In the past few years, Mirrorless cameras have really started to rival DSLRs. What are the differences between the two? Let’s find out!

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Taking the next step in photography usually means investing in a more advanced camera than the one in your smartphone or a pocket-sized point-and-shoot.

Back in the day, if you were really serious, this meant getting a DSLR – the large camera that looks professional boasts more features, has a larger image sensor, and offers the ability to change out lenses to best match your needs.

There are the telephoto, wide-angle, and ever-awesome prime lenses for portraits or low-light situations.

In recent years, mirrorless cameras have truly begun to rival DSLRs. So, let’s delve into the differences between the two and dispel some myths surrounding mirrorless cameras to determine which might be a better fit for your needs.

Mirrorless & DSLR Cameras: DIFFERENCES

Digital Single Lens Reflex Cameras

In an old-school DSLR, after the light passes through the lens, it hits a mirror inside the camera. This mirror then reflects the light through a prism and into the viewfinder, which we use to frame and focus the shot.

In many modern cameras, only a portion of that light travels to the optical viewfinder, while another portion strikes a separate autofocus sensor.

Things get especially interesting when you want to take a picture. Pressing the shutter button causes the entire mirror assembly to flip up, producing the distinctive sound associated with DSLRs capturing a photo.


Light hits the camera sensor and is directed straight at a viewfinder, which remains black until the exposure is complete. Essentially, you’ll see a light level that closely mirrors what you’re experiencing.

So, if it’s dark, you’ll have a dark viewfinder, which can make it challenging to set up a shot in low-light situations.

Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras

In a mirrorless camera, there is no mirror and no optical viewfinder. Instead, light passes directly through the lens to the sensor, which manages autofocus, and then sends the digital image to the Electronic Viewfinder (EVF) or the main screen.

Because there’s no mirror mechanism inside, the camera can be more compact and quieter while still delivering the same quality.

Understand the differences between DSLRs and mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. Let’s debunk some myths and misinformation that’s circulating.

Mirrorless & DSLR Cameras: MYTHS

DSLRs Have Larger Sensors Than Mirrorless Cameras

Earlier, the best full-frame sensors could only be found in the larger and heavier old-school DSLR bodies.

Not anymore.

Sony’s impressive Alpha A7 line packs one of the finest full-frame sensors into an interchangeable lens camera.

Mirrorless Cameras Deliver Less Battery Life

True. When you reduce the size, you also reduce the space available for batteries.

In the case of mirrorless cameras, with the objective being to create a much more compact body while retaining that beautiful full-frame sensor, you’ll often find up to 50% less battery life.

High-end mirrorless cameras often come with two batteries. Some mirrorless camera manufacturers, like Sony, even allow you to use your smartphone charger to charge the batteries, which further enhances portability.

Mirrorless Autofocus Is Inferior

This topic has been hotly debated on internet forums ever since mirrorless cameras were first introduced. The key difference lies in how autofocus is achieved. In a DSLR, light is directed using a mirror to a dedicated autofocus sensor, ensuring quick focus locks.

On the other hand, in mirrorless cameras, light passes directly to a sensor responsible for both imaging and autofocus. Over the past five years, mirrorless cameras have caught up technologically and, in some instances, boast faster autofocus speeds and superior low-light focusing capabilities compared to DSLRs.

Mirrorless Cameras Don’t Have Great Lenses

Manufacturers are now producing high-quality lenses for their mirrorless cameras. Additionally, adapters can be used to mount third-party lenses onto a mirrorless camera body.

A Bigger Camera Is A Better Camera

If you have a great sensor in a camera that has a lot of lens options, there’s no benefit to having a larger camera.

That flange back distance or the distance from the lens mount to the sensor is larger for DSLRs because they have to stuff mechanical mirror assembly between the lens and the sensor.

Mirrorless cameras can be smaller, lighter, and easier to carry because they don’t have to pack that moving mirror. A top-of-the-line interchangeable lens camera like the Sony A7R 2 can deliver next-generation quality images.

  • World’s first Full-frame back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor-42.4MP, 5-axis in-body image stabilization optimized for 42.4MP full-frame, 4K movie recording with full pixel readout and no pixel binning
  • 2.4-million dot XGA OLED Tru-Finder w/ ZEISS T* coating, Simple connectivity to smartphones via Wi-Fi and NFC w/ camera apps, Fast focal plane phase-detection AF realized with A-mount lenses
  • Shutter vibration suppression, first curtain shutter, and silent shutter, Resolution meets sensitivity 42.4MP up to ISO 102,400 / 4K up to 25,600, Durable, reliable, and ergonomically enhanced for professional use
  • Fast Hybrid AF with 399 focal planes phase-detection AF points

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