DSLR vs Mirrorless

This is a question that I get all the time, from both experienced and beginner photographers. There seems to be almost a worrying trend among photographers that if you do not have the right camera that you cannot take great photos. This has become more apparent with the rapid advances in mirrorless technology. People are worried about making the ‘wrong’ choice. And with so much choice where do you start? A decade ago, it was more straight forward – if you wanted to take ‘professional’ quality photos, you went for a DSLR. But now the waters have been muddied.
Before I really break down these cameras, let me say that any advances in camera technology is a good thing. Camera manufacturers work to solve problems for photographers and improve your experience, so that you can focus on what really matters – your photography.

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So where to begin? Well it comes down to your needs. There are many questions you need to ask yourself.

• What you want from your camera
• Are you a working professional/do you intend to become one?
• How much are you willing to spend? Not just now but in the future. Remember you are buying into a system as well.
• Will you be using the camera for very long periods daily?

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And much more but this should give you food for thought. These questions are important to ask because their answers go a long way to determining what you go for.
Let’s look at DLSRs. These are what every photographer hopes to be using when they first pick up a camera, they are the top cameras to be using for image quality. And for the most part this is very true. Canon and Nikon (and Pentax) are still the names to go for here. Let’s break down the advantages.

• Best image quality
• Huge range of lenses and accessories
• Very affordable at an entry level
• Huge amount of control
• Many options to pick up and use quickly

But what are the disadvantages?

• Can be very expensive at highest level
• Can be very heavy and cumbersome
• Difficult to operate initially
• Range of accessories can become very expensive

Now let’s compare this to mirrorless

Mirrorless cameras have had a massive impact on the market and more recently in the last number of years they are rivalling DSLRs for domination of the market. Brands like Sony, Fuji, Panasonic and Olympus lead the way here. Where these cameras have excelled is in their technology, with serious innovations in speed and image stabilisation tech. Where people seem to think that DSLRs have the advantage is in image quality, but this is not true. Let’s break them down.

• Small and light but no comprise on image quality – great to carry everyday
• Lots of control and loads of user friendly modes
• Stylish and Nostalgic design – I find people are not intimated by these cameras when it comes to portraits
• Rapid advances in improving quality and speed

But there are disadvantages

• Expensive – just because they are smaller, and lighter do not expect a cheaper price (in fact at entry level DSLRs are cheaper, this is a big consideration)
• Less durable
• Less range of lenses (currently)
• Not all have the same level of image quality
• Still not accepted really in the professional realm (although this is changing)


So, a lot to chew on here. And perhaps still not a definitive winner or answer. It comes back to your needs. Mirrorless are great for everyday use, street photography and posting images online. DSLRs are great for weddings, wildlife and high end pro work but less suited for everyday photography compared to mirrorless. But the two are now trying to emulate each other! DSLRs are becoming smaller and lighter, Mirrorless cameras are becoming more professional, so the gap between the 2 is becoming smaller.
If I must pick really the future lies in Mirrorless. These cameras are catching DLSRs in image quality and have already surpassed them in Tech innovation. All the major brands and lens manufacturers are shifting resources to focus the growth here.
And for a final word on it…I am making the change to Mirrorless too, so I believe in it. For my needs this is the correct move for me!

P.S Don’t think that what you are using is wrong. Unless you truly feel that you are not taking the kind of photos that you are capable off you should not think about upgrading just yet. If you feel that you cannot grow anymore as a photographer with what you currently have, maybe it is time to look to something new. A camera is only as good as the photographer using it!

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