Today more and more people are asking myself and others, what’s the difference between Mirrorless and DSLR cameras? Which one is better than the other, and why do both exist?
Well, let’s start with a DSLR as most people know what they are. A DSLR is a Digital Single Lens Reflex camera system. This means there is one lens on the camera and a mirror that reflects what the lens sees and feeds that data into the pentaprism so that we can see what the shot will look like through an optical viewfinder. When the photo is snapped, the mirror flips up out of the way so the light and image hits the sensor directly and the photo is taken. DSLRs are the workhorse of modern photography, but they are heavy and can be more expensive than Mirrorless cameras.
A Mirrorless camera is one that has no mirror assembly, the light and image pass directly through the lens onto the sensor and mirrorless cameras have either an LCD to look at and compose the image with or an electronic viewfinder which feeds the image from the sensor directly to your viewfinder and eye and you see exactly what the sensor sees. This is nice because as you adjust your settings, your eye sees a more accurate rendition of what the final image will look like, but the downside is battery life and speed. My DSLR can shoot up to 1,000 images on a battery charge, where my Sony NEX 6 can only last for around 300-400 shots.
DSLRs have a wider range of lenses to choose from and a much faster Auto Focus system then Mirrorless cameras too, so most any serious photographer is going to shoot with a DSLR. But Mirrorless cameras do have their place and they keep getting better and better all the time. If you shoot nothing but landscapes and portraits, you can get by with just a Mirrorless camera and they do come in both crop sensor models like my NEX 6 as well as full frame models like the Sony A7 series and the Fuji X100 series.
So, which platform is right for you? Only you can decide that. Like I said, if you need fast AF and a wide selection of lenses and want to shoot sports you will want to go with a DSLR, but if you shoot non-action like landscapes and portraits only, certainly give a Mirrorless a try. Mirrorless cameras do also tend to cost less, you can get a new Sony A7 series for a little over $1,000 for a brand new full frame model, where a DSLR full frame will run you $1,800 to $7,000. You can even go to a company like Lumoid and rent a Mirrorless for 3 dys and try it out for yourself. How is the image quality? Check out the two images I posted here. The top one is shot with my Sony NEX 6 Mirrorless and the bottom one with my Canon 5D Classic using the same scene for both images. Which one looks better to you if either?
Now get out there and make some great images!