Difference Between DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras

Although current efforts are concentrated on mirrorless camera systems, DSLR cameras are still loved by many. DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are built and designed differently, but their sensors, image quality, technology, and many other aspects are the same. The differences are partially technical in terms of the video recording and autofocus technologies they provide, and partly physical in terms of how these two camera types look, handle, and function.

The decision to choose a DSLR or a mirrorless camera is still an essential one.
Canon EOS Full-Frame range

8 Differences Between DSLR Cameras and Mirrorless Cameras:

Although mirrorless cameras can boast the newest image technology, DSLRs have many more conventional physical attributes, such as optical viewfinders and retro qualities like lengthy battery life. DSLRs also offer a distinct shooting experience than mirrorless cameras.

Here is a closer look at the differences between DSLR and mirrorless cameras.

1. Battery Life

Even the most basic DSLRs can take 600 pictures on a single charge. The very best pro DSLRs can rattle off around 4000 frames per charge, although this is admittedly with somewhat larger batteries. However, mirrorless cameras perform much worse here, with the average number of frames per charge being around 350–400 while some are much lower.

Compared to DSLRs, mirrorless cameras are naturally more battery-reliant. Either the electronic viewfinder or the LCD display is always active. However, because most manufacturers strive to keep mirrorless models as compact as possible, their batteries are equally compact, putting a cap on their capacity.

2. Autofocus

Mirrorless cameras employ a single autofocus mechanism for both back screen and viewfinder photography, whereas DSLRs, confusingly, need to use two.

DSLR cameras use specialized "phase detect" focusing sensors in the bottom of the body, behind the mirror. The mirror flips up and out of the way during photo-taking, making the AF sensor inaccessible.

DSLRs had to move to autofocus technologies that used the image created on the sensor itself as demand increased for live view shooting utilizing the rear screen. So, DSLRs have two autofocus systems, one for the viewfinder and the other for shooting in live view.

Mirrorless cameras have largely caught up to DSLRs in terms of autofocus speed, and they outperform them in terms of frame coverage and tracking capabilities.

3. Viewfinder

Mirrorless cameras must employ electronic viewfinders due to their design. The newest and greatest electronic viewfinders have a resolution so high that you hardly notice the "dots," and their clarity really approaches that of optical viewfinders. They may still experience lag, also known as "latency," however, faster refresh rates have made viewfinder lag less of an issue than it once was.

Two very underappreciated advantages of electronic viewfinders are their ability to provide a more clearly visible image of a scene in low light and their zoom functions for fine manual focusing. The auto-gain light amplification feature of electronic viewfinders allows you to compose and take pictures in almost complete darkness.

Nonetheless, many photographers still like an optical viewfinder's "naked eye" perspective over a computerized one. One significant benefit of optical viewfinders is crucial for sports and action photographers in particular. With optical viewfinders there is no lag, and it is much simpler to follow a fast-moving subject with a high-speed DSLR than it is with the typical mirrorless camera.

4. Size

The most frequently cited benefit of mirrorless cameras is their reduced size compared to DSLRs. The key selling point of mirrorless systems is that they offer the same image quality and sensor size as DSLRs without the added weight.

Making a mirrorless camera body that small, however, frequently comes with trade-offs, including battery life, how a camera handles larger lenses, and how much room there is for extra dials and buttons. Smaller mirrorless bodies may be difficult to use for those with larger hands because they have small bodies and small controls.

5. Mirror

Both DSLRs and mirrorless cameras let you compose the shot while viewing the scene via the camera lens, but they do so in very different ways. In order to reflect an optical image up into the viewfinder, DSLRs require mirrors. When you take a photo, the mirror flips up to allow the image to go to the camera's back, where it is exposed to the sensor.

Mirrorless cameras, on the other hand, user several methods to produce an electronic image that can be viewed on the back screen or in an electronic viewfinder using the “live view” recorded by the camera sensor itself. As the name suggests, they do not use mirrors to function.

6. Lenses (Lens Compatibility)

Since that DSLRs have been available and supported for so long, they still have an advantage in terms of lens selection. Today, anyone using a Canon EOS DSLR has access to 30 years' worth of native optics, and many more when compatible third-party options are taken into account.

However the production of new DSLR lenses has drastically decreased. About all of the lens development work now is for mirrorless cameras. In addition, lens designers now have a clean canvas thanks to wider mirrorless lens mounts and shorter back-focus 'flange' distances, and many modern mirrorless lenses perform better than their DSLR equivalents.

Although some mirrorless manufacturers have created compact or retractable lenses that do offer a size savings, when mirrorless lenses are created to match the features and performance of DSLR lenses, they end up being quite similar in size.

7. Video Capabilities

The greatest hybrid cameras are often mirrorless cameras rather than DSLRs since mirrorless cameras have a significant edge over DSLRs for video. First off, due to their shape, they are far more suitable for the continuous "live view" needed for video capturing.

But don't forget that DSLRs can also record video. DSLRs entered the world of professional videography and filmmaking with the introduction of the Canon EOS 5D II.

8. Cleaning & Care

The sensor is substantially more exposed and situated much closer to the camera's lens throat with mirrorless cameras. DSLRs have sensors that are directly at the back of the camera, protected by the shutter and the mirror in front of it, and only exposed to dust during the actual photography process.

However, although the sensors of mirrorless cameras may be more susceptible to dust, they are also considerably simpler to clean. DSLR sensors are particularly difficult to clean with tools and require a specific cleaning mode that locks the mirror and opens the shutter.

Canon EOS Full-Frame range

Choosing DSLR or Mirrorless Cameras:

Of course, individual taste also matters when choosing between the two. The one you prefer to use more should be the deciding factor in the mirrorless vs. DSLR argument!

When To Choose a DSLR Camera

DSLRs are larger, heavier, chunkier, and more comfortable to hold. You spend less time navigating digital interfaces and tapping at touchscreens since they handle telephoto lenses better and have more room for external controls. Also, their batteries last all day. There are optical viewfinders as well. DSLR enthusiasts would never choose a computer simulation above the "naked eye" viewfinder image provided by a DSLR, no matter how good it was.

DSLR cameras offer a wider selection of interchangeable lenses, longer battery life, and better low-light shooting thanks to the optical viewfinder.

When To Choose a Mirrorless Camera

In addition to having smaller camera bodies, mirrorless cameras also allow you to pair them with smaller lenses with care. A mirrorless camera is ideal for influencers, Instagrammers, and bloggers. You can shoot from a variety of angles thanks to their tiny, lightweight, and adjustable design and tilting angle screens. These fit conveniently in a daily bag and work well for both still photos and video. Mirrorless is also the way to go in this case if you're a professional or semi-professional videographer.

Mirrorless cameras are lighter, more portable, offer better video quality even in lower-end models, and can shoot more images at faster shutter speeds.

To sum, taking into consideration the differences in cameras as well as your personal preference, there is no doubt that you would choose the right fit for you. Whether you opt for a DSLR or a mirrorless one, Canon has your back!

  • Mirrorless Cameras

    EOS R8

    Step up to full-frame photography and video and realise your creative ambitions.
  • DSLR Cameras

    EOS 4000D

    Enjoy creative DSLR quality photos and Full HD movies with this easy, intuitive 18 Megapixel EOS.
  • DSLR Cameras

    EOS 2000D

    Embrace superb 24.1 megapixel photos and Full HD movies. Expand your creativity with this fun, easy DSLR.
  • Mirrorless Cameras

    EOS R50

    Make your best thumb-stopping content with this EOS R mirrorless camera, from sharp stills to 4K films and live streams. All in one dedicated device.