A few years ago, this would not have even been a question, at least not one that was taken seriously by photographers with a certain level of expectations. But mirrorless cameras have become so good that they are attracting more and more photographers of all levels. It is not uncommon to see professionals using mirrorless cameras for commercial shoots, weddings, and studio work. So, what is it exactly about these smaller, fully electronic cameras that have put such enormous pressure on the DSLR market? So, in tis article we are going to discuss about the mirrorless camera vs DSLR.
What is a DSLR Camera?
DSLR stands for “Digital Single-Lens Reflex”. With cameras of this type, the light passing through the lens will hit a mirror that sends the image to the viewfinder (or digital sensor, if you clicked the shutter button). So, the “optical viewfinder”, one of the most popular features of DSLR cameras, is basically the actual view (as seen through the lens), simply reflected on a mirror. There is no LCD screen or any lag in the viewfinder, so what do you see if you press the shutter button. Some examples of DSLR cameras currently on the market are the Nikon D850 (above in photo), Canon EOS 6D Mark II, Nikon D750, Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Nikon D3500 or Canon E4 4000D.
What is a Mirrorless Camera?
As the name suggests, the most important difference between DSLR and mirrorless cameras is the lack of a mirror in the latter. How can they work without a mirror that reflects the light coming through the lens and into the viewfinder? Simple: The optical viewfinder is not present on mirrorless cameras, as it has been replaced by electronic. Therefore, instead of reflecting the view to the mirror, you will see it from the LCD screen, which will show you what the camera sensor is capturing. This is obviously not the only difference between DSLR and mirrorless cameras, but it is the main thing that distinguishes the two types of cameras. Some examples of mirrorless cameras are the Sony a7 series (a7, arr and a7s), Sony a9, Nikon Z series (Z50, Z6, Z7) and Canon R series (R, RP).
DSLR vs Mirrorless Camera
DSLR camera bodies are comparatively larger, as they need to fit in a mirror and optical viewfinder mechanism. For example, the Nikon D3500 has a smaller body than its predecessor, but is still 3 inches deep before the lens is placed on the front. With an 18-55mm kit lens, the camera weighs around 1.5 pounds. A mirrorless camera body can be smaller than a DSLR, with a simple construction. The Sony a6100 body is just 1.6 inches thick and weighs 1.3 pounds with a 16-50mm kit lens. This is enough to fit in a coat pocket or a small purse.
DSLRs used to benefit here, as they use a technique called phase detection, which quickly measures the convergence of light between two beams. Mirrorless cameras were limited to a technique called contrast detection, which uses image sensors to detect the highest contrast, which coincides with focus. Contrast detection is slower – especially in low light – compared to phase detection.