DSLRs vs Mirrorless Cameras: A Straight to the Point Comparison

The advancement in technology in the photography industry has also given rise to many debates like manual vs automatic, digital vs film and so on. Many experts in the industry have shared their views on what they think about these comparisons.

However, one of the most common debates and comparisons have been about DSLR vs Mirrorless cameras. Photographers often wonder they should go for a DSLR or a mirrorless camera. So, to help you make a right decision, we have put all the facts and views in an easy-to-understand manner that may help you take the right decision.

But before getting to the comparison, let’s first have a look at what they actually are.

What is a DSLR camera?

DSLRs share their design with the former 35mm film cameras. Pressing the shutter button flips up the mirror thus making the light fall on the image sensor to capture the image.

You can also check out the best DSLR cameras in India if you would like to learn about them in more detail before understanding the comparison below.

What is a mirrorless camera?

As the name suggests, mirrorless cameras do not have an optical viewfinder like the DSLRs. Instead, these cameras are designed in a way that the light falls directly on the image sensor to capture the image and display it on the screen.

DSLR vs Mirrorless – Major Areas of Comparison

Let’s now quickly get to some of the most important factors you need to keep in mind when deciding on whether you should go for a DSLR or a mirrorless camera.

  1. Size and Weight

When compared to mirrorless cameras, DSLR cameras are considerably larger as they need to be fitted in a twain i.e a mirror and a prism. As far as the weight is concerned, given the obvious size difference, DSLR cameras also weigh significantly more than mirrorless cameras.

Of course, if the size and weight is all you care about, then you probably have a much better option in point and shoot cameras.

Winner: The compact size of mirrorless cameras certainly makes them a clear winner here.

  1. Autofocus Speed

Due to the usage of phase-detection technology, DSLR cameras used to have an advantage over mirrorless cameras which offered contention-detection. But today this has changed as mirrorless cameras now come with both the phase-detection and contention detection technology.

That said, if you’re primarily prefer the phase-detection technology here, then there may not be a clear winner for you.

Winner: Despite mirrorless cameras offering both the major technologies for the autofocus, they don’t particularly offer a faster autofocus so you kind of have a tie here.

  1. Video Quality

DSLRs were the pioneer when it came to HD and full HD videos along with a diverse range of lenses. However, one of the limitations of DSLR cameras is their inability to use phase-detection with raised mirror while shooting a video. This can sometimes lead to blurriness in the videos, especially when using cheaper DSLRs or when a beginner is trying to record a high-quality video footage.

On the other hand, mirrorless cameras can now record 4K or Ultra HD videos. In addition to the advanced high-resolution video recording features, these cameras also make it easier for beginners to shoot great videos free of any blurriness.

Winner: Mirrorless cameras certainly have the upper hand here.

  1. Battery Life

DSLR cameras typically offer a very impressive battery life, which is one of the reasons they are preferred by professional photographers even today while working on large projects. And that’s all thanks to their ability to shoot without an LCD screen or a computerised viewfinder, both of which utilise a lot of electricity.

However, when used with LCD screens for viewing the captured images, even DSLRs consume about the same amount of battery as their mirrorless counterparts.

These days most models – regardless of DSLR or mirrorless – come with removeable batteries, so you can always carry a spare battery too, making this factor slightly less important than it might seem.

Winner: DSLRs typically do have a better battery life than mirrorless cameras.

  1. Lenses and other accessories

Well, mirrorless cameras are usually no match for DSLRs here, as the latter offer a plethora of lens options, ranging from budget-friendly and beginner-friendly ones to professional and highly advanced lenses to choose from.

Mirrorless cameras are much more limited here as they only offer a small number of lenses from the manufacturers, though they have been increasing their range too lately.

Use of lens in DSLRs and mirrorless cameras

However, do not forget that the huge dependence on lens for DSLRs also means that you have to learn and clean your DSLR’s lens from time to time.

Winner: DSLRs win hands down on this front.

  1. Durability

Both DSLR and mirrorless cameras are usually fairly reliable when it comes to the durability. They both are usually also waterproof and can withstand the rain and water splashes.

That said, however, DSLRs do seem to have a noticeable edge over mirrorless cameras here. Their protective sealing is usually better, they have a larger, stronger body, and can handle falls much better.

Winner: DSLRs again have a fair bit of edge here.

  1. Shooting Speed

Professional photographers consider the shooting speed as an important feature of their camera, which is also the reason many of them are confused between DSLRs and mirrorless cameras.

This is because both of them can shoot at rapid shutter speeds and capture a series of images without taking a real “pause” between the captures.

Mirrorless camera models, however, do have a bit of an advantage over their larger, older brothers as the absence of mirror makes it easier for you to click pictures one after the other. They make use of a mechanical shutter and also offer an option of using the electronic shutter that allows them to shoot quietly and quickly.

Winner: Due to their ability to shoot without a mirror, mirrorless cameras can shoot images faster than DSLRs despite actually being much smaller than the latter. What a shame!

  1. Portability

Based on what we discussed above under the “size and weight” factor makes it clear that mirrorless cameras are much more portable than the larger, bulkier DSLRs.

In fact, some of the more advanced, high-end DSLRs can be a monster to carry around, not to mention beginners may take longer to get comfortable using them.

Needless to say, if portability is very important to you AND you’re a beginner, you don’t even have an option in DSLRs.

Winner: Well, there isn’t even a comparison here with the monstrous size and weight of DSLRs.

Mirrorless vs DSLRs for Beginners

After going through everything we discussed above, it’s pretty clear that beginners may have a hard time getting used to a DSLR, especially if they have never used cameras before.

Mirrorless cameras, on the other hand, would be much kinder on beginners as they don’t have a learning curve as steep as high-end DSLRs, and offer a more user-friendly photography experience overall.

Of course, their portability can be an advantage as well for beginners, especially those that plan to travel with their camera.

All said and done, some DSLRs are designed for beginners, such as the Nikon D3400.

DSLR vs Mirrorless Video

If you have a good amount of photography experience, DSLRs may offer much more in terms of video recording capabilities than mirrorless cameras. This is especially true when comparing the two of them from the same price range, as a more expensive mirrorless would be comparable to a cheaper DSLR on the video recording front.

If you have no real experience with cameras, though, a mirrorless may still serve you better than a DSLR for shooting high-quality videos, as it’s easy to end up having issues of blurriness and shakiness with a DSLR for absolute beginners.

So to put it more clearly, a DSLR may be a better choice for video recording for people with a fair bit of photography experience while a mirrorless would be more suitable for an absolute beginner.

Summing It Up

At the end of the day, both the DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have something to show over the other.

So it eventually comes down to your needs and preferences, although a lot depends on whether you’re just a beginner or have some experience with photography.

If you are just a beginner, then a mirrorless camera would likely turn out to be a better bet.

Similarly, if you’re after a more portable camera and a frequent traveller, a mirrorless would again be your better option.

However, if some photography experience and the willingness to get along with some weight in your backpack, a DSLR may offer a much more complete photography experience. It’s usually also a more recommended option for people that want to learn professional photography or have access to a plethora of advanced photography features to create professional quality work with as little equipment as possible.

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