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DSLRs vs. Mirrorless: Discover Their Pluses and Minuses

Not long ago, DSLRs were still the only guarantee of professional quality. But the situation is gradually shifting in favor of mirrorless cameras, which more and more photographers are starting to prefer. Read all about the advantages and disadvantages of these two systems.

As the two systems’ names imply, the main difference is in their structural design. While DSLRs—digital single-lens reflex cameras—have a traditional structure that includes an optical viewfinder and a tilting mirror from which light reflects onto the sensor grid, mirrorless cameras don’t have these elements.

I should also add that no matter whether you’re looking at mirrorless cameras or DSLRs, you’ll find a wide range of quality levels. It strongly depends on whether you’re reaching for a simple camera made for beginners or picking up one made for pros. Don’t forget that at the store—or in the comparison below. A Mirrorless Won’t Strain Your Back The biggest difference between the two systems, at first sight, lies in the cameras’ size and weight. 

Mirrorless cameras have the advantage of not including a complex and bulky system with a mirror, thanks to which they’re smaller and lighter. This is a major positive. Your neck will definitely appreciate it when you’re running around all day with a light mirrorless instead of a large and heavy DSLR. But as soon as you start thinking about lenses, the situation here gets more complicated. After all, even mirrorless cameras have access to a range of lenses that goes from lightweight pieces to fairly robust and heavy ones. 

In combination with a small and light camera body, they don’t feel balanced enough in your hands. And if you also prefer a distinct ergonomically shaped grip—the kind that’s simply a natural in DSLRs—you’ll be disappointed with many of the mirrorless cameras out there. Their grips are often smaller, which can be uncomfortable for many photographers.

Can You See What You’re Shooting? 

Another fundamental difference is in the viewfinder design. The cheapest mirrorless cameras often lack a viewfinder completely, forcing you to rely on the LCD display. For mirrorless cameras, meanwhile, they’re simply a matter of course. 

Meanwhile DLSRs will normally have a built-in optical viewfinder, where you can see the scene as it looks naturally, right as you have it in front of you. Mirrorless cameras, on the other hand, use an electronic viewfinder (if they even have one) that presents the image digitally. For some people, this is actually an invaluable advantage—this viewfinder shows the scene as the camera will capture it. The image simulates the camera’s current exposure, white balance, etc. settings. That means you can avoid unpleasant surprises in terms of accidentally overexposed, underexposed, or tinted images. You can also show a histogram and information on the camera settings. But all this costs some electricity, and you can feel that in the battery life. Meanwhile, an optical viewfinder doesn’t drain the battery, and it also doesn’t require you to turn on the camera to look through it……