DSLR vs Mirrorless – Which is better?


DSLR vs Mirrorless

In the growing world of social media, everybody is looking for a lot of content to post on the internet. Instagram, Youtube, and even Twitter have seen a big jump in its number of users. Thus people are exploring new options to impress their followers. A lot of people have started getting into photography and videography. Many have also made this their full-time job and hence prefer investing in great gear. When you decide to get into the photography world as a hobby or a job, the first recommendation is to buy a decent camera. Since ages, DSLRs have been the top picks of professional photographers. DSLR vs Mirrorless.

There are a lot of models available in the market right now. The specifications and price of these cameras depend according to the level of the photographer. A beginner photographer generally would not need to have time-lapse inbuilt in his camera while a professional photographer would opt for one with 4K recording. When it comes to photography, DSLRs have a huge advantage over point and shoot cameras as they are modular in nature. One can swap lenses for different photo profiles instead of buying a new camera. While all of this sounds amazing, a DSLR has some drawbacks as well. These tend to be heavy due to their internal mechanisms and can be quite a burden when attached to long zoom lenses.

To solve this issue, companies like Nikon and Sony have come out with a revolutionary technology in-camera photography –  Mirrorless camera. Now, these are a little less complex than the DSLRs but how do they stack up with the market dominators – The digital SLRs cameras?  Let’s find out –

Internal Mechanism Difference –

In a typical DSLR camera, like the Nikon D5300, a mirror is present inside the camera body. This mirror is what gives the camera a protruding look in the middle. When light enters the camera, it gets reflected a prism and the prism reflects it again to the viewfinder of the camera. On getting the best field of view, the photographer presses the shutter or the shoot button. When this happens, the mirror flips and lets the light enter the light sensor which then produces an image. The basic working here is that the initial setting is a natural image whereas the final product is a digital image.

In a mirrorless camera, as the name suggests there is no mirror. The light enters straight through the lens to the image sensor. This sensor then produces a digital image on the screen for you to approve and then shoot. These cameras generally lack a viewfinder but some model has one with a small secondary screen inside. This lets the user have the experience of shooting through a viewfinder, but produces a digital image instead of a natural one. So how does this help? Well, this reduces the weight of the camera by a lot due to the absence of a mirror and the time to click a picture is considerably less than a digital SLR camera. The digital viewfinder sure helps in getting a quick snap. But performs poorly compared to a DSLR in low light photography.

Weight and Size –

Well after going through the internal mechanism part, one can clearly tell which one is the lighter of the lot. DSLRs have a cylindrical protruding tube from the main body as it houses the mirror and the prism. Mirrorless cameras like the Sony a7R, on the other hand, has no such tube due to the absence of those two components. This makes it more compact and light and one can easily carry it around. Unlike the traditional cameras where one has to buy separate bags to carry their cameras around, mirrorless cameras can fit in your normal backpack because of its small size. So in terms of portability, mirrorless cameras are far more superior than DSLRs.

Battery Life of DSLR vs Mirrorless –

Battery life in cameras depends a lot on the person using them. It depends on whether the camera is being used for videography or photography. Videography requires a lot more juice than photography. The battery consumption while taking photos depends on whether the person clicking the photos is using the flash or not. It also depends on how many times the digital display is being used to see the photos. There is not that much of a difference in the battery life of these two cameras, but DSLR has a slight edge in this department. Since mirrorless cameras use digital displays only, battery consumption is a little bit higher than DSLRs. Both the cameras can last you long enough when used normally. It is always wise to carry around an extra battery when you need some extra juice.

Autofocus –

Both the cameras in this department have their own pros and cons. DSLRs are known for their fast autofocus. The autofocus points differ from model to model but the working principle is the same. When light is reflected from the mirror to the prism, a small fraction is deflected to the autofocus sensor. The sensor then determines the distance of the object from itself with the help of this light and focusses on it. This principle is called the phase-detection principle.

The advantage of having this principle is that the camera focuses instantly and is great for moving objects as well. The downside to this system is that focus is not accurate when it comes to multiple objects. The lens may not focus on the desired object because it may be a non-cross type focus point. In such a case, one can switch to manual focus instead and try the same.

In a mirrorless camera, there is no mirror or prism present, hence no light goes to the autofocus sensor. The camera takes a reading from the sensor and adjusts the contrast to the maximum for the chosen point. This system is known as contrast-detect autofocus. This system is slower as the lens has to move in all directions to maximize the contrast. This slow speed is compensated by more accuracy in still photography as micro-adjustments to the autofocus is not needed. This means the focus on all points is equally accurate and hence you get the best clarity at your desired focal point.

Video Quality of DSLR vs Mirrorless –

While DSLRs are better in terms of most situations in photography, mirrorless cameras shine in videography. When a DSLR is used in videography, it is unable to use the phase-detection system as its mirror is always in the same direction. It hence uses the contrast-detection mode which is less accurate. This causes the video to be blurry at certain parts as the camera fails to focus properly when exposed to an environment with multiple objects. Mirrorless cameras have a superior focus for this purpose and can, therefore, record at a much better resolution ranging from 1080p 60 FPS  to 4K. Modern-day SLRs like the Nikon D850 can use phase detection to record videos. But the mirrorless cameras have already conquered this department. They are preferred the most by vloggers as it is more portable and light.

Lens and attachments –

Mirrorless camera is new to the market and hence is restricted in terms of add-on accessories. DSLRs have hundreds of lens options available from different manufactures. They range from zoom to wide and from macro to fish-eye. There are a lot more options available and even fixed lenses are also available. Different accessories like an external mic and external flash are also available. Since mirrorless technology is a comparatively new one, companies have been slow in rolling out add-on lenses. Moreover, these lenses are way more expensive than the SLR ones with the same specification. This is the primary reason for less demand. People are not willing to switch to the mirrorless cameras yet due to the high aftermarket part costs. Companies like Sony have come up with adapters so that the SLR lenses can work with these new cameras.

My Verdict about DSLR vs Mirrorless –

Me being a competent photographer will definitely go for a DSLR rather than a mirrorless camera. The primary reason here being the autofocus and the wide range of lenses to choose from. A DSLR excels in my niche of photography. Wildlife and nature photography cannot be done properly with a mirrorless camera as the autofocus on moving things is just not good enough. There is always the manual mode that can help me out in case of focus discrepancies. I personally would not mind carrying a camera which is a tad bit heavier than the mirrorless one.

However, this is a photographer’s point of view. If you would ask a videographer or a vlogger, then he/she would choose a Sony a7R over a Nikon D750 any day. The video quality is much better on mirrorless cameras. And it is also more comfortable for them to use it as it is light. This decreases the strain on their hands or their gimbals and increases productivity. Moreover, the focus in terms of video is much better than that of SLRs and they won’t require a lot of lens options.




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