If you want to get into photography but are confused between choosing a DSLR or a mirrorless camera, you’re in the right place for finding the perfect solution. Both choices here are great in clicking high-quality photos, but each has its pros and cons. We’ll discuss these in this article so you can make an informed decision.
Before we start, keep in mind your own specific needs which your camera choice should ideally fulfill. For instance, you might be on the lookout for the top cameras for vlogging. Someone else might have a more vested interest in nature photography or what to shoot in unique areas in low light conditions. These concerns should be major influencers on how we choose our next camera.
Let’s start with a basic introduction of DSLRs and mirrorless cameras:
DSLRs are similar in design to the 35mm film cameras that were used in the past. They’re a popular option among photography enthusiasts, both amateur and professional. However, they’re usually quite bulky because of a mirror inside their body. This works to reflect the light coming in through the lens up to a prism, and into the optical viewfinder so you can clearly see how the final image will look.
Mirrorless cameras are somewhat like DSLRs, but they don’t have a mirror inside their body. They use a different mechanism to capture images i.e., the light passes directly onto the image sensor through the lens, which is then previewed on the camera’s rear screen.
Following is the list of some points that can help differentiate between a DSLR and a mirrorless camera. This will hopefully help in making a more informed decision that you won’t regret later on. Since these are the main areas where there’s a difference between these two models, this discussion should help you make up your mind one way or another. After this, we’ll take a look at some of the top models for both choices:
1. Size and weight
As DSLR cameras include a large mirror and prism inside, they are comparatively larger and bulkier than mirrorless cameras. On the other hand, mirrorless cameras are compact and lightweight that will allow you to fit more gear into your camera bag.
Winner: Mirrorless Camera
2. Autofocus speed
When it comes to low-light shooting and autofocus speed, DSLRs were previously considered to be the supreme choice over other types of cameras. If you could afford the price and were into photography, getting a DSLR used to be a no-brainer.
Now, this has begun to change with some mirrorless cameras like the Sony a7R III and Canon M6 providing similar results to DSLRs. However, these are still relatively new to the market and have quite a bit of catching up to do.
All in all, while both types of camera excel in autofocus speed, DSLRs remain superior in terms of autofocusing on fast-moving subjects. The final decision will have to rest with other features that you’re looking for in a camera.
Both DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have viewfinders, but they differ in terms of their working. A DSLR has an optical viewfinder that shows exactly what the camera will capture. On the contrary, a mirrorless camera shows a preview of the image on-screen. Most of them feature an electrical viewfinder that stimulates the optical viewfinder. When shooting in good lighting, you will get a good preview on-screen. In low-lighting or shooting fast-moving objects, the preview will become dull and grainy.
In conclusion, if you want something that can perform well both indoors and out, you should consider a DSLR. If you aren’t often shooting in challenging situations, then a mirrorless camera is perfect.
4. Video Quality
We may safely say that mirrorless cameras provide the best video quality hands down. In fact, all high-end mirrorless cameras are best suited for HD video shooting.
Most DSLRs can’t use phase detection while recording video, due to which they have to use the slower and less accurate contrast-detection method. This leads to a blurry look while the camera tried to find the right focus. This isn’t the case with a mirrorless camera, as high-end ones can capture even in 4K or ultra HD with superior autofocus. This is why most filmmakers opt for a mirrorless camera.
Winner: Mirrorless Camera
5. Shooting Speed
Here, mirrorless cameras take the lead again due to the lack of mirror and prism that enables them to take image after image with twice the speed of a DSLR. However, if ‘fraction of a second’ delay in shooting speed doesn’t matter to you, then you can go for either one.
Winner: Mirrorless Camera
6. Battery Life
In general, DSLRs have a longer battery life because they do not use EVF (electrical viewfinder) which consumes a lot of power. However, this is probably not the sole justification for using a DSLR over a mirrorless camera.
Many mirrorless cameras can still survive longer than DSLRs in terms of battery life due to their simple mechanics. What’s more, all DSLRs and mirrorless cameras come with a removable battery. This way, you can always rock a spare one and continue shooting when the primary battery gets low.
7. Choice of Lenses
DSLR cameras usually have a very wide range of lenses, especially if you go for the most popular brands such as Nikon or Canon. There are also several other lenses from third parties that can vary the experience and potential of any DSLR camera you own.
For mirrorless cameras, the range of lenses available is still continuing to grow. There are several options available on the market, but others are still in the development stages. If a wide range of lenses is an important aspect of your decision-making process, a DSLR is probably your best bet. You may expect mirrorless cameras to catch up very soon, though.
8. Price Ranges
Both mirrorless cameras and DSLRs come in all sorts of price ranges, but we need to look at what their cheapest models offer. If you get the most economical DSLR out there, you might have to compromise on certain features such as 4K video and touchscreen.
On the other side, we have cheap mirrorless cameras with these features, but they’re often without viewfinders. The camera system here is more compact, but you still have to pay top dollar if you want the complete features at your fingertips. At this point, a DSLR is still a cheaper option, but the gap is slowly closing up.
The Top Options on Today’s Market
We now come to some of the most likely choices for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras today. While these aren’t necessarily the best ones for every kind of photography enthusiast, they’re among the safest choices out there. We’ll be looking at a few DSLR cameras first, and then turn our attention to mirrorless models:
This is a camera bundle kit that comes with several accessories along with the camera itself. You also get a 1-year warranty, while the brand name alone should be a reassuring sign. Canon is no doubt one of the leading names in the camera industry for quite some time now, so there shouldn’t be any doubts about quality or performance here.
If you’re looking to step up your photography game, this bundle will fully equip you with most of what you need. It has an easy operation, several of the latest features, and many other items that can enhance the result of your shots.
Nikon is another famous name that many camera enthusiasts look out for. This particular model has the full USA warranty, along with a double-zoom lens travel kit and an EXPEED processing system. The image sensor is 15 times larger than the ones found in today’s smartphone, which says a lot for the clearest, sharpest results.
If you’re on the lookout for capturing details with your camera, this is among the best choices available. You can also use it with an app to share photos across devices. For beginners, the whole bundle has all you need to start clicking right away.
This DSLR from Canon has an 18-55 mm lens and comes with its own carrying case. It also comes with the 1-year USA Canon warranty, along with several necessary features such as a 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen and a 24.3 MP sensor. You can also use this for 1080p recording and be sure of the best results for an entry-level camera.
While the price might be a little on the high side for a beginner option, this camera has what it takes to get far in the world of photography. The many accessories it comes with also make it a great deal, all things considered.
This mirrorless camera model boasts a 14-42mm MEGA O.I.S lens, a 3-inch LCD touchscreen, and about 16 megapixels. You can choose to have it delivered with an extra memory card or a whole kit in case you’re just starting out or want a full upgrade.
With this camera, you won’t have to lug around a bulky item whenever you want to take a photo or make a quality video. You also get 4K video options, face/eye detection, and several other features besides. At this price point, you’re getting quite a fine deal.
This is a compact digital camera with interchangeable lenses and real-time eye autofocus. It also has covered features such as 4K video and a flip screen. There are also multiple movie functions, allowing you to make those popular time-lapse videos or even record a video with professional results.
Overall, this model is perfect for vlogging purposes or still photography, whatever floats your boat. There might be a few issues with artificial light according to a few users, but using the right bulbs will hopefully fix such problems.
Here we have another camera kit which should suit those who prefer mirrorless cameras. There are several accessories you can opt for with this purchase, including a mount adapter, a stand, a camera strap, etc.
The autofocus is the most impressive feature here, allowing you to snap pictures without the need to prepare beforehand. The touchscreen can tilt at various angles, allowing for several unique pictures and a proper photo review. We especially love the electronic viewfinder, which has a high enough resolution to help you see minute details while capturing a shot.
Mirrorless cameras are compact and lightweight, which give them a major edge over bigger and bulkier DSLRs. While DSLRs have an advantage of freedom when it comes to lens selection, mirrorless cameras have access to fewer lenses and accessories, unlike DSLRs. However, both carry the power to provide you high-quality results if used in the right way.
The reviews we’ve given above are mostly of mid-level cameras; not too expensive, but not the cheapest ones either. These will give you a good starting point for your search, with your final decision reflecting your budget among other factors. Make sure to weigh the pros and cons of any likely model before making a choice.