DSLR vs Mirrorless Cameras: Which should I choose?

DSLR (Canon EOS 5D)P3

Mirrorless (Sony Alpha 7s)P1 - Copy.jpg

So, you’ve decided to up your camera game. A decade ago, DSLR cameras would have cost you a fortune. However, the rapid advancement of technology has driven these prices down. So, what are you waiting for? Go on down and get yourself a new DSLR cam… WAIT!!!

A new contender has arrived. Mirrorless cameras, which were first introduced in late 2009 were inferior to DSLR cameras. However, in last 8 years, ‘mirrorless’ technology has evolved a lot and are now giving DSLR cameras a run for their money.

Technically speaking, DSLRs use the same design as the 35mm film cameras that only your grandparents will remember. A mirror inside the camera body will reflect the light coming in through the lens up to a prism and into the viewfinder so you can preview your shot. When you press the shutter button, the mirror flips up, the shutter opens and the light hits the image sensor, which captures the final image.

 

DSLR-Cross-Section.png

On the other hand, mirrorless cameras, will have light pass through the lens and onto the image sensor, displaying a preview of the image onto the screen. Some models also offer a second screen within the camera, an electronic viewfinder (EVF) that you can put your eye to.,

So,which one do you go for? At the end of this blog, you will be able to weigh the pros and cons of DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras respectively, hopefully making your decision easier

 

Size & Weight

First, let’s talk size and weight. Mirrorless cameras stand out due to its ability to take pictures of the same if not slightly better quality than DSLRs despite being half the size in some cases. While the weight difference may not be evident to the naked eye, their size difference is obvious. Mirrorless cameras have a smaller size and are lighter in weight which makes them more practical to be carried around. Hence, ‘Mirrorless Cameras’ reign supreme in this category 

        DSLR:               green-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.png
Mirrorless:    green-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.png

 

Battery Life

Next, battery life. One of the most overlooked feature when purchasing a camera would be battery consumption. Many only worry about image quality or how many megapixels a camera has, resulting in failure to take into account how long the battery can last. Think about it… How often do we get worried about saving our camera’s battery? How often do we run out of power right before seeing that beautiful oceanic golden sunset that leave us in awe?

On a single charge, DSLRs’ provide superior battery life due to the traditional use of mirrors that reflect into the Optical Viewfinder. Mirrorless cameras require an LCD screen or electronic viewfinder when previewing pictures, both of which consume a lot of power. Therefore, when it comes to battery life, DSLRs are the way to go

        DSLR:              green-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.png
Mirrorless:    green-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.png

 

Autofocus Speed

While this might seem random, autofocus speed is amongst the most important feature of a camera. When mirrorless cameras were first launched, their technology in autofocusing was far behind DSLRs. This meant many consumers chose DSLRs due to its tip-top autofocusing system. However, as higher-end mirrorless cameras now have phase detection sensors built into the image sensor, both types of cameras now offer speedy autofocus. Thus, both DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are of the same quality when it comes to autofocus speed

        DSLR:              green-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.png
Mirrorless:    green-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.png

 

Image & Video Quality

Arguably, the most important aspect of a camera is how good the images it takes are. It doesn’t matter if you have the lightest or newest camera if it takes photos that are of low quality. Both DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras use similar sensors, resulting in the production of similar image qualities.

Finally, when it comes to video quality, higher-end mirrorless cameras are generally better. DSLRs can’t use phase detection with the mirror up while recording video, so they have to use the slower, less accurate, contrast-detection focus method. This leads to the frequent blurs that one experiences when filming with a DSLR as the camera is constantly changing its focus. Furthermore, only higher-end DSLRs like the Canon EOS 5D shoot 4K/Ultra HD video.

Despite this, video professionals prefer DSLRs, because these cameras have access to a huge range of high-end lenses. Autofocus isn’t a concern for professionals because they can often focus in advance, knowing where their subjects will stand in a scripted scene. Therefore, in spite of producing images of the similar quality, mirrorless cameras like the Sony Alpha A9 produce better video quality.

Image Quality:
        DSLR:              green-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.png
Mirrorless:    green-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.png

 

Video Quality:
        DSLR:              green-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.png
Mirrorless:    green-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.pnggreen-tick.png

 

Verdict

While you can’t really go wrong with either types of camera, it all comes down to your budget and what you value more. If you are looking to spend below $1000, an entry level DSLR  such as the Nikon D3400 would make more sense as it is more feature packed than any entry level Mirrorless camera. If your budget is above $2000, it is recommended that you weigh the pros and cons of specific models such as the Sony A7s ii (mirrorless) and Nikon D500 (DSLR).

 

 

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