Today, most manufacturers are spending resources developing mirrorless technology, but the decision to buy a DSLR and mirrorless camera isn’t that open and closed. Even if there are more reasons to invest in mirrorless cameras, there are still good reasons to buy a DSLR.
Fewer DSLRs are being manufactured these days, but they are still being manufactured. The DSLRs on the market represent the pinnacle of this technology. Buying a DSLR recently means you’ve got more than a decade of technical improvements.
Mirrorless cameras have also come a long way from their humble beginnings when they were seen as more novice cameras (in a sense, this role has been reversed). What was once called the Compact System Camera (CSC) is the driving force behind almost all traditional camera brands except Pentax. The great thing about mirrorless formats is that they are still near the beginning of technological development.
Whether you’re discussing a good DSLR camera or a mirrorless camera depends on your needs as a photographer. Need a flagship product with long battery life and a wide range of niche lenses to choose from? Or do you need something small, light, fast and built to shoot a video with a still image?
Before discussing the pros and cons of DSLR and mirrorless cameras, let’s first explore the implications of mirrorless technology.
What is a mirrorless camera?
The clue is in the name. Mirrorless cameras do not have mirrors. With a digital SLR camera, the image seen through the viewfinder is reflected by the mirror in front of the sensor. When you press the shutter button, the mirror moves out of the way physically and the light hits the sensor. Mirrorless cameras do not have mirrors. Light passes through the lens and reaches the image sensor directly. This image can be viewed in real time on the camera’s LCD or electronic viewfinder (EVF) (if any).
Mirrors on DSLR cameras are just a rethink of the technology that has been used in film cameras for decades. This makes it work very well. However, the advent of mirrorless technology has shown that some of the limitations of DSLR technology can be remedied. The most important of these are speed and camera shake. As you can imagine, when shooting at slow shutter speeds, the movement of the moving mirror can cause small vibrations in the camera. Similarly, removing this process will allow the camera to run faster.
The main differences between digital SLR cameras and mirrorless cameras
I explained the role that mirrors play in digital SLR cameras. Now let’s see what that removal means for some other camera features.
The loss of mirrors, a significant component, means that manufacturers can design mirrorless cameras with smaller, lighter bodies. Especially for photojournalist and street photographers, more sophisticated and lightweight kits aren’t just for long-term outings at once. It is also less noticeable and less noticeable to itself.
However, there are drawbacks. A small camera body can be awkward for people with large hands. Similarly, a small camera body can be cumbersome to use with a large lens. Others simply prefer the size and weight of a chunky DSLR.
However, for most photographers, a smaller body means less weight to carry and more gear to fit in a kit bag.
Mirrorless camera owners will benefit from having a single AF system. Digital SLR cameras have a phase-difference AF system when shooting with an optical viewfinder and a contrast detection AF system when using the live view screen.
In the early days of mirrorless, DSLRs could easily beat the CSC at AF speeds by switching between the two AF sensors. But nowadays, mirrorless cameras boast a much faster AF system than the best DSLR cameras. Some of the best mirrorless cameras boast a hybrid on-sensor AF system that is faster, more accurate and more accurate than most other systems.
Digital SLR vs Mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera?
While modern DSLR cameras can record internal 4K video at 60p, mirrorless cameras have the advantage here because they have a good AF system as mentioned above. Not only is the mirrorless camera AF system faster and more accurate, but eye AF and subject tracking modes can now be used frequently while recording video.
In addition, most lenses for mirrorless systems are currently designed with video in mind. It is designed to be quiet all the time during shooting.
Burst shooting and shutter speed
As you can imagine, the fact that there is no mirror that needs to be moved each time the shutter button is pressed means that a mirrorless camera can take pictures much faster than a DSLR. As a result, the frame rate in continuous shooting mode is much faster for mirrorless cameras than for DSLR cameras.
In addition, mirrorless cameras use so-called electronic shutters to shoot at much faster shutter speeds than digital SLRs. Mirrorless cameras have a mechanical shutter (note that the Nikon Z9 avoids the mechanical shutter altogether), but you have the option of shooting with an electronic shutter. This bypasses the mechanical shutter and tells the camera when to let the sensor record light.
Electronic shutters are a great advantage for sports and wildlife photographers. In particular, that extra speed is often needed to capture the fleeting moments.
Another advantage of electronic shutters is that they make no sound. This can be done quietly, as the camera only tells the sensor when to record the light. This is a huge benefit when shooting wildlife, news and documentaries.
Image stabilization with lenses has been around for some time. This is in the acronyms such as IS and VR (Vibration Reduction) in the name of the lens. However, lens-based stabilization can only be protected from camera shake along two vertical and horizontal axes.
As mirrorless technology evolved, manufacturers introduced IBIS, a camera with an internal image stabilization feature that could prevent camera shake along the five axes. The IBIS system detects camera movement and alerts the processor. The processor physically shifts the sensor to compensate for motion.
In addition, for some mirrorless systems, you can get even greater correction by attaching a lens with IS to a camera with IBIS.
Most DSLRs don’t have this. Among all the strengths and weaknesses of comparing DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, IBIS could be one of the biggest benefits of investing in a mirrorless system.
For example, being able to shoot handhelds in the moonlight opens up many new creative possibilities. Or, for wedding photographers who can meet the demands of wedding videos without having to install a tripod every time, IBIS makes the job a lot easier.
Use of AI
Smartphone makers have been using AI technology for their cameras for years. Subject and scene recognition helped many snappers take decent shots where they were previously struggling. Currently, this AI technology is used in mirrorless cameras.
Eye AF and Animal Eye AF have completely changed the way many people shoot. Leading wildlife photographers tell us that it removes one of the great pressures and releases more pressure at that moment. Canon also has a vehicle AF mode to detect the car and focus on the car as it moves through the frame.
As we saw in photo editing software, AI development is only improved, and only AI is used in mirrorless cameras. Only one brand, Pentax, continues to develop new DSLR cameras, but has not yet used AI technology for their cameras.
Where camera technology development is progressing
Once upon a time, in the mid-2000s, there was such a conversation about DSLRs and film cameras. Fifteen years ago, the research and development of all manufacturers was devoted to DSLR technology. If you want to use your hobbies and businesses in the future, DSLRs have been a worthwhile investment.
But the conversation has changed. Currently, all the money is spent on the development of mirrorless technology. In addition, the decline in sales of interchangeable lens cameras in recent years has helped manufacturers reduce the risk of developing new niche products. They focus on the future with lasers: mirrorless camera technology.
You can buy a DSLR now, but how long will it be supported?
That said, there is another way to see it. All technology developments may be towards mirrorless, but DSLRs are an established technology. They are a manifestation of research and development of all those years. If you buy a DSLR today, you’ll find that the contents have proven to work.
Mirrorless technology is fresh and exciting, but still sophisticated. If you know that DSLR phase-difference AF fits your needs, you may not need to invest in a mirrorless camera with a hybrid system that is still complete.
You can’t shoot anything without a lens. It must be said that one of the greatest advantages of DSLRs and mirrorless cameras is the broad ecosystem of former lens options. For example, look at the Canon EF range.
Mirrorless lens systems are growing every year. Most manufacturers cover the basics and then some. But if you want to choose that true nuance for your lenses, you can find them on your brand DSLR system.
One option is to use a DSLR lens with a mirrorless camera using a mount adapter. However, this incurs extra costs and can result in loss of lens functionality depending on the adapter.
This influences most people’s decisions. The cost of digital SLRs is lower. High-end models such as the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III and Nikon D6 are still very expensive, but many DSLR cameras for beginners or enthusiasts on the market are now available at very reasonable prices.
Mirrorless cameras are definitely expensive, but as outlined above, you can get the latest technology and future development, such as by updating the firmware. If you can increase your budget, buying a mirrorless camera is like buying a robot vacuum instead of an upright Hoover.
Do professional photographers use mirrorless cameras?
Yes, as mirrorless camera technology evolved, many professional photographers switched from DSLRs to mirrorless systems.
Is it worth buying a DSLR in 2022?
For the right reason, it may be worth it. If you need a cheap beginner’s camera to cut your teeth and see if your photos are right for you, an entry-level DSLR camera makes sense. Or if you want to shoot something that requires a special lens that hasn’t yet been developed for the manufacturer’s mirrorless system, such as tilt-shift optics, DSLRs make sense. However, according to almost all other standards, mirrorless cameras are a better option in 2022.
Is a mirrorless camera the future?
Mirrorless cameras are the future of interchangeable lens cameras, just as DSLR cameras were the future of the early 2000s. Over time, as technology evolves further, new formats can emerge and rob mirrorless, but for now it’s hard to claim that mirrorless cameras aren’t the future.