At the pace at which technology seems to churn out new updates and inventions, it is a challenging process to stay updated in making decisions that affect you in your buying decisions. Likewise, when it comes to choosing a camera. You generally have the choice of a DSLR or the mirrorless option. This is just a short blog to assist and educate you with the differences, as well as the pros and the cons of each.

What is exactly a DSLR camera?

A DSLR camera is designed on the same principles as a film camera, with a mirror on the inside that reflects the light entering through the lens and up to a prism. This is what you will see when you look through the viewfinder. When you ready to take the shot and you press the shutter button, the mirror will flip open as the shutter flips up, resulting in the light falling onto the image sensor which will capture the image. An example of this camera is the Nikon D3400.

What is exactly a Mirrorless camera?

In a mirrorless camera, there is no shutter, so the light passes through the lens and directly onto the image sensor, which will capture a preview of the image on your back screen on the back on your camera. Certain of these cameras have an EVF (electronic viewfinder), which you can place your eye close to the camera, or an EVF attachment that you can purchase that will attach to the hot shoe of the camera. The EVF is useful as it often prevents glare from the sun. An example of this camera is the Sony a7RIII.

The Pros and Cons of DSLR vs Mirrorless

The size of the camera

DSLR cameras are generally larger as they need to house a mirror and a prism. The mirrorless option therefore wins on portability due to its size.

Focus speed and quality

Due to the fact that mirrorless is still new on the market, a DSLR will generally focus quicker in low light. This becomes evident especially in low lighting conditions and is often irritating. Having said this, things are improving on the mirrorless side. An affordable example that has illustrated this is the Canon M6 MK2. My suggestion is to stick with the DSLR as a choice when shooting fast moving subjects.

What you see is what you get

Shooting with a DSLR lets you see exactly what you looking at through the view finder, while the mirrorless only provides a preview on the back screen. Again the images will appear of poor quality and often noisy especially in low light when viewing through the display on the back in comparison to the DSLR.

Which is best for video

At this point in time, I would suggest you go mirrorless if you are intending on shooting mostly video. You have the advantage of phase detection adding great contrast when focusing in comparison to a DSLR camera with a shutter which slows things down. Most of the high-end mirrorless options can capture 4K or even Ultra HD. These faster mirrorless options also win with shutter speed, as they can capture a lot of images very quickly at higher shutter speeds compared to the DSLR options.

Lenses play a big part in making the choice

Unfortunately, mirrorless cameras generally offer a smaller and more restricted selection of lens options across the range, from both intermediate to your pro glass options. As a result, be prepared to pay for top end gear in this regard. I am sure soon there will be a wider selection on the market which will bring the prices down to become more realistic and affordable.

To conclude

Think carefully when weighing up the choices, look at your budget and your long-term objectives as to where you are with your photography and where you are planning to end up at the end of the day. My final word is quality, not quantity, so buy wisely.

If you are still unsure, consider attending a short workshop when you are not only able to understand how the above falls into play, but also have the opportunity to hold and use both options in order to see what makes better sense and feels good in your hand.