Mirrorless VS DSLR Cameras: What's the difference?
Which camera system is right for you, Mirrorless or DSLR? This is a major dilemma many new photographers and some pros are facing today. Do you invest in a ...
The advancements in digital cameras over the past few years is staggering. Until recently, if you wanted to upgrade from a top point and shoot camera, you would have to look at DSLRs. Yet, with advancements in technology, a growing number of people are looking at mirrorless cameras and advanced point and shoots. In fact, even for a few professional photographers, bulky and mechanical DSLRs are looking like a throwback to the analogue days of film cameras.
What’s the Difference?
To understand how a mirrorless camera compares to a point and shoot, it helps to understand how each compares to a DSLR. Today’s DSLR uses the same mirror mechanism as its 35mm ancestors from a couple decades ago, reflecting light from the lens into the viewfinder. When you press the shutter button, the mirror snaps out of the way so the light can pass through the open shutter onto the digital sensor to capture the image. Because of the reflexive mirror, the camera needs only one lens. Hence it’s name: digital single lens reflex, or DSLR.
Point and shoot cameras never had a mirror. The viewfinder was separate from the lens, meaning what you saw in the viewfinder would always be at a different angle and look different than what the camera captured.
With digital technology, you no longer need that mirror. You can see the shot on the camera’s LCD screeen. In fact, most DSLRs today have an option that allows you to disable the mirror mechanism.
Today, a DSLR is an advantage over a point and shoot camera because you can change lenses, control the settings, and the sensors that capture the image are usually better quality. However, they are bigger and heavier.
That’s where mirrorless cameras come in. They eliminate the bulky mirror, making them as compact as a point and shoot, while giving you the ability to fully control the settings and change lenses.
Point and shoot cameras are a great option if you’re looking for better photos than what you can get on your smartphone, without wanting to spend a lot of money or worry about complicated settings.
The Canon PowerShot SX530 is a good example of a mid-range point and shoot camera. It’s 2.3-inch CMOS sensor can capture high-resolution images at 4608 x 3456 pixels. Its 50x optical zoom combined with a 4x digital zoom means it can zoom in at 200x total. It records 1080p full HD video and even includes a hybrid mode that records video along with your photos that you can use in slideshows. Using its WiFi capabilities, you can upload your photos and videos to your computer or post them online direct from the camera.
If you want to be able to switch to a different lens, like a telephoto lens for sporting events, or a high-quality portrait lens with a wide aperture, you should consider a mirrorless camera.
The Panasonic LUMIX G85 mirrorless camera, for example, is available with the body only, or as a camera kit with a 12-60mm lens. It shoots high-quality photos comparable to a similarly priced DSLR, records high definition video and has a full range of automatic and manual settings. If you want to add a new lens, you have literally hundreds to choose from, since it uses the micro 4/3 mount standard, compatible with lenses made by Panasonic, Olympus, Kodak and several other companies.
At the high end of the price spectrum, both mirrorless and point and shoot cameras can go up to several thousand dollars. Point and shoot cameras, however, start at about $50, while the lower end mirrrorless cameras are seldom under $500.
The Sony Cyber-shot RX1R II is at the high end of the price spectrum for point and shoot cameras. With a-frame sensor and 42.4 megapixels at a price of $3,298. It’s 35 mm F2.0 lens isn’t interchangeable and doesn’t offer an optical zoom, although it does have a macro mode. With a sensor of this quality, most photographers won’t mind using the 8x digital zoom.
You’re not likely to find much difference in sensor quality when comparing mirrorless and point and shoot cameras within the same price brackets. Most use the the same quality sensors you would find in a low to mid-range DSLR.
Mirrorless Cameras for Professional Photos
Mirrorless cameras usually have the same manual control settings as any DSLR.
A few years ago, finding lenses for a mirrorless camera could be a problem, and while the photo quality was good, it wasn’t usually quite good enough for professional results. Today, however, a growing number of professional photographers are now packing mirrroless cameras instead of their bulkier DSLRs.
Laurence Norah is a professional travel photographer who now uses a mirrorless camera over a DSLR in many situations, particularly when he’s on the road.
“I primarily use a pair of Canon 6D DSLR cameras,” he said, “but I also have a mirrorless Panasonic GX8. I also run a travel photography course, and usually recommend to students that they invest in mirrorless over DSLR’s.”
“My reasoning for using the mirrorless camera over a DSLR usually comes down to the size and weight factor. Even with a spare lens, the small form factor of the mirrorless camera makes it much easier to just slip in a messenger bag and carry around. In the majority of cases it also takes shots that are of excellent quality, and I’ve sold a number of my mirrorless shots, which shows that clients are happy too.”
There are times, he added, when he still prefers a DSLR over his mirrorless camera. “The only time it can’t quite compete is in really low light, where the larger sensor on my full frame 6D is able to make better use of available light in the scene. Other than that, it has near feature parity in a much smaller form factor.”
Whether you opt for a mirrorless camera, or a point and shoot, you’re going to end up with a light-weight and highly portable camera that takes superior photos to anything you could get from a smartphone.
Sony Alpha a6000 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens
47 used from $ 385.95
- 24 MP APS-C CMOS sensor and Focus Sensitivity Range :EV 0 to EV 20 (at ISO 100 equivalent with F2.8 lens attached)
- ISO 100-25600 (expandable to 51200)
- Hybrid AF with 179-point focal plane phase-detection and 25 contrast detect points
- Up to 11 FPS continious shooting
- 3-inch tilting LCD with 921,000 dots
79-point focal plane phase-detection AF sensor. The compact, lightweight camera delivers superb image quality - via newly developed 24.3-effective-megapixel (approx.) Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor and BIONZ X image processing engine - as well as highly intuitive operation thanks to an OLED Tru-Finder and two operation dials.
PANASONIC LUMIX G7 4K Mirrorless Camera, with 14-42mm MEGA O.I.S. Lens, 16 Megapixels, 3 Inch Touch LCD, DMC-G7KS (USA SILVER)
1 used from $ 878.19
- Superb DSLM image quality without the bulk and weight of traditional DSLRs
- Never miss a photo with three unique 4K Ultra HD Video pause and save 4K Photo Modes
- Fast and precise auto focusing tracks the subject
- Class-leading, ultra-compact, interchangeable lens and accessory options
- Unwire Your Creativity with integrated Wi-Fi sharing
Digital Single Lens Mirrorless camera 14-42MM Lens Kit, 4K
KINGEAR KG0011 22 MP Digital Camera with Digitar Zoom and 3.0-Inch LCD Digital Video Camcorder with Night Vision
- High-performance Optical Viewfinder helps facilitate quick and accurate focusing by firmly framing and capturing the subject at hand.
- Capture your videos in 720p HD Movie mode Frame coverage: Approx. 99% horizontal and vertical (compared to actual picture).
- 3.0" LCD screen for easy viewing and photo editing.
- 22MP for bright, sharp photos and HD videos.
Description: * Digital Zoom:22x * Effective Still Resolution:22 * ISO Auto:1~2 m * Camera Lens:F=2.4MM/ f=4.5MM * Imaging sensor:8.0Mega pixels CMOS sensor(up to 22MP Interpolation) * HD 720p videos * External Memory:TF Card (Max.up to 32GB) * File format:JPEG format (Still image)/AVI format * Video resolution:1920*1080P/15FPS,1280*720/30FPS,640*480/30FPS * Battery:High-capacity rechargeable lithium battery Package included: * 1 x Camera * 1 x User Manual
Sony Mirrorless Digital Camera Bundle with 3" LCD, Graphite (ILCE-6000L/H)
14 used from $ 419.00
- Ultrafast autofocus with 179 AF points and Focus Sensitivity Range :EV 0 to EV 20 (at ISO 100 equivalent with F2.8 lens attached)
- Compact and lightweight Mirrorless camera for everyday use
- Capture Life in high resolution with 24MP APS-C sensor
- Easy and intuitive controls help you shoot Like a Pro
- Smartphone remote control and sharing via NFC and Wi-Fi
Test the limits of your creativity with the ultra-fast focusing camera. Every artistic shot you take - from fast-action to candid's - benefits from 24.3MP detail and BIONZ x Processor. For capturing crucial moments that go by in a blink, the α6000 can shoot 11 photos in one second. It’s easy to use too, with two quick-access dials and custom buttons that let you change settings on the fly. Very intuitive.
Sony Alpha a5000 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm OSS Lens (Black)
39 used from $ 319.20
- 20.1 MP Exmor APS-C sensor for great images
- Mirror less DSLR - Compact Interchangeable Lens camera system
- Quick Wi-Fi connectivity to smartphones via NFC
- Model: ILCE5000L/B
Capture amazing detail with the 20.1MP camera than anyone can use. with its self-portrait-friendly zoom lever and 180 Degree-tilting screen that lets you see the shots as you take them, this camera makes quality photography look easy. Ready to share these frame-worthy moments with friends? Faster-than-ever wireless sharing with one-touch NFC connectivity lets you upload to Facebook and more, directly from the camera. Ah, simplicity.
Nikon 1 J5 Digital Camera w/ NIKKOR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD Zoom Lens - Silver (Certified Refurbished)
- This version is originally intended for sale outside the USA
- This Certified Refurbished product is manufacturer refurbished it shows limited or no wear
- Includes all original accessories plus a 90 day warranty 20.8 MP CX format BSI CMOS image sensor
- Shoot Full HD 1080/60p videos including time-lapse and stop-motion 105 Phase-Detect AF Points let you instantly focus on your subjects
Meet the ultimate combination of image quality and portability, speed and versatility, creativity and connectivity: Nikon 1 J5. Masterfully designed on the inside and out, Nikon 1 J5 is faster than any DSLR on the market**, achieves image quality and low-light performance few compact cameras can rival and yet is small enough to take on every outing. Shoot 20.8-megapixel photos, 1080/60p videos, time-lapse and slow-motion sequences, HDR (High Dynamic Range) images and much more. Pair it with any superb 1 NIKKOR lens, or add the optional FT-1 Mount Adapter and use legendary NIKKOR DSLR lenses. With a 180 degree tilting touch screen, full manual control for those who want it, new onboard effects and even built-in Wi-Fi and Near Field Communication*** (NFC) for sharing your photos while on-the-go, Nikon 1 J5 is the intersection of advanced technology, image quality and portability. **Worlds fastest continuous shooting frame rate (approx. 20fps with AF) among digital cameras with...
Sony Alpha a5000 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm OSS Lens (White) - international version
- 20.1 MP Exmor APS HD CMOS Sensor and BIONZ X Image Processor
- Full HD Video Recording
- Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity
- Tilting LCD Monitor
- Sony 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Retractable Zoom Lens
Lens Mount : Sony E-Mount Camera Format : S-C (1.5x Crop Factor) Max Resolution : 20 MP: 5456 x 3632 Sensor Type / Size : CMOS, 23.2 x 15.4 mm Bit Depth : 14-bit Dust Reduction System : Yes Video Recording : Yes, NTSC Aspect Ratio : 4:3, 16:9 Video Clip Length : Up to 29 Min Audio Recording : Built-in Mic: With Video, Stereo Focus Type : Auto & Manual Focus Mode : Continuous-servo AF (C), Manual Focus (M), Single-servo AF (S) Autofocus Points : Contrast Detection: 25 Display Screen : 3" Rear Screen Tilting LCD (460,800) ISO Sensitivity : Auto, 100-16000 Metering Method : Center-weighted average metering, Multi-zone metering, Spot metering Built-in Flash : Yes Guide No. : 13.12' (4 m) ISO100 Max Sync Speed : 1 / 160 seconds Flash Compensation : 13.12' (4 m) -2 EV to +2 EV (in 1/3 EV steps) Continuous Shooting : Up to 3.5 fps Connectivity : HDMI D (Micro), Micro-USB, USB 2.0 Wi-Fi Capable : Yes Battery : 1x NP-FW50 Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery Pack, 7.7 VDC, 1080 mAh AC Power...
Sony DSCW800/B 20.1 MP Digital Camera (Black)
13 used from $ 89.00
- MP Super HAD CCD sensor for beautifully detailed images
- Sony Lens w/ 5x Optical Zoom
- Reduced blur with SteadyShot Image stabilization
- Capture your videos in 720p HD Movie mode
- Simplify camera menu with Easy Mode.
Sony DSCW800/B 20.1 MP Digital Camera with 2.7-Inch LCD (black)
Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 Digital Camera w/ Image Stabilization and Smart AUTO Mode (Silver)
12 used from $ 77.00
- 8x Optical Zoom with Optical Image Stabilizer helps you capture images with flexibility and ease
- 20.0 Megapixel CCD sensor combines with the DIGIC 4+ Image Processor to help deliver stunning image quality
- 720p HD video capabilities
- Smart AUTO intelligently selects the proper settings based on predefined shooting situations
- Digital IS helps reduce the effect of camera shake and subject movement
Make the most of special occasions with the Canon Powershot ELPH 180 HS Digital Camera. Capture your favorite moments in stunning 720p HD video. Plus, you won't get behind on the action with smart auto selects to find the proper settings.
Canon PowerShot SX710 HS - Wi-Fi Enabled (Black)
29 used from $ 170.00
- 30x Optical Zoom (25-750mm)
- 20.3 Megapixel High-Sensitivity CMOS sensor combined with the DIGIC 6 Image Processor
- Built-in Wi-Fi allows wireless transferring of images and video to compatible mobile devices
- Capture stunning 1080p Full HD video (60p/30p/24p options) with a dedicated movie button
- Large 3.0-inch LCD with a screen resolution of 922,000 dots allows easy viewing even from a wide angle
30x Optical Zoom (25–750mm)-20.3 Megapixel High-Sensitivity CMOS sensor combined with the DIGIC 6 Image Processor-Built-in Wi-Fi allows wireless transferring of images and video to compatible mobile devices
PeGear 18MP 2.7inch Mini Digital Camera with 8x Digital Zoom-Black
- It's a great gift for newbie/students/family and easy to use for beginner.
- Multifunctions: Anti-Shake, Face Detection, Continue Shot,Self-timer,Smile Capture,Built in Flash,and support max 32GB SD Card(NOT included), Multi-language.
- It's much easy to print,send photos through your computer and enhance your photos through the help of Photo Tags Express software.
- This camera with low-end lens,so the better lighting effect the better shooting effect. Suggest to open the flash when you use this indoor.
- 100% Brand New and High quality from PeGear and we stand behind the best customer service.
Product Specifications: Mega Pixel:18.0MP Focus Sets: Fixed LCD Display:2.7" TFT LCD Display Type:Non-touch Image Sensor:CMOS Sensor External Memory:SD card(up to 32GB) Exposure:EV-3---EV+3 Video Resolution:1280*720 HD,640*480 VGA,320*240 QVGA White Balance:Auto/Daylight/Cloudy/Incandescent/Fluorescent Sence:Auto/Night Portrait/Night Scenery/Portrait/Scenery/Beach/High sensitivity ISO:Auto/100/200/400 Self-timer:Off/2s/5s/10s File Format:JPGE/AVI Flash:Auto/Force/Red-eye reduction/Off Interface:USB 2.0 System Requirement:Windows XP/VISTA/MAC Battery:Li-ion Battery Package included: 1* PeGear Camera 1* Charger 1* USB cable 1* User manual Kind Notice: 1. To get sharp and Clear picture image you need to hold the camera very tight when you are pressing the shutter and please use the camera in full light environment. 2. This camera with low-end lens, so the better lighting effect the better shooting effect. Suggest to open the flash when you use this indoor. 3. There is a fill light...
Sony DSCWX350 18 MP Digital Camera (Black)
Too low to display
42 used from $ 124.99
- 20x Optical/40x Clear Image Zoom G Lens
- Keep your subject in focus with Lock-On AF
- Simple connectivity to smartphones via Wi-Fi w/ NFC3
- Motion Shot Video traces subject movement
- 4K quality still image output via HDMI2
8.2MP photos from afar with the 20x zoom camera that fits in your pocket. There’s also ultra-smooth recording that minimizes shake while shooting on the move, perfect for video lovers. Like taking shots in near darkness but hate disturbing the mood with a flash? The Exmor R CMOS image sensor harnesses lots of light to make candlelit moments really shine.
Sony W800/S 20.1 MP Digital Camera (Silver)
20 used from $ 67.04
- MP Super HAD CCD sensor for beautifully detailed images.
- Sony Lens w/ 5x Optical Zoom.
- Reduced blur with SteadyShot Image stabilization
- Capture your videos in 720p HD Movie mode
- Simplify camera menu with Easy Mode
MP Super HAD CCD sensor for beautifully detailed images Sony Lens w/ 5x Optical Zoom Reduced blur with SteadyShot Image stabilization Capture your videos in 720p HD Movie mode Simplify camera menu with Easy Mode Take stunning images in Sweep Panorama mode-up to 360 Smile Shutter technology automatically captures smiles Creative shooting with Picture Effects Conveniently charge your battery via USB3 In camera guide helps navigate features
Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II Compact Digital Camera w/ 1 Inch Sensor and 3inch LCD - Wi-Fi, NFC, & Bluetooth Enabled (Silver)
6 used from $ 393.51
- 1.0-Inch, 20.1 Megapixel* High-sensitivity CMOS sensor.
- Digic 7 image processor.
- Ultra-slim, lightweight and pocket-size camera.
The Power Shot G9 x mark II camera combines an ultra-slim design with high-performing features for incredible image quality and easy portability.