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DSLR Camera or Mirrorless-Which one is Preferred

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DSLR Camera or Mirrorless

DSLR or Mirrorless? This is a question that crosses every camera buyer’s mind. Deciding the better one of these two cameras has been a tricky question.

The answer to this debate is actually getting clear as time is passing. The camera manufacturer giants that is Nikon and Canon have slowly started to stop updating their already present DSLR camera models in recent years. All their cameras are mirrorless, this means without choice buyers will soon be left with mirrorless cameras only.

But is this all? Definitely no! Users are still opting for DSLR cameras. They are still been produced, seen in the market and above all bought by a lot of customers.

The main difference between the two is the design and their construction as well as the shooting experience. They don’t differ in image quality, the sensors used or the technologies.

The debate of DSLR or Mirrorless can be understood by analyzing the differences between the two. But the ultimate choice definitely depends on personal preference.

The scenario was significantly different in the early days of mirrorless cameras in the late 2000s. If you were a pro, you were more likely to use a DSLR but if photography was a hobby or if you were a beginner, you would probably opt for mirrorless cameras.

Mirrorless cameras first came in the market in 2009. Before their release DSLR was the only king of the camera world, but mirrorless cameras proved to be a potential competition for them. With the improvement and updates in the mirrorless cameras they are definitely taking over. But what would be the best choice for you? This can be only analyzed by understanding the construction, working and other features of the two kings of photography.

Let’s start by analyzing the differences between the two.

10 Differences between DSLR and Mirrorless

Mirror – Major Difference

The first difference between the two obviously has to be the most obvious one. As the name indicates Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) means that it has a mirror whereas a mirrorless camera is obviously mirrorless.

DSLR is the digital version of the film SLR camera. This means it uses a digital image sensor instead of using a photographic film for capturing images. This type of camera has a mirror angled at 45 degrees. Light enters through the lens and is reflected by this mirror.

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The mirror bounces this light up to the optical viewfinder. When the capture button is pressed, the mirror flips up, allowing the picture to pass through the back of the camera.DSLR-Camera-or-Mirrorless (2)

This exposes the sensor of the camera to the image. In this way DSLR uses a mirror to capture the image. But how does this differ from the Mirrorless camera?

The mirrorless camera comes without a reflex mirror. This means there is no reflection of light. Light will pass through the lens just as in DSLR. But this time it won’t get reflected by any mirror. This means the image will be directly exposed to the sensor.

The Mirrorless cameras use ‘live view’. This means they use the sensor directly to create an electronic image that can be displayed on the rear screen as well as the electronic viewfinder.

But how does this affect the performance or image quality? Again it comes to personal preference, many people prefer optical images which is produced by DSLR.

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Size

This is the difference that will melt down to the preference of the user and also the reason why users prefer mirrorless over DSLR. The size of the mirrorless camera is smaller and more compact as compared to the DSLR cameras.

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Imagine getting the same quality of the image but using a smaller camera? This is the most appealing feature of the mirrorless camera.

The mirrorless cameras have a wide range of sensor sizes. The smaller ones consist of ½. 3-inch sensors which around found in Pentax Q and the 1-inch sensor can be seen in the Nikon 1 Series.

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But are smaller bodies always an advantage? This isn’t true. Small bodies mean that the controls are small and the smaller bodies can also be a problem for people having large hands. Some people prefer smaller sizes, whereas others like their cameras and their buttons to have a larger size which is more comfortable to use such as larger touch screens.

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However, the sensors used by the mirrorless cameras, in the beginning, were smaller than those of DSLR cameras but now they have started to have sensors of the same size. Camera giants such as Nikon, Canon and Sony are now producing full-frame camera models.

The most common sizes of the imaging sensors are:

  • Full Frame Sensor

The full frame camera have a sensor which has a size of 35mm film camera. It has larger pixels that allows to capture more light and thus more details.

  • APS-C sensor

APS-C sensor is smaller in size as compared to a full-frame sensor and has an aspect ratio of 3:2. They are smaller than the standard 35mm film. It has a lower quality than full-frame but this quality is still really good.

Both mirrorless and DSLR cameras use the APS-C sensor size. All of this implies that there is no discernible difference in image quality between DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, regardless of which you choose.

The main reason the mirrorless cameras were created was to have a lighter and more compactly sized camera while attaining the same image size.

Mirrors are large and take up a lot of room. If you’ve ever held a DSLR, you’ve probably noticed how enormous and heavy it is. This is due to the unique DSLR components, which use up a lot of space. For some photographers, this isn’t an issue, but DSLRs are simply too big and unwieldy for others – those that shoot all day, travel regularly, carry a camera constantly, or simply prefer a tiny, lightweight package.

Image Quality

Image quality of both DSLR and mirrorless cameras is great. Any of these designs in capable of upgrading to and using the latest and full-frame sensors. The image quality mainly depends on the sensor size.

But apart from these other factors like autofocus, low-lighting shooting and the resolution of the camera also affect the final image. If you compare the images produced by the two, you won’t see much difference as the quality of image produced by both types of cameras is the same.

Price

No matter what you are looking for, price is one of the most important factors to consider. Which of the two cameras pays back? Which type of camera is worth your money?

Cameras aren’t cheap and are a big investment. If you want a simple answer to which is better in terms on value, it definitely has to be DSLR. This is because you can buy DSLR camera at an affordable price for entry or mid-level. You would still end with good specs and a lot of features.

Mirrorless cameras on the other hand are a bit costly, and if you look for a cheaper one you will lose some resolution, battery life and the camera will be lacking a viewfinder.

This comparison is at entry and mid-levels. If you move to a more professional perspective, you will find that both the DSLR and the mirrorless cameras are somewhat similar in their value.

Both the DSLR and mirrorless camera will have the same performance and same power at the same price range.

Autofocus

This is also another key difference between the two types of cameras. The mirrorless camera uses single autofocus and the DSLR uses two autofocus systems. This makes DSLR faster and better focusing.

Autofocus have advanced algorithms that can be used to detect moving objects automatically and predict the next split second movement when the shutter button will be pressed. Even the mode of shooting is a high speed, the camera tries to continuously focus on the object. This type of autofocus is known as Phase Detection. The cameras know how far and in which direction to move the mechanism of lens to maintain focus.

DSLR use this dedicated Phase Detection which are present in the base of the camera. When the capture button is pressed, the mirror of the DSLR camera flips up and thus the autofocus sensor isn’t available anymore.

DSLR have two autofocus systems, one for the viewfinder and the other for live view shooting. The phase-detection technology used in DSLR for autofocus quickly measures the convergence of the two beams of light.

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When we talk about mirrorless cameras, they have caught up with the DSLRs autofocus speed and in some cases surpassed them. They can now be successfully used for fast-moving sports and action photography.

Viewfinders

This is another advantage the mirrorless cameras have over the DSLR cameras. They feature Electronic viewfinders (EVFs). This feature allows you to use the viewfinder while shooting videos. When the light conditions are poor, this feature is better than using the LCD screen. The latest EVFs have a very high resolution that the ‘dots’ are hardly visible. But these EVFs suffer from lag or latency, this means there is a very small delay between what is seen by the camera and what is shown by the screen.

In case of DSLR camera you are enable to use the Optical viewfinder while shooting video.

The DSLR camera uses Optical viewfinder. This type of viewfinder allows you to look through the lens and precisely see what is being projected by the lens on the sensor of the camera. Such type of optical viewfinders don’t consume any power.

Such type of viewfinders are better for sports or action photographers. As the mirror flips up and down between exposures, there is unavoidable screen blackout in the camera’s burst shooting mode, but this is rarely an issue — the important point is that there is no lag, and it’s much easier to track a fast-moving subject with a high-speed DSLR.

Lenses

Lenses are in fact another important feature that must considered to have a quality image. DSLR are the camera kings and have been around longer than the mirrorless camera, this means they will definitely have wider option of lenses ranging from cheap and satisfactory to expensive and highly professional.

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The mirrorless models are more restricted and have lesser variety of lens. For instance, canon has hundreds of lenses for the DSLR cameras but it has only eight M-series lenses for the mirrorless cameras.

With the increase in popularity of mirrorless cameras and somewhat decline in the production of the DSLR cameras, the development of the DSLR lenses has also declined. The major camera companies which is Canon and Nikon, now focus on producing and developing of mirrorless lenses.

Many of the mirrorless lenses have now out-performed their DSLR equivalents.

Sony has already developed lenses for full-frame FE mount mirrorless cameras and other brands like Panasonic have joined hands with Sigma and Leica to ensure their support.

Video Quality

Video quality is related to auto-focus and thus it is another key difference between the two types of camera. The DSLR camera have two autofocus system, but it fails to maintain the autofocus while recording videos.

For instance, if you wish to capture a vide on the Canon EOS DSLR, you will have to switch to Live view mode. In this mode the focusing and tracking of performance will be different as compared to a Canon EOS mirrorless camera.

The sort of auto-focus mechanism used by the camera is the most important factor to consider. Newer EOS DSLR and Mirrorless cameras, for example, employ ‘Dual Pixel CMOS AF,’ which provides superior Auto Focus performance over prior models.

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The DSLR cameras can’t use autofocus feature of phase detection with the mirror up while recording videos. The videos might get a little blurry in between the recording as the camera starts to look for the right focus.

The mirrorless cameras have two main advantages in this regard. One is that their design is better suited for ‘live view’ which is suitable for video recording. The second advantage is that mirrorless camera manufacturers are focusing on their video capture technologies.

The lenses of the mirrorless cameras is featuring high-tech focus actuators and silent stepping motor autofocus technology. This provides silent and smooth transitions when shooting videos.

If you shoot videos rarely than a DSLR will work fine but if shooting is your main requirement, you must opt for the mirrorless type of camera.

Shooting Speed

DSLR Camera or Mirrorless cameras both have the ability to shoot at very fast shutter speeds. They can capture a burst of images rapidly.

Mirrorless camera have an advantage in this case if not compared to high-end DSLRs. This is because the absence of mirror makes it easier to snap images after images. Despite the absence of mirrors, most mirrorless cameras include a mechanical shutter that raises to expose the image, as this delivers better results. They can also use an electronic shutter (by simply adjusting the length of time the sensor reads the light), which allows them to shoot more swiftly and discreetly.

Battery Life

Any DSLR has the ability to offer better battery life as compared to mirrorless cameras. This is because they can record videos without having to show live view on the LCD screen or the EVF, both of these consume a lot of power.

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A basic DSLR will offer about 600 shots on a complete charge. The high-end DSLRs have the ability to capture about 4000 frames per charge. The battery life also highly depends on the usage of the cameras.

The Mirrorless cameras, however, have significantly lower battery life. They provide only 350 to 400 frames per charge.

Entry-level DSLR cameras like the Nikon D6 provide 1,550 images on a single charge, whereas mirrorless cameras like the Sony A7R III can provide 650 shots on a single charge.

Why Should I choose DSLR

There are a number of reasons that will convince you that you require a DSLR. But before starting with them, if you wish to have a DSLR only, then go for it without getting in to the pros and cons.

DSLRs are bigger, bulkier and better handheld devices. DSLR due to their size can be used better with heavy lenses, and as any photography lover or even an amateur knows that the size of the lens is increasing year by year. The battery life of most the DSLR cameras lasts up to one complete day. They have more space for controls. They have optical viewfinders and are the best cameras for beginners.

Pros of DSLR Cameras

  • Optical Viewfinders
  • Larger market of lens
  • Faster Autofocus and Tracking systems
  • Longer Battery Lives

Cons of DSLR Cameras

  • Bulky
  • Heavy
  • Slower speed and focusing while continuous shooting.

Why Should I choose Mirrorless Cameras

Mirrorless are lighter and smaller cameras. The lens market for these types of cameras isn’t huge but when looked for properly you can find smaller lenses for these type of cameras.

Mirrorless cameras are better for everyday use and if you are an instagramer, blogger or influencer, then such cameras are the best fit for you. They can be carried around easily and produced image having quality just like the DSLR cameras. If you require a camera for shooting purposes more than snapping images then the autofocus of the mirrorless camera is better for you.

Pros of Mirrorless Cameras

  • Smaller and Lighter
  • Faster continuous shooting
  • Live-autofocus
  • Better video quality
  • Come with more scene modes

Cons of Mirrorless Cameras

  • Some mirrorless lack viewfinder
  • Smaller options of lenses and accessories
  • Relatively shorter battery life

Canon Vs Nikon: Which Cameras should you Buy?

Canon and Nikon are the ultimate producers of cameras and thus it is natural for them to be compared. Both the brands offer cheap as well as high-end cameras for amateurs and professionals alike.

Cameras of Canon have their own specialties and so do the cameras of Nikon. But each brand has its own specialties which strike the requirements of the users. The entry-level cameras offered by Canon have the name ‘Rebel’ or ‘EOS’. The cheapest options from Canon are EOS 4000D or Rebel T100, EOS 200D or Rebel SL2, EOS 2000D or Rebel T7, EOS1300D or Rebel T6, and EOS 250D or Rebel SL3. Whereas, Nikon offers D3400 and D3500 for beginner-level users. As we look at the specifications and the reviews the D3500 is clearly better than the Canons Rebel series.

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If you look at lenses, Canon has better lenses than Nikon. But this definitely doesn’t mean Nikon’s lenses lack in performance. The lenses of Canon have better autofocus than the other ones.

When the performance of the two types of cameras is concerned, it depends on a number of things, which include but isn’t limited to image quality, video quality, photos-per-second, autofocus, distortion, resolution, software, weight and handling modes. The comparison can be further boiled down to the different series of each brand and compared individually.

Best DSLR Cameras – Our Recommendations

If you have made your decision and are opting for DSLR cameras, then the following list will be really beneficial for you. These are a few of our recommendations.

Nikon D850

This is one of the best DSLR cameras to be ever introduced by Nikon. It provides spectacular levels of details and features a 4K full frame video. Its key specifications include:

  • 7 fps continuous shooting with AE/AF (9 with battery grip and EN-EL18b battery)
  • Illuminated controls
  • 2″ tilting touchscreen with 2.36M-dot (1024×768 pixel) LCD
  • Battery life rated at 1840 shots
  • 1080 video at up to 120p, recorded as roughly 1/4 or 1/5th speed slow-mo
  • 7MP BSI CMOS sensor

Nikon D780

Another beast from Nikon, which doesn’t bring new technologies or wacky design but is still one of most popular DSLR cameras. Its key features include:

  • 7 frame per second shooting (12 fps in 12-bit electronic shutter mode)
  • 2″, 2.36M-dot touchscreen
  • UHD 4K capture at up to 30p from the full width of the sensor
  • 2260 shots per charge with viewfinder
  • Dual UHS-II SD card slots
  • 5MP BSI CMOS full-frame sensor with on-sensor phase detection

Canon EOS 90D

The most popular and impressive camera from Canon is the EOS 90D. It comes with an optical viewfinder, a good size and uncropped 4K resolution. Other features offered by this DSLR are:

  • 7 fps burst shooting w/continuous AF
  • Fully articulating 3″ touchscreen display
  • 4K/30p video capture with no crop
  • USB 2.0 port with Micro USB connector
  • Wi-Fi + Bluetooth
  • 5 Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor

Best Mirrorless Cameras – Our Recommendations

Mirrorless Cameras have their advantages and perks when compared to DSLR cameras. Even after choosing your preferred type of camera, it can get a bit tricky to decide the most suitable camera from thousands of options present in the market. After some tests, we have gathered a short list of the best mirrorless cameras.

Sony Alpha 7 IV

Sony Alpha 7 comes with a stabilized 33MP sensor, and a full-frame sensor. It has a number of impressive features that has allowed it to make to the top of this list, such as;

  • Up to 10 fps shooting in lossy Raw with extensive buffer
  • 4K/60p (from 4.6K capture) in Super35 / APS-C mode
  • 69M dot OLED viewfinder
  • Twin card slots (1x CFe A/UHS-II, 1x UHS-II SD)
  • 4K/60p (from 4.6K capture) in Super35 / APS-C mode
  • 33MP BSI CMOS full-frame sensor

Fujifilm X-T4

This mirrorless camera is another leading autofocus with a 26MP APS-C sensor. It features a pro-grade body which is dust and splash resistant. Other features of this outstanding camera include:

  • 20 fps shooting with AF (15 with new mechanical shutter)
  • 4K video (DCI or UHD) at up to 60p
  • 68M-dot OLED electronic viewfinder (up to 100 fps refresh rate)
  • USB-C type connector allowing USB PD charging
  • 12 Film Simulation modes, including Eterna Bleach Bypass
  • 26MP BSI CMOS sensor

Canon EOS R

It is the first full-frame mirrorless camera that uses the new RF mount. It has been made with 30-megapixel Dual Pixel CMOS sensor. Apart from, some other specifications of this camera are:

  • Up to 8 fps shooting (5 fps with continuous AF, 3 fps ‘Tracking Priority mode’)
  • Canon Log (10-bit 4:2:2 over HDMI or 8-bit 4:2:0 internal)
  • 69M dot OLED viewfinder
  • USB charging (with some chargers)
  • Fully articulated rear LCD
  • 30MP full-frame sensor with Dual Pixel autofocus

DSLR Camera or Mirrorless-Conclusion

DSLR have the advantage of having a wider selection of lenses, better optical viewfinders and a better battery life, however, mirrorless cameras have faster, lighter, more compact and better for recording for videos.

Mirrorless cameras are a better choice for beginners because they have easier controls and due to their lightweight and compact size, they can be handled easily. Mirrorless cameras are slightly cheaper than their DSLR counterparts, this means that they are more likely to have a touchscreen than a similarly priced DSLR.

DSLR cameras have a hefty and solid feel that some of the pro-photographers find better and more reassuring.

All this debate boils down to your personal preference. Both the DSLR Camera or Mirrorless camera have their specific features which could be better or not than the other. The bottom line is that both type of cameras have the ability to produce the same and great quality of pictures.

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