If you’re new to photography and have been shopping around for a camera to buy, surely you’ve seen many other photographers claim, “DSLRs are better!” or “mirrorless is better!”.
This quick guide isn’t necessarily about comparing the two (we have an article for that), but rather the inherent advantages that mirrorless cameras can offer.
Size & Weight
One of the main reasons many photographers have moved over to mirrorless is due to the size & weight of mirrorless gear. While there are still some massive lenses, mirrorless camera bodies themselves are generally substantially smaller due to the lack of a mirror. Refer to the image below comparing the diminutive Sony a7 to the large and heavy Canon DSLR.
Varied Lens Choices
Although DSLRs have been around for much longer, the mirrorless market has exploded in recent years. Not only are third party manufacturers pumping out dozens of lenses a year, but the unique design of mirrorless cameras allows for literally thousands of vintage lenses to be adapted and used on our modern day bodies.
Due to vintage lenses (and their adapters) being cheap as dirt, those photographers on a budget are able to experiment and try out different focal lengths without spending much money.
Electronic Viewfinders (EVF)
On DSLRs, when you look through the viewfinder, you’re seeing just through the lens. On a mirrorless camera, the viewfinder is actually a tiny screen, allowing the photographer to see exactly what the camera “sees”.
The major benefit to this is that if you are shooting in manual mode, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting before you hit the shutter button.
Additionally, when shooting in low light environments, there won’t be any viewfinder “blackout” as the camera will push up the “brightness” (ISO) in the viewfinder to compensate.
Most mirrorless cameras have a rather advanced hybrid autofocus system that combines on-sensor phase detection with more traditional contrast detection. This has a variety of benefits, from simply increasing autofocus speed to even impressive motion tracking. Even a budget mirrorless camera (such as the Sony a6000) can compete with a higher-end DSLR due to this advanced system.
That was a very brief and minimalist rundown on the four major advantages of mirrorless cameras. It is important to note, however, that they are not without their faults. There are certainly some categories where DSLRs pull ahead (such as battery life).
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