Mirrorless vs. DSLR Cameras: How to Choose

There is an enormous amount of cameras on the market at the moment. It is hard to choose what to get by just looking on some website. Going to the shop to get an advice is even harder – the people there might not advice you to get what is right for you, but sell you what they have in stock.

For the average consumer there are two basic camera choices, the DSLR and the mirrorless camera. The DSLR combines the same mechanisms of the single-lens reflex film camera, including the mirror, but instead of film the camera utilizes a digital sensor. The mirrorless camera is as it sounds, a camera without a reflex mirror. So, what is the best option? How could one choose one over the other?

The answer: Make an informed decision based on your answers of a few simple questions. Read on!

Is camera size and weight important for you?

Due to the DSLR requiring the use of a reflex-mirror, it is noticeably larger, bulkier and heavier than a mirrorless camera. So, if you are conscious about the size and weight of your camera, the mirrorless technology is the clear winner here.

I personally moved years ago from Canon DSLR cameras to Fuji mirrorless cameras because of this. I have the same amount of gear, but my bag is half size than before.

Would you like the most function and feature rich camera?

Autofocus, image preview, image stabilisation, image quality, shooting speed, battery life, lens options, and durability are all very important for a camera and years ago DSLR cameras were the obvious choice if you want the best, but currently the winner here is again the mirrorless technology. And yes, even professionals these days use mirrorless cameras.

Is autofocus, image preview and shooting speed important for you?

In terms of autofocus capability, both systems now offer world-class speed. Focus tracking, eye tracking, and multi-point autofocus are par for the course. It is rare to hear anyone complain about autofocus speed. Image preview is much the same on both systems, but there have been changes to the features and capability of the preview screen itself. Flip-out screens and touch capability are now commonplace. Shooting speed is also consistently good across both platforms.

Do you want stabilisation, and very high video and image quality?

Stabilisation is another feature offered by both systems and at the highest level, with stabilising features now being built into both camera and lenses. In terms of video and still photo quality, both the DSLR and the mirrorless options offer awesome quality up to 4k and beyond.

Is battery life very important?

Here the DSLR cameras are still leading. Their bigger batteries can last a full day shooting on a single charge easily.

Do you want the toughest and most durable camera money can buy?

A few years ago I would have said that DSLR cameras win here, but not anymore. Both systems offer impressive build quality and durability.

So, which system is the clear winner? The short answer is that both systems are good enough for most users, but the reality is that mirrorless cameras are the future. If you are on the way to buy your first camera, investing in a mirrorless one from your favourite brand is the clear choice.

Got your first camera and ready to start learning? Consider taking part in a photography workshop in Brussels.