So you are fed up shooting with your smartphone camera and want to graduate to the world of refined photography. Thinking of buying a new camera?

For years the decision has been simple you go out there and buy a DSLR. Not anymore, with the advent of Mirrorless cameras aka compact system camera, you now have a decision at your hands.

For years DSLRs have been the darling of professional photographers and enthusiastic amateurs alike, there was no other system to match their prowess at capturing a frame and mirrorless technology was in the realm of academic research but the last couple of years has got mirrorless cameras back in the game and how.

Here, we find out what the hype is all about and is it the beginning of the end for DSLR cameras

Both Digital single lens reflex camera (DSLR) cameras and Mirrorless(compact system cameras) are so popular amongst the photographer community because they offer interchangeable-lens camera systems.

A smartphone or a point and shoot camera come with a fixed inbuilt lens which can not be changed and hence is restrictive in nature. On the other hand, a DSLR or Mirrorless camera can support multiple lenses for different needs.

In a DSLR camera light that enters through the lens is bounced on to a mirror which in turn bounces it to the optical viewfinder similar to a periscope, when you click a picture this mirror is flipped up so that the light can reach the actual sensor for the image to be captured.

AttributeMirrorlessDSLR
Ergonomics
Photo Preview✔ ✔
Picture Quality
Video Quality✔ ✔
Photo Stabilisation
Shooting Speed✔ ✔
Battery Life
Lens availability✔ ✔

Ergonomics

The most prominent difference between the two has to be the size. A mirrorless camera is significantly smaller than the DSLR, this is due to the fact that it does not need the mechanical mirror flip mechanism.

It also reduces the weight of the mirrorless camera quite a bit. As the camera is compact the accompanying lenses are also smaller. So if the heavy DSLR bag is bogging you down, mirrorless is the way to go.

Autofocus

DSLR uses phase detection which measures convergence of different beams of light, which is faster than the contrast detection used by mirrorless cameras which use high contrast for focus detection.

contrast detection is slower than phase detection and it gets worse with low light settings. But the newer mirrorless cameras are now using a hybrid system where they use phase detection in addition to the contrast detection to better their autofocus capabilities.

Image Preview

The optical viewfinder in DSLR shows you what the camera will capture. In mirrorless camera, the preview can be viewed on screen. Nowadays some mirrorless cameras come equipped with an electronic viewfinder(EVF) which emulates the optical viewfinder.

In good lighting situations, it does not matter much as the screen preview on EVF does manage to show a preview very close to the captured image, but as the light goes low the simulated preview gets grainy while the mirror in DSLR which reflects light onto the eye the preview is much better.

Image Stabilisation

Most of us are not blessed with steady hands, and if you are capturing with low shutter speed or zooming in too much we are in for a blurry picture.

Both DSLR and mirrorless camera come with image stabilisation systems. They are equipped with sensors to measure camera movement and counteract this by shifting the lens and image sensor in the opposite direction.

There is not much difference between the two on this front, but one thing to keep in mind is that Sensor stabilization is better than lens stabilisation as it can work with external lenses as well while lens stabilisation will only work for the internal inbuilt lens.

Image Quality

Both cameras are capable of taking high-quality images, with high resolution. One thing to remember is that older mirrorless cameras come with smaller image sensors which result in the low capture of light and the resultant drop in picture quality. The newer variants are coming with full-frame sensors so there is not much to differentiate here.

Video Quality

As mirrorless camera comes with on-chip focus sensors which use phase detection and so are better equipped for shooting videos.

Because the DSLR have mirrors and can therefore not use phase detection and have to rely on the slower less accurate contrast detection. As the camera here is slow to focus, it leads to blurry frames when the camera is adjusting its focus.

Speed

Because the mirrorless camera does not have the mirror prism mechanism it is easier to take back to back photos. A mirrorless camera can use electronic shutter which shoots quickly and does so very silently. So if you want to shoot a sporting event or flight of an exotic bird. Mirrorless is the way to go.

Battery Life

DSLR have better battery life due to its larger size and use of optical viewfinder. A mirrorless camera uses LCD screens and electronic viewfinders which can drain power. If you are someone who uses screen to preview photos, the battery life would seem the same.

Lenses

As mirrorless cameras are new the variety of lenses available is less than what you can find for DSLRs so if you are someone who uses a lot of different lenses DSLR is still the default choice. Although as mirrorless cameras flood the market in coming years, this distinction will slowly go away.

For years DSLR cameras ruled the roost but mirrorless cameras are now catching up at every front. So if you are new to the world of photography and want a small camera with interchangeable lenses that could shoot great quality videos
and crisp images go for the mirrorless cameras. Welcome to the Brave new world.

Sources: Tomsguide, Digital Photography School.

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