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Mirrorless or DSLR?

Few years back, if you want high quality images, you choose a DSLR and if you want portability and small, you choose compact but the image quality is compromised. As of today, the technology has shifted towards the people’s demand – small camera, but with good image quality. And that leads to the introduction of mirrorless cameras.

Mirrorless cameras look similar to compacts, with two major differences. First, mirrorless cameras do have interchangable lenses. Second, they have sensors of a similar size of a DSLRs (namely APS-C). Thanks to this, they perform almost on par with an entry level DSLR. So the question arises, mirrorless or DSLR? Which one is suitable for you? Lets make a few comparisons before we come to the conclusion

Size and Appearance

This one is the main key to determine which one is suitable for you. Either you prefer the smaller and lighter mirrorless camera or the bulkier and heavier DSLR. Size does matter. That’s what people always say. Mirrorless cameras can be easily kept in your pocket… until you add a zoom lens. Although some of you feel size won’t let you stop from taking pictures, there must be one day, you feel tired of carrying the heavy bag of yours, and you want lighter photography equipment. Trust me, I’ve been through it.lol.

Well, some might think the appearance is important too. Most DSLRs come in black colour while mirrorless cameras do have a variety of colours. If you are bored with the always black colour of a DSLR, a mirrorless camera is not a bad choice. And one other thing, the small mirrorless camera won’t scare people away if you plan to take random street photos.

Someday you might carry a bag like this

Someday you might carry a bag like this

Mirrorless Sony NEX-6 $850 body only

Small and Light Mirrorless Sony NEX-6 – easily brought to anywhere you go

Viewfinders

The removal of OPTICAL viewfinder (OVF) adds an another reason for the small size of the mirrorless cameras. Every DSLR comprises an optical viewfinder that uses mirror to reflect light from the lens to the viewfinder. On the other hand, mirrorless cameras only have ELECTRONIC viewfinders (EVF), meaning that the only way to compose an image is by using the LCD at the back of the camera.

There are good and bad things having an optical viewfinder. The good thing is, you see exactly what the lens sees. So, if the image is out of focus, you will see it is out of focus in the viewfinder. The bad thing is, you need to see through the viewfinder to compose an image. That means, you cannot involve with the subject much. This is particularly evident when taking photos of children. By using mirrorless camera, you get involved with the subject, allowing you to shoot more candidly.

You might prefer to shoot like this

Shooting with optical viewfinder

Either you prefer to shoot like this

Shooting with electronic viewfinder

Autofocus

The main advantage of a DSLR over the mirrorless camera is the ability to autofocus. No doubt, the autofocus system of a DSLR is fast. Well, you wouldn’t notice that if you are taking static pictures like portraits or landscapes but when it comes to moving objects like sports, DSLR handles much better. That is because DSLRs use Phase Detect Autofocus (PDAF) while mirrorless camera use Contract Detect Autofocus (CDAF). PDAF knows straight away where the focus is and how much should the lenses move to achieve perfect focus. On the other hand, CDAF needs to “find it”. This forces different engineering solutions in lenses manufacturing.

There are some mirrorless camera are said to have good autofocus system to track moving objects like Olympus OM-D E-M5 or Panasonic GH2, they are quite pricey though. Meanwhile, there are a lot of DSLRs that offer fast autofocus system with cheaper price.

If you plan to take static pictures, autofocus is not much an issue but if you prefer taking pictures of moving objects or shooting with burst mode, slow AF can be a drawback.

Types of photography

This is also an important part to choose the right camera for you. If shooting moving objects is a primary concern for you, a DSLR suits you better. It is not just about moving objects, a DSLR is better for someone who seek to learn photography. Using a DSLR enables you to explore the world of photography as you may utilise different kinds of accessories and equipments, such as filters, flash etc to create creative shots.

Mirrorless camera is better for someone who doesn’t like the complicated too many buttons of the DSLRs yet they want decent images. In addition, mirrorless camera suits better for street photographers. No optical viewfinders and the small size of mirrorless camera make you involve with the street environment without scaring the people away. Although photographers may use small prime lens + DSLR for the size purpose, there is one time that you want to take pictures without using optical viewfinder, so you can take pictures more candidly and to avoid attracting the subjects’ attention.

Bottom line

Absolutely you have to know what do want to do with the camera, so you can make the correct decision.

A mirrorless camera is for you if you want a small camera with few buttons yet delivering good quality images.

A DSLR is for you if don’t mind carrying a heavy bag full of your camera and equipment and you want to have a complete control over your images. DSLR suits you better If you want to take photography to the next level.

Whatever you choose, make sure you do enjoy photography. Have fun!

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