anywhere on the LCD screen to the keep the subject in focus. In a DSLR though the focus points (area) are limited. However, as you turn on the “Live preview” you can use the DSLR just like a Mirrorless camera.
  • Viewfinder – In DSLR you always have a “physical” Viewfinder on top of your camera that helps you to preview the image being clicked. However, in a Mirrorless a “Viewfinder” may be either missing (as you can already preview the image on the LCD screen) or would be equipped with a EVF (Electronic Viewfinder). An EVF is a smaller LCD screen that mimics the “physical” Viewfinder of a DSLR. Some manufacturers offer a EVF as an additional accessory for people who are comfortable with a Viewfinder.
  • Battery – Mirrorless cameras drain the batteries faster compared to a DSLR. This is because even if the LCD is turned off it still needs to power the EVF. The number of shots clicked per fully charged up battery would be comparatively less than a DSLR. But it can be safely assumed you would not click thousands of photographs each day. You would have time to get your batteries charged again. Also, you can get an extra battery just as a backup.
  • Lenses & Accessories – Mirrorless cameras are comparatively newer than DSLRs and hence the extensive availability of choices for lenses and accessories are low. You do have a good availability of a lenses for Mirrorless cameras. I am sure you would be satisfied with a “few” lenses you have in mind for your genre of photography. At the end of the day you would not buy a plethora of lenses.
  • Shooting Speed – Both DSLR and Mirrorless cameras can shoot at very fast shutter speeds and can capture a good number of images quickly. Although for a majority of us that is not a necessity but for certain genres of photography a fast shutter speed is a minimum requirement. Although most DSLRs would be capable of getting a shutter speed of 1/4000 sec some can go even up to 1/8000 sec. A Mirrorless Camera may go as high as 1/32000 sec with an Electronic Shutter. Unlike a Mechanical Shutter and Electronic Shutter is your Mirrorless camera’s sensor takes snapshots at a fraction of a second.
  • Sound – Mirrorless Cameras are comparatively quitter than the DSLR. This is a very useful feature especially while photographing events like Wedding, Operas etc.
  • Sensor Exposure – One big advantage of a DSLR is while you change your Lens, the Sensor is protected with the Mirror which prevents dust from entering the Sensor. However, as there is no barrier in front the Sensor of a Mirrorless there is a risk of dust and foreign particles landing on the Sensor.

Both camera systems have their own set of pros as well as cons. When you plan to buy a camera, you have to weigh in these parameters and check whether they meet your requirements. A camera is an investment whether you are a hobbyist or a professional photographer. An informed decision will help you get your dream camera.

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