In this post, we are going to talk about DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras. Taking the next step in photography usually means getting a nicer camera than the one that’s in your smartphone or a pocket-sized point-and-shoot. Now back in the day if you’re really serious this meant getting a DSLR. The big fat camera that looks all professional, more features, larger image sensors, and the ability to change out lenses to best match what you’re doing. Telephoto, wide-angle, the ever-awesome prime lenses for portraits or low-light. Now in the past few years, mirrorless cameras have started to really rival DSLRs. So let’s explain what the difference is between the Mirrorless Cameras and DSLRs. Also, clear up some myths about mirrorless cameras and why one might be a better match for your needs.
Now in an old-school DSLR after the light passes through the lens it hits a mirror inside the camera that bounces the light through a prism and into the viewfinder you use to frame the shot and focus. Now in many modern cameras, only part of that light goes to the OVF (Optical View Finder) while part of it hits a separate autofocus sensor. When you want to take a picture things get really interesting. You hit the shutter button and that whole mirror assembly flips up. That’s that distinctive taking a picture sound that DSLRs make. Light hits the camera sensor or film directly and the viewfinder blacks until the exposure is finished. Basically, you’ll see approximately the exact same light level as you experience. So if it’s dark you’ll have a dark viewfinder and it can be difficult to set up a shot in dark situations.
In a Mirrorless Camera, there’s no mirror and no optical viewfinder. Instead, the light passes straight through the lens to the sensor which handles autofocus and passes the digital image to either the EVF (Electronic View Finder) or to the big screen. Since there’s no mirror mechanism inside the camera can be smaller and still deliver the same quality.
RELATED POST: Best Mirrorless Cameras for 2019
Got the differences between interchangeable lens cameras and DSLRs down? Good! Let’s blast away some of the myths and misinformation that’s out there.
1. DSLRs have larger sensors than mirrorless cameras: False
Sure when mirrorless cameras came out years ago the best full-frame centers could only be found larger heavier old-school DSLR bodies. Not anymore Sony’s awesome Alfa a7 line packs one of the best full-frame sensors available into an interchangeable lens camera.
2. Mirrorless cameras deliver less battery life: True
When you reduce the size, you reduce the amount of space you have for batteries. In the case of a mirrorless because the idea is to create a much smaller camera body with that beautiful full-frame sensor you’ll often find as much as 50% less battery time. Top-end mirrorless cameras come with two batteries and look it’s pretty easy to change out of battery. But we wanted to give you the heads up so you’ll know to keep it with you when you’re on that once-in-a-lifetime nature adventure or just shooting the kids in the park. By the way, some mirrorless manufacturers like Sony actually let you use your smartphone charger to charge the batteries which again provides benefits for portability.
3. Mirrorless Autofocus is Inferior: Debatable
This is another hotly debated topic that’s been raging on the internet forums since mirrorless cameras were first introduced. The key difference is that DSLR autofocusing directs light using a mirror to a dedicated AF sensor or autofocus sensor for quick focus locks. Where in mirrorless the light passes directly to a sensor that processes both imaging and autofocus. Now in the past five years, mirrorless cameras have caught up with technologies like Sony’s fast hybrid autofocus system which incorporates both contrast detection and phase detection autofocus on the same sensor and in some cases have faster autofocus speeds and could focus in lower light than a DSLR.
RELATED POST: Phase Autofocus vs. Contrast Autofocus
4. Mirrorless Cameras Don’t Have Great Lenses: False
I gotta say false for this one. First up Sony’s making some great lenses for their mirrorless cameras second you can use non-Sony lenses with a third-party adapter. It’s one of the advantages of the super short flange focal distance that’s a space between the mounting ring and the sensor plane. Now that difference varies between cameras and brand but the adapters can be precisely calibrated. So each lens can render an image clearly. That said wide-angle lenses might have some color shift issues in the corners you’ll have to test your lenses and see how they look.
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5. A Bigger Camera is a Better Camera: False
If you got a great sensor in a camera that has lots of lens options for a great class there’s no benefit to having a larger camera. That flange back distance or the distance from the lens mount to the sensor is larger for DSLRs. Because they have to stuff the mechanical mirror assembly between the lens and the sensor. Mirrorless cameras can be smaller lighter and easier to carry because they don’t have to pack that moving mirror.
So are you wondering “Why so many serious photographers are all up in arms about mirrorless cameras?”
- Better than DSLR autofocus performance.
- Third party lenses.
- Silent shutter, especially with Sony a7r III a lot of places where you want to be invisible like photographing a wedding or golf event the shutter noise it’s irritating.
- Focus peaking, that allows the camera to outline the edges of whatever is currently in focus with a colored border. Makes it easy for the photographer to use manual focus and ensure a great shot.
- They are lighter and more portable. That’s incredibly helpful for drones and underwater photography, of course, they’re smaller and more compact.
When you boil it down spec for spec the lines are now blurred between DSLR cameras and mirrorless cameras. The top-of-the-line interchangeable lens camera like Sony a7r III can deliver next-generation quality images.
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