DSLR Vs Mirrorless which is best?


Although they’ve been around for a while the recent release of full frame mirrorless cameras from some leading camera manufacturers has caused many photographers to wonder if it’s time to trade up their more traditional DSLRs.

There’s no doubt the new range of mirrorless cameras are appealing and they are cheaper by comparison but is newer better?

Look no mirror

A DSLR allows you to view a subject through the lens (TTL) using an optical viewfinder and a prism. A mirrorless camera foregoes the mirror and uses an electronic viewfinder – usually a high quality OLED – allowing you to compose and view the image in real-time giving you instant feedback. The advantage with the mirrorless system is that it’s quieter and you don’t get the ‘clunk’ of the mirror popping up when taking an exposure as with a DSLR, great for when you need to be low profile and inconspicuous.


Many would agree that the release of Sony’s mirrorless A7 full-frame camera range has been a game changer for many shooters, both photographers and cinematographers. While smaller sensor types such as the popular four thirds and APS-C have been available for some time mirrorless cameras that have a full frame sensor have made a huge impact in recent times simply because of the image quality they can produce and their ability to shoot in low light, using ridiculously high ISO’s a distinct advantage for both digital stills and for video.


The auto focus on most high-end DSLRs is quick and accurate when viewing images through the optical viewfinder and through the lens using phase detection. This is particularly useful for sports or shooting fast action. However, if you use the cameras ‘LIVE’ mode and need to shoot some video a DSLR’s auto focus (AF) can be a little slow as most use contrast detection.

Good mirrorless cameras are much better at tracking focus as they use a combination of both phase and contrast detection.

Does size matter?

If you compare both systems you’ll soon see that a mirrorless camera is generally smaller and weighs less than it’s DSLR counterpart. This can certainly pay off if you’re travelling or you need to carry your camera all day. Some people however still like the ergonomics and feel of a larger and more robust DSLR.

Which way to go

The new wave of portable devices has put a lot of pressure on stand-alone camera manufacturers. And the capabilities of new mobile phones and tablets have rapidly caught up with conventional camera systems. It’s easy to see why mobiles are so popular with many photographers and for many people it’s about convenience. At the end of the day it’s about what suits your style of shooting. Personally, I have both systems and whenever I head out on a shoot I choose the best tool for the job. I certainly have my favourites and over time I’ve learnt how to get the best out of my equipment. So for me it’s usually about what best suits the situation and conditions.

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