DSLR vs. Mirrorless Cameras

Time and again there have been debates about the effectiveness of mirrorless camera systems over DSLRs (or is it the other way around?). With arguments placed on both sides, the matter is beyond a concrete resolution in the foreseeable future. It’s similar to the Nikon versus Canon debate that’s been raging forever. Here, Techquickie brings in another perspective on the question of which is a better—DSLRs or mirrorless cameras:


The first and most obvious point of difference between a mirrorless and a DSLR camera is the size.

In a DSLR, a mirror bounces light coming through the lens and redirects it toward the pentaprism / pentamirror. In turn, that prism projects the light, which you can see through the viewfinder. This mirror flips up and down when making images. Thus, DSLRs require a larger space to accommodate a mirror, as well as allow it to flip up and down.

Mirrorless systems don’t have a mirror–hence the name–so they’re slimmer and less bulky.

DSLR vs. Mirrorless

DSLR Camera


So, how does a mirrorless system’s viewfinder work? Mirrorless cameras have no optical viewfinder. The viewfinder projects the image that the sensor sees or records. There are some obvious advantages to that. Let’s say your image is over or underexposed. When you look through an optical viewfinder you won’t get to see the actual image you’re going to capture. In other words you see the image that the lens sees and not what the sensor sees. On an electronic viewfinder you see the actual image you’re going to capture. That means you have an early warning system to avoid an over or under-exposed image.

DSLR vs. Mirrorless

Mirrorless Camera

There are, however, some disadvantages to an electronic viewfinder. One of the primary disadvantages of an electronic viewfinder is the lag. Electronic viewfinders have improved considerably over the years; the lag is no longer as pronounced as before. But it is still there, no doubt. Another problem is pixelation. Thus, a lot of old school photographers will still prefer to see the ‘real’ thing rather than an electronic representation.


DSLR cameras have a long history. The optical marvels that were made a decade or even two decades ago still work on the newer digital SLR cameras. Plus, there is an already established line of lenses dedicated to DSLRs.

Mirrorless systems don’t have that legacy. Having said that, this is just a temporary matter. As mirrorless systems gain in popularity new lenses will hit the market.

Shooting Speed

There are some obvious advantages to using mirrorless systems, and one of them is a high continuous shooting speed. The lack of a flipping mirror inside the camera means it can make images at a much faster rate, which is advantageous to sports photographers, just to name one example.

Auto Focus

Auto-focusing is one area where mirrorless systems lagged behind their DSLR cousins. However, that difference is shrinking quickly. There are now several mirrorless systems that boast a comparable auto-focusing speed to DSLR systems.


If your budget is on the lower end, opting for a DSLR gives you more value for your money. A lower end mirrorless camera often lacks a number of key features. A DSLR, on the other hand, even at the lower end of the spectrum, tends to offer a more complete, feature-rich package.

This is just an overview of the current state of things. Imaging technology is improving at an incredibly fast rate. Soon newer technology and more improved versions of both these systems will hit the market, blurring the line of demarcation even more.

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One Comment

  1. Wendy says:

    No mention of brightness of the LCD screen. If you don’t have an optical viewfinder, and the sun is so bright it washes out your LCD screen, how do you know if your shot’s any good? Have to re-introduce the hood (and I’m not talking about the round thing you sometimes put on the front of the lens.)

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