DSLR vs Mirrorless – What’s the Difference?

Most modern smartphones have cameras capable of taking great photos. Some phones also have a macro or wide angle lens, allowing you to take a variety of different angles. However, if you want to get into serious photography, it is wise to invest in a professional camera. When you think of professional photography, the word “DSLR” often comes to mind, but mirrorless cameras are also increasingly popular. In this article, we cover the main differences between the two camera systems. This should help you decide which one to buy.

What Are DSLR & Mirrorless Cameras?

DSLR stands for Digital Single-Lens Reflex. This is named after the system that resides inside the camera. A digital SLR has a reflex mirror inside. When light enters through the lens, it bounces off the mirror and enters the optical viewfinder.

On the other hand, a mirrorless camera does not have a mirror. The light enters directly into the image sensor. The image is previewed on an electronic viewfinder or LCD screen.

DSLR Vs Mirrorless Difference Sensor

Digital SLR cameras have been around for a long time. Thus, they have always been the go-to camera for professionals. However, mirrorless systems have caught up in recent years and have come close to digital SLR cameras in terms of quality. As a mirrorless camera is much smaller and lighter, many photographers have switched to mirrorless systems.

Although it sounds simple, there are many differences associated with each system. We will discuss this below.

Image quality

One of the reasons that many photographers continue to use DSLR cameras is that they are slightly faster when autofocusing or tracking subjects. While the difference is not that big compared to the best modern mirrorless systems, it can still make a difference.

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Technically speaking, digital SLR cameras primarily use “phase detection” autofocus modules in the camera body. This speeds up the autofocus, which allows for faster shots.

Mirrorless cameras rely on sensor-based autofocus. This analyzes the maximum contrast between pixels on the camera sensor. With high contrast, the subject is in focus. However, this method is traditionally slower and sometimes also tends to struggle with moving subjects. That is changing, however, with high-end mirrorless systems that have both phase-detection and sensor-based autofocus systems.

DSLRs are generally a bit slower with continuous shooting. Since mirrorless cameras do not rely on a mirror for shooting, they take more photos per second at higher shutter speeds.


DSLRs have optical viewfinders, which allow the user to directly observe the scene you are about to capture. An optical viewfinder will show you the scene you’re about to photograph as it is. This is similar to what you look at with your eyes. This is not a “preview” of the photo the camera will take. Since camera settings (aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc.) are not taken into account, what you see through the viewfinder and the image taken by your camera may be completely different. You may need to take a photo, readjust settings, or take another photo before you get the perfect result.

DSLR Vs Mirrorless Difference Viewer

On the other hand, mirrorless cameras use electronic viewfinders. This allows you to see a preview of how the image will look. When shooting outdoors in good light, the preview on the screen of a mirrorless camera gets closer to the final image. In a low light situation or with fast moving objects, the image (on the viewfinder) will become dull or grainy.

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It should be noted that some low-end mirrorless cameras do not have an electronic viewfinder. Instead, the image preview is displayed directly on the screen, which you can use to take the photo.

Video quality

Digital SLRs are primarily intended for photography; thus, they don’t shoot the video very well. The superior autofocus used by a digital SLR for photography does not work when shooting video.

Mirrorless cameras are better suited for video than DSLRs. Most mirrorless cameras now offer the ability to capture 4K images, with four times the resolution of HD images. This, together with the superior video autofocus, provides better results for most filmmakers.

Battery size and life

DSLRs are known to be very heavy and bulky, which can turn some people off. You will almost always have to carry them in a separate bag, as they tend to be too big. High-end digital SLRs also tend to be expensive. DSLRs also have longer battery life than similar mirrorless systems, as they have the ability to take photos without using the LCD screen.

One of the biggest advantages of a mirrorless camera is its size. The average mirrorless camera is half the size and weight of a traditional DSLR camera. This allows you to easily carry it with you and take photos for long periods without getting tired.

Still, DSLRs and mirrorless cameras come with removable batteries so you can keep spare parts with you.

Lenses and accessories

For digital SLRs, there are plenty of lenses and accessories for every camera. Several manufacturers continue to offer different lenses for each camera line, giving consumers a wider variety of choices depending on their needs and budget.

DSLR Vs Mirrorless Difference Lenses

Mirrorless systems suffer from a restricted range of lenses from the camera manufacturer. However, that is changing, with more and more goals being released by different manufacturers every year.

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Final words

As you can see, DSLR and mirrorless cameras are quite different from each other. Which one you choose depends on your personal preferences, requirements, and budget. If you don’t like professional photography, your iPhone or Android phone can also be used to take great photos.


Hero Imran
Hero Imran

Shujaa Imran is the author of the MakeTechEasier resident Mac tutorial. He is currently training to follow his other passion by becoming a professional pilot. You can view its content on Youtube

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