Mirrorless cameras have finally caught up to DSLRs. I remember when I was learning photography, the digital cameras were so far behind film cameras. Digital cameras were only able to produce a 6MP photo, at best, and the photos never looked as good as they did on film. Back then, you could tell that the digital camera tech was about to boom. A few years ago, the comparison of film vs. digital was similar to DSLR vs. mirrorless today.
Mirrorless cameras have some amazing features such as eye auto focus, 20fps burst with no viewfinder blackout, electric viewfinder, incredible ISO sensitivity and more. What do DSLR cameras still have to offer? Is there a world where a mirrorless camera can still compete with a DSLR?
DSLR vs. Mirrorless: What are the main differences?
The two biggest differences is that a DSLR has a mirror and a mirrorless camera does not, hence the name “mirror-less.” The second biggest difference is that a DSLR is much bigger than a mirrorless camera. Because a mirrorless camera relies more on electronics and not on optical functions like a DSLR, mirrorless cameras are much smaller.
It’s all about the trade-offs
When you consider the differences between DSLR and mirrorless cameras, understand that you can’t have everything. You’ll likely find an acceptable workaround for anything that you’re trying to achieve. For example, let’s say that you’re shooting weddings. While using an optical viewfinder is ideal for shooting with a flash, most newer mirrorless cameras have a mode designed for this. A camera can boost the exposure through the EVF (electric viewfinder) while maintaining your manual exposure that you set up and synced with your flash.
Size is a big factor between DSLR and mirrorless cameras. Not only are bodies much smaller on mirrorless cameras, but lenses have also come down in size a great deal. For new mounts like the Sony E-Mount and the Canon EF-S mount, you’ll find excellent small, fast and affordable lenses; however, the Canon EF mount has 30 years’ worth of lenses to choose from. There are stable gaps in lenses that you can’t find with some of the newer mirrorless lens mounts.
Because of the EVF, battery life suffers on mirrorless cameras. An EVF is so amazing because it shows you a preview of the image before you shoot it. Battery life is getting better on mirrorless cameras, but isn’t yet matched with DSLR cameras. You can shoot for several days on a single battery with a DSLR, but you’ll be lucky to last even a whole day with a mirrorless camera battery.
There’s still room for both
Now that you know some of the trade-offs between mirrorless and DSLR cameras, there’s still a world where both can exist. If you’re a professional photographer or a committed hobbyist it is totally reasonable to have both a mirrorless and a DSLR camera for specific reasons. For me, I still really enjoy the shooting style of DSLRs. I like looking through an optical viewfinder and I like the size and the ergonomics of it. When I use flashes, I prefer a DSLR over a mirrorless. I have an older Canon 5D Mark II in my bag to help me scratch that itch.
My primary camera is the mirrorless Sony A7III. I use this camera for daily shooting and recording videos. I also have a Sony A6000 because I like the smaller size and the ability to choose from APS-C lenses.
Making the switch
It’s common to completely switch systems. Depending on your mount, you can adapt your DSLR lenses to your mirrorless camera mounts. Almost every major camera manufacturer has either its own mount product or a well-supported third-party adapter. If you have a lot of high quality lenses, chances are that you can adapt them to your mirrorless system!
I’ve seen people selling their entire DSLR kits and replacing them with mirrorless systems. What happened for me was that I ended up selling all of my old Nikon gear after I switched to Sony. I didn’t have high-quality Nikon lenses and I wasn’t really happy with my lens collection. It was a slow transition in my experience of acquiring mirrorless lenses, and that worked for me!